1971 - 2014
A Little Bit of Our History
An Unlikely Start
On his return to the UK, Terry started work for Decca at their cassette duplication plant in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, where he designed and serviced the huge cassette tape winding machines which were made on-site. It was during this time that Terry met Decca’s production manager Doug Smith, who would later fulfill the same role as one of Klark Teknik’s early employees. Nissen Huts on the Summerfield Site
Phil Clarke had brought a business ides back with him from Australia, where washing cars in the street in towns had been banned, and people were required to go to garages to wash their cars using purpose-built machines that could collect and recycle the used water. Similar legislation was enacted in the UK, and so Phil asked his brother to work on making coin-operated car washing machines, for which there was a ready market.
An Audio Legend is Born
Terry’s car wash machine business took off. However, mirroring his experience in Australia, he continued with his interest in audio electronics as a sideline making bespoke equipment for recording studios.
The company started to develop small inductor-based graphic equalisers which were produced in very low quantities and sold mostly to recording studios to compliment the relatively simple mixing console audio processing of the day.
The Clarke brothers found that the efficiency that could be had from manufacturing even small batches of 50 or 100 standardised products meant that they could easily be half the price of their bespoke counterparts, and customers were only too willing to pay much less for high quality audio signal processing.TEKNIK - 7
The earliest graphic equaliser was the seven-band mono TEKNIK-7s in 1973, designed for Vic Keary at Chalk Farm Studios in London where he had built a large console with EMI valve input stages, and the 7s was designed to fit the spaces Vic had left in the console channels. A few additional TEKNIK-7s equalisers were made, however customers wanted more frequency bands and the nine-band mono TEKNIK-9s followed, along with the first 19 inch rack-mount graphic equaliser, the stereo eleven-band TEKNIK-11+11s.AWARDS
Live! Gold Award 1996
Their next venture led to a long-lasting relationship with the BBC. Terry had used his experiences from working on the Decca cassette tape winding machines, which had very sophisticated motor control, to build a small number of bespoke ¼ inch reel-to-reel tape machines. The Teknik SM2 Reel-To-Reel Tape Machine
A production version called the Teknik SM2 followed which allowed them to successfully compete against established names such as Studer and Leevers-Rich due to its advanced DC-controlled capstan motors, selling thirty machines to the BBC and a further ten to UK independent television broadcaster Thames Television.
This success however proved to be a distraction from the rapidly growing graphic equaliser business, and the Clarke brothers decided to sell the design and manufacturing rights for the SM2 to Leevers-Rich, who had lost out on the BBC order and were only too keen to pick up the work of building the thirty machines that that been ordered, with Terry working at their factory in south London to help them fulfill the order. Leevers-Rich went on to sell their version of the SM2 under the name Proline 2000.The Teknik SM2 Reel-To-Reel Tape Machine
This early success with the Teknik SM2 is commemorated to this day in the brand’s logo as a stylised tape reel.
In October 1975, a new company was formed, acquiring the audio side of “Klark-Teknik Limited”, and the garage forecourt business changed its name to Kidderminster Garage Equipment Limited and later in 1982 was sold to its then manager.
In 1976 a further development in signal processing was launched; the Teknik-27s, a 27-band graphic equaliser. The very first batches were almost totally handmade (like their predecessors) including a chassis made from aluminium sheet and a rotary level control which was milled and turned on a lathe by hand. The internal wiring looms to the faders were complex and testing involved an interactive adjustment of every filter making the product very expensive to produce.
Creating The Brand
Soon after the design was revised to reduce these costs by including more PCB mounted components, including precision 1% tolerance resistors, and subcontracting out the metalwork production using a new folded steel design.
Another innovation was the double-anodised aluminium front panels, which ensured the silkscreen ink would not rub off, and offered greater manufacturing efficiencies compared with the individually engraved and ink- filled front panels that were the norm at the time. The ‘silver’ aluminium front panel became the iconic look for the Klark Teknik brand and still features on products manufactured today.This revised product, the “Klark Teknik” DN27, opened a door to the live sound market and proved so successful that to this day it remains one of the most revered products in the brand’s history. It set a benchmark for graphic equaliser performance due to its innovative Proportional-Q response which allowed for gentle contour EQ for small amounts of boost and cut, but which could also produce sharp narrow notches when fully cut – something that conventional Constant-Q graphic equalizer cannot deliver.Around 6,500 DN27 units shipped between 1977 and 1985. Two other spin off products were also produced using the DN27 chassis, the DN22 stereo 11-band graphic equalizer and the DN15, a similar unit that also provided preamps with selectable routing for multiple tape and phonograph inputs and outputs, and was most notably sold in some volume to the BBC who had commissioned the unit.AWARDS
Live Sound! Tin Ear Award
Live Gold Award 1996
Live Sound! The Tin Ear Award
A New Home
In 1978 the company purchased a 99 year lease on a 1.5 acre plot of land on Walter Nash Road, Kidderminster and the 15-strong company moved to new purpose-built premises on the site in 1980, where it remains to this day. Throughout the following decade, the number of employees would continue to rise, to 45 in 1985 and 144 in 1989.
