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A Big Month for Big Consoles


Rumors of the death of large-format consoles may have been a bit premature, as one week in June saw the sale of two of the most powerful engines in the recording industry of the past two decades. Solid State Logic, which had been put up for sale at the start of the year, was sold on June 15 to Peter Gabriel and David Engelke. Two days later, in a move that took most by surprise, AMS Neve was sold to Tom Misner, founder and president of the SAE Group, which includes the roughly 40 SAE Institute recording schools.

“The energy is very up around here,” said Antony David, the new SSL managing director. “We know we have a lot of work on our hands, but everyone is relieved that the uncertainty is over. We ended up with the best set of investors we could have possibly hoped for. Peter has a great track record in high technology with his online distribution company. And David is extremely experienced in broadcast, having been a software and electronics engineer. “I think one of the motivations for both Peter and David was the strength of the brand, and we expect to leverage it in markets that SSL doesn’t currently have a presence in. Watch this space. We are taking a major look at product strategy right now. And we’re looking forward to AES in New York, where we hope to have some exciting stuff to announce.” The new management team at SSL includes Piers Plaskitt, previously president of SSL Inc., as group commercial director, and Chris Smith as group finance director. Phil Wagner, longtime VP of sales on the West Coast, will be the new president of SSL Inc., and Don Wersheba has been promoted to VP of East Coast Sales.

Meanwhile, Misner, who says he explored the possibility of purchasing SSL, negotiated the sale of AMS Neve within a 10-day period in June. The deal includes all assets, trademarks, stock, equipment, physical plants, all orders and staff liabilities, but not the existing company. Misner says all orders will be honored, and his recent announcement that the SAE L.A. school will be a training center for SSL AWS 900 consoles will not be affected.

“First, I will be refocusing the broadcast console development and then develop a new range of Neve products,” Misner said. “This is where SAE can be of great help to Neve because our students are users and when you have a pool of 36,000 students, you get to know what the market looks for. On the film side, we will still cooperate with all of our large clients to have an input into design. AMS Neve already had a new range of studio products under development, and with the new structure in place, it will allow us to bring these products to market shortly. I would expect the first new products to be released during the AES in New York.

“The main synergy between AMS Neve and SAE is that SAE will provide training for all Neve customers free of charge. Our distributor network will stay the same or be enlarged. The management team at Neve under Mark Crabtree will stay the same, with some additions and changes from within SAE.”