Huddle up! Harman launches UK Experience Centre
Posted on: Tuesday 10th of April 2018
Following the purchase of the business by Samsung in March 2017, Harman Professional Solutions – maker of audio equipment by brands including JBL, AKG, Studer, dbx and Lexicon, as well as AMX control systems and Martin Professional lighting – opened the Harman Experience Centre London (HECL) last week.
Actually located 25 miles from central London in Hemel Hempstead (but that never stopped ‘London’ Gatwick, 40 miles from the capital, from using the moniker), the HECL follows similar facilities created over the last year in Shanghai, Singapore and Los Angeles. The $5m, 2,400sqm, multi-functional former BT-building will also serve as the new Harman headquarters for the EMEA region.
Visitors to the Centre will have the opportunity to see just how Harman’s AV, control and audio solutions have progressed in the last few years, and how they now integrate with Samsung’s video technologies. The ground floor Product Showroom includes a Broadcast Radio suite, Touring Sound zone, Connected Retail Experience, Connected Hotel Room, Home Recording ‘desktop DAW’ space plus AKG showcase (above), a Networked AVoIP wall, and more.
The opening of HECL reinforces Samsung’s commitment to its $8bn purchase, following a year of speculation as to what direction the electronics giant would take Harman. “We’re doubling down in Europe,” said Erik Tarkiainen, VP of global marketing for Harman, at the HECL launch. “We have a partnership with Samsung that’s resulted in very real collaborations: huddle spaces, things in retail, things we’re doing in cinema that we can’t even show here yet…”
“We had different [Harman brand] locations in London Wall, in Potter’s Bar, people in Newark. We’ve relocated to here, so this is the new centre – and there’s room to grow here,” he continued. “But the other thing is the Experience Centre: we wanted a place where we could bring both our channel partners and our end users and take them through the full experience of what we do. We realised that customers have been introduced to Harman though different brands and different points of history, and we’ve done them a disservice by not being able to show them the whole thing.” The former JBL facility in Northridge (Los Angeles), California, was the last Centre to open in November: “We’ve already had a thousand people through there in just a few short months.”
Taikiainen noted how proud the Harman staff were that the whole Product Showroom had been planned, built and decorated by the team, with no outside consultants involved – at a considerable saving in costs, of course.
Pertinent to Resolution’s readership in particular is the Broadcast Radio ante-room. The set-up here reflects current Studer Glacier on-air console technology, as well as hosting a larger Vista console, BSS routing and AKG microphone tech. Operator for the day, Harman broadcast applications engineer Manuel Mercadal (left), hinted that while only ‘tabletop’ versions of the Glacier desks (launched in 2016) were on show, modular versions, for integration into broadcast racks, were on the way.
HECL is open by appointment to Harman and Samsung customers, employees, distributors, sales representatives, dealers, artists and other industry professionals for meetings, performances, productions, hospitality events, and more.