Designed to deliver performance and features that system designers need and listeners demand, JBL Professional Application Engineered (AE) Series Loudspeakers have raised the bar for performance, reliability and value. Through state-of-the-art technology and a systems approach, the AE Series has set the industry standard for commercial installed loudspeaker applications in cafés, restaurants, nightclubs and many other hospitality applications.

We sat down with JBL solutions experts Aritra Sarkar, Partha Basu and Sajag Gupta to get their insight on why the AE Series has become the ideal solution for so many commercial loudspeaker and subwoofer requirements. They have decades of combined experience designing and advising partners and clients on just the right system for each unique application.

Can you share your insights into the growing café, restaurant, and nightclub market and forecasted growth for the next few years?
The nightlife and hospitality industry is on a high growth trajectory – thanks to the paradigm shift in lifestyles and changing attitudes. Post-pandemic, the market has bounced back with significant, steady growth. The market as such can be broadly categorised into two categories – organised and unorganised.

A popular choice for many café, bar and restaurant applications, the AE Series AM7212/95 is a high power, lightweight, 2-way, full-range loudspeaker system that includes a 12-inch low-frequency driver and a 3-inch voice-coil compression driver.

The organised sector has been abuzz with activity with many international chains expanding. Examples of organized sector AE Series installs we’ve completed were with the Social chain of venues that combine cafés, workspaces and often music performance spaces into a single venue. After dramatically transforming the first Social with a custom AE system, Social went on to schedule AE system installations in its other outlets. Another organised sector install was the Hard Rock Café. After several AE Series demonstrations, they have begun installing AE systems in many of their restaurants with plans to continue expanding.

In the unorganised sector, growth is mainly driven by individual entrepreneurs who want to tap the potential of this sector. With a heady mix of both categories, there’s a huge scope for growth by catering to the aspirational needs of a young population.

Why has the AE Series become a popular choice in these markets and how do you see it growing in the coming years?
Many owners are looking to modernise their infrastructures. We have regularly suggested the AE Series as the perfect system upgrade. We have found that they most appreciate the highly engineered sound system that features a number of waveguides, wide coverage and ease of installation, including the ability to mount horizontally and vertically.

MAYFAIR Lake Resort used a range of AE Series Loudspeakers to completely upgrade the resort sound system: “What a difference the products have made to the property. We were able to engineer the appropriate solutions using HARMAN Professional products because they’re adaptable, reliable and produce great results.”

We continue to see high levels of interest for the AE Series and forecast that this interest will only continue to grow. With massive investments lined up for super clubs and nightlife gaining popularity in smaller cities and towns, the future is exciting for this expanding market.

What are the initial discussions and requirements you are being asked to solve when meeting with a client from the café, restaurant and nightclub markets?
The first question on the minds of many clients is “what is the power of the speaker?” Next, are comparisons with competing brands. In this intensely price-conscious market, rivals have similar products and the competition is strong. HARMAN Professional has the advantage of being the only end-to-end solution-providing company with no third parties involved. Clients appreciate the fact that we are a one-stop shop with the added advantage of service backup. Also being able to offer our loudspeakers in black and white colours as well as compact sizes, helps us to remain an industry leader.

What is your response to designers/managers/owners that are concerned about ROI and want to ensure the AE Series will continue to be the right product for several years in the future?
From our compact speakers, to our high-end speakers, the AE Series has a comprehensive range of models to suit any need so there’s no need to substitute or mix and match with alternative branded models. Our products also typically maintain one of the longest service lifetimes in the industry, which means less chance of downtime for repairs. To further invest in prospective customer confidence, we regularly invite prospects to existing installations to see the systems for themselves and ask questions of current clients. Overall, the rugged construction, top-notch performance, long life and end-to-end solution, deliver a near-unheard-of return on investment.

For new clients, how does your team make sure they feel their venue is receiving a “custom-fit” design that will be relevant for many years in the future?
We first get our team together for a brainstorming session to discuss the technicalities and budget parameters. By experience, we know that when it comes to nightlife spaces, a point source design typically works best and we position AE Series mostly in different angles to try and get the best output.

The ASB6125 is a popular dual 15″ subwoofer choice in many AE Series installations. It features 2 x 2265H-1 15″ Differential Drive® dual voice coil dual gap, neodymium magnet transducers that deliver 1600 watts continuous pink noise and are equipped to maintain a staggering 6400 watts peak power handling.

We also get all the necessary drawings from the owners of the property and the application team spends a lot of time on the AutoCAD designs to finalize speaker angles, the height of the install and exact positions for an immersive sound experience. On average, our team spends close to 200 man-hours onsite to synchronise the system to perfection.

So there is definitely no ‘one-size fits all’ solution, instead we work closely with the client to deliver a solution, customising it in every possible way for an exceptional customer experience. The focus throughout is to delight the client with unbelievable sound fidelity and uncompromising support.

What do your clients with evolving live music needs appreciate about the AE Series?
AE Series sonic quality is hands down, far superior to anything else on the market. The speakers are able to reproduce every genre of music in a very, very refined way. So we regularly receive incredibly positive feedback after the installation from both artists and audience members regarding live music installs. Clients appreciate the fact that we are able to deliver a complete ecosystem.

More and more live music venues are emerging every day as they do a phenomenal job at pulling in crowds. Many clubs are organising special evenings and inviting celebrity performers for their select clientele and of course they want to ensure the best sound delivery without any compromises.

The Piano Man Jazz Club included many AE Series loudspeakers and subwoofers to ensure incredible distribution throughout. “Every night, we shut down the bars, stop all service and let a moment of pure music without distraction pull people back into the magic happening on stage. The HARMAN system allows us to optimize the artist’s experience onstage without compromising the audience’s experience.”

The Piano Man Jazz Club is a great example as it caters to a very niche audience. As the owner is a sound engineer, he specifically wanted the AE Series installed in his club. It was a great learning experience to work with a truly passionate owner to ensure we achieved similar sound pressure levels throughout the venue. Piano Man resulted in an incredibly well-distributed design and our team was honored to have had the opportunity to work on the project.

AE Series speakers can be used in just about any way or location – what are some architectural challenges that you typically encounter?
The flexibility that the AE Series offers with both horizontal or vertical mounting creates a big advantage in building a system that works just right with unique room limitations. Rotatable horns also allow many more coverage options than typical. Additionally, AE Series speakers come in a variety of form factors to seamlessly blend into intricate environmental requirements.

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