Adventures In Audio
Meet the Manufacturer - Calrec Audio (part 4)

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday January 1, 2004

The Calrec Advantage

Calrec’s product line now includes the Q Series large mixing console,
the Compact Series console and the RQ rack mounting modules. I asked a simple
question; “What do Calrec do better than other audio manufacturers?”
Perhaps the answer might be a little biased, but let’s allow the manufacturer
to speak...

“We can package more facilities in a smaller space with a higher performance
than anyone else. We can get a better crosstalk performance and lower current
consumption and lower heat dissipation, hence we have better long term reliability.
All that is down to the elegance of the design of the audio circuitry, and we
don’t have to compromise the performance in any way whatsoever. What you
find with other people is that you can open up some desks and find that from
start to finish they use the same IC simply because it’s easier to get
the audio performance, but it causes all sorts of heat problems and other problems
which we don’t have to put up with. This has made our large desks in particular
very attractive to broadcasters who need to get a maximum amount of facilities
into a small space, and who need to have very high standards of performance
and the ultimate in reliability.

“Our other expertise is our experience with such a wide range of products:
conventional, digitally controlled analogue desks and digital desks. From the
very smallest suitcase to very large 96 channels or more studio desks, with
every different type of control surface: conventional, in-line, digitally controlled
assignable and digitally controlled on a channel-by-channel basis. We have experience
of all the different types and we know which are the best in practice - it was
people from Calrec that designed the control surface of the AMS Logic 1. We
feel that we have a depth of knowledge of this type of control that no-one else

“Then there is custom building. At one time Calrec did nothing but
custom building, then when we had standard products people would come to us
and we would end up redesigning 50% to 75% of the modules in order to meet their
requirements. Now, by being able to package things to a much higher density
we can provide a basic standard desk with all the facilities that someone will
want for the main part of the mixer. We are then able to do the customisation
around that and provide special panels for talkback, communications and anything
that the customer may require. Because we aren’t changing the basic part
of the desk it means that it’s very effective customising and it can be
done in a reasonable time scale so we get the benefits of both worlds. Customising
is obviously an expensive thing to do so the design and mechanical facilities
are all geared up to a very fast turnaround. We installed our first large CAD
system in 1981. It was terrific, and what we started doing as a sales tool was
to mock up a complete desk in coloured drawings. So when somebody wanted a custom
built desk they would say ‘What’s this desk going to look like?’,
and we would unroll the drawings and say it’s going to look like that.
If they wanted to change something we would move it all around and plot another
one while they were having their lunch. That was a very impressive thing and
no gimmick because we were designing the desk as we went along.

“We are doing the same thing now. Right now, George (Waddington) is
laying out a similar thing for one of the new products. He is doing it for me
as a sales tool but he is actually designing the desk as he goes along. As he
is moving the components around on different layers, all the mechanical design
parameters are going in. We can just call up another layer of the drawing and
put it on the disk that goes down to the machine which will machine all the
panels out. We use AutoCad for the mechanical design. We don’t need a great
deal of sophistication, 3D modelling or anything like that. It’s really
an electric drawing board and we have geared it up to make things as easy as
possible for ourselves.”

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