1970 - 2016
Ever since its formation in 1970, Turbosound has had a long history of innovation and leadership in the world of Pro Audio.
The Turbosound story unofficially begins in the days when men were men, and sound reinforcement was a truckload of AC30’s and a wall of bulky bins stretching as far as the eye could see. Tony Andrews was one of the first to seriously question the accepted thinking that live music could never sound the way a band and its record producer had heard it.And with a little divine inspiration, egged on partly by the heady exploratory air of the Glastonbury Free Festivals (later to become major Turbosound showcases) he set out to prove the theory wrong.Sound reinforcement designers of the day had a seemingly impossible challenge: to produce excellent sound quality with maximum projection, in the smallest possible enclosure.
The Turbo Phase Device that change the Industry
Tony Andrews’ involvement with the Glastonbury Festival led to the development of the Festival System , which consisted of separate bass, mid, and HF cabinets. It already contained the second generation of the “Turbo” phase device, the distinctive, slender missile nose-cone shaped contrivances mounted directly in front of the midrange cone drivers and projecting almost the full length of the enclosing horn.The Festival System – chunks of which are still working to this day – was a revelation in the mid-70’s concert / festival world of enormous black bins, horns and “Phillishaves”, and the distorted, highly coloured sound associated with them.
The first Turbo phase device goes back to 1973 when it was used with 12-inch drivers, and at that time the possibilities of anything other than a cardboard tube device had not been explored.The concept was to build a system like a multi-cell horn but with every cell powered. The discovery that the system proved too loud for smaller gigs prompted the decision to go into PA manufacturing that eventually led to the TMS-3, with that early Turbo phase device evolving into the TMS-3’s 10- inch midrange.
Turbosound Ltd is Born
By 1978 – which is when the official story begins – Tony Andrews had met Tim Isaac and joined forces with John Newsham, a respected sound engineer, to form Turbosound. They began designing, building and renting out their innovative speaker systems.
At the same time, Alan Wick and partner Mark Hardy were running the successful Muscle Music rental company in London. By 1980, market demand was such that they were sub-hiring in most of their equipment – and it was Turbosound’s systems that caught their attention.
By mid-1981, the two companies had done enough business together to realize the potential of a merger; and brought together their respective design and marketing skills to form the Turbosound Group Ltd.TMS-3
As a result of the merger, and realizing that the route to providing truly great quality sound at large scale live music events was to design loudspeakers from scratch rather than buy someone else’s, a fledgling manufacturing operation emerged with a small portfolio of ground-breaking products, including the first modular full-range PA cabinets with real midrange: the TMS-3 – soon followed by the TMS-4, TMS-2, TMS-1 and TMS-5.V2 Driver
All the products employed the same modular building-block elements of 10-inch cone midrange drivers and the patented TurboMid device which, when coupled with the departure from a two-way crossover arrangement to three-way, were largely responsible for the powerful and articulate vocal reproduction and noticeable lack of harmonic distortion.
A New Beginning
New concepts were on the drawing board, and the new Turbosound system – codenamed UHQ for Ultra High-Q – which was to take the world by storm was in some ways a step forward to a more directional, more efficient, and better sounding box, but also, conceptually, a step back to the modular design of the mid 70s Festival System – the system with which the Turbosound story had begun.Roger Waters was asked in an interview after the last of Pink Floyd’s Wall concerts in the early 1980s if he would ever perform The Wall again. His reply was ‘No, never – unless the Berlin Wall came down…’ Well, of course it did, and the historic concert was the very first outing for Turbosound’s prototype UHQ system, or FLASHLIGHT as it was then known because of its extremely narrow directivity and astonishing projection.
FLASHLIGHT, partly through Turbosound’s symbiotic relationship with Britannia Row Productions, rapidly evolved into the system which was used for the tours of Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, Cliff Richard, Simply Red, The Cure, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Peter Gabriel, and Pink Floyd.
Sizeable inventories of FLASHLIGHT soon sprang up around the world, with a global rental company network stretching from the USA right across Europe, the Far East, and as far as Japan and Australia. Based on the simple concept that every system was in essence turnkey – comprising identically sized three-way mid/ high and sub-bass enclosures, fully loaded amplifier racks and loudspeaker management system, plus all the attendant cables and flying hardware FLASHLIGHT facilitated world concert tours by allowing productions to put together an arena sized PA system locally and achieve consistently high performance by eliminating variables.
