Meet the Manufacturer - Calrec Audio (part 3)
The AMS Connection
While, in the mid 80s, people were thinking that the digital revolution was just around the corner for mixing consoles, a certain company called AMS was making a considerable name for itself, largely due to their sampling delay line/pitch changer product, and latterly to the famous AudioFile. Since Calrec were thinking digitally too there was a good deal of common interest between the two companies.
We were very busy, we were putting a lot of money into research and development and the company was expanding. But we were in small premises that needed refurbishing and expanding, and the majority of the original shareholders of Calrec were close to retiring age and were wanting to leave the company. We also felt that for the digital desk program it would be beneficial to associate with a hard disk manufacturer. There happened to be a hard disk manufacturer just ten miles away over the hill, albeit in Lancashire, and knowing them we got together and discussed ways of cooperating. AMS had expertise in the music recording business, and Calrec in the broadcasting business, their expertise was in digital audio and ours in analogue, so we thought that we would make a very powerful combination.
Calrec were taken over by AMS in 1986 and relocated to Burnley the following year. They enjoyed some early successes with the UA8000 (which had been designed by Calrec before the takeover) in music studios and AMS developed the TASC automation system to enhance the console. Making headway against the competitive products and commercial muscle of Neve and SSL was difficult, and they also found an incompatibility in the types of work each company preferred.
There are different philosophies of running a company. Whereas Calrec, in those days, was driven by projects, AMS was driven by its research and development, and it was difficult to run the two side by side. So after a lot of effort by all parties it was felt that the best way to proceed was to hive off the analogue part of Calrec from the mainstream business, so myself, Ken Farrar and George Waddington and Graham Warden were given the opportunity to purchase that part of the company back which we did in July 1989 and relocated it in Hebden Bridge. We have since then redesigned the entire range of analogue products which had been neglected to work on digital desks and digitally controlled assignable desks. In the first two years after our separation from AMS we were controlled by restrictive covenants that neither of us would make design or sell products which competed directly with one another. Those restrictions came off in July 1991 and since then we have been doing development work on digitally controlled analogue and digital products which will be coming to the market place before too long.