1970 - 2014
A Little Bit of Our History
The Stanhope Street Years
The explosion of musical talent in 1960’s Beatlemania Britain also gave rise to a nascent electronic musical instrument industry and as the swinging sixties gave way to the rather less swinging but musically more progressive 1970’s a company called Midas amplification was formed in London by Jeff Byers and Charles Brooke, manufacturing transistorised guitar amplifiers and speaker cabinets. The location was extremely fortuitous as many PA companies visiting Martin Audio would then go next door to see what Midas was working on. The two co-located companies became synonymous in the minds of many live sound customers and the calibrated Midas / Martin modular PA systems became a regular fixture on concert tours in the 1970’s, with Martin Audio responsible for the loudspeaker cabintes, whilst Midas manufactured the electronics.
A shift in the company’s business took place a couple of years later as Jeff was inspired to look at how the primitive concert sound equipment of the day could be improved upon and set out to create a complete modular PA system including speakers, amplifiers and mixers. This system included what can be regarded as the very first Midas console, a powered mixer manufactured in Jeff’s in West Hampstead.
As the company grew, manufacturing moved out of Jeff’s flat into a small building in Stanhope Street near London’s Euston Station in 1972, which just happened to be next to already-established speaker manufacturer Martin Audio.
Early Days in Australia
In 1971, around the same time that Midas Amplification were making their transistorised guitar amplifiers, up in the English Midlands another company was formed by brothers Philip and Terence Clarke, which produced coin-operated car washing and vacuuming machines. Jazz Legend Oscar Peterson
The two brothers had differing but complementary talents. Phil was the business-savvy entrepreneur whilst Terry brought the technical and problem-solving skills. Terry was also an experienced musician, having played guitar for Clifford T Ward in the early half of the 1960’s in the UK. The brothers then spent the latter part of the decade in Australia.
It was during this time that Terry met Bruce Brown who built recording studios. Terry worked with Bruce on a number of these, including Albert Studios of AC/ DC fame. There was no established Pro Audio industry at the time, so literally everything – including the mixing console – was purpose-built for each studio. So in addition to being responsible for the day-to-day task of keeping the band’s equipment working, this early exposure to studio technology would put Terry in a very strong position for his future ventures.
Live Sound! The Tin Ear Award 1995
On Tour with the Supergroups
These new industry connections resulted in an association with Supertramp’s sound rental company “Delicate Productions” and Jeff Byers going on the road with Supertramp on their “Crime of the Century” tour alongside engineer Russell Pope in 1974. The experience gained on this tour resulted in the first Midas console to have major success, a small modular mixer called the PR System, often referred to as PRO4. The console’s name came from the name of the flagship PR 004 input module, which offered an exceptional microphone preamplifer and high-quality channel equalisation.
1975 saw the first dedicated Midas monitor console, with early customers including Clair Brothers Audio for clients including Elvis Presley, Yes, Billy Joel and The Beach Boys. Another innovation of early Midas consoles was a built-in active crossover, which became necessary for the new multi-way active sound systems gaining popularity in the UK.
Whilst the streets of the UK may have been reverberating to the new sound of anarchy in the mid-seventies, elsewhere in the world British rock supergroups reigned supreme. Midas supplied a On Tour with the Supergroups.
Giant three-section console for Pink Floyd’s “Animals” 1977 tour which had separate master quadraphonic and stereo outputs. For the band’s legendary “The Wall” tour in 1979, Midas provided a console with 105 channels of custom-built quadraphonic sound.
Another customer was Frank Zappa who had a custom-made Midas PRO5 console for his 1980 World Tour, plus a Midas-supplied dedicated recording console to allow every concert to be simultaneously recorded onto 24, 8 and 2 tracks.Midas consoles also found their way into musical theatre in the 1970’s. The hugely successful British duo of Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber and Sir Tim Rice created many major stage productions which went on to play around the world, with live theatre designer Abe Jacob specifying Midas consoles for shows such as “Cats” and “Evita”.