In June 1992, The Cure took to the road with Jon Lemon at FOH on an extensive world tour, the first of their large US shows taking place at the 60,000 capacity Texas Stadium in Dallas. The local crew’s reaction to Britannia Row’s 48-pair FLASHLIGHT PA and modest delay tower was incredulous: “surely this isn’t all you’re using.” But when Jon Lemon fired up the sound check the stares of disbelief turned to grins of amazement. According to BRP’s Bryan Grant coverage was so strong all around the stadium that it was decided for future shows to dispense with any TMS-3 side fills and the small FLASHLIGHT delay system. Instead a small array of V-2 loaded HF enclosures was used behind the mix riser to reinforce the extreme high end.
This concept was later the inspiration for an HF-only FLASHLIGHT cabinet, dubbed ‘the Lemon’, that could be flown at the top of a FLASHLIGHT cluster or used alone as HF reinforcement.
Later that summer Red Square was the scene for the first ever rock festival, a multi-band extravaganza ranging in scope from classical and folk right through to Euro-pop and rock’n’roll. Moscow’s Orion Service Co had invested in a large 72-pair FLASHLIGHT system, which had just been shipped from customs direct to Red Square. On arriving on the morning of the show, Turbosound’s crew were amazed to find the PA almost completely rigged with only few angle adjustments to make – an amazing testament to the logical design of the flying system and Orion’s understanding of FLASHLIGHT’s fundamentals.
This was followed just a week later by another musical extravaganza of a very different nature. The ‘Red Square Invites’ spanned five classical concerts led by a memorable performance by José Carreras, and for this Orion’s FLASHLIGHT PA was flown in a central cluster with Britannia Row providing TMS-3 front fill and delay towers.
Such was Turbosound’s international success that the TMS-3 was widely copied, hijacking a patented product design down to the last detail. In Canada, a successful legal case resulted in a local company’s TMS- 3 copies being publicly chain sawed. The TSE series of loudspeakers was launched soon after. Basically a split TMS-4, the TSE-111 and TSE-118 combination became a popular rental company alternative to the TMS-4 due to the boxes’ easier portability and because the split format allowed the mid/high to be pole mounted and angled down with the “pitchfork” flying yoke.
Only Turbosound is Turbosound.
Then as the R&D engineers realised the true potential of adapting to the differing physical requirements of the fixed installation market, further TSE (Separated Enclosures) series variants rolled out in quick succession: the TSE-211 (two 10s and a 1"); the single 15-inch TSE-115 and double 15-inch TSE-215 horn-loaded bass enclosures; the single 18-inch TSE-118 and double 18-inch TSE-218 horn-loaded bass enclosures; the TSE-260, a HF-only cabinet housing two 1-inch compression drivers on a V-2 device; and the truly remarkable and totally unique TSW-124 – the first 24-inch horn-loaded sub-bass in the world – and made entirely in house.
The Next British Invasion
Turbosound Inc, to realise the sales potential in the US, and Turbosound Sales Ltd to manufacture the products and cover the rest of the world. Behind the early move into the US market was the principle that if the company succeeded there, it would succeed anywhere.
It was in 1984 that, as the prelude to many prestigious installations to follow, Turbosound Inc’s persistence paid off when Nashville’s Grand Ole Oprey decided to ring the changes with a new off -the-shelf sound system that would aim to extend the low frequency capabilities, and get more clarity and punch, than the original system’s honky “horn sound”. As country artists began to require more inputs and better fidelity, the Oprey wanted a system that would give them the sound they needed well into the future. The tightly-arced speaker cluster consisted of nine TMS-1s, seven TMS- 4s and two custom mid/highs for balcony coverage, and gave them a system that would keep abreast of the rapidly evolving country music.STYX Setup
The event exposed Turbosound to over 50 major touring artists, extremely large audiences – and the elements. In fact the system was left outdoors for the entire summer, come rain or shine, a real test of the TMS-3’s all-weather durability. As a direct result, a large TMS-3 system was used in the highly successful 1983 tour of Styx. The press widely praised the TMS-3 system for its sound quality. Turbosound was now well on the way to becoming a dominant force in the US sound reinforcement industry.Iron Maiden Setup
Danny Abelson joined as VP Sales and Marketing of Turbosound Inc after hearing a system at Alan Wick’s invitation – and like many others, that first audition changed his outlook on how sound reinforcement could develop. The first US sales were made in the spring of 1982, and generated enough interest for Clair Brothers to select 16 TMS-3s for the summer-long ‘Dr Pepper Music Festival’ in New York City.Royal Albert Hall Setup
In 1985 Michael O’Flynn joined Turbosound as Group Chairman, his-wide ranging corporate, legal and financial experience bringing development of the international markets, which were to lead to the granting of a string of principle patents and prestigious industry awards.
