James King - Marketing Director

Optimal Audio – Brand Development

Marketing Director James King gives some insight into the processes behind the establishment of this new commercial audio brand…

Following the launch of Optimal Audio, it’s been gratifying to see the overwhelmingly positive response that has greeted our approach to commercial audio. This is the first time I’ve worked on a brand from its inception, and the development process was challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. Most importantly, it was fundamental to successfully fulfilling our specific ambitions.

The process began back in 2018, when it was clear to us that there was a good opportunity to develop a dedicated commercial audio brand. It was also apparent that simplicity should be the overriding driver of the brand – simple product selection, simple to install and simple for the end-user to operate. This idea, however, was not a case of dumbing things down – it was more about a careful selection of products for development, where unnecessary complexity was stripped away, and an architecture was created in which the products worked seamlessly together. In conjunction with Dom Harter, managing director, I wrote a simple brand story outlining these core beliefs, identifying the target market and how those within the end-to-end sales chain would benefit. This thinking then gave us the guardrails for the development and design of the products which Matt Rowe, engineering manager, took on with gusto, as well as providing the basis for the marketing approach.

We felt that it was also prudent to develop the brand logo at this early stage. Always keeping the watchword of simplicity at the front of our thoughts, the task proved surprisingly easy, and the Optimal Audio logo was developed from adopting an appropriately unfussy approach. What wasn’t foreseen at the time was just how the logo would naturally inform the brand architecture at a much later stage – suggesting that the clear approach to its origination was intuitively on the money.

Fast forward to 2020. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, we continued to work on product development and began to flesh out more of the brand architecture. The latter proved quite challenging as we tried to establish the right style and approach. Many concepts tried were originated but most were shelved. Colours came and went, photography went round in circles, and copy development was a process of continual refinement (and the odd argument). Then eventually our chief art designer broke the deadlock, proposing an approach which we could immediately see had strong potential. Taking inspiration from the logo, he showcased how everything we needed to reference could be represented in a double icon graphic approach – product categories, applications and key messages. Suddenly everything just clicked; it all reflected the simplicity of the brand’s approach, and was differentiated from other competitors in the sector. We had our basis to move forward.

Fast forward again to the start of 2021. Given that all the products were coming nicely to fruition, we decided on an April launch date. There was, however, still much to do. We needed to further refine all the brand communications, write all the product copy, develop the website, produce a company brochure, photograph the products, devise the launch event… the list appeared endless and daunting! In what proved to be a masterstroke, we appointed Gavin Eldridge to the team, with whom Dom and I had worked in support of #WeMakeEvents. He really helped to project-manage the whole thing, getting deeply stuck in to every aspect, helping both to keep me sane and everything else on track. As it transpired, the ‘final sprint’ was full-on sixteen week race until we arrived at the launch event itself. Everything was in place, ready to unveil…

And breathe…

Sequential

Synth brand Sequential joins our extended family

Focusrite plc’s acquisition of Sequential brings legendary synth brand under our group umbrella

We’re excited to welcome legendary synthesizer brand Sequential to the Focusrite Group of audio brands, following the latest acquisition by our parent company, Focusrite plc.

Sequential’s synths have made a huge impact in music for decades, and continue to inspire music makers all over the world. Instruments such as the classic Prophet® 5 — the world’s first fully programmable polysynth, designed by Dave Smith and launched in 1977 — and the futuristic Pro 3® hybrid monosynth, which combines analogue and digital in a powerful paraphonic instrument, show Sequential’s dedication to the craft of synthesizer design.

While Sequential will continue a business-as-usual approach as a separate entity, we’re looking forward to sharing the stage together, and growing with each other to inspire music makers, audio engineers and concertgoers for years to come.

Welcome to the family, Sequential! 

https://www.sequential.com/

Commercial Audio. Done Differently.

At a special online event, Focusrite plc unveiled a new commercial audio brand, Optimal Audio.

Promising a fresh outlook, Focusrite Group CEO, Tim Carroll explained that Optimal Audio, which becomes the Group’s seventh brand, has been in development for three years, involving extensive R&D across product and software, in a bid to simplify the unnecessarily complex world of commercial audio: 

“Optimal Audio provides a streamlined product offering working seamlessly together to deliver high quality sound that is easy to install and can be operated by anyone, not just engineers.

“Alongside its own dedicated staff, a number of colleagues from across the group – most notably within Martin Audio – have helped to bring Optimal Audio to fruition. In the long term, our ambition is that the brand will have its own distinct team.”

Dom Harter, now Managing Director for both Martin Audio and Optimal Audio, then gave an overview of the product eco-system and the focus of the brand:

“Optimal Audio offers a one-stop solution of control, amplification and loudspeakers for small to medium-sized commercial installations, with a focus on supporting multi-zone venues. At the forefront of the eco-system are four and eight-zone, powered and non-powered Zone controllers that have DSP at their heart. There is currently nothing else at this price point on the market which has the functionality and versatility to allow such a quick and simple setup. They have a flexible three-band EQ plus bandpass filtering on every output, alongside limiters and delay – features that are normally associated only with premium-priced offerings.”

