PMC marks the closure of legendary BBC Maida Vale Studios

Thursday, June 7, 2018

PMC, the world’s foremost manufacturer of professional studio monitor loudspeakers and highly respected domestic hi-fi loudspeakers, has marked the closure announcement of the BBC Maida Vale Studios by renovating the very first pair of speakers it sold, which were installed in the studios back in 1991.

The BB5 XBD speakers, with their distinctive dual 15” bass drivers, 3” dome midrange and Advanced Transmission Line, which are still made and specified today by internationally renowned studios, producers and engineers, were the first commercially available products designed and built by PMC shortly after the company was formed in 1990.

Peter Thomas, owner of PMC, was a BBC engineer at the time, charged with the sourcing and development of new loudspeakers for the corporation. He identified the need for a speaker that could effectively handle the higher sound pressure levels required for pop and rock monitoring, but with an ultra-high-resolution response. After unsuccessfully trialling several professional and consumer models, he decided to have a go at building his own full-range monitor.  And so, the ‘Big Box’ was born.  Based on transmission-line technology, the first production model of what became known as the BB5 (Big Box version 5) was sold to the BBC for use at Maida Vale. Thomas then left the corporation and founded the Professional Monitor Company with his friend and former BBC colleague Adrian Loader.

To coincide with the announcement by the BBC that the Maida Vale Studios are to close and be moved to a new facility in the Olympic Park at Stratford, the team at PMC has restored the first pair of BB5s, which were removed from Maida Vale a few years ago when the corporation upgraded to the latest iteration of the speakers.

The speakers have been in constant use since being installed in 1991, with music from a whole raft of artists from Radiohead to Adele and Jay-Z to Little Mix having been monitored using the BB5s. Very few loudspeakers can have been used so extensively and by so many different artists as the original pair of BB5s. 

PMC has a long and proud association with the BBC, having not only provided the speakers for Maida Vale, but also the famous Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London; BBC Cardiff’s Post Production suites, where Dr Who, Torchwood and Sherlock are mixed; Roath Docks, for Welsh language programming; Hoddinut Hall, Cardiff, home to the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales; BBC Radio’s OB (outside broadcast) trucks and the new BBC facility at Salford in Manchester.

Commenting on the BBC’s plans for Maida Vale, Peter Thomas says, “It’s a sad but nostalgic day for me and PMC. Maida Vale was such a huge part of my BBC life and was the facility that made the formation of PMC possible. Without that contract to furnish the studios with the original BB5s, we may well not be in the position we are now to be at the forefront of studio monitor design and one of the most respected audiophile loudspeaker brands.” He continues, “Looking to the future and the move to Stratford, it is an exciting opportunity for the BBC to expand its already considerable output of live music and all of us at PMC look forward to experiencing the new facility and continuing our long and proud relationship with the BBC.”