JBL Synthesis Product Advisory Council at ISE 2020
by Jim Garrett
Senior Director, Product Strategy & Planning
The JBL Synthesis brand represents the absolute state-of-the-art for multichannel immersive surround audio systems. When it comes to product development, keeping the brand at the forefront of performance requires constant research and innovation. To help us ensure we are on the right track, we are enlisting our dealer and distributor partners in a series of product advisory councils where we discuss upcoming products and future concepts in an open forum format. The first of these sessions was recently held in conjunction with the 2020 Integrated Systems Europe trade show held in Amsterdam, Netherlands during the second week of February.
In addition to myself, Harman attendees included key leaders from our business unit: Dave Tovissi (VP & GM), Nick Clarke (Sr. Dir., Electronics Engineering), Kevin Voecks (Acoustic Technologies Manager, JBL Synthesis), Dan Vandenberg (Sr. Global Product Line Manager), and Scott Campbell (Dir. Sales, EMEA Region). Seven attendees represented five of our top JBL Synthesis distributors for the EMEA region, giving us a direct line of communication with our customer front lines.
The timing of this first product advisory council coincides with the largest custom integration show in Europe: ISE, where our JBL Synthesis brand is kicking off the new decade with host of new products and a wealth of new dealer training. Our session began with a quick recap of where we came from and what JBL Synthesis as a brand means: a collection of products designed and engineered to work together as a calibrated system. We’ve recently announced five new electronics models as part of our continuing efforts to deliver the most advanced systems available. These include two new 16-channel surround processors (SDP-65 ad SDP-55), our first (and the market’s first) 16-channel AVR (SDR-35), and two Class G power amplifiers (SDA-7120 and SDA-2200). When you add in the existing 16-32-channel expandable surround processor (SDP-75) and our two high power amplifiers (SDA-8300 andSDA-4600), there are eight models with which to configure an immersive surround system along with our six SCL and SSW loudspeakers.
From this point of level-setting, we jumped into a preview of new JBL Synthesis products that will be coming later this year. These include five new models that will be announced at CEDIA this fall. Attendees got to see early images and hear the details on these exciting products and how they will work in conjunction with existing products to expand the system capabilities for JBL Synthesis customers. For us, it was a chance to ask key questions and get critical customer feedback to be able to finalize details at this stage of development. It’s a great chance to make sure there are not any details we may have overlooked during the early stages of design. If there are, we can course correct and make those adjustments before it is too late.
The next part of the discussion focused around future concepts for electronics, loudspeakers, and things that are products, but neither electronics nor loudspeakers per se. We brought to the table a number of concepts and ideas that haven’t been fully fleshed out yet into viable projects. As a group, we discussed the pros and cons of each one and either refined them into something useful, or determined they didn’t belong as part of a JBL Synthesis solution. This is time very well spent as the collaborative nature means that we are working hand-in-hand with our customers on determining how to maximize our mutual success with JBL Synthesis solutions. The conversation then flowed into concepts that the attendees brought to us that we had not yet discussed. This is a great way for customers to have a direct line of communication with our product development team and share concepts that we may not have even been thinking about. For us as a team, the future concepts discussion is a highlight of the product advisory council session. This is what gets the product team’s blood flowing!
Part of any successful product plan has to be a strategy for how to teach and train on it. And that is where we went for our last segment of the session. Our business unit has been investing heavily in training for 2020. (By now you hopefully have already signed up for our e-learning and taken some of the first modules on JBL Synthesis. A link to the login can be found on the home page of this online newsletter.) With the advanced and ever-evolving nature of immersive audio systems, there is much we can all learn together. Kevin Voecks is helping to lead that charge for us along with our global head of training, Chris Robinson. This year we are rolling out a number of new initiatives including the aforementioned e-learning, intensive multi-day workshops in the Northridge facility, and an expansion of our in-person training with roadshows to bring the training to regional customers. We are also working on a new dealer certification program with two-way benefits that will roll out later this year.
And with that, we wrapped up our first product advisory council session. For all parties, this was a resounding success. As a dealer/distributor partner, it is the chance for your voice to be heard. For us as the development team, it is a chance to get an extra set of eyes on our work. For all of us, it is a chance to work together to maximize the opportunities we have with this unique brand. We will be adding additional sessions to the calendar throughout the year. The next one is taking place in the U.S. region in the second quarter of this year.