Anyone who’s met Tom Freret, the forward thinking National Sales Manager of American Audio, knows that he is a real “technology freak.” But as much as he loves to push the high tech envelope, Tom knows that it’s often the “little” comfort features like knobs and buttons, that a mobile entertainer is going to have to live with day in and day out. If a knob is hard to reach or a menu difficult to make out in a dark club environment, your new advanced gear can quickly become a high tech headache. Tom has a cure for this malady – don’t just look at the performance attributes of gear when you’re evaluating it, consider the user-friendly features too.
Why is it important to consider user-friendly features?
“Obviously performance features come first, because that’s what mobile entertainers are – performers. But you have to look at the user-friendly features of gear too. If a piece of equipment is difficult to use, or menu displays on it are hard to see, or settings are hard to change, or there are any one of a number of other nagging little things that annoy you, it’s going to create stress and make you uncomfortable, which ultimately is going to take away from your performance. So you have to look at what I call the ‘comfort factor,’ of gear. The more comfortable it makes you feel , the better you’re going to perform.”
Does American Audio incorporate this philosophy into the design of its products?
“Absolutely – we’re a company of DJs and mobile entertainers, so we know what it’s like on the front line so to speak. We appreciate how a lot of little things can add up to make you feel better or worse when you’re performing. So we design all of our products with this real world use factor in mind.”
But this doesn’t take the place of performance features?
“No, not at all; in fact it enhances performance features by making them easier to use.”
Do you have any examples of comfort features in American Audio gear?
“There are many, every product we make has them. For example, our Radius 3000 has buttons and controls that are intuitively placed, track knobs that make it easy to find tracks or files and a super bright VFT with two lines of text. Taken together, these features make the product much more user-friendly.”
It seems that American Audio has always paid extra attention to positioning the buttons and knobs on its gear – is that correct?
“Yes that’s a good point. This is very evident on our VX Series Amps, the VX 1000, VX 1500 and VX 2500. All of the performance buttons that you would normally find on the back of upper end amps have been moved to the front of the VX products. Aside from the fact that our VX amps are more affordable than other high performance products, this positioning gives our product a tremendous advantage over the competing amps.”
Why does moving the buttons to the front make such a big difference?
“Because, it’s much easier to change your input sensitivity, your mode or your filter from the front of the unit than the back when you’re in a dark club environment. We also made the menu large and bright, so even in the trickiest environment it’s easy to see what’s going on with your amp – and it’s also easier to make changes on the fly this way.”
Why do you think American Audio has distinguished its products with so many user friendly features that aren’t often found in other products?
“I suppose it’s because rather than being strictly product driven, we’re customer service driven. Sure we work hard to come out with the most advanced products in our price range, but we never forget who we’re developing these products for – our customers. We don’t operate in an ivory tower, we live in our customers’ world.”
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