Combining the Elements
It was with the formation of the Edge Technology Group (or EdgeTech), that partnered Turbosound with BSS Audio in 1986 and spawned Precision Devices a year later, that the possibility to have some measure of meaningful influence on the quality of the signal chain became a reality : Precision Devices, working directly with Turbosound’s designers to exclusively manufacture high-spec drive units to Turbosound’s exacting standards and later to become a noted OEM supplier; BSS Audio’s highly regarded crossovers and loudspeaker management systems designed by ex-Midas designers Stan Gould and Chas Brooke; and the distinctive blue Turbosound loudspeaker brand under MD Alan Wick.By the time of the first EdgeTech Agent Convention in 1986, Turbosound had expanded the product range in a linear fashion that fully exploited the now patented 10-inch TurboMid device, and notched up an impressive array of key installations both in the UK and abroad.
TSE systems became the de facto install solution for venues ranging from the Apollo Theatre New York, Busch Gardens in Tampa, Carnegie Hall, Dingwalls Club in London, Disneyworld, Hard Rock Café New York, The Metropole Vienna, National Convention Centre Kyoto, the Portsmouth Guildhall, Prince Hotels Tokyo, Reading Hexagon, Rotterdam Theatre, Udine Stadium Orlando, and The Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Turbosound Receives the Pretiguous Queen's Awards
In a few short years, the TMS-3 had been confirmed as the world’s largest-selling modular full range PA cabinet, with over 3,000 units in use and sizeable systems in all the big rental houses around the globe. Its rapid and sustained export sales growth was responsible for Turbosound’s first Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1987 – the first professional loudspeaker manufacturer in the UK ever to be granted this prestigious accolade – and the only company in its field ever to repeat this feat in 1997.Expo ’88 in Brisbane, Australia, offered more variety than all the countless special events that Turbosound had been involved with up to that time. With five sound reinforcement sites and one mobile system, the six month event also proved a challenge for the Queensland Turbosound dealer who fielded numerous systems of TMS-3/TSW-124, TMS-4s, and TSE clusters – all of which worked nonstop, 7 days a week for half a year.
Such was the grip of the TMS and TSE series on the market – and a flavour of the-disco inspired era – that Turbosound scooped the Disco International Annual Award for ‘Best Loudspeakers at the 1988 Light and Sound Show (forerunner of the PLASA Show) at London’s Olympia.
By the end of the decade, with the TMS-3 already outlasting its expected life cycle and the next generation of products well into development, a total of 360 Turbosound cabinets, offering a potential 523,000 Watts of programme power, brought to the 1988 UK Monsters of Rock Festival at Donington Park, headlined by Iron Maiden, a sound system which formed the largest front-of-house PA on record – a statistic that duly earned it a place in the 1989 Guinness Book of Records.
Outlasting the typical big league commercial lifespan of maybe seven to ten years, the TMS-3, with the help of some later upgrades such as the patented V-2 manifold HF device, continued to find favour well into the 90’s in the demanding environment of the UK rave scene – in fact very often the system of choice for punters because of its punter-friendly low distortion and ability to shrug off punishing 18-hour-plus stints at very high levels.
Queen's Award 1987
The True Star of the Show
As Pink Floyd prepared to stage their extraordinary world tour in the spring of 1994, FLASHLIGHT was picking up awards, beating EAW’s KF850 and Martin Audio’s F2 systems to be named Best Concert PA System in the Live! Awards. But aside from the performance benefits it was the economic arguments that sealed the Pink Floyd contract for Britannia Row. Chris Hey’s ‘small is beautiful’ strategy was clearly illustrated by the lower transport costs – three trucks as opposed to typically five for other rigs – lower crew costs, less steel, and faster flying.
The band’s legendary Division Bell tour went on to mark a pinnacle in live stage productions that lives in the memory to this day. American newspaper reports from the time applauded the sound system used by Pink Floyd for raising the bar for audio fidelity to previously unheard of heights. According to said reports, “the sound may have been the true star of the show”.