The PRO40 is Born
Midas continued into the 1980's with the PR 40 series; often referred to as PRO40. This range of modules provided more facilities and could be used to produce much larger mixing consoles. The PRO40 was a very popular and successful console series and became the main product line for Midas in the early 1980’s.
The Kidderminster Connection
As a forerunner of Midas’ future success however, the XL console, the first of the XL series, was launched at the New York Audio Engineering Society Convention in 1986. The cost of developing the XL console proved too much for Midas and in December 1987, Midas Audio Systems Ltd. was wound up and the assets purchased by Klark Teknik. The last ever PRO40 to be manufactured, a special 24 auxiliary bus monitor console built in two parts for Concert Sound, was partly designed and completed at Klark Teknik’s Kidderminster factory
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.
1989 also saw the launch of the DN500 series of dynamics processors, based on designs purchased from local Midlands company Rebis. The owners of Rebis had decided to go their separate ways, and with the front panels changed to the classic KT anodised aluminium, four new products were added to the range. That year Midas also launched the rackmount XL88 Matrix Mixer, with eight inputs and eight outputs.
XL3-The New Midas
It was the next Midas console that re-established the brand, the XL3 was essentially a monitor version of the XL2, but with the innovative use of VCA faders (fitted on to the front of the original chassis) making the product suitable for Front of House mix duties, too. It came in 40, 32 and 24 channel versions and a 16 channel extender, or sidecar, was also made. ts 16 mixes could be used as output mixes, sub groups or auxiliary masters.
With all inputs also routable direct to masters, grouping via eight VCA masters, along with a two-way matrix and two ancillary record outputs, its combined total of 22 outputs made it a supremely capable and flexible console.
AWARDSPlasa Award for Product Excellence 1996
XL4 - The Ultimate Analogue Console
The next project was the flagship XL4 which still stands as the ultimate statement in analogue live performance mixing consoles, and is still specified on concert tour riders today. The console toured the world with Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Simply Red and many other high profile acts. plus an additional line-level 16 auxiliary return inputs. The XL4’s total of 45 mix buses was augmented by an 18 x 8 output matrix. It featured ten VCAs with an additional two grand master VCAs, all with motorised faders.
The XL4 set the benchmark for the next decade. Audio engineers were amazed at the sheer depth and scope of what they were able to achieve with the unbeatable combination of the XL4’s audio performance and comprehensive moving-fader automation. Many elements of this legendary console are still available to today’s engineers in the current range of Midas digital mixing systems.
The XL4 project however consumed all available R&D resources to bring it to reality, which impacted the ability to also create new designs for Klark Teknik. A solution was found in the form of a collaboration between Kidderminster and its counterpart R&D team in Straubing, Germany which was responsible for the electronics for Mark IV Audio brands Electro-Voice and Dynacord. Straubing contributed the mechanical and digital electronic designs, whilst the Kidderminster team focussed on the analogue designs that were critical to the products’ performance for them to meet the brand’s high standards.
AWARDSLive Sound Tin Ear Award 1997
Midas' Heritage Made Real
It was however the next project that would capitalise on the success of XL3 and XL4 and for several years gave Midas near-total dominance of the concert touring business – the HERITAGE series. The extremely capable HERITAGE 3000 was suited to both Front of House and monitoring applications, whilst the companion HERITAGE 2000 was specifically aimed at Front of House mix duties. The H3000 and H2000 launched in 1998 and 1999 respectively.
The HERITAGE 3000 became the concert touring’s industry standard and formed the focal point, along with the XL4, for most major tours for the following decade including acts such as Bon Jovi, Alanis Morrisette, AC/DC, Coldplay, Kid Rock, Metallica, Alicia Keys, Foo Fighters, Christina Aguilera, Sir Paul McCartney and Pearl Jam.
Two further HERITAGE consoles were launched, the smaller theatre-oriented HERITAGE 1000 appeared in 2000, followed a couple of years later by the giant HERITAGE 4000 monitor console, essentially an H3000 with an additional pod to increase the number of auxiliary send buses to meet the demands made by the rapidly increasing use of in - ear monitors.
