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Tag Archives: ward-beck history

  • Good luck at the 2018 Olympics, Team Canada!

    Good luck to Team Canada and all other athletes participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics! Ward-Beck has been providing audio equipment for use at Olympic events since 1976 :)

    Ward-Beck Olympics pin

  • A little throwback - our mini headset amp design from 1995 to 2016

    A little throwback moment today, our miniature headset amp design from 1995 vs 2016:

    A big shift in 11 years, both in terms of the redesign, and in terms of the technology available to us as we proceeded with the redesign! We even renamed this product from its old name, POD6, to its new name, the microDriver (a change made for clarity). Despite all the changes, this tiny products provides the same old high quality and reliable function! ;)

  • TBT: Extender Boards: An old-school way of testing consoles

    One of our regular inventory checks at Ward-Beck turned up an interesting old tool that was in popular usage during the console era, helping to repair and maintenance of audio consoles.

    What you see above is an R2K console extender board, a simple board that was placed in between the console chassis and the console modules.



    This helps to extend the circuitry on the module out of the chassis, allowing technicians to easily access both sides of the circuit board, in order to connect testing equipment. This made for easier maintenance and repair, and less chance of any circuitry being accidentally damaged because the technicians couldn't properly see the card they were working on.

    These extenders boards provided a practical solution to the physical limitations of testing and troubleshooting in the crowded and enclosed space of a console.

    Extender Boards are not in wide use anymore. These days, when a module from a console, such as our R2K console needs to be repaired, it is simply taken out of the console and sent in for repair, while a replacement is used in its place. However, we do have a modern version of the extender board for the Ward-Beck 8200 series of cards.

    This extender board helps to extend the card out of the cage rack, so that testing on the card can be done without dismantling the whole thing, or have to poke inside the card cage. Again, a handy way to ease up the repair and maintenance process.

    Our extender boards are still being used by technicians in broadcast stations around the country. The little things keep the old ways going :)

  • The origin of PODs

    Why PODs?

    On a cross country flight from Toronto to Vancouver in 1994, I sketched out the concept of what would soon become the lineup and form factor we call PODs.  On many occasions, we had to integrate third party devices with our consoles and intercoms to provide additional functionalities for our clients.  While these products from other manufacturers solved the operational requirements, they were often not packaged in a manner that would allow us to easily create a neat serviceable outboard assembly.   What was needed was a suite of modular building bricks, in similar sized packages, that could easily be configured and assembled to provide the functions required.

    Continue reading

  • Throwback Tuesday: Something old, Something new

    The Ward-Beck display room is, in many ways, an extension of our commitment to honoring our history of making world-class products, while continuing to forge ahead with new innovations that offer industry-standard performance to institutional and independent broadcasters alike. Side by side with our newest additions to our POD and Impedance line products are old school Audio/Video monitors and broadcasting consoles. On this week’s edition of Throwback Tuesday, we thought we could take a short look around some of the vintage Ward-Beck products on display here.

    This console was commissioned for CKVR TV in 1972, featuring a VU meter and classic P&G faders. Like many of the older WBS consoles, it is custom work that was designed to the specifications of the station. Decommissioned in 1992, it has found a new home in our display room, snuggled in comfortably between the WBS 460 series of channels strips and the WBS VidBuddy Audio/Video Monitor.

    ^Look pretty cozy all lined up together, don’t they?

    Below you can see the 460 series channel strips in greater detail. They start out with alternating Limiter/compresses and noise gate/meters, with some 4d parametric equalizers clustered in the second third row.

    The WBS 460 series is one of the most long-standing of Ward-Beck products. Still widely lauded for the 4 band parametric equalizer, these units are still sought after today for audio recording/production and are in use in sound studios worldwide.

    The VidBuddy Audio/Video you can see below has a tiny little silver hand of the top that can actually be extended to carry this monitor around like a lunch-tote or handbag. Well, if one were inclined to carrying around expensive audio equipment as fashion accessories, anyways…

    Some other vintage WBS products around our display room:

    Custom level control

    Radio Studio Control Turret

    Our POD2 Stereo Audio Switcher has been redesigned into a sleek and user-friendly package, while offering the same great performance, and with the same specifications.

