We have split millions of signals – The Evolution of a Distribution Amplifier


Pictured above: The Ward-Beck distribution amplifier, from its original design in 1971, to the current one.

As legend goes, Ron Ward and Rodger Beck started experimenting with solid state amplifiers while still working for McCurdy Radio Industries. Mr. George McCurdy allegedly forbade them on pain of dismissal to give up this foolish notion and stop wasting time with these “new fangled transistors” which were only good enough for cheap “made in Japan” radios. Professional equipment used vacuum tubes and that was what was used in in the McCurdy product line.

Ward and Beck persevered and so was born the precursor to one of the first products designed and manufactured by Ward-Beck Systems Ltd. after these renegades broke away from MRI and formed their own company. Christened the M600, the very first production models used germanium transistors. Later models used silicon transistors. The M600 was a 50 to 70 dB gain brick that could be used as a microphone preamplifier or a line/distribution amplifier. Equipped with both input and output transformers and loads of headroom, this was a truly versatile universal amplifier built like the proverbial outhouse. Eight units and a 48 volt power supply were accommodated in a 2 RU frame.

Later the M605 Series 1 x 8 distribution amplifier was introduced. A unique internally powered device still equipped with an input transformer, this design allowed up to ten amplifiers in a 2 RU frame.

In the eighties, card based distribution amplifiers with a dual redundant power system became the device of choice for broadcasters and so in 1982, the 8200 made its debut. This very successful product line is still going strong today. Several products were added to the 8200 series and although the designs were modernized, backwards compatibility was always maintained.

With the introduction of our PODs line and when we joined the openGear partnership the basic 8200 series design was transplanted into these new platforms. Our gear has split broadcast signals from analog audio to HD SDI video around the globe in broadcast facilities, at Olympic Games, in mobile trucks, sporting venues, theatres, places of worship and most uniquely for an underwater sonar mapping installation in the North sea. We’ve split millions of signals – you bet, and we can do it for you.

Pictured above: The AA6201A, Ward-Beck’s current high-quality analog audio distribution amplifier offering, designed for broadcast use.

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5 Responses to We have split millions of signals – The Evolution of a Distribution Amplifier

  1. Very interesting story Eugene thanks for sharing it.

  2. Colleen Johnson says:

    Yes, very interesting. So great to have all those cards available for the photo shoot. Thanks to Sangavai for her help with the pictures and blog layout. Good job, Eugene.

  3. Great to read the history! I have restored and installed many of the original M600 for use in recording studio, radio, and theatre installations. Thank You kindly for continuing the line.

    • Sangavai Easwaran says:

      Glad to hear a lot of M600s are still in use, Stuart. It’s our honor to continue the line :)

  4. Hilda says:

    Don’t believe the thought that the more expensive the item
    is, the higher it will probably be. Good home audio cables
    can produce perfection in sound. Waves: This is one expensive set, but worth it.

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