Klark Teknik Goes Transatlantic
It was around this time that Klark Teknik first came to prominence in the USA, with its graphic equalisers being shown for the first time at the 1976 Billboard Disco show. This lead to an important relationship forming with Jack Kelly, who attended the show and within a few years developed a massive market for KT graphic equalisers in the USA. Later he would open Klark Teknik’s US office in New York in 1980, by which time fully one-third of all KT’s production was shipping to the USA. In 1977 “Klark Teknik Research” launched the DN36 Stereo Analogue Time Processor, a high performance bucket-brigade delay line used for generating special effects such as phasing and flanging.
The following year it replaced this with the DN34, a design re-spin that reduced the product’s dependence on an external mixing console to operate effectively, and also significantly reduced assembly time and cost. One claim to fame for these units is that they were used on the legendary “The Muppet Show” TV programme.
The Birth Of Industry Standards
More new products followed, including the DN60 Real Time Analyser in 1980 and the DN300 series of graphic equalisers in 1982, which led to rapid growth and required an extension of the building to cope with the increased production demand. These products became industry standards and many remain in daily use. Released 1982
Klark Teknik Goes Public
In 1984, Klark Teknik became a public limited company and was floated on the London Stock Exchange. This allowed the Clarke brothers to capitalise on their success to date, one of the benefits of being a publicly traded company is that finance was easy to obtain, and two years later the company was able to acquire Dearden-Davies Associates who were looking for investment for them to grow, perhaps better known as recording studio console brand DDA.
Under the auspices of Dave Dearden and Gareth Davies, DDA remained at their Hounslow site near Heathrow Airport and essentially ran as a separate business.Terry and Philip Clarke
More Classics Are Born
This period saw the launch of two iconic products, the DN360 Graphic Equaliser and the DN780 Digital Reverberator. The original DN700 series digital delay lines were also launched during this time, replacing the older analogue bucket-brigade delay units. These new delay units were used at such notable locations as London’s St Pauls’ Cathedral and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.The classic DN360 started out as the DN3030, an attempt to supersede the inductor-based design of the DN27 with an all-electronic gyrator-based design Award (which simulated the contribution of the inductor to the filter band circuits), with the potential for better audio performance and reliability coupled with lower weight and cost. The DN3030 however ended up using multiple printed circuit boards and was difficult and expensive to produce. Mike Woodward redesigned the unit to use the then-new thick film ceramic hybrid circuits for the filter band gyrators which significantly reduced the complexity of the design and a legend was born.AWARDS
The Live! Award 1995
Royal Recognition Klark Acoustic
The company’s success led to an invitation to Downing Street. Phil Clarke, his wife Jenni and Doug Smith represented one of five successful Midlands businesses invited to a reception to meet Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in recognition and celebration of their outstanding enterprise in British industry.
The following year it was Terry’s turn to receive official recognition when he got to meet Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace to receive the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for the company’s innovations in digital audio technology.
DDA too received Royal recognition for their achievements, twice winning the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1986 and 1987. AWARDS
Queen′s Award 1986
Klark Teknik Acquires Midas
Midas had run into financial challenges with the XL console, which it was unable to bring to market. Terry Clarke knew Jeff Byers and had a high regard for Midas, and whilst the purchase of DDA had cost £2 million, funded by the stock exchange floatation, the Midas business was acquired for considerably less. The plans for the successor XL2 console looked good and Terry knew that they had the R&D staff and financial resources to bring the project to a successful conclusion. The Midas XL2 was launched in 1988 with great success.
The DN735 Solid State Recorder was first introduced in 1989. This innovative product was a solid state recorder for stereo audio editing based on video tape with a three minute memory which was huge for the time. It sold well to the BBC and video post production companies.
The Brothers Move On
Towards the end of the decade, the company was feeling the pressure of being a publicly listed company and having to meet the expectations of the stock market, and at the same time Terry (like all good engineers) knew that what goes up also has to come back down at some point, and had a feeling that the rapidly inflating London stock market bubble was reaching bursting point. He decided Midas that the best course of action would be to sell up, and although Phil wanted to continue, a vote of the company directors sided with Terry.
