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Sound Wave Spotlight With Allen & Heath

Allen & Heath Spotlight

Name: Nicola Beretta
Title: Director of Product
Company: Allen & Heath

rAVe [PUBS]: Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do at Allen & Heath.

NICOLA BERETTA: I’ve been in product management at Allen & Heath since 2010. As director of product, I lead a talented team of product managers, product specialists and support engineers. I help drive market research and product specification, as well as the longer-term product strategy and roadmap. I also work closely with our marketing team on product launches, campaigns and go-to-market initiatives. It’s an incredibly varied role touching all angles of the business from production and quality to sales forecast and ROI. It can sometimes be a challenge, but you are guaranteed no two days are ever the same!

rAVe [PUBS]: How does your company approach product development and innovation to ensure your audio solutions remain at the forefront of technology?

NB: Historically we have been a largely R&D driven company when it comes to product development. Part of my contribution through the years was to bring more market intelligence, feedback and a more analytical approach to product definition. New products can be a combination of internal innovation, responding to market pressure, incremental or step changes to technology and/or growth opportunities in market segments or adjacencies. Whatever the reason, user feedback is always key and this doesn’t stop at product specification. We test concepts and gather feedback around prototypes at different stages to make sure any innovation or design choice adds value to the customer. Expert users and distribution partners representing different markets and applications always contribute to the process. We often say that we don’t design mixers, our customer do!

rAVe [PUBS]: In what ways do you prioritize user experience and ease of integration for ProAV professionals when designing your audio equipment?

NB: Ease of use and integration have been at the forefront of our product offerings for many years. Our digital consoles are used by veteran sound engineers, house of worship volunteers, amateur musicians and novice users alike. A fast, intuitive workflow with a minimal learning curve is paramount, and so is the ability to set up multiple user profiles and permissions with different levels of access to the system. When it comes to integration, I cannot think of a product range more ‘connected’ than ours, be it audio networking options for Dante/AES67/SMPTE, MADI, Waves SoundGrid or control integration with Shure and Sennheiser wireless systems.

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rAVe [PUBS]: What is the greatest challenge audio professionals currently face and why?

NB: IT networking technology is permeating the traditional pro audio space. This has been the case in the AV integration industry for some time, but we are seeing the rental and live production sector deploy converged networks, fibre trunks and VLANs, demanding new skills and training.

rAVe [PUBS]: In your opinion, what is the number one trend shaping the future of pro audio right now and how is Allen & Heath positioned to capitalize on this trend?

NB: Production requirements are growing, with ever increasing needs for comms and shout lines, complex routing, digital splits, tie-lines and audio processing chains. Having moved away from obsolete DSP technology towards powerful FPGA platforms, we are in a unique position to be able to scale our digital console range up and down to meet new demands, without sacrificing latency or mix coherency.

rAVe [PUBS]: What are some new audio initiatives or innovations coming up from Allen & Heath?

NB: We have heavily invested in R&D and prototyping facilities, but perhaps the biggest innovation will come from our DSP team. In the next few weeks, we will bring to the market new processing tools and FX which blur the boundary between mixing and creative music production and crucially, these will be running for the first time ever on-board a pro digital console, without the hassle and complexity of external plugin systems.

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