Chris HindsNow providing loudspeaker systems for events on the scale of Peter Gabriel’s 2010 performance at the Verona Arena, the recent Glastonbury Festival and Milwaukee’s Summerfest (the world’s largest music festival), Outline’s roots can be traced back to 1973, and founders Guido Noselli and Giorgio Biffi.

From modest roots, Outline has undertaken quite a journey: ‘We started out as an electronics company building FM tuners, little mixers and power amps primarily for the hi-fi market,’ EMEA Sales Director Chris Hinds says. ‘When the hi-fi market changed, we had to diversify. About the same time that this was happening, we were being approached by club owners in Italy to design loudspeakers. These were very successful, and that momentum carried us into being primarily a loudspeaker manufacturer. Today, we operate in the top end of the market; we make high-value, low-volume equipment, all manufactured in Italy.’

Unsurprisingly, there is rather more to the story, but it’s a good summary of the company’s direction.

Outline is now being steered by Giorgio Biffi and Guido Noselli’s sons, Michele and Stefano, Guido having passed away in 2006. ‘Outline is a family-owned company and is in charge of its own destiny,’ Hinds asserts. ‘Michele, Stefano and Giorgio are the three directors and major shareholders. Under their guidance, we’ve made quite an impression around the world. And we can back that with use by some high-profile acts and PA companies – the Good Ship Outline is steering a good course.’

By the late-1990s Outline had gained international recognition and distribution, and was on a journey that would carry it into the same waters as other pioneering high-end loudspeaker system manufacturers. One of the waypoints on this course was the development of the DPRWG (Double Parabolic Reflective Wave Guide) in July 2002, which is the key acoustic element in Outline’s mini-Compass, Mantas, GTO and GTO C-12 line array systems.

Pretty Lights‘The Butterfly was our first line array with patented technology – the DPRWG,’ Hinds confirms. ‘That was the catalyst to becoming what we are today and demonstrates our engineering integrity in the face of competing manufacturers’ systems.’

Following the development of the DPRWG, Outline has assembled a number of proprietary technologies and systems – among them are its Open Array acoustic simulation software and its iMode DSP technology. Adding a single DSP card to the mini-Compass, FlySub and DBS subwoofers, DVS full-range systems or iSM stage monitors adds remote-controlled optimisation via iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Using 64-bit FIR filters, this provides control over level, delay, EQ, mute and network configuration.

‘I’d invite anybody to take a look at our mini-Compass,’ Hinds offers. ‘That is a single box that has all of our technology inside it – acoustics, electronics and software. That shows what we’re capable of.

‘If you move away from the mechanics of paper and glue and transducers and rigging, where is the funky stuff going to happen? It’s in DSP,’ he continues. ‘For example, we have a software update coming along that will include warped FIR. That will allow stuff like the use of hundreds of parametric filters without adding latency.

‘We’ve just gone through a long period of development and are pretty much settled on a line of products that will facilitate professional use – from an installer equipping a bar to the Rolling Stones and Glastonbury. We are seeing the seeds of our labours coming to fruition. The signs are that we could expand very rapidly, but have solid foundations in place.’

Counting Australia, Japan, China, America, Russia and – obviously – Italy as strong markets, Outline has identified Europe as one of its targets for expansion in the next few years. ‘The key to that is putting the right distributors in place, and having products that distributors want to distribute and that end-users want to use,’ Hinds says. ‘We’ve identified that more and more people want a systems approach, but to set yourself away from the crowd you have to offer solutions. That’s what is up our sleeves…

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