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EAW Capitalizes on Its Engineering and Manufacturing Resources in Whitinsville for Custom Products

When Coffeen Fricke and Associates, Inc. (www.cfaconsulting.com) developed a complex specification for the Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles) audio system, they went to several manufacturers of sound technology seeking a solution. EAW was chosen, as they could provide that solution and manufacture the product to exacting specifications. At the EAW Strategic Engineering Group’s offices in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, Kenton Forsythe, EAW’s co-founder/Vice President, Strategic Engineering; Jeff Rocha, Senior Director of Engineering; Joe Fustolo, Director of EAW’s Applications Support Group; and Janet Yacino, who supervises the Build-To-Order (BTO) projects, constitute a brain trust that continuously develops customized solutions for a wide range of applications and users. In the process, those solutions often end up turning into products that benefit the broader industry.

A perfect example is the work EAW’s Strategic Engineering Group did for the Eagles stadium sound system, which needed sound coverage of very specific sections of the venue with enclosures that would also deflect weather in a particular manner, so that fans would get great sound without getting wet. The Group took the concept from an existing EAW line-source speaker array, of the type used commonly in houses of worship on columns to project sound without interfering with sight lines, and adapted it for horizontal mounting. Not only did the custom solution work brilliantly, but additionally a version of the design is under consideration to become a standard product in EAW’s speaker systems line, providing the benefit of the Group’s collective innovation to other users. Another ongoing custom engineering project involves developing a compact, high output design with exceptional pattern control that, when completed, will allow more targeted placement of better-sounding boxes for venues such as theme parks where architectural considerations become paramount.

In another example, a customized version of EAW’s full-range AX 364 Arrayable Install Loudspeaker, modified to fire simultaneously forward and down, was developed for the newly opened New York Mets ballpark Citi Field. Working closely with systems consultants WJHW of Dallas, Texas, and integrator TSI Global Companies, LLC, several of these precisely modified enclosures were installed at the clubhouse level, one of the most challenging spaces in a stadium of this design, with a pair of 10-inch woofers aimed downward to cancel out low-frequency buildup in an architectural bass trap. Other solutions have been developed for venues including the Red Sox’s Fenway Park in Boston and the Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

In fact, this kind of customized-solution approach to engineering has already led to elegantly converged market and engineering-driven breakthroughs in sound systems design by EAW. “It’s a key aspect of our product development,? says Forsythe. “A significant portion of EAW’s product ranges come from specialized work our engineering and manufacturing divisions have developed to provide specific solutions to our customers. These ‘solutions’ have then become products within the EAW line.? Systems installations are becoming more complex as venues become more competitive and advances in technology allow for more complicated systems designs, but Forsythe says the increase in the amount of custom work that the Strategic Engineering Group has been doing is driven as much by the fact that EAW has such a broad range of products upon which custom solutions can be based. “We have a pretty broad scope of product, so we have a lot of things that would address a wide range of challenges,? he explains.

But engineering is just one piece of the customization process. Manufacturing resources also need to be in place to execute the design. The Baltimore Orioles’ Oriole Park at Camden Yards recently benefited from the installation of a brand new distributed sound reinforcement system, featuring nearly 300 loudspeakers from EAW. The installation, completed in time for the Orioles’ April 6th season opener against the New York Yankees, was finished in a highly accelerated time period of three months, which is approximately half the amount of time a system of this magnitude would take to install under normal conditions. To meet these stringent deadlines, EAW drew on the resources at its Whitinsville, Massachusetts R&D/manufacturing facility to supply the complete loudspeaker inventory requested for the installation. In addition to accelerating the manufacturing process to meet the deadline, a customized weatherproof system was developed for the specific requirements of this job, all within the strict delivery requirements.

Customer interface is crucial in this custom design process. The Applications Support Group evaluates new requests as they come in, reviewing which existing EAW products might form the basis of a solution. Engineering will develop the concept further and create prototypes if required. The BTO group will oversee completion of the custom solution. These custom solutions not only address the issues that clients want solved but also deepen the bond between EAW and its customers. “They love it because they’ve got an ownership interest in the idea,? says Forsythe. “We all work together to help that customer solve their problem, and when we turn the system on and they finally hear the results of everyone’s efforts, it’s a very rewarding experience.?

For more information, please visit www.eaw.com.

About EAW
Founded in 1978 and celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW) is a global leader in producing high-performance professional audio equipment trusted by the most discerning professionals for every possible sound reinforcement application.

About LOUD Technologies Inc.
As the corporate parent for world-recognized brands Alvarez®, Ampeg®, Blackheart®, Crate®, EAW®, Mackie®, Martin Audio® and TAPCO®, LOUD engineers, markets and distributes a wide range of professional audio and musical instrument products worldwide. Our product lines include sound reinforcement systems, analog and digital mixers, guitar and bass amplifiers, and acoustic and electric guitars. These products can be found in professional and project recording studios, video and broadcast suites, post-production facilities, sound reinforcement applications including houses of worship, stadiums and nightclubs, retail locations and on major musical concert tours. The Company distributes its products primarily through retail dealers, mail order outlets and installed sound contractors. The Company has its primary operations in the United States with operations in the United Kingdom, Canada and China. For more information, please see our website: www.loudtechinc.com.

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