Compatible with any device, Optimal Audio’s WebApp makes system set-up straightforward, allowing installers as much access as they require to configure EQs, devise presets and structure time-of-day routines. Once completed, venue staff can then be presented with a simple user interface which allows them to operate the system. Zone controllers can also be supplemented by elegant wall-mounted controllers called ZonePad, available in one-zone or four-zone formats, which ensure that operation by staff is simple, intuitive and within easy reach.  

The next product category presented was amplifiers. Optimal Audio offers three SmartAmps with DSP, multichannel direct drive constant voltage, optimised presets and with half-rack and full-rack options available. SmartAmps provide a cost competitive fit for the commercial market to accompany the portfolio and maximise the performance of its loudspeakers. 

Finally, Optimal Audio revealed its collection of loudspeakers. These comprise a range of five ceiling speakers appropriately named Up, a series of four on-wall wooden speakers called Cuboid, and two powerful yet compact subwoofer solutions, simply known as Sub. Whilst again being cost-competitive, sound quality is a hallmark of the loudspeaker category, with Harter promising a “rich and detailed sound that will surpass expectations in this price category.”

Summing up, Harter said, “Optimal Audio maybe a young brand, but as part of the Focusrite Group it has an  impressive pedigree. We have combined innovation and experience to simplify commercial audio, and by launching more than twenty products at the outset, Optimal Audio has created a high-quality, comprehensive, multi-zone, one-stop, commercial audio offering.”

audio-technica

Audio-Technica Europe confirmed as Optimal Audio distributor for key European territories

Audio-Technica has announced their appointment as distributor for Optimal Audio – Focusrite plc’s new commercial audio brand – in no less than 17 territories across Europe and Africa. The company will assume distribution activities at launch on 20 April 2021.

Focusrite Group’s seventh brand, Optimal Audio has been in development over the past three years to simplify the often unnecessarily complex world of commercial audio, as Focusrite CEO Tim Carroll explains, “Optimal Audio provides a streamlined product offering working seamlessly together to deliver high quality sound that is easy to install and can be operated by anyone, not just engineers.”

Dom Harter, now Managing Director for both Martin Audio and Optimal Audio, describes the focus of the brand as “offering a one-stop solution of control, amplification and loudspeakers for small to medium-sized commercial installations, with a focus on supporting multi-zone venues. At the forefront of the eco-system are four and eight-zone, powered and non-powered Zone controllers that have DSP at their heart. There is currently nothing else at this price point on the market which has the functionality and versatility to allow such a quick and simple setup.”

Compatible with any device, Optimal Audio’s WebApp makes system set-up straightforward, allowing installers as much access as they require to configure EQs, devise presets and structure time-of-day routines. Once completed, venue staff can then be presented with a simple, intuitive user interface which allows them to operate the system.

Audio-Technica Europe CEO Robert Morgan-Males said, “we are delighted to be entering into such a strategic distribution partnership with Optimal Audio for our EMEA direct markets. It’s an exciting, innovative new brand that shares Audio-Technica’s values of delivering quality audio for all while perfectly complementing our best-of class, end-to-end signal chain portfolio of distributed brands; from microphone though processing, to speaker. This distribution agreement allows us to yet again strengthen our commitment to providing customers with efficient, effective and streamlined solutions, and we’re looking forward to working with Optimal Audio as the brand builds and grows over the coming years.”The full list of territories in which Audio-Technica will have sales responsibility for Optimal Audio is as follows: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

Focusrite Group to Launch New Commercial Audio Brand – Optimal Audio

A new commercial audio brand will be introduced to the market on April 20th, when Focusrite plc launches Optimal Audio at a special virtual event. Optimal Audio will become the Focusrite Group’s seventh brand, adding to Focusrite and Focusrite Pro, Adam Audio, Martin Audio, Novation and Ampify. Whilst full details will be revealed at the event, Focusrite Group CEO Tim Carroll was happy to talk about Optimal Audio’s prospects:

“It’s a rare privilege to create a brand from scratch. The commercial audio sector has grown consistently over the years, and even during the pandemic has been more robust than many. We expect that momentum to accelerate in the coming months, so we feel that the timing is perfect for the introduction of Optimal Audio.

“Taking a considered view of the commercial audio sector led us to conclude that it represents a maze of often overly complicated products that can be difficult to understand, install and operate. Optimal Audio will set out to do things differently, with a streamlined offering that is straightforward to install and simple to use.”

As part of the Focusrite Group, the largest pro audio manufacturer in Europe, with a £130m+ turnover, Optimal Audio will benefit from years of engineering experience, global reach and support, as Carroll explains:

“Alongside its own dedicated staff, a number of colleagues from across the group – most notably within Martin Audio – are helping to bring Optimal Audio to fruition. In the long term, our ambition is that the brand will have its own distinct team.”

Registration for the virtual event is now open.