The Finnish Embassy in Japan is located in the chic, cosmopolitan district of Azabu in Tokyo. The area has a distinctly global feel, due in part to the large number of foreign embassies that have chosen to make Azabu their home. The Finnish Embassy has recently renovated part of their buildings to bring them up to the modern standards that are representative of the best that Finland has to offer. A Genelec Smart IP loudspeaker solution was installed as part of the project, to ensure that the technology matched the exacting standards of the rest of the renovation.
Mikke Kinnari, Vice Consul and 3rd Secretary of Administrative Affairs at the Embassy was in charge of the renovation project. “We wanted the best possible experience for our guests, ideally using Finnish products,” he explains. “Having studied several options from a variety of suppliers, we decided that the Genelec Smart IP solution with its easy, single-cable installation and extremely high quality audio offered the best possible solution for our requirements.”
The buildings of the Finnish Embassy – like many in Japan – are constructed with very thick
reinforced concrete in order to withstand the earthquakes that are common in the region. Kinnari reveals that the impracticability of drilling any more holes than necessary in order to run cables was a major factor in the decision to adopt a Smart IP solution, which delivers audio, power and loudspeaker management over a single CAT cable.
However, he points out that this wasn’t the only criteria: “The physical elegance of the solution was also important because we have a lot of very high level visitors here – we have received the Imperial family of Japan, the President of Finland, and many other ministerial and high level visits. The elegance of the room, with beautiful Finnish furnishings that project the image of Finland, was important. The Genelec speakers are very aesthetic in their own right, and the fact that we could totally hide the cabling contributes to the high class feel of the space.”
The Embassy appointed AV integration specialists, Astro Serve Ltd., who installed a total of nine 4430 and two of the smaller 4420 Smart IP loudspeakers across four separate zones in the newly renovated guest facility: the entrance, the conference room, the dining room and an informal lounge area. Astro Serve’s Michinari Sato notes that the Smart IP concept facilitated a ‘clean’ installation with no compromise on quality.
“We were specifically requested to make the installation as neat as possible with no visible cables anywhere. Normally, you need a power supply to set up an active speaker, but the Smart IP concept delivers power over Ethernet (PoE) and so only one LAN cable is required. This made it much easier to deliver impeccable results. We were able to precisely tailor the audio response to each room via the Dante network using Genelec’s Smart IP Manager software, which is a big advantage.
Finally, an IP networked solution enables us to easily manage and reproduce high quality audio across a number of locations seamlessly. Control is managed via a Crestron touch panel controller that non-technical staff or guests can easily handle. Alternatively, they can select content from their own devices connected to the network, or mirrored from the PC.”
Sustainability was another important factor in the decision-making process. Pekka Orpana, Finnish Ambassador to Japan, related: “In Finland, sustainability is important to us. Genelec’s speakers are made of 95% recycled aluminium and produced with renewable energy making them an obvious choice for our renovation. Not only are they produced in a sustainable way, but they are very longlasting and can be easily calibrated to any space again and again if we decide in the future that we’d like to use them elsewhere. Finally, they are very beautiful. Finnish design is well known and appreciated in Japan. The grace and natural look of these speakers fits tremendously well with each room.”
However, whilst design is important, Orpana emphasises that the most important element is the sound. “The Smart IP solution has made it possible to have perfect sound quality,” he says. “When I heard them for the first time, it felt as though we had a live pianist in the room. The sound is really clear and natural.”
Kinnari agreed: “We now have at the Embassy a fantastic loudspeaker system that brings all our events to a level of quality that we have never had before. This includes the webinars, teleconferences and virtual events that have become so essential during the pandemic – from an audio perspective, it really feels as though the person speaking is right there in the room with you. It was perfect timing for us to invest in a Genelec system and we’re proud to represent the essence of Finland to our guests.”