Throughout its over 75-year legacy, JBL has developed a range of groundbreaking technologies to support the evolving commercial audio market. In the mid-1990s, the Control Contractor™ loudspeaker family debuted to address the unique needs that contractors and installers often faced during the install process.
In part two of our discussion with JBL experts Rick Kamlet, Sr. Product Manager; Alex Maurer, Commercial Loudspeaker Specialist; and Ashish Barje, Commercial Loudspeaker Product Manager; we had an opportunity to learn more these loudspeakers and why they are ideal for supporting contractors specifying commercial audio projects.
Can you describe how this lineup is categorized to simplify designs and ordering?
We tend to divide our commercial loudspeakers into six main categories. There are in-ceiling, on-wall (which are also called surface mount speakers), in-wall, columns (which are the long narrow column speakers), pendants (which hang down from the ceiling), a variety of landscape models, and then some specialty models that do not exactly fit into the six categories. But these are the six main ones. We have found that these categories do a good job of covering most installed loudspeaker application needs.
And can you give us a better idea of the typical customer this Series supports?
Our customer base has always included anyone who needs commercial installation loudspeakers, along with their customers. In one of the common distribution chains, we sell through dealers who design and install sound systems. They provide the equipment to businesses. And then ultimately, the end customers are the everyday listeners who experience the audio at these venues.
See How JBL Control Contractor IP Ratings Support Weather Resistance
How much did the need for commercial-tailored solutions factor into this Series’ development?
The input of consultants and designers has always been an integral part of our product design process. While we pride ourselves on the versatility of our products, there can be projects or installations that call for different solutions. It is important for us to keep our finger on the pulse of the installed audio market, as trends and performance requirements can, and often do, change over time. Technology also typically moves quickly, so we listen to those who are working on leading-edge projects, and these innovations often make it into our stock products.
Are there any Control Contractor models that were developed due to a commercially-tailored market need?
Definitely. Two good examples are our recently introduced GSF and GSB lines, which are full-range and subwoofer speakers that are specifically designed for landscape applications. As incognito-installed landscape speakers have grown in popularity, we incorporated feedback from consultants and industry professionals to design these two best-in-class solutions for landscape projects. Since launching, interest in both of these models has been strong, which just goes to show that feedback from our designers and installers is always an important part of the product design process.
What changes has JBL seen in the commercial loudspeaker market over the last 10 years?
It is imperative that we continually adjust to meet the demands of the marketplace. For example, there are always changes in architectural sensibilities such as a desire for smaller, lower profile loudspeakers that fit in better with the décor of spaces, so we have now incorporated smaller, lower profile models in our lineup.
There is also a strong continuing trend toward more open-structure or open-architecture ceilings. We’ve been seeing more of these ceiling styles in retail stores, restaurants, and similar environments. So, we came out with our Control 60 Series line of pendant speakers to make them easier to install using the beams that you find in these open structure ceilings, and to bring the sound closer to listeners’ ears for better sound quality. And just recently, we introduced a high-power pendant model, the Control 68HP, to support any of those locations where higher SPL is needed.
In another architecturally-driven shift, column loudspeakers are becoming increasingly popular because they are less visually-obtrusive. This has been supported by a performance-driven shift in realizing the benefits of speakers that limit coverage to only where they are needed. Columns tend to be clearer for speech and large wide-bandwidth columns are also ideal for high-fidelity music. Embracing these trends, we introduced the COL line of compact, cost-effective columns. So, to provide our customers with the ability to select speakers that meet with changing demands, we now make a very broad line of installation loudspeakers, from the most compact and affordable columns to powerhouse models, to the very tall, electronically-steerable Intellivox models that are great for extremely large spaces.
Are resources available to assist in the design, installation, and configuration stages?
JBL is committed to making available various application tools to help with this process to ensure they work their best and can be utilized for a long life cycle.
For example, for ceiling speaker systems, we offer a free program called Distributed System Design that helps the designer determine which speakers will perform at ideal sound levels needed for their project. The software also assists the designer in determining how far apart to space the speakers and which subwoofers fit with the speakers they have chosen to pair with and how many to use (for systems that require additional low-end).
We also have a wide-encompassing JBL Training Program that includes a range of support resources, on-demand and in-person trainings, and certifications – all available anytime you need them.
Our JBL Anytime Help Center is also always available and includes a deep repository of helpful technical support resources.
And, each of our global regions has a team of highly qualified technical support staff that can assist with any question, idea, design, or project.
JBL’s Control Contractor Series brings together world-class acoustics with the flexibility to meet the demands of any installed commercial audio project. We look forward to supporting your designs and projects and invite you to learn more.
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