Meet Christopher Olofsson, our Brand Research Software Specialist who currently works as the Project Manager for the Lake software team located in Kungsbacka Sweden. We have asked Christopher few questions about his time and experiences working at Lab.gruppen and Lake.
Tell us about what you do at Lake?
I currently work as the Project Manager for the Lake software team. I also do a lot of the software development and customer contact as well. We’re a tight and focused team consisting of senior developers with a lot of experience in the vast spectrum of use cases Lake is deployed for.
How long have you been in your current position, and could you provide a brief overview of what you do?
I have been working at Lab.gruppen and Lake since December 2014. The current project Lake XP was kicked off in February 2019 with early customer feedback on the concept as a whole. The project as such was exciting already from the start in that it required creativity in order to get our already released hardware to perform even more audio processing than before. At first, we did not know whether we could actually make it or not! To highlight some of the features Lake XP adds I would list separate FIR processing for speaker presets and speaker array optimizations and the possibility to activate a multiband limiter on each output. A great toolbox for anyone into FIR speaker preset making, for instance.
Have you always been interested in the audio and sound business? What drew you to this industry?
Ever since I was little I have been playing the piano and been interested in music making/audio production as a whole. But I also started out early as a hobbyist programmer. To work here is a perfect combination of two of my main interests!
What do you like about Lab.gruppen and Lake?
To me it’s about the quality and well-thought-out products that the brand Lab.gruppen stands for. I sometimes get in contact with people working with or otherwise interested in live audio during my spare time since I play in a band and I always feel proud to say I’m with Lab.gruppen since our amps have always been so highly ranked. But it’s also a great place to work at. Everyone here is kind to one another and you’re always included and listened to when you have ideas.
What is your inspiration for both work and your personal projects?
Even though I am a programmer and things tend to get very technical at times, I really try to put myself in the position of an end user and strive to make the end result as “user friendly” as possible. My main inspiration is when users express their appreciation of my work, whether it is at work or in other parts of life.
What makes you happy at work?
To finalize something that was first an idea and see it happen, spring to life and actually make a difference and add value. That of course in combination with a few laughs together with my colleagues whether it be to celebrate or to get over setbacks.
What has been a lesson you’ve learned while working at Lab.gruppen and Lake?
That “to prioritize” actually means to remove something that you won’t do, not to pick what you will do first. This is hard, since I always want it all and tend to want to squeeze in even more. I tend to get very eager.
What is your most satisfying customer interaction?
To solve and iron out technical details of e.g. a feature in a way that we all understand the problem and agree on all parts of the proposed solution, and the joy the energy that comes from that process gives me when thinking of how good this will become.
What is one potentially surprising thing that people don’t know about you?
I’m not that full of surprises, more of the opposite. One thing that some may or may not know about is the fact that I play the piano and the organ in a band, and we have been sticking together for twelve years now, performing our own original songs.
In the North American and U.S. commercial audio market, installers and end users are on the same page in terms of expectations. They want systems that deliver exceptional sound quality, ease of installation and use, simplified connectivity and exceptional reliability. That’s a tall order – but one that leading OEMs are responding to, through new products built for a digitally connected world. The trend can be a boon for commercial installers, who gain the advantages of broader solutions, easier installation, and the ability to market superior sound systems.
From small hospitality industry businesses to large-scale enterprises, end users accustomed to easily streaming and controlling audio on their personal digital devices, expect the same ease of use, control and sound quality in their commercial establishments. For commercial installers and OEMs, the challenge becomes one of scale, and how to meet end user expectations when audio must be delivered not to a personal set of headphones or a home living space, but to a large-scale commercial structure with multiple zones and varying needs for controlling the sound within each of those zones.
Digital networking technologies like Dante are key, enabling networked audio, with a centrally located core processor and audio transported over the network. This reduces hardware and the time needed to install and configure it. Manufacturers who can develop compatible components and systems will win out. New product development will focus on the innovation of components that offer multiple options within a single unit, for example an amplifier designed for various power schemes, flexible connectivity, multiple speaker loads, remote volume control and other features.
Commercial installers see the bottom-line gains made possible by digital systems, including greater productivity and cost savings. Just as important is the opportunity to increase customer satisfaction through enhanced sound quality and reliability.
Mark Higgason, Executive Vice President at Encompass Audio Visual in Elk Grove, Illinois
Mark Higgason, executive vice president at Encompass Audio Visual in Elk Grove, Illinois, is one commercial installer who looks for the simplicity, quality and reliability trifecta when developing a system for his customers. “Whether the application is a bar or restaurant or a corporate board room, my customers want a system that is digital, with easy-to-use interfaces, and a lot of flexibility in controlling the sound in multiple areas or diverse situations. As a designer and installer, I need components that are just as simple to install and that give me flexible configuration options.”
