1970 - 2018
A Little Bit of Our History
The Lab Gruppen Story
Kenneth Anderson and Dan Bavholm first met as schoolboys in Kungsbacka, Sweden. They both had a passion for electronics and would spend time honing their skills by scavenging old radio and TV sets and learning from library books. Despite not having had any experience with audio or music, their friends introduced them to local musicians eagerly looking for quality equipment at a low cost. The result? A hand made mixing console – musical, durable, and costing less than any mass-produced models of the day. It even served as a FOH mixer for famous jazz performer Eartha Kitt.
From Mixers to Amps
Their intermittent manufacture of mixers and guitar amplifiers lead to the establishment of Lab Gruppen in 1979. The company was originally located inside a local hi-fi store where the duo serviced consumer equipment for additional income while developing new products such as the AXE-AMP and SS 300 power amplifier.
Shown here is Lab Gruppen's original accounting ledger. The first two entries show Kenneth and Dan's initial capital injection of 1000 SEK each. This was the only investment they ever made! The third entry is for the purchase of a cash box.
The AXE-AMP was a low-noise solid state guitar amplifier with a tube (valve) overdrive circuit. Famed Texas Blues guitarist Johnny Winter was an enthusiastic user of an AXE-AMP.
With the success of the SS 300 and SS 1000 (which was displayed at the Frankfurt Musik Messe), Lab Gruppen was able to move into their own redbrick building. They eventually became a significant exporter throughout Europe and attracted the attention of the local press.
By the early 1980's Lab Gruppen had become the leading Swedish manufacturer of professional amplifiers. PA rental firms quickly adopted the SS 1000 as their preferred amplifier and incorporated them in each system.
The SS 1000 established Lab Gruppen as a first-rank maker of touring amplifiers. Eva Dahlgren, one of Sweden's most famous singer-songwriters, toured with Lab Gruppen amplifiers early in her career.
With the introduction of the SS 1400, Lab Gruppen had become a full-line amplifier supplier.
The development of the SS 1300 lead to the development of the Intercooler. While the SS 1400 was the first to use a fan and cooling tunnel, this cooled the device unevenly. The new Intercooler, instead, used a heatsink made of thousands of tiny copper fins that dissipated heat much more efficiently than aluminum fins which resulted in more uniform cooling.
In 1986, Lab Gruppen achieved an industry breakthrough with development of the Regulated Switch Mode Power Supply, or R.SMPS. The concept of a switch mode power supply was well known, but difficult engineering challenges had prevented implementation in high-power audio amplifiers. Kenneth Andersson had devised an innovative solution though the components were not yet available. As soon as Siemens introduced its first high voltage MOSFET devices, Andersson’s design was quickly implemented in the revolutionary SS 1300.
Class TD and DSP
The basic idea for the Class TD was to combine the sonic characteristics and reliability of a class B amplifier with the efficiency of a class D. This would allow for more power while reducing both size and weight.
After a disappointing first test, a complete redesign was done. The second round of testing yielded success and was incorporated into the LAB 2000. The Class TD design was patented, and continues as a foundational element in new Lab Gruppen amplifiers and powered loudspeaker management systems.
The DSP 24 was a 2-in/4-out digital crossover and loudspeaker equalization unit.
It provided 66 bands of digital parametric equalization and adjustable time delay for each output channel. This DSP project fostered the development of FIR and IIR digital filtering, and also introduced VIEW, Lab Gruppen’s first Windows-based control software program.
The LAB 4000 had double the power of the LAB 2000 and demonstrated the continuing development and implementation of Class TD. The LAB 4000 also took Lab Gruppen into the market for amplifiers with very high power output.
Later the LAB range was further refined with more power and circuit protection schemes and the legendary fP Series was introduced. This lead to a huge breakthrough with international customers and speaker partners.
Engineers also undertook the long-term development of an entirely new power platform. The complete range would have four bridgeable amplifier channels and an integrated monitoring and control network. The basic technology of both the power supply and output stages was taken from the proven fP range, but with significant upgrades to reduce the number of components required. Output power per channel was again doubled.
In 2000 Lab Gruppen was acquired by TGI and then in 2002 again by TC Group which consisted of British loudspeaker manufacturer Tannoy, guitar effects company TC Electronic, and vocal effects manufacturer TC Helicon. The strengths of a larger group of audio companies lead to further expansions and a move to Lab Gruppen's current facility in Kungsbacka, Sweden.
