Pala Banco di Brescia
Marking 40 years in business but looking forward more than back, Outline invited a select number of distributors and end-users to its home in Italy recently. Intriguingly, the invitation came not only from Outline, but was co-signed by Cadac – having a similarly long history and also newly focused on the future.

Just one member of the press was on the guest list, giving Fast-and-Wide full and exclusive access to the event, the thinking behind it and where both companies are headed…

Chris HindsAs principal hosts, Outline co-founder Giorgio Biffi and Sales Director Chris Hinds spoke freely about the company’s heritage, products, plans and frustrations. Similarly, the powerful pairing of Richard Ferriday and James Godbehear – recently having been recruited from Midas – had plenty to say about Cadac’s own achievements and misjudgements, as well as their reasons for jumping ship.

The kit was rigged, the audience arrived from across Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Asia, and the gloves were off.

The location was the Pala Banco di Brescia, close to Outline’s HQ and an ideal venue for Outline to rig its GTO C-12, Mantas and Mini-Compass line array systems, and for Cadac to set up its CDC Eight digital console to emulate concert conditions. In addition, there was abundant space for a further (and larger) CDC Eight, along with several CDC Four and Live 1 consoles for demonstration and discussion in an adjacent room – with a live multitrack recording for hands-on mixing on a CDC Four. Add in some Italian sunshine, food and wine, along with the attention of key staff from both companies, and you have unmissable access to two of pro audio’s fast-moving companies.

The event represents a logical move from one held earlier, and running a ‘rolling’ programme over four days allowed guests to step in and out at their convenience without missing any of the demos or sessions. At regular intervals during the live demos, the theatre’s aisles and stage saw files of sound engineers assessing the system’s performance, but closely resembling a fashion show modelling a collection of ‘rock chap’ chic.

‘We took on The Audio Specialists as distributor for Benelux and, by way of introduction, Axel [Nagtegaal, owner] wanted to arrange a demonstration day,’ Chris Hinds explains. ‘Axel had just opened an office in Germany and we thought about opening it up to include France and the UK to introduce the products there. I realised that we shared distribution with Cadac in those territories as well, and we obviously needed a console so I got in touch with Ben [Millson, International Sales Manager] at Cadac. He was looking to do something similar in the UK.

‘I said we have a blueprint… join us in Brescia…. the costs will be shared. We’re very lucky, we’re based in Italy and it’s a nice draw – the food, the people and the wine, sprinkled with a few sound systems seems to lure people down.’

‘Our brands address similar market sectors,’ offers Cadac Brand Development Manager, Richard Ferriday. ‘Neither of us can claim to be market leaders, but we both make very good products and we are both looking to increase our presence in the market. Those parallels have pulled us together. 

‘There are also parallels between Outline and Cadac as brands, in that Outline has a lot of history behind it but there are people who consider it to be a new player. Similarly, Cadac has been around a very long time but some people have been unaware of it – or have not believed it was a brand that they might be interested in. Part of the aim of this event is to change that perception.’

Presentations in Brescia

‘Our perception was that people knew the Outline brand – because it’s 40 years old – but not the product,’ Hinds agrees.

Both sides report the collaboration both valuable and untroubled: ‘Obviously, Outline wants everybody to pay attention to its speakers and we want everybody to look at our consoles, but there hasn’t been any friction whatsoever between us,’ Ferriday says. ‘Chris and I worked together on the agenda, and there hasn’t been any conflict of interest at any point.’

‘It seems to have flowed very nicely,’ Hinds confirms. ‘People gravitate to the company that they have come to see, and the other company gains exposure to those customers. It’s been pretty seamless.

‘We want people to go away with three things,’ he continues. ‘We want them to think, “what a nice bunch of guys, I’d like to work with them; I didn’t know they did that,” and to consider Outline when they next make a purchase.

‘Our aim is to get our new products in front of a group of focused professionals, to show the products and to gather feedback on how we need to develop them,’ Ferriday says. ‘The CDC Four and the CDC Eight were announced a while ago, and we now feel we have something that we are ready to show to people.’

Trading off

‘A trade show has a different focus – it’s a shop window,’ says Cadac Brand Marketing Manager, James Godbehear. ‘But when you turn up and plonk a load of gear on a stand, you might not get the response you want.’

Cadac CDC Eight‘It’s another tool; it’s not a trade show,’ says Ferriday. ‘We don’t have the opportunity to reach hundreds of people or people we don’t know, but the guys here are here to look at consoles and listen to speaker systems. The fact that Outline or Cadac has invited them means that they are serious, professional people. They are decision makers; they are opinion changers. This is just the kind of focused event that will enable us to get people talking about our products.’

‘This industry has grown up; PA companies are now businesses,’ Hinds observes. ‘They are no longer hobbies, and the manufacturers have to grow up too. And I think that dedicated events are the way forward. Local trade shows are the responsibility of the distributor, but we will keep doing the major international trade shows like Frankfurt – and we want to do more of these.’

‘There are people here who have come to look at Outline products and will see stuff they didn’t expect to see,’ says Ferriday. ‘We’ve already had a number of people tell us that they didn’t realise some of the things our products will do or that the company does. That’s what trade shows are good at, so there is still that element. 

‘I could see us doing further events like this in other parts of the world,’ he adds. ‘I could also see us doing this in conjunction with other manufacturers, if we can find people to work with as well as we’re able to work with Outline.’

‘All manufacturers are like hungry chicks: we want your attention,’ Hinds confesses. ‘Every manufacturer will claim to be the best. All we can do is expose as many people as possible to our products and for them to make up their own minds.’

See also:
Inside Outline (Chris Hinds on Outline)
Cadac’s Comeback (Richard Ferriday and James Godbehear on Cadac) 

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