Staff UP for a project, season, or year long.

Site Surveys – Service Calls – Augmented Labor – Full Service – See how we can help »

What Happens in Vegas……Is Powered by JBL

The JBL name carries a lot of weight in the A/V world.  Quality, craftsmanship, and powerful are just some of the adjectives that can be used to describe the JBL product lineup.  So it should come as no surprise that an event hosted by JBL and Harman would be any less than amazing.  Welcome to the 2019 JBL FEST.

Starting in 2017, JBL and Harman have assembled some of the best musical acts, most popular audio equipment, celebrities, and forums into one location – LAS VEGAS!  The 2019 edition was no different and Almo Professional A/V was proud to send Josh Taylor, Mac McKay, and Leo Merizalde to experience the sights and sounds.   From the moment you arrived to the Aria Hotel you will notice that an entire wing of the hotel was decorated top to bottom with JBL graphics and promotional marketing.

You are truly “living” the brand at that moment.  You have options to experience an oxygen bar, some of the best food you can imagine, and possible celebrity sightings and then you remind yourself that the party hasn’t even really started!  The day ended with a special performance by Run DMC and hosted by Shaquille O’Neil, which was made all the more special considering the group only does 2 concerts per year now and this was held at an exclusive outdoor venue.

On the 2nd day of JBL Fest there was a Tech Forum in which the keynote speakers were Paul Zikopoulos, VP of Big Data Cognitive Systems at IBM and Robert Herjavec, Founder of Herjavec Group and star of Shark Tank.  The discussion of the forum centered around the topic of “Is the World Ready for Intelligent Technology?” and how collaboration amongst partners and even competitors will unlock the full value of data in the business world.  Definitely a thought-provoking discussion to kick off the day!  After the Tech Forum concluded we were surprised to be able to attend the “gifting station.” As if the opportunity to be in Las Vegas with JBL wasn’t enough we were able to design custom backpacks and received Maui Jim glasses and JBL Bluetooth headphones!  WOW to say the least.  The fun didn’t stop there as we next went on the e-sports arena tour that was held at the Luxor.  For anyone who is even remotely into gaming this is a bucket list item!  Being able to experience the behind the scenes action and what makes the arena function was definitely an eye-opener.  The evening was capped off with an event at Club JBL at the Jewel Nightclub where Bebe Rexha and Armin Van Buuren kept the energy at a peak.  The final day of the event was no different.  Although a bit more relaxed, there were various game stations set up where you could win prizes, a DJ Masterclass with Armin Van Buuren in which he showed you how he mixes and creates some of his greatest hits and a private concert area set up where JBL Brand Ambassador, KHALID, closed out the week.

There aren’t many opportunities where you can experience a true “once in a lifetime” event but I would place JBL Fest in that grouping.  Throughout my time working with Harman I have come to expect the best of the best and it is safe to say that they extend that mantra to their events. I cannot wait to see what the 2020 version has in store.  Whether you are a JBL fan such as myself or you simply love A/V of all kinds, put JBL Fest on your list for next year and experience the sounds and sights of one of the top audio manufacturers in the world!

Thank you to our contributing co-author, Mac McKay, ALMO National Business Team, for sharing his perspective from the event.

 

What An Experience!

Get a behind-the-scenes tour of Harman’s Experience Center

In my last blog I chose to discuss how you can improve your knowledge of audio solutions simply by knowing the different support channels and asking the right questions.  One facet I did not discuss was the need to have a desire to learn.  Simply put- you will make every opportunity that much harder if you refuse to grow independently.  I am no exception to this rule.  As I admitted previously, I came into my new role “not knowing audio” but thanks to the plethora of support channels and various opportunities that exist, gaining this new knowledge is quite easy, all thanks to the team at Harman Professional Solutions.

While attending the most recent stop on the Almo E4 Experience tour in sunny California, I was afforded the opportunity to visit the team at Harman and their new Harman Experience Center which is located at 8500 Balboa Blvd. in Los Angeles.  Pardon the pun, but WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!  The moment you walk in the front door you are greeted by a light show through the winding hallway which works in step with the images on the large video wall further down the hall. Thanks to my unofficial “tour guides”

Mark Wilson and David Tewksbury, I was able to really entrench myself in all of the technology that surrounded me!  A few steps further we were greeted by a row of actual Grammy Awards presented to Harman for their JBL and Lexicon lines amongst others.  Truly innovators in the professional technology space!  Coming from a retail background, I really focused in on their Connected Retail Experience display.  As a business owner, imagine being able to KNOW who your customers truly are and then cater to those specific customers.  From displaying male/female centric marketing to displaying specific content when a customer picks up a certain item, it’s all tied to improving the overall experience at a given store.   It was very intriguing to see where we are headed in terms of custom shopping experiences.