Turbosound’s association with the Glastonbury Festival is of course legendary, with more or less continual involvement with the Pyramid Stage PA until 2002, which was the last year in which there were no noise complaints from the surrounding areas. The reason was simple: when the wind direction changes, or as an evening temperature inversion occurs as it does, it was an easy matter to trim the top row of the FLASHLIGHT PA to alter the cluster’s directivity, a trick that couldn’t easily be achieved with a line array.
The Polyhorn is Born
As early as 2000, sparked by a decision not to follow the well-trodden and overcrowded path of me-too line arrays, Turbosound’s engineers began the process of updating the large format touring systems. While on paper both virtual point sources (VPS) and line arrays were considered valid approaches to sound reinforcement, the major advantage that VPS offers is that control of the cluster dispersion is available to the user in both the horizontal and vertical planes.The 2005 Glastonbury Festival saw the ASPECT rig deployed for the John Peel Stage by South West Audio, which showcased emerging artists.
Having used FLASHLIGHT for Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour and heard ASPECT on the last Shadows tour, when David Glimour’s live sound engineer Colin Norfield paid a visit to the Turbosound factory and compared ASPECT with FLASHLIGHT and FLOODLIGHT, he decided there and then that its detail and clarity was perfect for Gilmour’s 2006 On An Island tour. So it was that Gilmour closed out the last few dates of the tour at the Royal Albert Hall with a central cluster of Britannia Row supplied ASPECT TA-890 that according to Norfield was very smooth all the way through and nicely balanced.
Floodlight – A Wider Audience
Along the way it became clear that the practical limitations of a narrow-beam, long throw PA meant that FLASHLIGHT alone could not meet the requirements of smaller venues, and so FLASHLIGHT spawned another family of products to replace the TMS-3. Released XXXX
The wider dispersion FLOODLIGHT cabinet, which had the same faceprint as FLASHLIGHT and shared the same flying system, provided a means, when flown underneath the cluster as a downfill, of addressing the nearer audience rows with a lower sound density while keeping the same signature by using the same driver configuration and crossover points.
FLOODLIGHT marked a radical technical development in that the round-nosed cones so familiar in the TMS-3 and FLASHLIGHT had metamorphosed into dramatic looking ‘axehead’ shapes, sitting in the throats of wide angular waveguides moulded from acoustically inert resins.
In a classic piece of lateral thinking, further variants emerged in the shape of the trapezoidal FLOODLIGHT that was used for smaller scale, stand-alone touring applications, and on the wilder side of the family – the striking “Skeleton” FLOODLIGHT, a design made possible by the fact that the wooden cabinet itself played no part in the loudspeaker’s acoustic performance. Developed for fixed installations where an enclosure was deemed unnecessary for physical protection, and even undesirable because of the paucity of fly points in the average nightclub, the savings to be gained in terms of weight and cost by omitting the woodwork were significant.
Carried over from FLASHLIGHT was the increasing use of cone drivers custom built by sister company Precision Devices. These drivers were not only unique in their format and performance – the 21-inch bass driver in particular achieving an ideal blend of speed and low frequency extension – but also in their design and build quality. The 6.5-inch midrange driver, with its futuristic window-less chassis, was built to such fine tolerances and in-house quality control that performance was uniformly predictable.
Aspect - A Good Point Well Made
The 2005 Glastonbury Festival saw the ASPECT rig deployed for the John Peel Stage by South WestAudio, which showcased emerging artists. Having used FLASHLIGHT for Pink Floyd’s Division Bell tour and heard ASPECT on the last Shadows tour, when David Glimour’s live sound engineer Colin Norfield paid a visit to the Turbosound factory and compared ASPECT with FLASHLIGHT and FLOODLIGHT, he decided there and then that its detail and clarity was perfect for Gilmour’s 2006 On An Island tour. So it was that Gilmour closed out the last few dates of the tour at the Royal Albert Hall with a central cluster of Britannia Row supplied ASPECT TA-890 that according to Norfield was very smooth all the way through and nicely balanced.
Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, having run continuously without a break since 1971, is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, and DPA SoundCo had provided the sound system – always Turbosound – almost since its inception. The 2006 festival, with more than 79,000 paying visitors, was one of the largest on record and enjoyed some of the best weather conditions ever. The artist roster included such greats as Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Guns and Roses, Morrissey, Franz Ferdinand, Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Sigur Ros and The Streets; and the ASPECT PA of 48 mid/highs and 64 bass cabinets with 16 TSW- 218 subs was one of the loudest – notching up to 103 dB – and cleanest ever.
