Although we are now well into 2012 - it is interesting to look back and review some of the high lights of 2011. Although it has been a difficult time for some due to the world economic situation, the music industry, particularly the live music sector, has been quite buoyant.
The Festival season was generally a great success in the UK and Europe - with good ticket sales and crowds, with many of the major events being sold out long in advance. Our product sales in the early part of the year were very strong as many musicians and PA companies geared up for the season.
A number of new products have been introduced during that year, including the Amp Interface which was first produced in prototype form several years ago - but after receving several enquiries asking about it in the same week, it was decided to engineer it for production. This item is used for playing back a guitar (or any other instrument) from a recording system through an instrument amplifier in a suitable room and re-recording the output again, complete with the colour and flavour of the amplifier and speaker with the acoustic of the room.
Another item which was introduced due to customer demand is the Dual Channel Micro DI Box which is simply two channels of the very well regarded Micro DI Box circuitry in one case! Very useful for stereo keyboards and similar instruments, but can be used for any other DI purpose as the crosstalk between channels is beyond measurement.
Our various muting boxes continue to sell well, possibly as these are almost unique - and are essential when instruments are tuned, or changed. Similarly, if an instrument is not being played and is put on a stand - it cannot feedback if its output is muted. The fairly new Balanced Microphone Mute has found many uses, especially with musicians using high quality miniature microphones fitted to their instruments- and the Muting DI Box continues to sell well around the world, as it is often favourably commented on in guitar internet web forums - it seems to provide an optimum match for most guitar type pickups. A simplified version of the Balanced Microphone Muting box Microphone Mute lite is available now - this has only XLR in and out connectors - and again has been introduced due to customer demand. It is really good value!
Cables don't go out of fashion - even digital mixers still need to be connected to the outside world, so microphone and instrument cables continue to the supplied in large quantities to our customers. They can be sent by post easily - and are always made with the best qualtity cable (Van Damme) and connectors (Neutrik). Cable is held in stock in various colours - and orders are usually made up and sent off on the same day as they are received.
On Saturday 7th April Show Of Hands will be playing at the Royal Albert Hall - for the fourth time. Some tickets are still available for this fantastic event, but are sure to sell out by the time of the concert. Steve and Phil will once again prove that they can put on a gig to be remembered.
We are looking forward to exhibiting most of our product range at the Analogue to Digital EXPO - to be held in Exeter on Saturday 21st April 2012 in the Phoenix Arts Centre, which is right in the heart of the City. This will be the fourth year that this exhibition has been held - and it has got bigger and better each year. There will be many well known companies involved in recording technology present - so it will be well worth coming if you can easily get to Exeter.
At some point in the near future, there will be a review of 3 of our most popular DI Box products in the Sound On Sound magazine. This will include the Micro and Classic DI's and the Muting DI Box - so please look out for this edition. We have always known that they perform really well - and soon there will be published independent confirmation of this!
As always - if you have any questions about our products, or any aspect of audio engineering, please don't hesitate to get in touch - we will help if we can.
Orchid News: Feb 2011
Orchid News: Feb
Lots of new products:
2010 was a busy year during which several important new products were designed and produced.
A production version of the Microphone Muting pedal was introduced, although many have been supplied as 'one offs' and several batches to a UK high quality microphone importers prior to our introduction with Orchid branding. This is a valuable addition to our range of 'black boxes' - with use mainly by musicians with microphones in, or on their instruments, but we have supplied them for use by singers, conference venues - and in the pulpit!Balanced Microphone Muting pedal
Considerable design effort was expended on the development of a rack DI box for use with hard disk replay machines employed for sound effects in theatres and backing tracks for bands. A pair of synchronised replay machines can be connected and in the event of the 'main' machine failing, the standby machine audio output is switched - without missing a beat. Switching DI Box Many bands use recorded tracks to augment their live sound - individual tracks coming from a multi channel replay machine can be mixed - and sound amazingly live, until the machine fails...... Hopefully our new design might save the day!
