‘An exceptional, immersive environment’: Inside Genelec’s new US demo centre

Genelec has cut the ribbon on a new demonstration facility at its US HQ in Natick, Massachusetts.

The new facility allows visitors to experience the full range of Genelec products in configurations from stereo through immersive 9.1.6. The new Genelec Experience Center is the Finnish firm’s first in the US, joining existing facilities in the UK, Germany, China and India.  

The space represents a complete rebuild of a former surround sound demo studio designed in-house in 2004, with Will Eggleston, Genelec US marketing director, providing the acoustical design. Earlier this year, he called on world-renowned studio architect and designer Francis Manzella, president and principal designer at Francis Manzella Design Ltd. to create a new aesthetic and acoustical treatments for the renovated space, which serves as a mix room, a theater and a research and test center for new software and other products.   

“Sadly, we lost Fran the day before we broke ground,” commented Paul Stewart, Genelec senior technical sales manager. “It was tragic losing such a talented and great guy, but I have to say that we really did consider him every step of the way as we worked on the finishing touches to this room and kept his spirit in it. 

You may also be interested in:

“Once we received the plans from Fran in April, the next challenge was finding a contractor that we could work with during the coronavirus pandemic that was familiar with working on his projects. Fran had suggested that we reach out to Ken Capton at Solar 2 Studios in Michigan. The results speak for themselves. They did a fantastic job.” 

A major part of Solar 2’s work was its construction of an encapsulated and heavily damped ceiling, with the team working almost around the clock for 17 consecutive days to complete the room’s custom fabrication.

The new space is configured to handle formats from stereo through surround to immersive 9.1.6 through a range of Genelec’s Smart Active Monitors (SAM). 

“Immersive content is obviously on the rise,” Stewart continued. “Our customer base needs instruction and guidance on going beyond stereo or 5.1, and we need to be able to work with the same tools our customers are using. So the main purpose for this studio, first and foremost, is as a place for people to experience what an immersive room feels like.”

Genelec’s software technology is also available for demonstration in the new room. The room is wired with multiple AES/EBU and IP runs to every speaker position. “If we were to use our new PoE speakers at every location, we could run a separate, independent 9.1.6 system in the room over IP. We also have an Avid Pro Tools system, so it’s a pretty flexible room,” Stewart said.  “This will be a venue for also creating in-house content, including webinars, and for software and hardware testing,” says Eggleston. “Once COVID-19 is under control, we look forward to welcoming professionals in all aspects of audio to use the space to experience our products, and even mix here in an exceptional immersive environment.

“There’s a lot of technology in this room. There’s also a lot to feel, and it’s easier to articulate it when you’ve actually sat in this room and experienced it yourself. And so, this is our new domain, and I intend to sit in here a lot. This room is designed to look forward and move into the future with Genelec.”