Do these retailers hold the
keys to future retail success?
Rode Microphones made sure its latest product launch would not go unnoticed. The Australian company’s Event Electronics division debuted Opal, a high-fidelity studio monitor whose amplifier packs 750 watts of punch, during a beach weekend party on July 26 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Attendees included Chuck Surack, founder of Sweetwater, David Angress, executive vice president of international brands and proprietary development at Guitar Center, and several employees from Alto Music and Washington Music Center.
“Most people know us as a microphone company,”said Peter Freedman, Rode’s founder and managing director. “[But] my fascination with speakers goes back to when I was a kid working with my father. Henry was a very talented audio engineer. He designed many high-end professional speakers under the Freedman brand name...In 1992, when Rode was just in its infancy, I received a call from Russell Palmer, who had just started Event Electronics. Event became the U.S. Rode distributor, and became
a large part of our initial success here. Event’s 20/20bas was a special product and the beginning of a new era in studio monitoring.”
Rode brought out models to officially launch Opal.
Added Freedman, “I live by the motto, ‘never let a great opportunity go by.’ In 2006, Russell called me and said he wanted to move into new projects, and if I were interested, he’d love to see Event under our ownership. After my wife Lou told me I was insane (again), Russ and I began a new chapter in the history of Event.
“OK, I had a speaker company, where to now? I knew I needed to build a team. Marcello Vercelli, as you know from his time at Mackie, is one of the world’s foremost speaker designers.”
Fortunately for Freedman, Vercelli had just finished a project and was avaliable. He called Vercelli telling him he just purchased Event and wanted Vercelli to be his head of engineering. “Marcello’s first question was, ‘What do you want to achieve with Event?’ I said I wanted to
build the world’s best loudspeaker company.”
Freedman wanted the design to be an eight-inch two-way speaker. And he wanted the two-way design to have the same midrange as the best three-way systems. “I wanted the monitor to deliver jaw-breaking bass, and the highs must have a seamless integration with the mids and lows and have the purity you only get with hi-fi systems,” said Freedman. “I want the lowest distortion on the market, and for some icing on the cake, this monitor must have a clean sound-pressure capability that will cut your head off. If we achieve this, it will be revolutionary. Marcello quickly established an R&D team in Woodinville, Wash.
“The results are remarkable with listener fatigue at high levels a thing of the past and the excursion allows the user to drive it hard without worry.”
The tweeter dome uses beryllium, which Freedman admitted is “difficult to work with and is extremely expensive.” “However, the sound quality of a beryllium dome tweeter is breathtaking,” he said. “...The result is a tweeter with ultra-high sound pressure capabilities, very low distortion, and an extended response not seen in any other comparable system.”
Exuding his showman side, Freedman followed by having svelte models remove black tablecloths, revealing Opal for the first time.
The outdoor pool area at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Vercelli subsequently led private listening groups, pumping Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” through Opal’s speakers. An Australian barbecue featuring crocodile and other native delicacy’s was another highlight.
Opal sports a $2,995 retail price per pair.
The weekend kicked off a night earlier with a beach party at the Hard Rock Hotel pool, followed by a performance by Coheed and Cambria. Guests received several goodies upon arrival at the hotel including Opal-logoed flip-flops, towel, sunglasses, and keychain.
Keeping with a Las Vegas theme, those in attendance received another gift after the product launch, taking home poker chips and two sets of playing cards featuring Opal logos housed in a small suitcase.
[ pages: 1 ]