From this design a simpler 1U rack DI Box has been produced, which is entirely passive, needing no power supply. This is also intended for use with line level music sources, such as computer systems, and any music replay source, where the dual redundancy of 2 replay machines and a switching DI is not required. The outputs are transformer isolated and presented at an appropriate level to feed microphone inputs on a mixing desk. Passive rack DI Box
As repairers of mixing desks - we are often requested to built replacement power supplies for 'legacy' mixers (sometimes only a few years old) - because the original item has been damaged, lost or stolen. Often the original manufacturer is no longer in business, or cannot produce the item. Occasionally original fan cooled supplies are just too noisy for recording situations - so we have tried to produce a supply capable of being used with a variety of makes of mixers. Mixer Power Supply Our PSU has a large finned heatsink (much more costly than a cooling fan) - for silent running. It can be used as a redundant back up with many Allen & Heath mixers with the appropriate cable. They have also been used with Amek/TAC, DDA and Soundcraft and Soundtracs models. Please enquire to see if it can be adapted, or is suitable, for your mixer.
We are able to send items anywhere in the world - and most are small and light enough to be sent via the 'Small Packet' air mail service. This is relatively inexpensive - and has proven over the years to be reliable, taking about one week to reach most countries in the world, Japan, Canada and Australia for example. There is currently a serious problem with post to the US - due to increased security arrangements demanded by their Homeland Security. Orders to the US will now have to go via DHL/Fedex/UPS at extra cost for the duration of this action. Payment can easily be made in any currency via Paypal, which again has proved to be a safe and reliable means of payment.
Our international business has grown over the past couple of years, with many sales resulting from touring musicians using our products - but also due to some wonderful comments posted on Web forums by enthusiastic users! This seems to have the same value as 'word of mouth' - so many thanks to everyone contributing.
Although our products are used by musicians playing all types of music - we do seem to have a big following amongst the folk scene - and are very proud to see that we have customers and users of Orchid equipment and services in virtually every category in the BBC Folk Awards held during February. BBC Folk Awards
We will again be exhibiting at the now annual Analogue to Digital Music Expo - to be held in the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre - on Saturday 19th March 2011 - so please come along and see our range of products and talk to us. The venue is in the City Centre, with really good food and drink available! Full information is available on the organisers Web site: Analogue to Digital EXPO 2011
Orchid News: Feb 2010
Happy New Year!
The Muting DI
Box was introduced as a new design since the last
newsletter - and in common with some of our other
products - came from an idea suggested by a Customer
several years ago. This has now become very successful,
possibly because it is a unique product, meeting
the needs of many players. It received a very
good review in Acoustic magazine (Issue 30 June
2009) - as well as gaining an honourable mention
on a Martin Guitar Web forum - resulting in sales
to the US, Canada and Australia.
The well established Acoustic
Pre-amp was also reviewed in the same magazine
(Issue 32 August 2009), together with a few competing
products making for an interesting comparison.
magazine review PDF document
It is always worth mentioning
that despite the fairly low price of our products
- they are all hand made in small batches in Exeter
UK. Top quality components are used which ensures
a long reliable service life. Rigorous inspection
and testing ensure consistent, dependable performance
- essential for live music use. We are also keen
to offer good Customer service - and have actually
repaired DI Boxes built 25 years ago (free of
Occasionally we exhibit at
small audio gatherings - one such enjoyable event
was held at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre in
March 2009, organised by the Sound Gallery as
part of the well established Vibraphonic Festival.
to Digital Music Expo was very well
attended and so will be held again on Saturday
March 6th 2010. It is always nice to meet and
talk to our Customers and exchange views - please
come along if you can.
At the same exhibition, Allen
& Heath will be demonstrating their range
of mixing desks, including new models designed
for recording, the well established analogue PA
range - and the digital iLive mixers, which are
establishing a good reputation. So come along
for some 'hands on' experience!
