LEA Professional, the fast-growing manufacturer of innovative, high-quality, pro-audio amplifiers with cloud- and IoT-based technologies, has become a core part of a professional audio designer’s tool kit, with LEA’s smart amplifiers providing a solution for a wide range of custom installation needs.
Hazelwood Laboratories has been specializing in creative audio installations and the development of custom system controllers for more than 10 years. The firm recently discovered the quality and flexibility of LEA Professional technology, bringing even more creativity to their process.
Founded in 2012 by artist and audio/video integrator Joseph Hazelwood, Hazelwood Laboratories is a design-centric creator, fabricator and installer of purpose-built electronic hardware. A decade ago, Hazelwood, who has worked within the AV space for 25 years, began to find the work repetitive. He recognized the rising popularity of social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram and understood that visual aesthetics in AV would become of greater importance to customers in the future. Hence, Hazelwood Laboratories was born.
While his focus is on custom installations for boutique hospitality, Hazelwood works with clients in all markets and on projects of all sizes, ranging from residential installations to large, commercial applications. Although his work is unique and rooted in an often retro, visual style, his main objective is to make the technology as simple as possible for clients, while also showcasing unique design. Hazelwood Labs’ guiding philosophy is that while technology is assumed to be synonymous with progress, a purposeful approach is required for such to be the case — or else technology will create as many problems as it solves.
With this in mind, flexible technology solutions are key to Hazelwood in order to provide his clients with the best possible system, especially the unique ‘out of the box’ solutions that he is known for. Prior to discovering LEA Professional amplifier technology, Hazelwood was frustrated with other manufacturers, whose technology limited him to playing only within their proprietary ecosystems.
“For my installations, I want best-in-class products for each system, but I also want that system to be able to be controlled and monitored autonomously,” said Hazelwood. “Many of my projects include tactile control interfaces that inspire interactivity, and with the LEA Open API platform, their Connect Series amplifiers can integrate with almost any AV system, giving me the flexibility that I need.”
LEA Professional’s Open API gives system integrators access to a diverse range of plug-ins, as well as expanded local area network amplifier control capabilities using LEA Professional’s web user interface and cloud platform. This ensures that LEA products will play well with other systems so integrators can depend on LEA for any installation requirements. For Hazelwood, this means that with the help of software developer Caleb Szalacinski, he can build custom controllers that are designed both physically and digitally to work with LEA amps.
“While the AV market is increasingly focused on solutions for touch-panel control, tangible hardware controllers seem to be phasing out,” commented Hazelwood. “I wanted to be able to provide my clients with simple, analog-like controls that utilize the benefit of smart technology and of course, look beautiful. I decided to develop my own, and LEA made this possible for me with their open API. I currently have them working in a handful of locations, and plan to eventually make a version of it available for other integrators.”
For Hazelwood, his switch to LEA Professional wasn’t only due to their flexibility but also the accessibility of the amplifiers. At a time when supply chain issues are a battle for other manufacturers, LEA Professional has been able to provide amplifier solutions when he needed them, even on projects with tight timelines.
For one large installation at a bowling alley in Nashville called Eastside Bowl, Hazelwood had to switch out all his planned equipment for new manufacturers at the last minute due to inventory issues. That’s when he found the magic of LEA’s Connect Series amplifiers, with its seamless design, IoT technology and user-friendly interface. It wasn’t long before LEA became Hazelwood’s go-to amplifier solution.
Since then, Hazelwood has utilized the power of LEA for a variety of projects, most recently installing the Connect Series at a coffee shop, Barista Parlor, in Nashville. Hazelwood has worked with this coffee chain for some time, but for this particular location he experimented with a brand-new audio setup after the owners requested a more streamlined solution, which would complement the shop’s aesthetic and be easily replicated in their upcoming locations in other cities.
Hazelwood delivered by building an integrated turntable powered by a LEA Professional Connect Series 354. The set up included a built-in custom controller and custom designed pendant speakers.
“Ordinarily, our controller will be configured to adjust music zones independently, but in this case as there was only one zone of music and the speakers needed to be tri-amped, we programmed the controller to adjust 3 channels of the amp simultaneously, utilizing the LEA’s DSP crossovers.”
The front of the unit has a decorative security panel with cooling fans that can act as a control panel and allows users to control the amp power from the outside. Before finding LEA, Hazelwood struggled with the physical capacity other amplifiers required but with the 1U form factor of LEA’s Connect Series he was able to inset the turntable into the top of the rack, and to store other control/switching components.
At another coffee location — The Daily, in Atlanta— Hazelwood retrofitted a LEA Connect 354 into an antique console radio that serves as a system controller, and also houses a customized DUAL turntable. “To highlight the lines of the LEA logo on the Connect Series, I took it apart and had the “shark fin” bezel brass plated, and painted the vent covers to match other components of the radio,” explained Hazelwood. “It’s amazing how well it came together. This juxtaposition of new/old aesthetics and functionality is really exciting to me creatively, and LEA is becoming a key component in helping me achieve it.”
Hazelwood has taken full advantage of the technology LEA Professional has to offer, the LEA Professional Cloud Platform has not only given him the ability monitor installations from the comfort of his home, it also allows him to add these remote monitoring services to contracts, resulting in recurring revenue opportunities.
All LEA Professional amplifiers leverage the built-in Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Core. This cloud platform allows integrators to control and monitor critical operational data points for maintaining system health securely and remotely. All users have to do is create their cloud account at www.leaprofessional.cloud, then individual amplifiers or entire amp systems can be accessed and controlled securely, from anywhere in the world, without the need to VPN into a Local Area Network.
“I have every LEA install in my cloud platform, allowing me to help clients no matter where I am,” commented Hazelwood. “I set up Hazelwood Labs to challenge the typical assumption regarding the role of technology in our lives and I want to work with manufactures who do the same. This is just one of the many reasons why I will continue to provide LEA technology to my clients.”