By George McKechnie, formerly of BSS and now owner of dBA.UK
When James Barden approached me to work on the amplifiers for this project it looked like any other job coming into the workshop.
At first we had six amp racks with four BSS amplifiers in each. I had been supporting the BSS amps for some years, as when Harman dropped them in 1996 it was clear that support was still important for them. During this time I had worked out a number of things that would elevate the amplifiers to something better than the original.
Less distortion with increased robustness for life on the road
These modifications were applied to Formidable’s BSS amps and the end result was better distortion figures and a more robust, roadworthy product, even with amps of some 20 years of age.
The original amplifier spec was 0.05%THD; it is now a healthy 0.007%THD. And even though the amps are 20 years old, they sound amazing – sonically they will benchmark any modern amplifier at the top of its game.
Refurbished BSS amps reunited with Flashlight
Six months later I got another call from James, who was now enthusiastic to try the amps out with his newly acquired Turbosound Flashlight system, also some 20 years old.
After playing with it at two gigs he decided it was definitely going to be worth hiring it out as the responses we got regarding the sound quality were exceptional. One engineer commented that he’d forgotten what good sound really was until he heard our reunited amp and speaker combination.
Back to better-than-showroom condition
After inspecting the boxes, however, I discovered that, just like a Vintage car, 20-year-old speakers need serious TLC.
The scale of Flashlight refurbishment and renovation was daunting, but we decided we would bring these very special boxes back to better-than-showroom condition.
Mid/High drivers, tweeters, gaskets, cones, cabinet coatings and much more had to be replaced. All metalwork, including grills, was powder coated and new scrim installed.
There were various incarnations of certain aspects of the cabinets, so some modification was implemented to bring them all into line. One such modification was the passive network running the Mid/High and tweeter components.
A comprehensive report of almost everything we did appears on our Flashlight Refurb Project In Detail page.
Tony Andrews’ involvement
The refurbishment project took two years in total. Along the way I engaged the great Tony Andrews, the original designer of Turbosound Flashlight, to reproduce the 6.5-inch High/Mid driver.
The challenge was to keep the integrity of the original Flashlight at the same time as making a driver that was a little more robust. Suffice to say we ended up with exactly that.
System integrity coupled with sonic enhancement
This, coupled with a new tweeter, not only excelled in keeping the integrity of the Flashlight sound, but also gave it a more open sound.
I worked out new settings for the system processors; in this case XTA448s have been employed. I spent two weeks fine-tuning things like Crossover point, In-band delay timing, phase and band levels.
I believe we have reached the pinnacle of what can be achieved with this system.
The end result is truly spectacular in every way. We now have a product that we would be very proud to hire to discerning musicians and clients alike.