Soundcraft’s CAT rooms are purring29 July 2010
Soundcraft Studer reports that its planned “biggest facility in the world dedicated to consoles” – as reported on the cover of PSNE December 2009 – is now fully operational. Several leading customers have spent time testing and approving their orders in the new CAT (customer acceptance test) rooms, including international broadcast companies TRT from Turkey and Egypt’s ERTU, as well as Educational Broadcasting System and the Lotte Shopping channel.
When PSNE first witnessed the designated 800sqm factory space at the end of last year, here was no real clue as to what the Harman Pro brands were planning for the Potters Bar facility. Opened by Harman senior executives and Soundcraft Studer’s Andy Trott earlier this year, it is now truly an impressive and professional set of suites.
Customers enter the test area down a long corridor, in effect a ‘Hall of Fame’ celebrating the legacy of the two brands, with historic tape machines and landmark desks lining the walls, alongside posters of significant events and big-name endorsers. This leads to a ‘common room area’ and the entrance to the two CAT rooms. In keeping with other rooms in Cranborne House, Beatles tunes are referenced. So CAT Room 1 (7.5m by 6m) is called Yellow Submarine, while the bigger Room 2 (11m by 6m) is Rubber Soul. “Here customers spend a few days with their new Vista, OnAir or Vi Series desks, testing the desks and associated systems before delivery,” says director of marcomms Dave Neal.“When all the boxes are ticked, the gear is packed up and despatched.”
Separated from Rubber Soul by a sliding partition is a fully integrated training room, complete with a projector and screen, zoned ceiling speakers, two wireless mics and patchpanels for extras such as DVD players or a PC input. “You can control all the audio in the room from a BSS BLU-10 controller and London Architect,” says Neal.
Leaving the training room you enter Sgt Peppers (pictured): “…We believe this is the largest console demonstration facility in the world,” says Neal.
In this generous space, Soundcraft Studer has installed one of everything: all the Vista and OnAir desks for customers to try out, including the newly launched Vista 9 (see p40) in a full JBL surround monitoring set-up.
Networking and integration are key here too. “All the playout (including Pro Tools) and Call Management Sysem (CMS) material, all the incoming audio, can be routed and shared between any console or system and any other – it’s all integrated on a Route 6000/Studer RELINK network,” says VP of marketing Keith Watson. “We are also in the process of implementing VoIP to demonstrate our CMS.”
Next to this is a custom news room environment with a typical DJ/presenter radio set-up, for practising and managing chat shows etc, and seeing how the Harman kit reacts under such conditions. (“We should do a little broadcast from here!” jokes Watson. “Get the BBC to park a broadcast truck outside, pipe it in and Bob’s your uncle!”)
The final room is the live room, where customers can crank up the audio and have a blast on the live Si and Vi desks.
“There’s one of everything, something representing every part of Harman,” concludes Neal. “AKG mics, dbx processing, Lexicon reverbs, JBL monitors – and some DigiTech pedals in the cupboard…”