Andrew Grayland and John Austin former R&D manager and one
of the Technical Directors of Klark Teknik started XTA in 1992.
Having overseen many of the benchmark products produced by KT,
both Andrew and John felt that DSP (digital signal processing)
technology could find a home at the heart of PA systems. At this
time DSP was often disregarded because of its audio quality, but
Andrew and John felt with the right algorithms and using 32-bit
processing coefficients instead of 24-bit - what the majority
of DSP designs were using - digital equipment could be designed
that would sound very pure and clear.
The first product to ship bearing the XTA name was the DS400 mic
splitter, followed by the RT1 and GQ600. This gave Andrew and
John the time to develop the DP100 digital delay unit, which incorporated
three bands of parametric EQ on each of its four outputs. The
units quickly found a large fan-base, and demands for more EQ
and control led to the DP200. The DP200 gave users access to EQ
control not only on the outputs but also on the inputs, along
with high and low pass filters using the first version of XTA’s
remote control software, AudioCore. Although designed largely
for instillation use, the DP200 found its way on to the touring
circuit due to the high sound quality and flexibility that the
digital control brought.
Real Time Analyser
Dual Graphic EQ
To deal with the increased demands of the touring market the DP226
was launched in 1997 followed by the DP224 in 1999. Giving users
even quicker access to all the parameters from the front panel
of the units the DP226 soon became the benchmark for speaker management
systems. Along with the hardware control, XTA also increased the
capabilities of its software platform, AudioCore, allowing users
to remotely and even wirelessly adjust the entire system using
multiple controllers. The DP226 and DP224 were soon further complimented
by the DP6i - an installation version of the DP226, offering the
same fantastic sound quality and power, but with a basic user
interface, designed to be remotely controlled through the ever
popular AudioCore PC software.
With the original success of the
DS400 still being fresh in everyone's mind, the development of
its successor, the DS800, was continuing apace, and the unit also
was released also in 1999.
DS800 - 8 in 32 out mic/line splitter
One of the key features often sited as being a reason as to why
the DP226 sounds so good is the transparency of the limiters,
even when being driven hard into limit. Expanding on this knowledge
of dynamic control, the SIDD and Series Two were launched in 2000/2,
being designed to give engineers the digital dynamic processing
tools needed on analogue desks. With a product range that looked
analogue including dual compressors, dual gates and dynamic EQ
but utilising digital processing the Series Two products have
become very popular especially on the festival scene. With the
advent of digital consoles the Series Two units are still finding
new fans due to their AES input/output option keeping the signal
through the desk digital, but giving the engineer a surface that
looks and feels analogue.
C2 Stereo Digital Compressor
DP324 - SiDD - Digital Dynamics Toolbox
G2 Stereo Digital Gate
In 2005 XTA launched the 4 Series system controllers and has seen
sales increase by 30%. The DP448 has retained the accessibility
of the DP224/226 but greatly increased the processing power and
facilities available. The completely flexible routing of up to
4 inputs and 8 outputs along with the expanded filter suite the
DP448 is one of the most powerful speaker management systems available.
The DSP platform was completely redesigned, now operating at a
native 96k/24bit rate. Incorporating up to 72db per octave crossover
slopes, a full 28 band graphic EQ on each input, and two stage
D-Max limiting on all the outputs with total remote control from
AudioCore the DP448 has again set the standard for system management.
DP448 - Flagship of 4 Series Audio Management
AudioCore was first available as a relatively basic Windows 3.1
package to control DP100 units. As new products were developed,
the capabilities of the platform have been expanded upon, with
a major “step-up” in performance being the addition
of “Array Control”, initially designed for use with
the Rolling Stones world tour in 1999.
This tour included a huge arsenal of DP226s to control the entire
db Sound EV X-Array system and was a tremendous success, helping
the DP226 to become the industry standard that it still is, eight
AudioCore - Graphic EQ on a 4 Series
To this day
AudioCore sits at the heart of the system, giving engineers and
technical staff the tools they need to get the job done fast.
AudioCore has evolved over the last ten years from our R&D
staff listening to the users and spending as much time at as many
gigs and festivals as possible evolving a platform that is intuitive,
stable and simple to use.