In 2005 the C Series saw the light of day as the first product line from a newly developed platform. This range of flexible amplifiers included a control and monitoring network for installation integration, and was tailor-made for the specific 24/7 demands of the modern fixed installation AV market. With a high-power 4 channel platform, the power density and reliability was unprecedented and lead to swift worldwide adoption
FP+ Series Launched
The FP+, though similar to the C Series, incorporated a number of refinements that afforded even higher power (up to 6500 watts per channel at 2 ohms) for unprecedented power density in the Touring industry. The FP+ Series set new benchmarks for sonic performance, reliability, and overall return on investment.
C Series Expanded
The C Series was expanded with the addition of four new amplifiers to meet the growing demand for Lab Gruppen quality and low-power, high channel count applications. The new “C...X” models included additional features such as a switchable high-pass filter, universal power supply, and built-in GPIO facilities.
PLM Series with Dolby Lake Processor Technology
The PLM 10000Q debuted at the PLASA show in London and was the first in a new series of Powered Loudspeaker Management (PLM) systems. Lab Gruppen seamlessly integrated the latest Dolby Lake Processor technology into a power amplifier based on the FP+ series.
Lab Gruppen Acquires Dolby Lake Processor Technology and Lake Brand
Lab Gruppen announced its acquisition of the Lake trademarks and the exclusive rights for use of Dolby Lake Processor (DLP) technology for both Touring and Permanent Sound Reinforcement markets.
Shortly after the acquisition of Lake technology, the first new stand-alone product the Lake LM 26 Digital Audio Loudspeaker Processor was launched.
The TEC Award winning PLM 20000Q was launched in 2010, again a doubling of power from Lab Gruppen engineers.
A Brilliant IDEEA
Lab Gruppen had long realized that end users must consider an amplifier's financial and environmental costs. After ten years of use, the “electricity penalty” for an efficient amplifier will often end up costing more than the installation itself. The goal of Lab Gruppen engineers has always been to produce the maximum possible power output with minimum current draw from the AC mains.
In January, the E Series was successfully launched. Built around Lab Gruppen's IDEEA, the IntelliDrive Energy Efficient Amplifier was specifically designed for greater sustainability. The E series incorporated the latest advances in Lab Gruppen quality and durability into three powerful, ultra-compact and cost effective two-channel amplifiers. RSL (Rail Sensing Limiter) matches outputs to load conditions and asymmetric loading allows power sharing for ultimate efficiency.
LUCIA (Localized Utility Compact Intelligent Amplification) introduced a new approach to fixed installation audio, putting low-impedance power, DSP, control and I/O exactly where it’s needed – close to the end-user and loudspeakers. With that, comes superior quality audio, flexibility at point of use and a cost-efficient, scalable system.
Now 1U Can Have it All
Lab Gruppen effectively rewrote the rulebook with the IPD Series, changing everything you’d expect from a compact and moderately priced 1U amplifier. The high sustained power output, exemplary performance, and robust build quality are everything you would expect from a Lab Gruppen product. What you would not expect are all the extras at no additional cost: analog and AES3 digital inputs, supercharged on-board DSP with a feature set and processing power rivaling high-priced standalone digital audio processors, and Ethernet-based networking for monitoring and control by a computer running the intuitive IntelliDrive Controller software.
The New Integration Superpower
Total integration is the core ethos behind D Series. Conceived to provide ‘true open interoperability’, D Series integrates with the widest range of digital audio and control protocols bringing powerful benefits and unique capabilities that make a real world difference to any demanding high-performance installation. Two years later the D Series returned with an extension of lower powered models to cover all applications of performance install, the D Series Slimline.
Music Tribe Acquires the TC Group
Music Tribe, parent company of British pro audio icons Midas, Klark Teknik, and Turbosound as well as Behringer, Bugera, acquired the TC Group. Empowering such world-class brands to join forces opens up tremendous opportunities for industry-leading collaboration and customer solutions.
Lab Gruppen Delivers the PLM 5K44
Building on the world-famous PLM+ series, Lab Gruppen just recently released the PLM 5K44, featuring 5,000 Watts of power across four channels, built-in Lake Digital Signal Processing, and Dante networking. The PLM 5K44 also includes Lab Gruppen's proprietary Rational Power Management (RPM) technology which rationalizes power allocation between channels for optimized performance. The PLM 5K44 is built to deliver real world benefits while remaining affordable.