The next steps on our tour was really the “heart of the Experience Center where I was able to learn about  the Connected Huddle Space featuring the AMX Acendo Vibe speaker (which happens to be an Almo Best Seller!), an actual recording booth where we could test out all different models of AKG microphones (if you are lucky, David might sing for you!), and several Martin Lighting displays which were absolutely breathtaking!  Martin Lighting has been used in Las Vegas, London, and so many more of the world’s biggest attractions so to EXPERIENCE that up close was amazing. One of the final stops of our tour was a large room where Harman has hosted several gatherings such as corporate events and parties.  The room is set up to resemble part club, part concert hall, part Broadway stage.  Directly in the middle of the room was a Soundcraft Vi3000 Digital Live Sound Console and boy was that impressive. It is the only console in its class that can be used by two engineers at the same time and despite all of the added features and functionality it also retains all of the features that have made its series the preferred choice for sound engineers.  I had commented to Dave how many times I had seen similar models at concerts and various shows and how it only further demonstrated the theme of the day which was “EXPERIENCE”.  This room allows you to demonstrate how Harman products function in certain environments.  Listening to Phantom of the Opera on Broadway vs a lecture in a college auditorium vs smoke machines and disco lighting in a dance club….awe-inspiring!  Out of this entire room, one of the final yet coolest experiences was the live concert demo complete with drum kit, lighting, smoke, and some of the loudest yet clearest speakers I’ve ever heard!  The JBL VTX A12W is a dual 12” line array loudspeaker.  The kind you would see at the largest world tours from some of the most popular music acts. Various Harman resellers have said “this might be the single best speaker that JBL has ever made” and after seeing/hearing it live I would have to agree!  Starting with the simple installation to the crisp/clear vocals you hear it’s clearly a step above most.  At one point, David told me to stand in a specific area and I found myself directly under this massive speaker.  David walked over to join me and we had a typical conversation.  He then looks over and says “pretty cool huh”….we were standing directly under this line array loudspeaker and I could hear him clear as day.  When was the last time anyone went to a concert and didn’t have to shout all night to friends just to be heard?  That is what clear/powerful sound will do for you!

It is always a pleasure in my line of work to spend time with our vendor partners.  It provides an opportunity to learn more about the people and products that make the machine run smoothly.  However, getting to spend time with Mark and Dave at the Harman Experience Center was unlike any previous meeting I’ve ever had.  It was all part of the learning EXPERIENCE that I talked about previously. While you can certainly learn from online materials, various books, etc, there is something to be said about good old fashioned hands on learning and experiencing for yourself!  I challenge each of you to experience all that Harman has to offer by visiting them in Los Angeles at 8500 Balboa Blvd.  I know they would be more than happy to host you and your teams much like they did for me!  Remember, this is all part of the desired end goal — to learn more about audio and better position your respective companies in the eyes of your customers.  Thanks to Harman’s support system, educational opportunities, and unparalleled approach to technology and innovation, they should be the first stop along the way!

If you’d like information on Harman products, please feel free to contact me.

Rob Voorhees
888-420-2566 x6547  |  [email protected]

 

But I Don’t KNOW Audio!

Wise words from one of our own.

 

More times than not, it seems the “A” in A/V becomes an afterthought.  I like to think it is the first letter because it is the most important, but opinions will vary on that.  Much like any other product or service offering, salespeople will always gravitate towards their comfort zone, whether it is the right solution or not for the end user and even if it means leaving margin/revenue on the table.  The concept of audio systems is a prime example and my goal in writing this piece is to illustrate how to avoid doing a disservice to your customers and to your own company.

