Ralph Heinz: Pro Audio Trends & The Future For Renkus-Heinz


January 20, 2022

In a rare, in-depth interview, Renkus-Heinz co-founder Ralph Heinz tells Headliner about the biggest challenges and opportunities in the pro audio market and what the future holds for the business…

How has Renkus-Heinz been faring during the pandemic? What measures did you take early on to deal with the problems it has caused the industry?

Renkus-Heinz weathered the pandemic well, thanks to the committed team we have in place. While this has been an incredibly challenging time for our partners across the industry, there have also been very exciting and impressive moments due to the innovative, energetic, and enthusiastic attitude of the people around us, including our distribution and sales partners, along with our global in-house staff.

However, the pandemic wasn’t the only industry challenge. The AKM factory fire, for example, resulted in a substantial microchip shortage. Although Renkus-Heinz utilises AKM semiconductors in many of its professional loudspeaker offerings, strategic supply chain management decisions from the past year ensured all products, including our digital beam steering solutions, remained available, ready for custom fabrication in our company’s Foothill Ranch, California manufacturing facility and clear to ship to customers. That remains true today: we are open for business.

What kinds of trends have you seen in the market over the past 18 months?

Over the past two years, we’ve seen many unique uses and needs for audio in the installation and live sound market. Worship spaces, for example, now understand that hybrid congregations require a loudspeaker solution that interacts less with the room to deliver the virtual audience cleaner live stream sound. Digitally steerable audio solutions are an incredible and demonstrable fix for hybrid worship services. Steerable loudspeaker technology is seen just as much in government and corporate use. Courtrooms, city council chambers and meeting spaces all need to ensure the on-site sound works harmoniously with the video conferencing platform or live stream.

How is the touring market looking at the moment? Is this area of the business starting to show signs of recovery? If so, in which sectors?

The most evident indicator of the market recovering is the return of live event ticket sales. The world is finding ways to host events safely again which is a good sign for those in the touring world.

What impact has the pandemic had on the installation market?

The pandemic’s impact is seen through the adoption of new hybrid workflows – i.e. remote and onsite. During the pandemic’s beginning, some voiced concerns around onsite AV disappearing or diminishing due to remote participation. This concern now proves to be far from the truth. The need for audio installations is vital moving forward as work from anywhere concepts, hybrid worship events and distance learning opportunities become increasingly expected. The challenge for the manufacturer and integrator now is ensuring the AV systems on-site operate elegantly with remote participation.

We’ve seen the crucial role digital beam steering plays in these setups because of its intelligibility and capability to place sound exactly where you want it. Additionally, steerable solutions mean less reverberant sound is picked up by microphones used for streaming.

Has the company been ramping up its efforts in the installation sector?

We’ve been innovating around the identified needs with new product offerings. The expanded Iconyx Compact Series, including the new ICC12/3, ICC24/3, and ICC36/3 provides more integration options for the installation space. The narrow profile of the line blends into nearly any environment, while the exceptional control of directivity helps with challenging acoustics. The compact size of the ICC Series makes the exceptional performance of beam-steered line arrays available to even the most architecturally sensitive spaces. The -RD1 models improve interoperability and flexibility through Dante audio-over-IP functionality.

Have the past 18 months presented opportunities to invest further into things like product development and R&D?

Absolutely. We continue to innovate and invent. At heart, Renkus-Heinz is a company backed by the science of sound. Because of this dedication, it’s hard to say we’ve been any further invested in R&D than we have been historically, per se. After all, innovation is core to our offerings.

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