We have been repairing A&H
mixers for many years now - and can supply and
support all models - please ask for a price quote
if you are in the market for a good mixer, including
the fabulous digital range.
Finally - we are delighted
with the success of Show Of Hands in the BBC Radio
2 Folk Awards - picking up awards for 'Best Duo'
and Steve Knightley for penning the 'Best Original
Orchid News: Jan 2008
another busy year!
It has always been my intention to write this
Newsletter on a more frequent basis, but despite
having plenty to say - there always seems to be
more important things to do!
course include the 3 main areas of business,
the first being the repair of audio equipment,
including mixing desks - which could be described
as a speciality, including Allen & Heath products;
the year we have repaired many of their models
from the largest design to the small DJ mixers.
Most faults were quickly and easily located and
fixed - resulting in small repair charges, making
the overall cost of ownership for these fine products
to be kept low. Such is their reputation that
secondhand prices are generally high (again ensuring
low overall lifetime cost) - so consider Allen
& Heath if you are looking
for a new or bigger mixer in the coming year.
Remember that we can supply them at very good
prices, delivered directly to your address from
their Factory. Ask for a price quote.
a visit was made with 2 customers to the Allen
& Heath mixer premises in Penryn Cornwall
to have an advance look at their new iLive digital
mixer. We were given a very exhaustive hands on
demonstration of this exciting product - as well
as a Factory tour to see how they are made. They
are now shipping all over the world - to great
acclaim. It was instructive to talk to the people
actually involved in the design and support -
not just the sales guys (who are also fantastic
would come product design and manufacture - all
undertaken in small batch quantities here in Exeter.
This ensures that high quality standards can be
maintained - with testing carried out at every
stage of assembly. Thirdly are the custom designed
items, often employing well proven assemblies
from our existing products. We are very proud
to know that our many products were used at most
major UK festivals, the Albert Hall and at the
O2 in London arena for the Led Zeppelin concert.
Show Of Hands held their 3rd Royal Albert Hall
concert - to celebrate their 15th year Anniversary
- this was an extremely enjoyable event, with
a sell out crowd coming from all over the world.
Congratulations to all the technical staff and
musicians involved in this fabulous venture -
making it such a success.
our suppliers of connectors and cable asked if
this gig could feature in some of their publicity
material, admitting that they had to be inventive
to make their important products 'interesting'.
Possibly the same applies to
our range of 'black boxes'.....! This can
be viewed at VDC
Trading - and not much music,
live or recorded, can be made without cables and
It is always
nice when a specially designed item turns into
a production version - which happened to the Contact
- to be be used with one or two attached
microphones on such instruments as concertinas,
accordians and violins, amongst others. Unlike
some competing products, our design is Phantom
powered from the mixer - so no batteries are required
- a considerable advantage for live music, surely?
there was demand for a 2 channel, or stereo version,
of our popular Transformer Isolator - as it was
discovered that this product was totally effective
in removing power supply noise when using lap
top computers for music replay. So this new product
- is now
widely used by DJ's, in schools and churches and
for conference presentations:Dual
version of our Pink Noise Generator was made for
use by a major PA supply and hire Company - for
fast warehouse testing of speaker systems - all
of the drive units checked with one signal. This
can be either battery or Phantom powered and is
shown on the Custom
need to mute a balanced microphone signal - without
noise or loud clicks - this can be extremely difficult,
especially if your microphone is Phantom powered.
However, do not worry, as we have a solution to
this problem! Have a look at
Microphone Mute Pedal
if you need to do this - it also has outputs for
a tuner and an on stage amplifier. Useful if you
have a very high quality microphone mounted on
often asked to build replacement power supplies
for older mixing desks - it is amazing how often
the PSU becomes separated from the mixer during
a Studio move, or a sale - or lost in storage.
