MEET YOUR MAKER: Black Lion Audio

How Long Have You Been in Business?

We incorporated in December, 2006.

How did you get started?

We started out by modifying early MOTU audio interfaces and posting about it in Tape Op’s online forum.  Word spread quickly that it was possible to improve upon the sound quality of entry-level converters, and the mod business grew from there.  We then took proceeds from mods and started our own product line, first with the original Micro Clock (master word clock), and then with the Auteur (mic preamp).  We’ve since added a considerable number of mods to our roster, and continue fleshing out and refreshing the product line.  Recently, we’ve put a strong emphasis on analog products, but plan on steering in the direction of digital gear again soon. 

What’s your most popular piece of gear?

Our Micro Clock line of master word clocks continues to sell well, and recently has experienced a lot of positive exposure in the live sound industry for re-clocking digital mixing consoles.  The Seventeen (F.E.T. compressor), however, has taken the blue ribbon for the best-selling product, likely due to the unique combination of design revisions, components, sound quality, and features, not to mention an incredibly competitive price tag.  We’re also starting to see a nice uptick in PBR-8 sales (8 slot 500 series chassis with an integrated TT patch bay), as people continue to discover how positive of an impact fully flexible routing has on workflow.

What sets Black Lion apart from other builders?

We aim to provide products with unique feature sets and exceptional sound quality at highly competitive price points, while still maintaining integrity.  For example, each Seventeen compressor gets fully calibrated on an Audio Precision before shipping, so it actually performs how it should according to the settings on the faceplate (a 4:1 ratio is actually compressing at 4:1, whereas some competitors’ equivalents are actually compressing at a 12:1 ratio at a 4:1 setting).

What are some cool features of your products?

Some of my favorite features on our products are the wet/dry mix on the Seventeen compressor and the TT patch bay on the PBR-8.  The wet/dry mix on the Seventeen allows for the compressed signal to be blended in parallel with the uncompressed signal, which lends to some really cool sounds.  The TT patch bay on the PBR-8 allows for expanding one’s setup without incurring the cost of a standalone patch bay and cabling, and makes for constraint-free workflow and fully flexible routing.

What lessons have you learned from starting your own business?

The main lesson we’ve learned over the years is the “Triple Constraint” of project management, and how to strike up our own balance in midst of it.  There are many versions and variations on this theme, but in essence, one gets to choose two of three competing interests: Good, Fast, Cheap.  We are no-compromise on “Good,” and usually lean toward honoring “Cheap” at the expense of “Fast,” so our projects take longer to get to market than we’d otherwise prefer.

What’s the one thing you want musicians to think when they hear the words “Black Lion Audio”?

“Bang for your buck!”

For more info, head to https://www.blacklionaudio.com and follow on Twitter @BlackLionAudio

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