Tag Archives: audio

Hidden Treasures

April 9, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Originally published in March/April OmahaHome

The quarter-million-dollar, 8,800-watt Steinway & Sons speaker system is very visible in the “Man Cave” section of the Echo Systems store because, well, guys still think 7-foot-tall speakers are cool to look at. Even the bank of 11 Steinway 800-watt amplifiers (with enough power for an outdoor heavy-metal concert) is visible off to the side of the bar, which has two televisions in case, as Echo’s marketing coordinator Doug Dushan says, “you don’t want to crane your neck” to look over the $43,000 pool table to see the Man Cave’s big screen TV, which is maybe 20 feet from the even-bigger-screened TV over by the custom-built shuffle board.

But the one-percenter excesses of the Cave aren’t really what the new Echo Systems store is about, says Dushan, a longtime home tech expert who also serves as the company’s senior sales consultant. Most of this complete luxury-home layout is filled with technology you don’t see. Think of the new Echo Systems space just north of 120th and L streets (previously occupied by the company’s lighting design store) as a permanent Street of Dreams home mashed up with a 21st-century House of Tomorrow. “You’re walking through a million-dollar home and that’s obvious. You have the beautiful light fixtures, you have the high-end art and sculpture,” Dushan says. “But we’re really focused on giving people the best technology in their home with minimal visual impact. We’re about technology, but in a house, the technology needs to be concealed technology.”

Beyond the Man Cave, subtlety begins to rule. The spacious kitchen is tasteful luxury, but not really awe-inspiring (Full disclosure, though: the writer is a dude). But then Dushan starts pressing buttons on the barely-visible wall switch. One button pours bright LED light onto the counter areas for food preparation. Another button lowers the overhead lighting and raises floor and recess lighting for a dinner ambiance. Another push of a button and the lighting shifts to nighttime mode—just enough light on the floor to get you safely to a midnight snack.

Mixed inconspicuously with the recessed lights above are two banks of speakers. Hidden behind another wall is a subwoofer big enough for car audio competitions. You can preset the myriad lights and speakers to any level and configuration you choose.

In the dining room—so that there’s absolutely no sign of speakers—the sound equipment is installed behind the walls. Above the table, the ceiling is specially designed to transmit even higher-frequency sounds without visible tweeters.

Push one button and the mirror above the fireplace turns into a 65-inch TV. If that’s too small a screen, you can push another button to lower a 110-inch motorized movie screen. Again, the projector itself is barely visible on the back wall of the room. In the bedroom, even an acrylic-on-canvas painting rolls up to expose a television.

And then there’s the real movie room, a tri-leveled, 17-seat theater that, with walls of surround-sound speakers on both sides and a screen nearly the size of secondary theaters in a multiplex, makes for an experience “we believe is better than the experience you would get in a commercial theater,” Dushan says.

Dushan queued up a scene from Need for Speed (Again, the writer is a dude). Remember the scene in which the Koenigsegg Agera R flips across the bridge at 200 mph? In this theater, it sounds like the supercar is hurtling right past your head.

More tasteful films are probably pretty good in here, too.

Finally, you exit the faux-home through a room built to look like a patio. Here there’s a large opaque window that, sure, is actually a rear-projection screen for watching movies outside.

The features, both hidden and obvious, are too numerous to mention. And honestly, a bit of envy-fatigue can start to set in after a while.

Dushan says he’s aware that most of us won’t be able to take the store home. (He says he’s hoping he can build just a couple of the amenities into his own place). But, he argues, even if a customer thinks most of the amenities are crazy or out-of-reach, “they might see that one thing that really excites them.”

“This place is a showcase of what’s possible in a home,” he says. “It’s a Street of Dreams home that isn’t going anywhere.”

OnTrack, Inc.

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If you’ve ever found yourself singing “Pepper, Pepper, Pepperjax Grill,” or “You’ll like it…Kelly’s Carpet,” or “It pays to cross the bridge…Lake Manawa Kia,” Johnny Ray Gomez IV is the man largely responsible. He created these jingles, along with dozens and dozens of others, and it’s only a facet of what he does as the owner, president, and creative director of OnTrack.

Gomez rattles off a long list of OnTrack’s offerings: “We’re an audio post-production facility. We do original music jingles for radio, television, web, and multimedia. I do demos for singers and musicians. I do audio for video. We do ADR [Additional or Automated Dialogue Recording for TV and movies]. We do sound design, sound effects, a lot of voiceover work.”

Gomez manages all of this from his 3,200-square foot facility near 118th and Harrison streets in Omaha. “We have a main studio, one smaller studio, and what I call the composing suite. We have the latest computers with music software, industry standard. And we also have the capability to link up to studios worldwide, which basically brings anybody to your doorstep with the touch of a button,” he adds proudly.

This technical capability means Gomez works with clients from all over the country.

“Just last October, [actor and Saturday Night Live alum] Will Forte was in town working on the new Nebraska movie with Alexander Payne. He was in Norfolk filming for a month and doing a sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, so we actually recorded all of his voice animation parts here,” he says. “For three years, we did work for Teen Mom with Farrah Abraham. Instead of MTV flying her to New York, they just brought her here to OnTrack.” He adds that even YouTube sensation and Columbus, Neb., native Lucas Cruikshank recorded dialog as Fred Figglehorn for Nickelodeon’s Fred: The Movie.

“When I first started I did spec work, where you just pick a client and write a jingle [without] having it sold. I just kept going and started networking with ad agencies.” – Johnny Ray Gomez IV, owner

If Gomez seems rather casual about these brushes with fame, it’s because he’s met and worked with lots of well-known names in the music industry over the years, from Marvin Hamlisch and Bo Diddley to Peter Noone and Reba McEntire. A third-generation musician and master of multiple instruments, Gomez actually cut his teeth on the other side of the business. His father was a prolific regional performer who first brought his namesake onstage at age 3 as part of a family revue and later, to sometimes collaborate with nationally known singers and musicians.

“Back in the ’70s, my dad and brother and I had publicity shots with the ruffles and tuxes,” Gomez says, grinning at the memory. “We also had one where we kind of had the Elvis look…the jumpsuits.”

Gomez left home after high school at 17 and traveled the world for four years as the music director and pianist for The Platters, one of the most successful vocal groups of the ’60s.

“I got tired of being on the road. I literally lived out of a suitcase for five years. I knew I wanted to be in music, but I didn’t want to travel,” he says, explaining his impetus for starting a recording studio in his hometown and getting into the jingle business.

“When I first started I did spec work, where you just pick a client and write a jingle [without] having it sold,” he recalls. He sold his very first jingle to Camelot Cleaners and landed his second for Idelman Telemarketing. One of his early works, for Garden Café, ran for 12 years. “I just kept going and started networking with ad agencies.”

OnTrack is a one-man show, but Gomez says the connections and partnerships he’s developed over the years make it possible to offer a wide spectrum of services to his clients. “Even with the workflow I have, I’ve been able to do everything by using all of the resources I have.”

What lessons has Gomez learned in his decades in the biz? “Have a good quality product and do what you do well. And surround myself with people who also do what they do well.”