Although Denmark has no sound level restrictions for outdoor 24 concerts, the festival had always worked to create acceptable noise levels, in particular by hanging the PA high and aiming it more radically downwards. The very directive properties of the ASPECT point source system made it very easy to do this, as well as keeping noise levels much lower off - site. Leading on from ASPECT and the POLYHORN, development of a new waveguide was reaching fruition. The Dendritic device adhered to a deceptively simple principle – that of dividing the output from compression driver diaphragm into two equal parts, and then repeatedly into two, bending the paths nearer the centre more radically and allowing the physical driver placement to match the acoustic centre.
Turbosound Receives the 3rd Queen's Award
In 2007 the market was looking for a medium scale Turbosound system that would be accessible to local and regional rental companies, and it had become clear that by splitting a POLYHORN and slotting a Dendritic device in between, it was possible to design a better line array – with a choice of controllable wide or medium horizontal dispersion – that sounded as good as a point source. So while Turbosound came late to the line array party, the POLYHORN and Dendritic devices contributed technical advancements that enabled FLEX ARRAY to take off in a big way, with the acoustics technology behind it earning the company a third Queen’s Award, this time for Innovation, in 2012.In 2008 Turbosound brought peformance and style to a host of fixed installations ranging from cafés, wine bars and restaurants, to themed environments, leisure facilities and retail outlets in a range of versatile and elegantly styled injection-moulded loudspeakers and discreet high 26 performance ceiling speakers. The IMPACT series offered great audio performance, modern styling, legendary Turbosound voicing and long-term dependability. The integral 70 / 100 V line transformers and included wall mount brackets made the IMPACT series exceptionally easy to install and adaptable to large and small projects, together with the versatile four channel RACKDP-50 amplifier.
Turbosound's Biggest Install
In 2013 FLEXARRAY and a host of other Turbosound installed loudspeaker products from the TCS and NuQ ranges were chosen for the single largest, and arguably the most exclusive, nightclub in the world. In 2013 FLEXARRAY and a host of other Turbosound installed loudspeaker products from the TCS and NuQ ranges were chosen for the single largest, and arguably the most exclusive, nightclub in the world. Hakkasan, which occupies five entire levels of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is without exception the biggest nightclub installation Turbosound has ever been involved in, and features a total of some 450 loudspeakers, amplifiers and loudspeaker management systems. Of course these kinds of achievements do not go unnoticed, and already there are proposals under way in other markets that will seek to emulate this extraordinary feat.
Since the emergence of the first multi-driver PA systems and the quantum leaps in performance offered by the TMS-3 in 1981 and by FLASHLIGHT in 1990, the requirements for professional loudspeakers push relentlessly forward: smaller, faster, lighter, louder, cleaner. The ongoing development of the POLYHORN and Dendritic devices provided a toolbox of waveguide technology that spearheaded a natural progression towards the realisation of a large-scale line array with a “Turbosound” sound.
With 11 drive units spread across four frequency bands; ultra-steep crossover slopes; cone drivers working right through the vocal frequencies and up to 5 kHz; dedicated four-channel power amplifiers with built-in Lake processing and Dante networking; fully integrated fly-ware; and the “sweetest sound”, FLASHLINE was in more ways than one both a return to the future and a recognition of the early concepts developed in the Festival System.
Already proving itself on a host of festivals and tours from Alanis Morissette and Emile Sande to Young Voices, FLASHLINE is poised to once again push the barriers of live sound reinforcement. Turbosound’s MILAN series exploded on to the MI scene in 2012. It combined incredible performance with ultimate convenience for musicians, DJs and AV applications in a range of stylish portable powered loudspeakers with an unmistakable sound signature enhanced by the industry’s most sophisticated DSP. Featuring high efficiency Class D amplifiers, on-board Klark Teknik DSP with intelligent limiting, two-channel mixer with mic and line inputs, comprehensive EQ and frequency shaping, the MILAN series demonstrated Turbosound’s innovation in a much wider market. The Turbosound range of loudspeaker products, control electronics and amplified systems has in common one single purpose - to provide the best solution for every application
For over 40 years Turbosound has 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 of our amazing employees throughout the years.
We dedicate this brochure to you, the employees. You have made Turbosound a global brand that has become the Industry Standard.
Words can’t describe the amount of dedication, heart and soul that you have contributed.
We also thank all 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.