AudioCore - Phase Plotting
With the success of the DP226 and DP224 around the world XTA needed
to expand not only its production space but also offer its R&D
staff the environment they needed to be able to create innovative
digital products. Just as importantly dedicated demo rooms were
created to allow for extensive listening tests. In 2001 XTA moved
into purpose built premises, and in 2005 expanded this space and
building to accommodate its continued growth.
Old Shed to New Factory!
Constantly looking at the future, XTA started a research program
in 2003 on class D amplifier technology. The first two products
to emerge from this work have been the BP401 and BP501 - hugely
powerful dual mono digital amplifiers with comprehensive DSP and
microprocessor protection, diagnostics and monitoring in a remarkably
small package. The first client for these OEM units was Funktion
One, who were so impressed with the sound quality and power of
these modules that they redesigned all their subs and the infamous
Res2 to produce active versions.
Research - Digital Amps with 96k DSP
In March 2007, after over two years of talks, the directors of
both companies came to the decision to merge XTA and MC2. This
was completed just in time for Pro Light and Sound held in Frankfurt
and was announced at the show. The deal saw Andrew Grayland leaving
the group as a director and shareholder but continuing to work
on a consultancy basis for the companies. Along with XTA and MC2
one more company completes the new cluster of business, Quested
Monitoring, having been acquired by MC2 in 2004. Combining the
recourses of all three companies, XTA is set to bring some very
new and exciting products to the market. With a view to also start
an education program at its UK headquarters XTA is continuing
its growth and reputation for exceptional products and service.
History Boys - Ian, John and Terry
With the power of DSP ever increasing,
inevitably some older parts become obsolete and production of
the DP226 and associated products (including the Series 2 processors)
ceased in 2008 with over 10000 DP226/4s alone having been sold
over the products' lifetime.
The success of the 4 Series prompted requests for an installation
version to replace the DP6i and we responded with a sexy new look
in the form of the DC1048 - the start of the installation range
Audio Installation Management
With a touch panel remote and a
new software package, iCore, for control, it forged the start
of a system-wide ethos to combine XTA processing with MC2 amplifier
iCore with a DC1048
iCore offered the installer an alternative to AudioCore, combining
control of the DC1048, MC2 Ti Series amplifiers and more recently
4 Series with powerful new features such as custom panel design
and system control parameter linking.
While the 4 Series provided an
expanded and improved product range to replace the DP226, many
customers were sad to see the Series 2 dynamics (especially the
C2 compressor and D2 dynamic equaliser) not being similarly updated.
To rectify this situation, late 2010 saw the introduction of the
DP548 - Dynamic Audio Management.
DP548 Dynamic Audio Management
Combining all the power of the
4 Series with the dynamic equalisers and compressors of the Series
2 units, it became the new flagship unit, offering the equivalent
of four D2 processors, eight channels of C2 compression, and a
fully fledged DP448 (now with matrix mixing) in a combined package
for the additional cost of a single D2 unit.
The introduction of our TechBlog
in 2010 proved to be a great forum for users to get the most up
to date information about the powerful new features of the unit,
and see how the dynamic EQ works in real time in a freshly updated
version of AudioCore.
Other changes at the helm of the company in spring 2011 saw the
departure of Ian and Carol McCarthy with John and Terry getting
back to their roots and Ian and Carol getting back to their travels!
Following a successful year in 2011-12, and needing to recruit
more engineering staff, the R&D Department gradually grew
to twice its size and moved into larger open plan offices within
XTA headquarters. The first fruits of this increased resource
came in the form of the DS8000 - a complete re-engineer of the
immensely popular DS800 mic/line splitter.
Audio Distribution System
With even greater flexibility than
the original and improved specifications, the DS8000 has many
new features to improve not only performance, but also reliability,
including the ability to connect two units together to provide
"buddy-linked" power supplies so should one lose the
mains supply the other can power both units.
Its development didn't stop there either, with the introduction
in spring 2013 of the digital version - the DS8000D - which added
XTA quality analogue to digital converters and AES outputs to
the unit, in addition to all the analogue splits. Each input now
offers a split to a minimum of two transformer balanced outputs,
two electronic balanced outputs and two AES digital outputs at
up to 192k, with wordclock I/O - a formidable combination!