    Our impedance converter baluns are now offered in a whole new package, with the same great performance. We also recently introduced our highest density Impedance Converter Panels, now with a sleeker design, but offering the same great performance, with the Phoenix and BNC connector rack ears now removable so that they can be oriented to best suit the installation requirements.

    We are always continuing to come up with new innovations to better serve the broadcast industry. We have got some exciting new developments going on at Ward-Beck. Stay tuned for more exciting products that Ward-Beck is working on introducing!

  • Throwback Thursday: One Last Hurrah for the R2K Radio Console Series

    As some of you might have seen on our Facebook, the last of our R221 input modules were shipped out today. These were custom designed as input modules for the WBS Renaissance R2K Radio Console Series.


    In the spirit of one last hurrah for the last of these being shipped out, this Throwback Tuesday, we take a look at theR2K console.

    R2K console pic

    Sleek, lightweight and modular, the R2K console was designed with easy installation and maintenance in mind. Having been introduced in 1999, this console was appropriately named after Y2K (although the release of the R2K was, of course, not viewed with as much trepidation as the approach of Year 2000.)

    Although we have moved beyond this series, they are beloved by Ward-Beck aficionados everywhere, and from all the repair and maintenance requests we get from time to time, they still seem to be going strong at our local radio stations, despite the product being 15 years old at this point. Bell Media has many in their radio stations, as do Durham Radio, Halifax Broadcasting and Newcap Radio, to name just a few. For example, an R2K was installed at CILQ-FM, the radio studio in downtown Toronto’s Hard Rock Café, now owned by Corus entertainment and broadcasting from the Corus Quay building.

    As you can see below from the chart of the R2K module family, the modules making up the console had specific functions, the modular approach to design making them easy to troubleshoot, repair or replace.

    R2K Module Family

    The modular concept that made the R2K such a successful and functional model has also carried through into Ward-Beck's newer products. For example, our POD series of products work well with each other to hold the broadcasters' hand through every step of an audio signal's journey: such as the POD 4 Dual Mic Preamp, POD14A Analog to Digital Converter, and POD13A Digital to Analog Converter, to name a few.

    And well, if nothing else, at least now you’re one step closer to winning any trivia game featuring the question “Which radio console of Canadian origin was named after the frenzy surrounding the year 2000?” :P

  • What's in the Vault

    Welcome back to What's in the Vault! Before we get to our historical find of the week, here's the answer to our quiz from the previous one. We showed you a schematic of a Headphone Amplifier that was predecessor our current POD6 Headphone Amplifier, and asked you to identify what the precursor product was. If you guessed the M568W Headphone Amplifier Module, you would be right! : )


    This week, courtesy of plant manager Gerry Bell, we've got a special find lined up for you. It's amazing what you'll find when rooting through the old stuff in your garage ; )

    A pretty cool press release introducing Ward Beck's Microcom system, which can been seen pictured below.



    And now for another quiz! Speaking of MicroComs, what was the name of the small 24x36 matrix package that utilized MicroCom II components and was specifically designed by Ward Beck as a cost-effective system to be housed in confined spaces? Stay tuned next week for the answer!

  • What's In the Vault?

    Before we kick off this week's edition of What's In the Vault, here's the answer to our quiz from the previous week. We asked you what the schematic was, which was forerunner to our POD-2 switcher. Well, voilà!

    (The M478A, an 8x1 switcher from 1976.)

    Alright, moving on to this week! Below you can see the M8203, a 400/1000 Hz Oscillator Module that is offered as part of our 8200 series of cards:
    Pretty sweet looking card. And below, schematics from 1975 for the M604A, a 25 Hz oscillator.

    And going way back to 1971, schematics for another ancient oscillator.

    Holding these schematics in your hand is a strange experience, because the things are handdrawn and you can really see the age in the paper.