As many manufacturers are no longer trading -
or simply cannot make a new PSU, the task falls
to us! The supply shown on our Custom
page was made for a big Soundtracs PA mixer, but
was also provided with an additional cable to
enable its use with an Allen & Heath mixer
for use as a back up if required. Please ask if
you might need anything like this.
rack mounting versions of our Acoustic Pre-amp
have been made - including one with very comprehensive
tone controls for a customer with 'difficult'
instruments. It is still Phantom powered from
the mixer and the output can be muted from the
front panel, or with a foot switch.Acoustic
Pre-amp with Super EQ.
might like one of the above products, or have
any ideas of your own we could explore - pleased
don't hesitate to get in touch!
- wishing you all a very Happy and successful
Orchid News: Jan 2007
It has been a very busy 2006 for Orchid Electronics
- and our Customers, with the Summer Festival
Season being a great success. It is always exciting
to see and hear your equipment being used to great
effect on a BIG stage to a vast audience! We have
added a lot of new artists to the numbers using
our products - some of whom are listed on our
'Links' page. It is always fantastic to see our
artists enjoying continued acclaim - with new
talent emerging all the time. The Radio 2 Folk
Awards are an important event every year - with
Show Of Hands being
nominated in 6 categories. In addition Karine
Polwart and Dave
each nominated in 2 categories. The actual awards
will be announced and presented at the glittering
BBC Folk Awards event to be held at The Brewery,
London on Monday February 5th 2007. They are all
enthusiastic users of Orchid gear!
April 8th 2007 Show Of Hands will again play at
the Albert Hall - for the third time! On each
occasion our equipment has been used - so we are
looking forward to joining the sell out audience
for an unmissable experience! Congratulations
to Steve and Phil.
Splitter has sold in good quantities and being
of modular construction has been supplied in sizes
ranging from a single channel to an order of 3
x 24 channels for an important PA Company in Europe.
These were fitted with multipin connectors for
fast setting up and breaking down. They have been
supplied to studios, PA Companies and TV - for
a variety of purposes, including live recording
and permitting the use of 2 mixing desks in concert
Pre-amp has been supplied in different versions,
with a floor mounting type being popular with
Double Bass players. Every musician uses different
combinations of pickups and microphones - so we
have developed our silent muting facility
to enable balanced microphones, including Phantom
powered types, to be muted without any clicks
or noise. This important development will find
its way into many products and designs, including
one for a highly respected microphone manufacturer.
We are always pleased to advise on any aspects
of our speciality - from simple advice to product
design and small scale production.
to change for recording studios, with many in
London and elsewhere closing their doors. There
are many reasons for this of course - recording
and computer technology now being inexpensive
and allowing very high quality results to be obtained
at home. However - sometimes it will be necessary
to record in a real studio environment - for that
special project perhaps. As well as the latest
equipment - the expertise and experience gained
over many years by the studio engineer will be
available - and will prove to be invaluable. In
the SW of England - look at the studios listed
on our 'Links' page.
pleased to be able to sell new Allen
& Heath mixers directly to our
Customers, with many supplied in 2006 - especially
the fantastic Mix Wizard models. These are perfect
for most gigs and have been well received - with
very well thought out facilities. They are more
expensive than some of the competition - but are
of far better design and can be repaired if necessary
in our A&H Service Centre. Regard them as
a long term buy - not a 'throw away when it goes
wrong' type! Usually works out to be a far better
investment over years - and much nicer to use
in the meantime. If you are based within a reasonable
distance of Exeter consider buying through us
- with continued support for the product throughout
its service life.
in 2006 we were asked to come up with a bomb
proof version of the popular contact microphone
system widely used with violins, flutes and accordions.
This was a great success - with the Pre-amp/PSU
being powered from Phantom from the mixing desk
and having a balanced output, so no additional
DI Box was required, or internal batteries. This
might be further developed to incorporate a balance
control for the 2 microphone inputs and a master
volume control. If you use this type of equipment
- your comments would be most welcome. Photo
on Custom Products page.
product is the Transformer Isolator - which is
just a high quality audio transformer in a box!
