Furman Turns 40
Furman has made such an enormous difference in the quality of sound over the last four decades that even the silence between sounds, sounds better. The company, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year as Infocomm commemorates its own 75th year.
The company was founded in 1974 around a series of audio signal processing products, such as the Furman PQ-3 Parametric Equalizer/Preamp, the TX-2 electronic crossover and the RV-1 rack-mounted spring reverb system that became standard equipment in recording studios and heard on millions of hit records. But it was the Furman PL-8 power conditioner—introduced 30 years ago this year—that changed the course of the company’s history and the way we experience sound.
AC power is ubiquitous but it’s hardly perfect. There are constant artifacts such as static and line noise present in the power stream due to RF and electro-magnetic interference, and they can affect the quality of the sound of music, whether it’s being played through a guitar amp in a studio or on a concert stage, or through a high-end home theater receiver. Furthermore, power is subject to interruption or worse, to surges that can annihilate even robust electronics. The Furman PL-8 changed all that with its ability to provide consistently conditioned power and absorb sudden spikes and surges. On stage, in the home and in commercial AV environments, the show always did go on, thanks to the remarkable PL-8’s capabilities. Now, even in the silent passages of the most pianissimo performance, all you’ll hear is what the musicians intended. The PL-8 had another innovation: a pair of adjustable (and now iconic) pull-out cylindrical lights used to illuminate the front of the rack and with which live-sound technicians fell in love.
The Turning Point
The introduction of the PL-8 marked a major turning point in Furman Sound’s history. It was an immediate, runaway success. Quickly, it seemed like every pro audio rack in the world would be topped off by a PL-8. The innovative product changed Furman from a sleepy little company to a high-volume, modern manufacturing powerhouse.
But grow it did, in the process underscoring the power of a single brilliant idea. Still one of the company’s foundational products and now entering its fourth decade, the PL-8 spawned a number of variants, including models for higher and lower voltages and currents, models with and without meters, the addition of LED meters and digital meters, even built-in guitar tuners; more sophisticated versions stabilized voltage or isolated it from the power line; then came power conditioners that could be turned on locally or remotely, or that powered on or off equipment in specific, timed sequences. Today, the large majority of Furman’s product line is power-related.
This newfound focus on power management opened the door to many more markets for Furman—including residential and commercial Pro A/V, broadcasting and post production, and more. The company was acquired by Panamax, LLC in 2007 and is now part of Core Brands, LLC, which gave the Furman brand additional market reach and customer support capability. “We are able to position the Furman brand deeper into a greater number of market verticals and at the same time increase the amount and the quality of customer support around it,” stated Joe Roberts, vice president of products and marketing at Core Brands.