 

It was 7 months ago when I was approached with an offer to manage our Harman product line.  My first thought was pure excitement of the new responsibilities, not to mention the opportunity to become further entrenched in the Pro A/V industry.  I have always considered myself a “student” and the more I can learn, the better version of me I would become.  With that being said, my 2nd thought was a resounding “but I don’t KNOW Audio!” From my past experiences in consumer A/V, I was well aware of how vast of a product lineup Harman carried, however I also became aware of the fact there were now 9 different lines I would be responsible for learning.  Yes, I said 9!  My competitive side wanted to immediately learn every feature of every sku of every line…..which I later realized was not the wisest decision by any means.  That is when it dawned on me- Harman and pro audio were no different than my responsibilities in Telecommunications in that all I needed to do was ask the proper qualifying questions while also relying on the support team I was given. Harman has an incredible team of inside support staff and product engineers who are available for the simplest inventory requests to the most complex system designs.  I found that you only needed to learn WHO to turn to and at WHAT time should you turn to them.  This also allowed me the ability to learn the products and features as we went along in the process.

 

Let’s dive into the one aspect I mentioned above which was, learning to ask the right qualifying questions.  I have always been a firm believer that you can’t sell something if you don’t ask.  Simply put- if you don’t ask your customers about their audio solutions, chances are they won’t be asking you!  So how exactly do you ask about audio if YOU DON’T KNOW AUDIO?  “Mr. Customer, based on your needs I think we can put together a perfect display solution for you.  Now let me ask, what are you currently doing to address your AUDIO needs?” THAT’S IT!  That one question is normally all you would need to ask in order to get the conversation started and get your foot in the proverbial door to audio. This is the moment where the customer might state that he has never thought about audio or he might say he is already sourcing that elsewhere and it gives you a chance to try and win the business.  It will allow you to gather the customer’s needs, how they want the system to function, the dimensions of the room, etc., and then provide that detail to the support team in place at the appropriate vendor to begin designing the proper solution.

 

Harman happens to not only have one of the widest audio product lineups in the country, but I have found that they also have a wide array of training resources available regardless of your skill level.  Did you know that simply by going to https://pro.harman.com/applications  you can select the application you are working on and see an example of the necessary hardware required?  It is through this method that I was able to learn about JBL Surface Mount Speakers, Crown Amplifiers, as well as DBX Zone Processors and how they function in a restaurant environment. Another tool I have learned to value is through the Harman Professional University Training Program. Through these resources that Harman has invested in, it becomes far easier to dive into the world of Professional Audio whether you are initially comfortable with the idea or not.

 

Hopefully I have started the thought process for you on how to begin offering Audio to your customers.  Aside from added value to your clients, you will be pleasantly surprised by the increased comfort you have recommending new services/products not to mention the HIGHER MARGINS!  I challenge each of you to explore new opportunities involving audio and start the process TODAY.  You may contact me directly at [email protected] or 215-251-7685 and I will get you and your team registered on Harman Professional University and begin reviewing possible leads where we can easily integrate audio into the mix.  So, the next time you speak with a potential client, feel confident in saying “Lets Talk About Your Audio Needs” because you now KNOW AUDIO!

If you’d like information on Harman products, please feel free to contact me.

Rob Voorhees
888-420-2566 x6547  |  [email protected]

Small Room. Big Benefits. Gain huge insight on small huddle space audio challenges and how to solve them.

Offices have been trending towards the “open office” model for quite some time, usually with one or two dedicated conference spaces. These spaces were usually large and most likely had use restrictions on them, sending the employees back to their open office to work on a project. This is a less-than-ideal situation because the open office environment introduces distractions and isn’t conducive to collaboration. Team members don’t want their meeting to disrupt their colleagues, so what’s a team to do?

Huddle rooms to the rescue!

Yes, we’ve heard and read about huddle rooms for a few years now. They certainly make sense for the scenario listed above. An easily accessible space for team members to meet, away from their colleagues, that fosters collaboration. Typically seating just 3-5 people, it’s an efficient use of available space. Remote workers cite a “more inclusive” feel when working with team members who are in a huddle room, as opposed to a large conference room, which has a more formal vibe.

 

How to make the huddle room a true collaboration workspace.

In addition to the huddle room as space in and of itself, it can provide additional functionality to the enterprise. By incorporating the right technology, the huddle room can transform into a true collaboration workspace for both local and offsite team members. Use of soft codecs within the enterprise affords the user greater flexibility for scheduling and meeting location. Technology in the huddle room should provide the same ease of use.

In a collaborative conferencing situation, team members may be moving around the room or at a whiteboard, with their backs to the camera and mic. The microphone on a typical laptop doesn’t provide adequate coverage of the room. It barely sounds acceptable when the user is on-axis to the mic. Horrible audio is fatiguing to the listener on the far end, and ultimately decreases productivity. The solutions should improve the audio fidelity coming from the room. Fortunately, Almo has a number of solutions to fit any budget and technical requirement.