For Higgason, simple installs translate to a better bottom line. “We have 15 audio technicians out there doing five installations a day. Our costs can add up if an installation takes an extended amount of time. Labor is one obvious cost, but there are others that are not so obvious. For example, we do a lot of installations in urban environments, so we have parking expenses. The longer an installation takes, the higher our parking fees. It all affects our profitability. Amplifiers and other system components that are compatible with digital networks install quickly and easily, keeping us on track in cost and efficiency.”
Sound quality – and the ability of installers to sell higher end systems – has also received a boost from digital innovations and professional grade audio components. “Customers may initially hesitate about investing in a higher-end sound system,” notes Higgason. “But when they hear a demo, the difference in the better system is like night and day. The cost becomes acceptable and customers usually opt for the higher end system. That helps increase our profit margins.”
As the trend towards an “experience” culture grows, quality sound and the ability for users to control it, will continue to be essential. Audio becomes part of a brand’s or establishment’s identity. Immersing customers in a total experience that creates that personality includes the creation – and conveyance – of a distinguishing sound. Digital audio systems give commercial designers and installers the ability to easily provide customers with exceptional sound quality, and highly customizable solutions that support their brand identities.
Going forward, end user expectations will continue to drive OEM innovation in digital audio systems for commercial applications. Commercial designers and installers who adapt can create their own expanded opportunities in a market that is trending toward great sound, simplified installation and easy control.
Encompass Audio Visual roots are in the hospitality industry. Since 1999 Encompass has been providing premiere AV systems to some of the best locations in Chicago and around U.S. One of the cornerstone technologies in hospitality is a great quality audio system. Whether in a lobby, lounge or amazing restaurant, audio is critical to how guests perceive their experience. For over 15 years Encompass has partnered with companies like Martin Audio of London, Lab Gruppen, and Symetrix to bring crystal clear, evenly distributed, and intelligible systems to places like Hotel Zachary, Brickhouse Tavern, and the award winning Gibsons Italia.
Carl Blomqvist and Zacharias Hultman have worked on a Room Correction project at Lab Gruppen during summer 2019. The topic was "Acoustics analysis and room equalization: development of software tools for measurement, correction, and analysis of room acoustics". They developed a program for measuring room’s response and some analytical tools for evaluating the acoustic quality of a room.
Every room has a unique acoustics signature and a variety of distortions. Room acoustics’ software, like room correction, can be used to reduce these distortions and improve audio clarity. By altering the output of speakers to perform differently depending on the room, listening to the sound in that specific room can be a more pleasant experience.
The gray curves show measurements from multiple different points in a room and the red curve shows their average.
They wrote their own program in Python for data collection, calibrated their instruments, performed room measurements, developed analytical tools and collected data for future analysis. They proved their initial hypothesis by creating a simple filter based on the data they analyzed, resulting in a definite improvement in the perceived sound quality in the room.
Room Correction with the use of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is a very complex field. Carl is a computer science student and Zacharias is studying electrical engineering so they completed each other’s work. Their supervisors Amir Eghbali and Gustav Santesson, helped and guided them throughout the project.
Today we visit our customer Hyrljudet Sydväst AB, a supplier of sound, light & stage technology in Gothenburg Sweden. Thank you Kristoffer for your valuable insights into your daily work and projects! 🎵 Sound Dream Team
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Håkan Gustafsson, Product Manager at Lab.gruppen Sweden, introduces the ethos behind D SERIES, our most advanced install-dedicated amplifier platform to date. Conceived to provide ‘true open interoperability’, D SERIES integrates with the widest range of digital audio and control protocols, bringing powerful benefits and unique capabilities that make a real world difference, to any demanding high-performance installation. D SERIES is available in two distinct variants, each with three power models to specifically suit the application. One delivers a proven combination of Lake Processing and Dante, while the other heralds a ground-breaking collaboration with Biamp Systems for potent and seamless integration with their Tesira DSP platform.
PLM+ is the brand new touring platform from Lab.gruppen, a platform that offers all of the unique performance characteristics, flexibility, and raw power of the 20000Q, but with twice the processing power, twice the throughput and a whole host of additional features and improvements designed to deliver real world benefits and make the life cycle of any production easier, smoother and more efficient, from the system design stage, operating, through to the final load out.
We are proud to announce that the new Lake Controller v6.8 is now released and available for download.
New features include: Input Configuration Summary Global Input Router Priority Control Warning when NOT on Input Priority 1 Dante Domain Manager (DDM) Ready Global control for Dante Device Name and IP Config Power Cycle available from LakeUpdate