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Glensound Celebrates The Big Five ‘O’

Stand E30

Broadcast Video Expo 23rd – 25th February 2016
ExCel, London

It was the year that England won the football world cup.  BBC engineer Len Davis could see the benefit of giving broadcasters exactly what they needed rather than just what was part of an off the shelf range.  So he left the security of the BBC and set up on his own, in a shed at the bottom of the garden.  The company?  Glensound Services, the company that 50 years later is now just known as Glensound.

There will not be an audio engineer in radio or television that has not had an experience with Glensound products at some point over the last 50 years, with many fond stories and experiences.  Over 50 years Glensound has meant different things to different people.  With over 600 products developed, Glensound have certainly been prolific, but depending on what part of the audio world you have worked in Glensound will mean something different.

To many commentators, ‘the Glensound’ is the generic term for the commentary box that you plug your headphones and microphones into.  If you work at HSBC, Glensound is the company that powers your ‘in branch’ audio systems.  If you’re a voice over artist, a company that deals with the media, or an engineer that grew up in the era of ISDN, then Glensound is the box that connects you to the outside world.  And if you are the Prime Minister, Glensound is the company that manages, mixes and distributes your speech to world broadcasters.

In the early years, Len was largely just developing for his old employer, the BBC.  He invented the world’s first telephone balancing unit for the BBCs first network phone in show, ‘What’s Your Line’ in 1966.

The first Glensound branded design was in 1969 and was for Prince Charles Investiture, and was a distribution amplifier.  Innovation continued when Glensound invented the world’s first unitised mixer in 1971 and the world’s first assignable mixer in 1980, both for the BBC.

In 1984 Glensound started on a design path that would be the backbone of all future business.  The BBC needed a different way to handle commentary for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 1986.  A commentary solution was suggested that separated the commentary box from the audio I/O interface and connected them via a single coaxial cable that carried power and multi channel audio.  The 2 part commentary unit was born and 32 years on, 75 of the current specification digital system were still being used at last years Commonwealth Games, coincidently also in Scotland.

In 1994 perhaps Glensounds best known range of equipment was born, battery operated portable ISDN equipment, known as a COOBE in BBC circles (Commentator Operated Outside Broadcasting Equipment).  Portable ISDN OB equipment is still selling, and since 1994 Glensound have sold around 10,000 units just of this type. 

Also in 1994 Glensound’s relationship with UK parliament began.  A relationship that would see Glensound developed systems managing mic mixing, feedback control, audio distribution, and further intelligent systems as part of the House Of Commons, the House Of Lords and the Committee Rooms.  This is a successful relationship that continues today.

2002 marked Glensounds largest ever project.  Six hundred commentary positions were provided for the Football World Cup in Korea and Japan.  These systems are still in use, and provided the bulk of the host commentary provision at the last World Cup in Brazil 2014.

Glensound continued in their COOBE tradition with the introduction of the broadcasters mobile telephone in 2007.  They integrated a mobile phone into a package suitable for broadcast use and took advantage of the new HD Voice system.  This won them the IABM Award for Excellence in Design & Innovation in 2012.

Current developments are with the hot topic of audio networking.  Last year Glensound launched the first dedicated network audio commentary unit using Dante, and several further Dante based units are in the pipeline.

Len Davis semi-retired in 2005 and his son, Gavin Davis, who had been with the company since 1986, took over as Managing Director and he still continues in this role today.  Gavin is very aware of the legacy for which he is now responsible for, “Glensound is so fondly remembered by so many engineers, and by me too as I grew up alongside Glensound.  We regularly hear of stories of old products that are still going strong after 25 years, and where one of our units was seconded in a disaster to save the day, and it’s always great to hear.  The principles at Glensound are the same now as they were 50 years ago, simple solid designs, which innovate.  I take the responsibility of the reputation Glensound has with broadcasters very seriously, and I certainly aim to make sure the products designed now will still be thought of fondly over the next 50 years”

For any further information on 50 years of Glensound please contact:

Marc Wilson, Sales & Marketing Manager
Tel:  +44 1622 753662   Email:
Glensound, 6 Brooks Place, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1HE

Glensound at BVE
Stand E30