 

We have the right products designed for huddle rooms.

AMX, part of the Harman group, offers the Acendo Vibe. Connected via USB or Bluetooth, the vibe has JBL onboard speakers and microphones, CEC control and the option of a 120-degree wide-angle camera.

The Biamp Devio was purpose-built for the huddle room. After running the system’s mic auto-setup, three 120-degree mic elements actively track the speaker in the room with incredible clarity. One USB cable connection from your computer is all that’s needed to push video to the local monitor, send audio to the monitor via HDMI, send to low-impedance speakers from its onboard 20-watt amp, or send the audio to a room system via line-level outputs. Connect the room’s telephone headset to the Devio and that extension can also bridge into the call. The Devio has USB connections for a camera and other peripherals as well. The company IT department can pull room usage information across the network via SMTP traps available within the Devio. An onboard web server as well as downloadable software allows configuration of the device.

And … don’t forget about local audio! Choose from a variety of speaker manufacturers and options from Atlas, JBL and TOA.

Questions? Give me a call! I’m available to help you with your project and answer questions you may have.

Steve Alexander, CTS, PCVE, CCNA
Business Development Manager 

888-420-2566 x6648  |  [email protected]

Audio – Twenty Years Ago. One Almo BDM’s Fond Memories and Meager Beginnings

Hello Almo Customers!

As the New Year begins, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself, as I am one of the newer Business Development Managers here at Almo.

My name is Steve Alexander, I came on board with Almo in July of 2017 to help grow the audio offerings we provide to you, our customers. I’ve been involved in professional audio since the early 1980’s, graduating from the music business program at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee.

Click Image to Listen  

Like many of you, while in school I did various jobs to supplement my meager student existence. My first “real” job in pro audio was working in a Music Row recording studio making cassette (you remember those, don’t you?) tape copies for songwriters and publishers wanting to pitch their songs to artist to put on their next release.

I eventually made my way to the control room, wrapping cables, setting up mics, and observing everything I could in order to have a chance to sit in front of the mixing console. During my tenure, I managed to work in various studios around town, eventually making my way up to chief engineer.

A number of years later I am still in love with audio. I’ve had gigs selling equipment to broadcast facilities, did some IT work as a Cisco engineer, and ran a team of AV pros supporting AV & VC technologies at the World Bank in Washington, DC.

I eventually married and settled in beautiful Annapolis, MD. Annapolis is blessed with a great number of talented musicians I got to know over time and thought, what’s an audio guy with an unfinished basement to do other than make the basement into a studio! Now remember, this was twenty years ago. So with a small budget I got to work. I triple-walled the control room and performance space to ensure as little noise as possible, made it into a performance space and built out the control room and vocal booth.

I decided to stick with a tape based system as a full blown Pro-Tools system was out of my financial reach at that time. So I decided on three Tascam DA-38’s synced together using their RC-848 transport remote, a Behringer 24×8 console was my recording desk, and I had a good bit of outboard gear to supplement what the Beheringer didn’t offer sonically, a Focusrite mic-pre & EQ, a number of dbx compressor/limiters, urei leveling amps, a Hafler audio amp,  JBL monitors and Auratone’s for my car audio mix. All this was tied together using Whirlwind TTL patchbays to route signals.  Over the years I had assembled a nice collection of microphones, from Shure SM57’s, to Sennheiser 421’s, and AKG D10, C391B’s, 414, etc.

One of my favorite projects was a compilation Christmas CD featuring local Annapolis artist. That CD provided the impetus for the still running two night live show of “An Annapolis Christmas” that occurs every December at our local music venue the Rams Head on Stage.

I’ve included a mix of “This Christmas” as performed by the Annapolis based band, Majesty 12.

No, it won’t sound as if it was recorded at Capital Studio A, but it ain’t bad considering it was recorded in my basement… ahh, my salad days…

Twenty years later, the technology is exponentially better, just to say you don’t need a million dollar budget to put together a decent sounding recording facility. This translates into the install and integration markets as well. With the convergence of AV and IT, the possibilities are truly endless. It’s an exciting time to be an AV professional. Almo ProAV is dedicated to helping our partners provide the best in class solution to their end users.

I hope you will allow me to assist you with any upcoming projects you have that involve audio.

Pin It on Pinterest