Rick Kamlet, senior manager of product management at Harman International, delves into JBL commercial loudspeakers, the intricacies of loudspeaker installation, highlights the newest commercial JBL speakers introduced at Infocomm and discusses the innovative strides the company has made over the years.
Commercial loudspeakers can be a pretty broad topic to cover, and they fall into a variety of categories. Can you provide us with an overview of these categories?
We tend to divide our commercial loudspeakers into six main categories. There's in-ceiling, on-wall (which are also called surface mount speakers), in-wall columns (which are the long narrow column speakers), pendants (which hang down from the ceiling) and then a variety of landscape models. There are some specialty models that don't exactly fit into the six categories. But these are the six main ones.
Based on what you said, there seem to be two audiences: One being the AV professional who's responsible for all of the sound and the setup at an event or a venue, and then there’s the everyday listener. What are the primary considerations for installing commercial loudspeakers?
You start with the general objectives which are accomplishing whatever sound quality and character that's right for what's happening in the space. So for applications that include music, you want the music to be pleasant and clear, and for applications with voice, the voice needs to be highly intelligible. In other words, understandable. There are some technical principles that one then needs to follow, but pleasantness and intelligibility are the overall objectives.
Taking this one step further, there are many factors to consider about how you accomplish that. You want to think about what sort of activities are happening in the space and therefore how loud it needs to get, how much bass is going to be required, what form factor of speakers are going to work best with the geometry of the space, how high the ceiling is, and whether the ceiling is a suspended grid, a hard hard cap ceiling or an open structure, what's going to fit into the decor, what the budget is for the project, where there are places for installing the speakers themselves, and things like whether the facility needs to meet certain safety or fire regulations.
So we make available various application tools to help with the designing of the system and help it work well. For example, for ceiling speaker systems, we make available – for free – a programme called Distributed System Design that helps the designer figure out which speakers will get to the sound level that's needed, how far to space them apart, if they need loudspeakers for additional bass, which loudspeaker fits with the speakers they've chosen to pair with and how many to use.