It is, however, a really useful item - and a general
interface 'problem solver'. Dual channel versions
are also available - these have been supplied
for computer laptop connection to mixing desks
- as used by DJ's and for recording and replay
purposes. All PA Companies need a couple in the
tool box to solve those intractable hum loop problems!
Most manufacturers of Studio
mixing desks have now ceased production - but
most of their products are still in use, despite
being older than the user in many instances! Spares
tend to be available from various sources and
support, often from individuals closely associated
with the original companies, is usually available.
One item that sometimes causes a problem though
is the power supply - on occasions these have
simply been lost or even stolen. We have built
several of these supplies - but might try to come
up with a generic type suitable, with appropriate
connectors, for use with mixers of many different
makes. Let us know if we can help in this area.
you all a very Happy New Year!
News: Jan 2005
New Products &
Almost a year has passed since the last Newsletter
- much has been achieved in 2004. One of our
important products - the Standard DI Box -
has been in continuous production for over
17 years, so was due for a re-design. It is
now housed in an attractive and robust extruded
aluminium case, with only a slight update
to the well proven circuitry. In view of its
long history and established position in the
Industry, it has been decided to re-name it
the "Classic DI Box"! Amazingly
the price remains the same.
The Acoustic Pre-amp sells steadily, with
occasional sales to Canada and the USA - following
tours by Martyn Joseph in that part of the
world. Martyn will be on tour with Steve Knightley
in the UK in March and April - this will be
an opportunity to see two brilliant performers
work together (as well as an excellent showcase
for Orchid equipment!). Go to their Web sites
for complete tour schedules - from our Links
page. Several special custom versions of this
product have been made, including a rack mounting
pre-amp with two separate channels - and a
floor mounting type with Boss FX footpedal
type switches desired by the Customer. These
are pictured in our Custom Products section.
Making up cables is an important service for
our Customers - using Van Damme cable and
Neutrik connectors wherever possible. The
cost is often less than shop or big name mail
order sources - our price quotes always include
VAT and carriage, which is charged at actual
cost to us. Many cables available from shops
are now made in China, usually with cheap
connectors - or Neutrik "lookalikes"
that certainly do not come from Switzerland!
They often cost the same, or even more, than
a quality product made to order. Go to the
products page and click on Custom cables to
view some of our cables.
Many Allen & Heath mixing desks have been
repaired in 2004 - we continue to be impressed
with the design and quality of their products
and especially the support received from their
factory in Cornwall. We are trying to build
up a stock of many of the parts required to
speed up repair turnaround time - but most
items are quickly available from the Company
if we don't have them available. We have been
able to widen our Customer base - with Allen
& Heath repairs leading on to longer term
business relationships being established with
these "new" Customers. Don't forget
that we have long experience of repairing
many established makes of mixers - and most
other items of professional audio equipment.
Do look at the Custom Product section on the
Web site - we continue to produce all manner
of items to Customer specification. There
are a number of photos of equipment made during
the last year in this part of the Web site
to give you some ideas! We also make a variety
of power supplies to use with Alesis, Lexicon
FX units and Boss guitar type pedals amongst
many others. Any voltage can be provided -
housed in very strong aluminium die cast boxes
that can be fitted in the back of a rack,
or be left floor standing. Most of the plastic
housed "wall warts" - as they are
known in the USA - are only fit for light
duty and are not able to survive long on the
road. Replacements often cost the same as
a decent power supply from us, complete with
detachable IEC type mains cables and plug
in, easily replaceable, leads on the low voltage
side. Don't hesitate to ask if you think we
One of our early products was a Studio headphone
system, used for foldback whist recording.
