Ft. Wayne, IN
(April 8, 2008) - It's road-trippin' time. We went to Fort Wayne, Indiana to see what there is to see and quickly learned that there's a lot to hear, too.
Check out this video demo of the LARES acoustic enhancement system that is part of Sweetwater Music's state-of-the-art performance theater designed by Russ Berger.
Made by Lexicon, the system allows you to change the acoustics of a venue, so to speak. With dozens of microphones and speakers in the hall's walls and ceiling, the system listens, processes and reinforces sound according to the settings you choose, thus the LARES name: Lexicon Acoustic Reinforcement and Enhancement System. In other words, you can make the space sound like a small hall, a cathedral or whatever you want. You really have to experience it to fully appreciate it. It's one thing to put reverb onto a FOH signal -- it's an entirely different thing to make the whole room change sonically.
Sweetwater's performance theater also has a traditional sound system and a 7.1 JBL surround system. Each of theater's 250 seats is equipped with a headphone jack and a volume control, too. The theater is the jewel of Sweetwater's corporate headquarters and is constantly in use as the company trains its employees about the latest products on the market. The week before we visited, Martin Guitars was in town demoing their latest models in the theater, teaching Sweetwater sales engineers about the guitars' features and design philosophies. This is how Sweetwater keeps their employees knowledgable and on their toes.
This is starting to sound like a commercial so let me assure you, it is not. We were simply jazzed to learn that a retailer would go through so much trouble to make sure its employees know what they're talking about. Each Sweetwater sales engineer has to go through 90 days of training to work there, and that means everyone -- even a Grammy-winning producer on their staff who used to be the editor of a big name gear magazine. Those guys know their stuff. Ever found yourself at a music store talking to someone who clearly didn't know what they were talking about? 'Nuff said.
We were also floored by Sweetwater's certifiable eco-friendly building. It's the kind of building that goes above and beyond when it comes to having a minimal impact on the environment. The men's restrooms even have waterless urinals, no kidding (which save about 250,000 gallons of H20 per year).
In essence, our discovery of Sweetwater's killer theater, hard-core educational approach and eco-minded philosophy are the kinds of things you tend to come across when you actually go to someone's home turf and look around. (You can visit Sweetwater's HQ at their big gear expo May 31st) That's why we're so excited about our road trip series. The stuff we're seeing is downright cool and we're stoked to share what we find with you. We've got footage from a number of recent trips that we'll be rolling out soon and are planning many more trips in the near future so stay tuned!
For more information:
Lexicon's LARES System
Sweetwater Music Instruments & Pro Audio
Sweetwater GearFest 2008
Sweetwater Headquarters Virtual Tour