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INTERVIEW: SIMON JOHNSTON, D&B AUDIOTECHNIK


of the systems rests on this. We’ve heard a lot of opinions to the effect that ‘d&b uses a lot of passive technologies in crossovers’, but the beauty of passive technology is that no one can adjust it; as soon as you change the level between two elements of a system, the crossover frequency moves. If you have very carefully defined the directivity behaviour through the crossover region to make it as accurate as possible, any change in the levels simply destroys this. This is getting too technical!


How important is education to d&b? Absolutely crucial. In fact, for many years I have said education is the central part of the d&b marketing effort, the central element of the marketing mix. With investment into education very often favoured over any other marketing action, it remains a hugely important part of our activities today. This is split with topic-led seminars covering subjects like electroacoustics and sound system optimisation. By contrast, workshops are product-related, focusing on d&b hardware and software


for system design and network control, as well as specific elements of the range, such as the J-Series and V-Series. It’s been a gradual process of adding suitable sites around the world. Today we have facilities in quite a number of locations, obviously Germany, but also the UK, US, Spain and so on. The Glass Palast Arena in Stuttgart and external venues in the US and various other countries are used to demonstrate the larger systems. It is also very common for distributors and partners to host education events. Meanwhile, we have recently finished a new educational space in Yokohama, Japan. It’s good coverage now, but of course we always want more!


To date what is your favourite d&b installation – and why? Tough one – there are a lot to choose from. There are several potential favourites that I’ve yet to see in person, including the Boston Symphony Hall, which was equipped with a Q-Series system in 2013 and a recent installation for the


Apollo Theater in Harlem. But of those I have seen, I would probably nominate the Sydney Opera House, a long-term client which has taken various systems for a number of its venues. There is no doubt about it: there is something magical about that place.


What has been the most significant shift in general terms during your time in the audio industry? And do you see any profound change on the horizon? The advent of decent software. Prediction and measurement tools have become accessible and usable. My impression is this has given a much better understanding of what loudspeakers do and how to use them to the best advantage. Looking ahead, I don’t see a single massive or monumental change. Multichannel digital audio will continue to become more and more prevalent, and I am sure there will be further changes in networking architecture – although my expectation is for more of a stepwise progress than a sudden landslide.


Simon Johnston a brief biography


Born in Glasgow in 1954, Simon Johnston attended the Allan Glen’s School, an establishment focused on engineering to feed the shipyards – at that point already in a state of severe decline. Fortunately, an opportunistic placement at The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow saw him earning a good wage on the weekly turn around of the repertory programme. Coincidentally sharing a flat with a musician, Colin Tulley, he ended up “learning to twiddle knobs on a sound desk” for Cado Belle, the band fronted by Maggie Reilly of which Tulley was a part


Twelve years on the road followed, during which time he worked on a modular PA system using 5in cone loudspeakers to replace the typical horn-based HF section for a more musical sound. Tiring of the touring life in the early ‘80s, he went to work at Autograph Sales helping to build the Meyer Sound brand, followed by a brief period at Easi Street as a trainer in the use and application of communications tools from the then-nascent Internet.


He joined d&b audiotechnik in 1989 and has since contributed significantly to the German loudspeaker brand’s global expansion. He has held the role of global brand advisor since ???? Along the way, he has refined some core beliefs, not least that “successful companies must put effort into building powerful brand images”.


Last but definitely not least, 2014 marks your 25th anniversary of working at d&b... any plans? Yes – I’m going to hide! There are two thoughts on this being my 25th year: one is ‘wow’, I simply can’t believe


it’s been so long; the other is ‘hmm, I’m old.’ As for marking the anniversary, well, we will just have to wait and see if I get that far! 


www.dbaudio.com


www.installation-international.com


May 2014 17


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