This was designed over 15 years ago - with
many sets still in use in local studios to
my knowledge. We recently built a special
version for live foldback band use, having
an input on each individual Musicians box
for his own source to be mixed with the composite
signal sent from the mixing desk. This has
been very well received by all those using
it - so may be developed further later this
year. Please get in touch if you might find
a similar system useful, or have any helpful
News: Feb 2004
Products, Developments & News
We were pleased to supply 3 racks of
Microphone Splitters to Stage Electrics
at the end of November for use on a
touring production of the Boy George
musical "Taboo" - currently
showing around the UK. Also supplied
by the Custom products division were
2 X 2U rack cases each containing 6
X balanced line level distribution amplifiers
with 1 input to 8 outputs - a total
of 96 feeds to be used for the Musicians
During last summer we supplied a small
number of special wedge shaped DI Boxes
with a footswitch to enable the output
to be muted. There was also an output
to feed a tuner - with an LED to indicate
the status. They were named "mutant"
DI Boxes by the happy Customer! They
caused enough interest to possibly become
a standard product - please let us know
if you might be interested in one.
We have been an authorised repair centre
for Allen & Heath products now for
a number of months - this has brought
in many new Customers from near and
far. This again makes the point (to
us) how rare competent and affordable
repair facilities are becoming these
days. It is also well worth pointing
out that the support given to us by
the factory (spares and circuit diagrams)
has been excellent - bear this in mind
when choosing a new mixing desk. Sometimes
a cheaper product may not turn out to
be such a bargain, if spares and support
are not easily available - a mixing
desk out of use for even a few days
can be a major problem.
Custom cables are always in demand -
sufficient cable and connectors are
kept in stock to enable fast turnaround
(often same day) - for normal types.
Remember that we can make up any lengths
- and can work in Imperial as well as
Metric measurements! Neutrik connectors
are almost always used as these have
proven to be supremely reliable - and
are not expensive. Most Customers require
black cable - but occasionally we have
produced coloured cables - these are
no more expensive - and can be useful
for positive identification purposes
- totally unique! Please note that we
are always happy to post items to you
- only charging carriage at the cost
to us - and have recently sent cables
to California (almost coals to Newcastle....!).
The Paypal system enabling payment by
card has been used for several months
now - this is a simple, secure and relatively
inexpensive (for us) means of receiving
payment. For Customers outside the UK
payment can be made in Pounds, Euros
or US Dollars. The system will improve
shortly as a Europe based version is
to be opened - conforming to UK banking
laws, allowing even greater user confidence.
We make no additional charge for using
this method for payment.
After a hard day listening to a 1kHz
sine wave and staring at the bright
green trace on an oscilloscope - there
is nothing better than to listen to
some good music - we are very pleased
to report National acclaim for some
of our Musician Customers. Firstly Jas
Morris, who plays lead guitar with the
Morris Bros Band is the winner of the
"Guitarist Of The Year 2003"
competition. The MBB play Wishbone Ash
and Gary Moore tunes as well as original
material - with the always fantastic
dual lead guitar stuff - boy this looks
good as well as sounding fantastic!
Congratulations on this well deserved
success - for more information on the
band and gig dates - follow the link
to their web site from our LINKS page.
Finally we are especially pleased to
report the award of "Best Live
Act" to Show Of Hands in the BBC
Radio 2 Folk Awards 2004 ceremony -
anyone who has been to one of their
gigs will agree the award is well deserved.
We are proud to have supplied equipment
to Steve and Phil since almost the beginning
- the Acoustic Pre-amp having been designed
to their exact requirements. Good reports
always come back from other Customers
for this product - many thanks to Steve
and Phil for being such excellent ambassadors
(or travelling salesmen) - for our equipment!
We often get phone calls asking how
Show Of Hands get that sound? Good equipment
and instruments, obviously, but in the
end talent and hard work does come into
it - after all when I play through the
If you have any comment, suggestions
or ideas for future Newsletters - or
would like a link on our Web site to
your site - please don't hesitate to
get in touch. Roll on Festival season
weather (sunshine obviously!).
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