New deal: Audiotonix’ CEO James Gordon on utilising the company’s brands for smart investment

Audiotonix company Calrec’s Argo Q

Audiotonix, parent company to a bevy of audio companies, recently announced it has signed a deal for a next-stage investment from private equity firm PAI Partners. SVG Europe sat down with CEO James Gordon to find out more.

Regular occurrence

Gordon comments that this round investment is a regular occurrence for Audiotonix. “It’s fairly normal for us, to be honest. We did our first round of private equity back in 2007 with a relatively small UK fund, which was actually perfect size for us back then, as it was just standalone DiGiCo back then.”

On 23 April 2024 Audiotonix announced its new investment deal with PAI Partners. Previous partner, Ardian, has kept a minority stake in Audiotonix via reinvestment as part of this transaction.

Says Gordon: “We’re at the stage now where we’ve exchanged contracts. We complete probably in about 12 weeks time. That brings with it the ability to do more acquisition, more investment, in our current brand. We’ll have our own organic growth from the brands we already have, and we’ll add more brands to the group.

“I’m pleased to say, having done all the [investment rounds] we’ve done now, all of [our companies] are performing better than they were before they joined the group. So for me, that’s the accolade I’m most proud of, and I definitely don’t want to lose.”

He adds that Sound Devices, a TV and film location sound and RF wireless specialist that joined the group in 2021, is one of those, “doing some amazing stuff now”. He explains: “The new RF technology that’s going into live sound and broadcast now is going to change them from being a TV and film set brand to being a much, much wider brand, which is exciting for them.”

Gordon goes on: “We’re doing lots more with software, with plugins and subscription and perpetual and all the interesting bits that revolve around that.”

Moving to the cloud

At NAB SSL launched the System T Cloud, a virtualised audio-mixing solution for live-to-air broadcast. The complete and comprehensive broadcast-audio solution enables seamless management of live productions from multiple venues via the cloud. Audiotonix has stated that at IBC, Calrec will launch its own version of this product.

Gordon says on the work between SSL and Calrec in this respect that, “by the end of this year, we’ll have two cloud-based solutions with the workflow that the individual users like”.

He continues: “If you’re a sports TV person you’re going to want the Calrec workflow probably. And if you’re a light entertainment and music-based person, you’re going to love the workflow of the SSL, and we’ve kept that workflow so the users get the sort of user interface they expect and love.

“That’s been a real group thing,” Gordon says, pointing at the group’s overall success over the years. “For an individual company to put the investment into doing that would be quite hard. But when you look at it and go, “right, Calrec and SSL, two serious players in broadcast, let’s get them to work together to create something that works for each of their customers”. We’re not duplicating the effort.”

Martin Bennet, group marketing director at Audiotonix, agrees: “I didn’t think that would’ve happened without both brands being within the Audiotonix structure because there’d be a lot of suspicion, there’d be a lot of who’s going to get to market first with the shared core technology?

“But the fact is you can manage it really well between both brands. We have a divisional director called Nigel Beaumont, who basically works across both brands. Having that synergy means that both brands get the benefits of the technology in the right way.

“From an investment point of view, I think those types of opportunities are the things that we’ll continue to look at,” continues Bennett. “There always has to be something that a brand can bring to other brands when we’re looking at the investment side.”


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