The business was sold in December 1990 to the US-based Mark IV Audio, who owned a portfolio of audio brands including Electro-Voice.
Six months later the bottom fell out of the stock market.
The German Connection
In 1996 it was decided to split R&D into two separate sections, one for Klark Teknik and one for Midas (DDA was already autonomous due to its Hounslow location) The fledgling Klark Teknik team were supported by their German colleagues, resulting in the DN6000 Audio Analyser, the DN4000 Digital Equaliser and the DN7103 and DN7204 Digital Delays.
Ironically, in a sense the Clarke brothers’ Germanic aspirations for the brand came true!
Klark Teknik Re-established
The Klark Teknik R&D suffered from some growing pains and it was not until the end of decade that viable new home-grown designs started to appear. The two key products that helped put the company back on the map were the DN9848 Loudspeaker Processor, notable for being the industry’s first fully featured 4-input, 8-output digital processor in a 1U rack, and the DN1248 Microphone Splitter, which featured Midas’ highly regarded microphone preamplifiers.
Both products were launched in 2000 and set the course for Klark Teknik in the coming decade.
Into the New Millennium
With the genesis of a new product portfolio for Klark Teknik, more new products started to appear. Building on the DN9848 hardware platform and incorporating features from both the DN3600 and DN4000 equalisers, plus a novel approach to dynamic equalisation, the DN9340 and DN9344 HELIX Digital Equalisers were launched in 2002. Released 2001
Further Straubing-designed products contributed to the two brands’ portfolios, including the original series of Midas VENICE consoles launched in 2001.
On with the Show
A year later, and the DN9848 was incorporated into the HELIX range, and all units received digital audio interfaces and Ethernet control as well as a cosmetic upgrade and an “E” suffix. Midas XL8 at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, Oslo
The Klark Teknik “Show Command” System
A new addition to the range was the DN9331 RAPIDE motorised graphic equaliser remote controller, which featured the Midas “Solo Tracking System” to instantly recall the channel EQ settings when the corresponding Solo button was pressed on the console. This new system was branded “Show Command” and featured the “Elgar” PC remote software suite.
The Music Tribe Connection
In December 2009 saw the acquisition of the Midas and Klark Teknik brands by Music Tribe from Bosch. Ultra high-speed Surface Mount machine farm
Automated optical PCB inspection system
It became readily apparent that this was an incredibly potent relationship, as Midas and Klark Teknik offered not only their brand heritage and experience of operating at the very top level of the live sound industry, but considerable intellectual property that all could benefit from.
A dedicated team of UK engineers now forms the nucleus of a Midas and Klark Teknik presence at Music Tribe City, the company’s manufacturing hub in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, which its 3,000 staff call home.
Music Tribe in return invested over US$ 20 million in a dedicated manufacturing facility for Midas and Klark Teknik, with state-of-the-art surface mount technology and optical inspection systems.
Music Tribe City provides a scale of manufacturing power that previously Midas and Klark Teknik could only have dreamed of.
The PRO Series Expands
With significant new investment in Midas and Klark Teknik, the Company expanded with more engineers and another floor at the City Park site. During this time, with the worldwide economic downturn beginning to bite and touring sound becoming more and more important as a profit-making enterprise due to the decline in revenues from recorded music, the Pro Audio market was undergoing a sea-change. Adoption of digital technologies became accepted and more widespread throughout the live arena, with customers demanding more cost-effective solutions.
The PRO2 and PRO2C consoles, unveiled at the 2011 PLASA Show, feature a daylight viewable display and a networking capacity of 160 inputs and 160 outputs. Both consoles became an instant success and industry standard.
The smaller format PRO1 console, launched at the Las Vegas Infocomm Show in 2012 also features a daylight viewable display, but has a networking capacity of up to 176 inputs and 168 outputs and can mix 48 input channels onto 27 mix buses.
NOMINEENAMM TEC Nominee 2012
The Future Sound of Midas & Klark Teknik
For over 40 years Midas and Klark Teknik have repeatedly shown award-winning innovation and leadership in the world of high end professional audio, producing landmark products that have defined and shaped the live industry.
Our achievements would not have been possible without the unwavering support of all our amazing employees throughout the years.We dedicate this to you, the employees. You have made Midas and Klark Teknik global brands that have become the Industry Standard. Words can’t describe the amount of dedication, heart and soul that you have contributed.
We also thank our partners, customers, sound engineers, musicians and the many friends who have supported us for over 40 years. This has been a wonderful journey together and we can’t wait to see where the next 40 years will take us.
NOMINEE NAMM TEC Nominee 2014