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A wave of success for Ocean Audio

Earlier this year, former Trident man Malcolm Toft started Ocean Audio and launched a raft of new products, including The Ark - the first analogue recording console designed to support 40 500 series modules.

“We’ve achieved a lot in the first year,” says Malcolm Toft of his latest venture. Known in the industry as the man behind the venerable Trident A-Range and Series 80 consoles, Toft (pictured, left, with producer Tony Visconti at AES in New York) formed Ocean Audio in January 2013 after numerous years consulting for Trident parent company PMI Audio Group. “I just basically decided that I wanted to be back in control of my own destiny if you like,” said Toft, and with that the company launched two 500 series modules (an EQ and mic pre) followed by The Ark 516: the first analogue recording console designed to support 40 500 series modules. “We launched it at the Frankfurt music show and it was really well received,” said Toft. “In fact we had a whole load of other manufacturers looking over it to see what it was about. Since then it’s started to grow in interest and we’ve actually sold a few consoles so far, so it’s all quite exciting.” Each of The Ark’s 16 input channels provides two slots for 500 series modules and a fully modular input channel with independent line and monitor inputs, six aux sends and bussing to groups and master outputs. Toft’s design philosophy for The Ark was to make it as transparent as possible, with the flavour of the sound coming from the 500 series modules “That’s what really excites me about The Ark. You’re no longer down to people saying ‘what does the console sound like? What does the EQ sound like?’ It sounds like whatever EQ you want to put in it.” The console began shipping in July and according to Toft the reaction has “exceeded expectations. We were always hoping that The Ark would catch people’s imagination – and it really seems to have done – and we’ve been very gratified by the response that it’s had and by how quickly the word has spread.” Retailing at under £12k (£11,499.00 exc VAT as listed on UK dealer Studioxchange’s website) also puts The Ark at a fairly reasonable price-point, though Toft does acknowledge that adding 16 channels of 500 series mic pres and EQs can drive that up. To that end, Toft says that Ocean Audio is “considering doing a lower-cost mic preamp and a lower-cost EQ so people can populate The Ark with our modules, without it costing too much more to have a fully-equipped console. That’s probably going to be the next products that we come out with.” Beyond that, Toft won’t say. “We’ve got our eyes on the marketplace and all I can say is watch this space, and look on the website from time to time and I’m sure you’ll see new and exciting things happening.”

Story: Erica Basnicki