    And now, another impromptu quiz, that is perhaps not so impromptu at this point ; )

    Below you can see our POD6 Headphone Amplifier and nestled underneath it, a schematic for a product serving a similar purpose from way back. Guess what year the schematic is from! No hints this time! : )

    We’ll reveal the answer at the end of the week, so tune in Friday for the answer, and for the next installation of What’s In The Vault!

  • Throwback Tuesday: Getting Schooled

    How Ward-Beck equipment is helping to educate the broadcast professionals of tomorrow

    Welcome back to Throwback Tuesday! This time, let’s take a brief look at Ward-Beck Systems’ historic partnerships with educational institutions. It’s no secret that technology is evolving at a rate that threatens to leave Moore’s law far behind in the dust. At such a time of change, it is crucial that those hoping to break into the audio and broadcasting industry get practical experience with industry-standard equipment.

    As early as 1981, the Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology installed a WBS L2402 console in its Radio & Television Department, where helped many students to develop hand-on experience and gain practical knowledge they can put to good use in the world of professional broadcasting.

    Students pursuing a Master of Fine Arts or Science in Television Production at Brooklyn College are encouraged to make use of the Brooklyn College Television Center, which includes a Ward-Beck console in its armada.

    By using these consoles as part of the curriculum, students can bridge the distance between academic experience and the workplace. Westphal College of Media Arts & Design has Ward-Beck equipment in its recording studio classroom, which is used by students and even recording professionals, truly bridging the divide between education and the industry.  And hey, some of you might remember us talking about the 48x48 Ward-Beck matrix intercom used by ABC to broadcast the Olympics. Well, Algonquin College’s instructional lab has one of these installed in its instructional lab. It might be old but it’s still going pretty darn strong.

    The use of our equipment in institutions of learning is not limited to radio alone. Having installed it in 2008, the University of King’s College School in Halifax makes use of a Ward-Beck console for its Journalism Department.

    The College of Sports Media, which offers an exclusive sports broadcasting course, has a state of the art radio studio which includes a 12-port WBS console.  Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute has 24-track Ward-Beck console and attached voice-over booth in the audio control room of its Leacock Television Network Studio. There are further Ward-Beck equipment functioning in the studios of various learning institutions such as Mohawk college (see pictures here), Niagara College, Seneca College, Centennial College and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.  Technology may have moved on, but these old products are working as well as they did in their prime, educating broadcasting students worldwide.

    Practical experience does far more than help students become accustomed to studio production technologies. The use of industry-standard equipment in college studios also helps students to mature as media professionals, and learn the intangible skills required by a broadcasting career, such as professionalism and adaptability, in settings that replicate real life situations. In the end, no textbooks can teach that. Only practical experience can develop such skills, and Ward-Beck Systems is proud to be one of the companies whose equipment has a hand in shaping the media professionals of tomorrow.

  • What's in the Vault?

    Looking back through the archives at WBS always proves to be a rewarding experience. As a company that dates back to 1967, there is quite a bit of valuable historical information filed away in our storage cabinets. Sorting through some of the stuff we found over the last weekend, here is a quick look at how Ward-Beck products have evolved over the years!

    Below, the POD-8,  Stereo Distribution Amplifier currently offered by Ward-Beck:

    And coming into focus, a schematic of the M608/M608A, a WBS Audio Distribution Amplifier from 1980! Can you tell the difference? ; )

    Let’s do another round before we call it a day, with something a little different from the norm. Here is an M8245A power supply, 2 of which are used in the rackmount frame for our 8200 series of cards.

    And here, a little blast from the past: a schematic from 1970 of an M648A power supply.

    And now here’s a little pop quiz for you. Below you can see the POD-2, our Stereo Switcher offering, and nestled underneath it, a schematic for a Switcher from way back when. Can you figure out from the sneak peak of the schematic what the name of the switcher was, and what year the schematic is from?

    (Hint: The schematic is from the same year as the Olympics held in Montreal.)

    We’ll reveal the answer at the end of the week, so tune in Friday for the answer, and for the next installation of What’s In The Vault!

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