With the creation of the Bel Digital Group, Milton Keynes-based manufacturer Bel Digital has broadened the scope of its offer while building a platform for future expansion. The company makes “very high quality” audio and video monitors, interfaces and delays and has a well-established reputation in the broadcast sector, and co-director Craig Lovell sees the new ‘group’ formation as a much stronger enzyme for potential.
“Historically, fellow director Barry Revels and myself have been working on Bel Digital audio sales for quite a while,” explains Lovell (pictured), “and the right time came for us to form the Group – initially comprising Bel Digital and 4HM. Over discussions we have decided to move the 4HM brand into Bel, so that everything becomes branded ‘Bel Digital’. The reasons for that are simple: 4HM is a young company, whereas Bel has a fantastic history stretching back 40 years. It has very good brand recognition, so it makes sense to exploit that as the foundation of the group.”
This foundation can be used to enter various new territories for Bel, according to Lovell, including sound reinforcement. “When you look at the history of Bel, and the areas where it has been successful over the years, this is a natural extension of that legacy,” he says. “Whereas Bel is predominantly associated with monitoring and delay devices in the broadcast sector, the 4HM product portfolio brings in a strong MADI presence, with converters and so on. It widens the portfolio, which is good for distribution, plus we can also start looking at new products and expanding into new markets. This is vital to take the whole group forward.”
While MADI continues to influence live sound and installed audio systems, the 4HM heritage of broadcast solutions – such as SDI to AES/MADI de-embedding – should help the group to migrate into various converging markets. To do this, the earlier 4HM products are being upgraded. “They operated at 48kHz for broadcast applications,” continues Lovell, “whereas now we’ve updated our MADI devices to be able to operate up to 96kHz and handle both high-speed and SMUX MADI protocols. This enables them to be connected to various live consoles, for example, that use these formats. It’s a first step to making the portfolio available to other markets.”
Leading UK events supplier Blitz Communications has already taken delivery of Bel Digital’s MADI status monitor – developed by 4HM – for diagnostics. “We’re looking at all the vertical markets we can address,” adds Lovell, “because a lot of the technology that exists on the broadcast side of production can be ported to other applications: the underlying technology is there; we have it already; we’re in a position to adapt it to widening needs.”
Revels’ experience in broadcast perfectly complements Lovell’s own background in both broadcast and live sound, he feels, while time spent growing Lake Technology’s business in the Far East, as well as CADAC and Amek, brings an understanding of hi-tech sound reinforcement for live sound and theatre into Bel Digital’s revitalized manufacturing effort in the UK. “Yes, I’m back in the west now after many years in the far east,” Lovell confirms, “and I’d like to get back into those live and fixed installations areas, with Bel, that I knew with Lake – worldwide, of course. It presents a new set of challenges regarding distribution channels, but that’s where the Group structure will help.
“We’re also streamlining our production here in the UK. There’s no need for us to move our manufacturing out, even though I have some inside knowledge of the facilities people are using in the east. Our economies of scale are not affected by the pressure to find adequate mass-production and, in any case, I’m very proud to build British!”