WEBSTER, NEW YORK – JUNE 2009: Ashly Audio is celebrating its 35th Birthday at InfoComm. Central to the history of Ashly Audio is Billy Thompson, the maverick engineer who, in 1974, inspired the five owner/operators of a struggling live sound company to redirect their talents toward the production of live sound equipment. It was Thompson’s passion for designing and building processors and amplifiers of unparalleled functionality, musicality, and reliability that cemented Ashly’s enduring reputation in both the fixed installation and live sound markets. And it was Thompson’s prescience that moved Ashly to the forefront of the digital revolution, where its current array of network-ready products provide solutions of power, reliability, and economy for the modern integrator.
Ashly started by building custom consoles for friends in live sound. As no two were ever the same, it was a somewhat precarious way to run a business. Then in 1976, Ashly introduced the rack-mount SC-66 stereo parametric equalizer, one of the first simple and affordable parametrics in a world overrun by graphic EQs. But if the masses wanted graphic EQs, Thompson could deliver that too, only better. The result was the GQ series, forerunner to Ashly’s contemporary line of GQX and MQX graphic equalizers.
When asked how he approached engineering, Thompson reflected. “Instead of starting with preconceived ideas, I approached a problem and puttered with it until it sounded right.” Sometimes that made for long development times, as with the breakthrough SC-50 compressor/limiter. He continued, “The SC-50 took three years of head scratching, but it was worth it. It is an amazingly musical compressor and is still sought after by collectors.”
As the sun set on the 1970s, Thompson again turned his attention to power amplifiers. But by the early 1980s, MOS-FET transistor technology had matured and it seemed like an ideal alternative to standard transistor technology. Excited by the possibilities, Thompson designed the Ashly series of FET amps and unleashed them on the world. In the mid 1980s, Thompson started tinkering with digital processors. After years of development and tinkering to perfection, Ashly introduced the Protea series of digital signal processors in the late 1990s. They offered tremendous processing power and flexibility at remarkably affordable prices – and still do today. Where other manufacturers struggle to produce digital gear that is operable without hours in front of a painfully detailed manual or level upon level of programming screens, Ashly succeeded at building an interface that any sound professional would be immediately comfortable with. Ashly’s Protea series, which now includes everything from EQs to complete speaker processors to full matrix processors, possesses a musicality that transcends the analog/digital divide.
But Ashly was also quick to recognize that the digital revolution is about much more than fancy filtering algorithms. Networking and control of audio systems form an increasingly essential component of modern installations. In the age of connectivity, every component must work together and be instantly accessible from either local or global command locations. That’s why Ashly now offers “network enabled” amplifiers and processors that interconnect seamlessly with the rest of the digital world via standard 10/100 Ethernet.
Over its 35-year history, two things have remained absolutely constant at Ashly. First, the working environment for its fifty-some employees is the envy of every ‘cubicaled worker’ in the world. Dave Parse, current president of Ashly Audio continues that tradition, and noted that happy employees make better gear and are eager to help customers solve problems. That’s the second thing that has remained absolutely constant at Ashly. “Our people are driven by the passion to produce the best possible product that we can,” said Parse. “Our percent to total failure rate is miniscule, likely the best in industry, but when something does go wrong, we make sure it gets fixed immediately. No one takes care of their customers better than Ashly.”
ABOUT ASHLY AUDIO INC. With over a thirty-five year history, Ashly Audio Inc. is recognized as a world leader in designing and manufacturing quality signal processing equipment and power amplification for use in the commercial sound contracting and professional audio markets.
COME WISH US A HAPPY BIRTHDAY AT INFOCOMM 2009 BOOTH #6633