APP UX and software interface design

Martin Audio

Assisting UK's leading pro-level loudspeaker maker in digitising their engineering technology.

Martin Audio manufacture patent protected professional loudspeaker systems across the spectrum of live sound and installation applications. It is also the recognised global leader in optimised line array technology. Founded in 1971 by engineering maestro David Martin, the business grew rapidly and became known for producing world class touring systems for the super groups of the day, including Pink Floyd, The Who and Supertramp. In more recent times, the brand is also known for providing and installing the sound system for Ministry of Sound's nightclub in South London.

The previous Thump Connect application belonged to their incumbent parent group Loud Technologies and was used primarily for Mackie gear.
The previous Thump Connect application belonged to their incumbent parent group Loud Technologies and was used primarily for Mackie gear.

An app which allows users to connect to the loudspeakers inbuilt DSP.

Innovative engineering applied to software design

Martin Audio has recently launched a new product range : the BlacklineX Powered Series. The range comprises easy-to-use, quick-to-deploy, high-powered loudspeakers that bring professional quality sound, top-flight performance and road-worthy durability into the hands of hard-working industry professionals — from musicians, music bars and mobile DJ’s, to corporate AV, House of Worship installations and more. As part of the consumer value add, Martin Audio is developing their software capabilities in developing an app which allows users to connect to the digital audio processing engines built into the loudspeaker systems.

We delved deep into the controller software space analysing a wealth of sliders, faders and buttons.
We delved deep into the controller software space analysing a wealth of sliders, faders and buttons.

We focused on user interfaces which contained controller like elements.

The Martin Audio business undertook a management buyout from parent group Loud Technologies in 2018. The business had been using a prior app controller designed and built for what was then sister brand Mackie. The brief was to go through the existing app with a view to improving the overall user experience, structure and software interface design. We began by undertaking software interface research across the entire prosumer audio software environment. We were particularly focused on user interfaces which contained controller like elements such as faders, knobs, sliders and buttons. We also were interested in the overall visual tone used for what is often dark internal environments full of ambient noise and lighting. We found the apps which used high contrast in their colour usage between background and active app functions worked best.

We collaborated closely with the Martin Audio Product Group manager and the software engineering team.

We began the design process by engaging with the Martin Audio product marketing team. They had built a toolkit of brand elements which they were using for their marketing and brand activation purposes. We made sure to connect the app branding with the overall product brand. We used the colours to inform the UX colour within the app – Particularly with the colour red, which is used for key buttons and actions. The Martin Audio branding is predominantly black so we created a neutral charcoal interface to pay homage to the master brand. On further development of the app functions and screens, we collaborated closely with the Product Group manager and the engineer behind the software build.

The experience features a neutral dark interface combined with bright zones of activity and interactivity.
The experience features a neutral dark interface combined with bright zones of activity and interactivity.

To assist in the testing of flow, we created a full app prototype using Adobe XD.

The app contained a number of screens. The key use case would be connecting to the loudspeaker range and controlling both their configuration (The way the different speakers would be zoned or paired, alone or combined with subs) and also the controlling of DSP like elements such as channel volume, Bluetooth and EQ levels.  The BlacklineX Powered range can be used either as a speaker pair or be divided into different zones, with or without subs. Each configuration required its own UX conditions so in order to assist in the testing of flow, we created a full app prototype using Adobe XD. The sliders and buttons all functioned and allowed the team to see the result of each action in real time.

We developed a separate series of screens and assets for the tablet version.

The software interface design had to cater for a number of different viewport sizes. We established rules for scaling that made sure that the important app functions scaled the most, so that the tablet format became somewhat chunky but highly tactile and easy to use. We developed a separate series of screens and assets for the tablet version. The resulting app is a bold dive into the future for Martin Audio and certainly brings their system design into the handheld realm. The app is being tested in development and will launch to consumers already in possession of units around the world.

The app extended into the tablet range - and we retained the large button feel - enhancing the usability even further - especially for dark lighting conditions.
The app extended into the tablet range - and we retained the large button feel - enhancing the usability even further - especially for dark lighting conditions.
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