SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – FEBRUARY 2013: Starting with a single location in West Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1966, Best Buy has worked to become the largest electronics retail store in the eastern United States. It currently operates over one thousand stores around the country and in select locations throughout the world. In its rise to the top, Best Buy has innovated and re-conceptualized the way consumers buy electronics, and the company continues to innovate to keep ahead in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of consumer technology. In that tradition, fifty renovated and newly-constructed Best Buy locations are pioneering a new concept in store sound. Rather than blanketing the entire footprint with a wash of music, discrete zones with very little bleed give the stores a feeling of calm and deliberately direct guests’ attention to the sources of the sound. Because of its powerful open-architecture programming, high sound quality, easy networking, and cost-effective pricing, the Symetrix SymNet Solus 16 standalone fixed I/O DSP underpins the new concept.
“They wanted sound in some areas of the store, but not in other areas,” explained Jon Bormann, owner of Bormann Marketing and the designer of the new system. “It is a directed approach, which is very different from the usual approach taken in retail stores. For example, the store’s Magnolia Audio/Video section, which features really high-end equipment, is better served if sound isn’t spilling into it from the ceiling. In another application, they play a video message every fifteen or thirty minutes, and we’ve arranged the sound so that it effectively emanates from the screen’s location. Since our brains are programmed to look toward the source of a sound, the video message is way more effective than if the audio were raining down from wall to wall.”
The new concept identifies four separate zones per store, the output of which is realized via concentric rings of unobtrusive, ceiling-mounted Innovox miniature steerable line arrays. A pair of energy-efficient Lab.gruppen E-Series amplifiers power the system, and their asymmetrical design allows different loads to be placed on each channel. The 16-input/8-output SymNet Solus 16 DSP handles all of the processing, including robust ambient noise sensing and gain compensation, sophisticated equalization for the line arrays, and flexible multi-zone performance. The emergency and telephone paging systems tie into the new system.
“In contrast to the typical store audio system, this system delivers high fidelity, foreground-quality music, and voice,” said Bormann. “Symetrix is well known for building equipment for installed systems that has studio-quality sonics. Moreover, the SymNet Solus 16 is priced right, which helps allow this new system to go into many stores.” Each SymNet Solus 16 is given a unique IP address, and an engineer stationed at Best Buy’s Richfield, Minnesota headquarters monitors and adjusts system performance in all fifty stores. Although it is seldom used, a Symetrix ARC-2e wall panel remote in each store can override the system’s preprogrammed auto-gain in the event that program material appears too quiet or too loud.
Symetrix engineers high-end professional audio solutions, specializing in DSP hardware and software. Symetrix products are distributed worldwide, and designed and manufactured in the U.S. at the Seattle area headquarters. Since 1976, customers have enjoyed the benefits of Symetrix’ independent ownership and management. For more information on Symetrix professional audio products, please visit www.symetrix.co or call +1 (425) 778-7728.