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Calrec, DiGiCo Venture Bears First Fruit

April 13th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Dan Daley

It has been less than a year since three iconic UK-based console brands began a unique joint venture. Calrec, DiGiCo, and Allen & Heath announced in August that they would form a professional group, pooling their R&D capabilities but stipulating that each of the three would maintain its distinct brand identity. Two-thirds of that consortium, Calrec and DiGiCo, are on hand at NAB 2015, underlining that both goals have been met and various synergies have been achieved.

James Gordon, managing director of DiGiCo and president of the venture, says that integration of the three R&D departments has gone even more smoothly than hoped for, which he attributes to the fact that all three companies are console manufacturers and all three are based in the UK.

“We speak the same language, in terms of faders and screens and DSP, across the brands,” he says, noting that made the task easier than trying to integrate disparate companies.

He adds that sales and marketing has remained completely separate but that related activities, such as purchasing, have benefited from economies of scale. “That’s not just only about prices,” he says, “but also assuring the quality of supplies and components across the brands.”

Jack Kelly, president of Group One, which distributes DiGiCo in the U.S., points out that the group venture has been good for the brand, helping promote the brand in the broadcast sector here.

“Both brands are often used on the same projects, with Calrec consoles as the main desks and DiGiCo consoles used for submixes,” he says. “It makes sense for both of us to integrate our efforts at trade shows, too.”

The show has been used to introduce DiGiCo’s new Orange Box, a protocol converter that converts MADI information into a format readable by Calrec’s Hydra digital router via a new Hydra2 interface card from Calrec. Billed as an “anything in, anything out” converter, the Orange Box has a dual-MADI connection allowing 112 channels of audio to pass from the Hydra2 network, and a link provides the ability to share labeling and control input gain along with I/O switching for phantom power and phase.

Says Kelly, “[The Orange Box] gives us a level of technical cooperation that’s a practical example of joint research and development.”