I first met Alessandro Tatini some years ago – in March 2005, and it’s a date that I remeber well because I had just started working here in the editorial department. I went to San Piero a Sieve (near the Mugello racetrack) where the headquarters is still located, to speak with him about a system which, at that time, was both original and unusual: the first Kh4, the ‘ancestor’ of ‘slim array techology’.
And now, almost ten years later, I asked Alessandro, who is incredibly busier, to speak to us again, looking back at the important steps of his career and, above all, about the important growth that his company is having worldwide.
ZioGiorgio.it: Alessandro, it has been ten years since your last interview when you were working in a market that maybe wasn’t ready for such an innovative and ambitious project: the first KH4. Recent news is that of the heir of this product – the KH8. Before we speak about this new project, can you tell me what’s been going on in these ten years?
Alessandro Tatini: on reaching our tenth anniversary (25th if we consider the entire history of HP Sound Equipment) the ‘family’ has grown from 12 to about 60 people. Despite the recent and continuous expansion of our HQ, it’s still too small and our offices are crowded already, while our even more well-organized warehouses are continuously on the lookout for more space, and our production and testing departments have just been expanded. All this easily explains our growth in terms of figures and area occupied, but when speaking about ideas I am proud to say that we have never stopped creating and improving what we have already created, which is much more important… And what has, in fact, never changed is the fact that K-array has never followed the rules and even now the KH8 confirms our total inability to do and create something normal, as James Gosney from Stage Electrics (UK) told us. Since we released the KH4, which symbolised the creation of our trademark and brand, we have never lost touch with the market of live events and tours. I would like to say that after KH4, it may seem that over the past ten years K-array has focussed only on developing its installation and portable product range. It’s more true to say that the KH8 is the result of a long-term R&D project carried out ‘behind the scenes’ in collaboration with our designers and with the assistance of the most brilliant minds in the audio environment that we have been working with for many years.
ZioGiorgio.it: it has always been really interesting to follow K-Array’s creations and developments over these past years, also because in an often static market such as that of sound reinforcement, you have always moved in alternative and quite courageous directions. What made you make these choices?
Alessandro Tatini: we are convinced that the market already has many companies that can supply good products as per consolidated concepts, with more that satisfactory performance. If we then consider the static or even the recession of the global market it’s easy to understand that it would be difficult for a “standard” offer to be successful. And this is what is behind our choice of supplying radically different solutions for technical and architectural problems always unsolved. We must then add our inborn passion for exploration and discovery.
ZioGiorgio.it: you are the designer behind most K-Array products. With the KH product range you gave us speakers with thickness reduced to the utmost, followed by Anaconda, the first articulated speaker, as well as a series of other unconventional original products. Where do you get your inspiration for these products? Where does your creativity come from?
Alessandro Tatini: you’re right, I’ve often been the person with the inspiration behind many projects, but now a growing number of designers transform the starting spark into a product. These people have grown professionally here in the company, developing their own experience and judgement, and all able to put a little part of themselves in each new project. There isn’t a precise time when inspiration comes, you’ve got to be ready to exploit it any time and in any way, show, work dinner, waiting time at the airport, holidays. Each time you understand that you’ve got the solution to a problem then you know you’ve got to take advantage of this moment.
ZioGiorgio.it: let’s go back to the KH8. What’s new about it and what, in your opinion, are the strong points of this system?
Alessandro Tatini: almost everything about it is new. The only thing that has already been seen before compared to our previous systems is its extremely flat shape, the result of design technology that we have called SAT (Slim Array Technology). The IP64 speakers are active and have considerable processing capacity on board thanks to double DSP. It has both digital and analogical inputs. Other important features include high-resolution Digital Steering which, thanks to its powerful software, is able to manage sound wave radiation in detail. And what is surprising is that the system is up and ready in 5 minutes, completely pre-wired, in a 30 cm deep space … Nothing easier than this! With 12 tops per side it can be used for Festivals with 30,000 people, but the system actually enables to have up to 24 per side with a safety coefficient of 10:1 for any type of set-up.
ZioGiorgio.it: could you give us a brief description of the functions of the KH8?
Alessandro Tatini: This system brings together the possibility of Digital Steering with that of mechanical corners as per a main vertical axis, a sort of Venetian blind… And in this way the highest focus can be maintained on the sound wave while maintaining a simple type of array that enables to have easy management and visible integration. The software enables to design the areas to be sonorized and decide the level of uniformity that you want the system to work with in the same areas in just a few minutes. In the same way, we can also define the “no sound” areas that the system will try to avoid in the creation of the radiation lobes. We must also say that, other than the important calculation capacity and highly powerful software, each panel is installed with eight amplification channels, each able to provide 100 Volt RMS with peaks of up to 40 Ampere. Each channel can provide up to 2.500 Watt managed by two DSPs, so as to have full dynamics and a mean value tolerable by the transducers.
ZioGiorgio.it: positioning a system of this level in a crowded sector and with consolidated and well-known brands will not be very easy. How do you think you will work in this way?
Alessandro Tatini: believe me, with this system, we have pushed right up to the top, and sometimes we are dizzy… Honestly, it’s not so crowded right up there at the top. If it’s not so easy to get people to appreciate and be informed about this system in a world full of brands, being afraid to change and full of well-established games of favors, well, that’s a different story all together. But let’s just say that some of the big names have already been converted even if the product was only officially launched on 9 October…
ZioGiorgio.it: try just for a minute to think like a designer, giving us your opinion without considering your position at K-array. Have there been any innovations in the past few years in the audio sector that you have really appreciated? The classic exclamation like “why didn’t I think of that… ”.
Alessandro Tatini: do you want me to be sincere? No, it has never happened. And I can swear that I’m often on the lookout for innovations, they are my passion, but I think that the Pro Audio world is particularly reluctant to innovate.
ZioGiorgio.it: let’s top off these ten years with a little bit of exclusive preview! What are you working on right now? What can we expect to see in the near future?
Alessandro Tatini: well … I can’t can tell you much yet. Let’s say that for many years users have followed the new sound sources that the market offered, but now it’s time that the sources start to follow users’ needs… We’ll have something on show at ISE, and we are getting ready to launch 16 new products this year – help!!!
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