N. HOLLYWOOD, CA—British Audio Engineering
(BAE) recently expanded
its base of operations, relocating to a
commercial building in North Hollywood,
CA. Once known as Brent Averill
Enterprises, BAE is now focused on
very faithfully reproducing some of the
Class-A discrete audio circuit designs
of the 1960s and ’70s, enhancing and
repackaging a number of those classic
designs to better meet the expectations
of 21st century music creators.
The new location, two units in a
brick-built commercial complex near
the Burbank Airport flight path, has
allowed the company to get more organized.
One unit serves as offices,
including a product display alongside
photos and signed instruments donated
by some of BAE’s high-profile clients
(company president, Mark Loughman,
a longtime musician, says he plays with
some of them). The other unit houses
the assembly, testing, warehousing and
Under Brent Averill’s ownership,
BAE established a reputation as a
prime source for classic Neve and
other vintage audio modules, which
were typically removed from aging
mixing consoles, completely refurbished
and repackaged in 19-inch
rackmount units. Loughman joined
BAE in 2001; at the start, he recalls,
“Just learning from the ground up.
In 2007, I was ready to go off on
my own and form my own company.
Brent realized he didn’t want to go
back to work, so we made a deal.”
Working with Rupert Neve’s designs
had brought BAE and Loughman a thorough understanding of those circuits.
Around 2000, BAE became the
first company since Mr. Neve’s company
to build the classic 1073 and
These Class-A designs were no
longer being manufactured by the late
’70s. “Within 10 years, it becomes
abandoned technology,” Loughman
explains. Thus, even AMS-Neve restarted
manufacture of those modules,
BAE was already in production.
But what makes BAE’s products
special, notes Loughman, is that
the company was able to locate the
manufacturers of the critical original
components. Those included transformers
from Carnhill (formerly St.
Ives) and the all-important, gold-plated
contact switches still being made
by Elma in Switzerland. Some U.S.
made Jensen transformers are used.
Every product is hand-wired.
Loughman emphasizes that the Canford
wiring looms introduce a certain
capacitance into the circuit, critical
to the accurate reproduction of
the original product’s performance.
Manufacture is contracted out to two
local suppliers, and a handful of BAE
employees handle final assembly, testing
Once Loughman took the company
over, he started to investigate how
the designs might be adapted to suit
21st century production techniques
and, working with Avedis Audio, they
started to tweak some of the circuits.
For BAE’s 1028, for example, the
EQ range of the 1073 was expanded
to 28 switched positions. “The extra
taps were available on the inductors
on the 211 card, so we calculated the
frequencies to expand the midrange
and high frequencies,” he explains.
For the budget-conscious, BAE introduced
versions of the 1073 that include
mic pre/filter, in both single- and
dual-channel versions. “A lot of people
are using it as a saturation device to
put the final mix through and warm it
up,” he says of the 2-channel units.
Sales are strong worldwide,
Loughman reports, especially in the
U.S., as well as Germany and Scandinavia.
The only barrier to growth is
the ability of critical component suppliers
to keep pace, Loughman says.
No one product is more popular
than another, he observes. “With the
price differences, that’s surprising. The
1028 and the 1023 are our unique
models, and are deluxe versions of the
1073 and the 1084. In some way, they
make them redundant, but because the
1073 and 1084 are such iconic numbers,
they still sell, too.”
BAE (British Audio Engineering)