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Designing quality speakers with Harman International and how they adapt to different environments

June 23, 2022

Designing quality speakers with Harman International and how they adapt to different environments
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Loudspeakers are a critical aspect of in-person event success that you rarely see. A well-placed speaker is one you don’t think about.

JBL Pro makes it a priority to work with the architecture of a space in a way that ensures top-quality sound.

Shelby Skrhak speaks with Rick Hamlet, Senior Manager of Product Management at Harman International, about:

  • Different loudspeakers for different spaces
  • What to consider when placing a loudspeaker
  • Innovation and working with architectural trends

Different loudspeakers for different spaces

The core purpose of commercial loudspeakers is to provide quality sound.

“The overall objective is to accomplish whatever sound quality and character are right for what's happening in the space.” Rick explains, “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.”

Pleasantness and intelligibility are key indicators.

“You want to think about what sort of activities are happening in the space, what type of speaker is going to work best with the geometry of the space,” Rick explains.

“If there’s a high ceiling, you want to use a speaker with very narrow coverage so that the listeners are only listening to the speaker that's above their head, rather than listening to every speaker in the room—which would hit their ears at a different time sync.” he continues.

There are multiple speaker types available for various applications, built to work with their clients’ design and perform exceptionally.

What to consider when placing a loudspeaker

Sound travels. That’s no surprise. What makes this a critical consideration is how sound changes when close and distant.

“It's clear when sound is immediate.” Rick explains, “As it travels, the air absorbs some of the high frequencies. With high ceilings, one of the things that trips you up is that ceiling speakers overlap with each other,” he continues, “and the farther away they are, the longer the differences are in how long it takes the sound from each speaker to reach your ear.”

The main considerations for speaker placements come down to:

  • Ceiling height
  • Ceiling type
  • Fitting the decor
  • The budget for the project
  • Safety regulations

Creativity reigns when it comes to speaker concealment, and the trends are shifting all of the time.

Innovation and working with architectural trends

Discretion is another crucial aspect of loudspeaker design.

“We’re fitting in better with the decor of spaces.” Rick explains, “More top of mind in the last 10 years is environmental consciousness. We're using recycled materials and making our speakers lighter.”

With changing times comes opportunities for innovation. “There are always changes in architectural preferences.” Rick points out, “There is a continuing trend toward more open structure ceilings. So, we came out with our control 60 Series line of pendant speakers to make them easier to install to the beams found in these open structure ceilings, to get the sound closer to listeners for better sound quality."

Working with the architecture of a space yields stronger results for clients and leads to improved design. That’s the mindset that has guided JBL Pro for 75 years.

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