Legend-The World's First "Tri-Purpose" Console
Midas too had been busy in Kidderminster, with the innovative LEGEND 3000 console, launched in 2002. As well as being suited to both Front of House and monitor mix duties, the console featured two sets of faders per channel to allow simultaneous mixing for both from the same console – hence it being advertised as the world’s first “Tri-Purpose” mixing console. It featured a new approach to printed circuit board (PCB’s) layout where the previous individual vertical channel strip PCB’s were replaced by modular flat PCB’s, typically containing eight channels, which greatly reduced the number of interconnects – simplifying assembly and improving reliability.
This would become central to Midas’ approach to console construction in the coming decade.
A Digital Dawn
Midas recruited a small team of former Amek R&D engineers to form the core of its new digital console team. Working out of a tiny office in Empress Buildings, a converted Victorian Brewery in Manchester. This team, augmented by R&D staff in Kidderminster, would be responsible for the hardware and DSP design, analogue circuitry and front-end user interface development. The prototype XL8 chassis
The Lego* console used to develop new user interface layouts
The strategy behind Midas’ entry to the digital realm was not to simply produce another mixing console but to create a technology platform from which the brand could address all segments of the market.
Initial console software testing
The team went back to basics and spent a year looking at the fundamentals of console design, including why a Midas console sounded like it did, and built many analogue prototype circuits that would later be modelled in the digital domain to ensure that the Midas sound was retained in its new digital incarnation.
A Tale of Two Cities
Midas analogue console development was not neglected during this time. The 8-Bus VERONA console debuted in 2004, and its companion SIENA monitor console with 16 dedicated auxiliary sends arrived early the following year.
Both consoles featured the eight-channel modular construction pioneered on the LEGEND 3000 console and came in frame sizes from 24 to 64 channels.
Digital Goes Midas
The Midas XL8 Live Performance System digital console was launched at the Frankfurt Pro Light + Sound trade show in March 2006 to great acclaim. A total of three consoles were at the show, two on the booth and one in the giant outdoor Agora Tent, the XL8 was quite literally the talk of the show. The XL8 is a uniquely powerful system. The control surface features five separate control bays, each with a daylight viewable display and complete redundancy is built in throughout the system to ensure no single point of failure exists.
The XL8 has been used on many high profile tours and events, one of the most notable took place in December 2007 when Led Zeppelin reunited for the “Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert” at the O2 Arena in London. This historic performance would later be made available as a DVD release called “Celebration Day”.
Other major events include the “Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony”, the “Eurovision Song Contest”, The “Brit Awards” and the “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert”.
PRO Series - Reborn for the Digital Age
With the XL8 aimed squarely at the highest end of the market, the digital console development team spent the next two years concentrating on the next phase, scaling down the XL8 technology into a “workhorse” package. The PRO6 Live Audio System, which was launched at PLASA in September 2008 was targeted to address the mainstream concert touring market dominated by the HERITAGE Series a decade before.
The name too recalled the Midas heritage, harking back to the “PRO4” and “PRO40” consoles of a previous generation.
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.
NAMM TEC Nominee 2012
The "Million Cycle" Midas PRO FADER
One of the first projects that Midas embarked upon utilised the large scale manufacturing resources of the Music Tribe and created the million-cycle Midas PRO FADER, which greatly exceeds the operational life of motorised faders fitted to competitor consoles.
Midas PRO FADER
This decision yielded many other benefits, including complete quality control. The design team went deep into materials science, employing semi - precious metals for the wiper contacts that offered the desired durability. Precision components were developed that offered high-linearity, robustness and smooth operation.
The Midas PRO FADER was born and the results speak for themselves.
R&D Centre of Excellence
In 2012, Midas’ parent company Music Tribe expanded the Manchester site again, investing in a state-of-the-art R&D Centre of Excellence with 24,000 sq. ft. of space and dramatically expanding the engineering team.
Today the site represents a state-of-the-art research and development center with world-leading expertise in hardware and software, laying the ground for unprecedented innovation and product design.
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.
NAMM TEC Nominee 2014