Turbosound’s legendary Flashlight system, which dominated concert touring throughout the 1990s, has undergone a significant upgrade to the high and mid-high frequencies. The new working models have been beta tested extensively on leading shows this spring and summer by premier production company Britannia Row Productions - most recently appearing on the prestigious Route of Kings season at Hyde Park.

Turbosound’s managing director Alan Wick had put his new R&D team, under the direction of Philippe Robineau, to work on refreshing the existing system soon after leading the management buyout of the company back in 1998. A focus group of leading international sound engineers and audio production companies was assembled, who quickly identified the need for a new HF driver and a new top plate and recone for the 6.5" mid/high driver, to create a significant gain in SPL while simultaneously reducing distortion. Brit Row’s equipment manager Jerry Wing confirmed: "Out of this forum of engineers came a new development of the TFS-780H ‘high pack’, which although keeping the same outward appearance, features totally new drivers in the high and mid/high section."

Philippe Robineau said although Flashlight Mk2 took over a year to bring to market, the redesign had to go through several iterations before it was ready for beta-testing. "Although the bass end was essentially fine, we knew we could improve the system, as other parts of the frequency range could be strengthened," he said, and so they focused on the HF and 6.5in high-mid driver. "We tried to work on some software so that the mechanical basis of the speakers would remain the same, and ideally would like to have done a software change working on the cone surround and coil." Based on the same HF diaphragm Turbosound also worked on a larger magnet assembly, with good results. "But then we considered a complete new driver, and found that to give even more output, producing a gain in the HF of 6dB - which is very significant," continued Robineau.

At the same time, developments were taking place in the form of a substantial upgrade to the 6.5" mid/high driver. "We focused on trying to get more output and a better blend with the 1" compression driver, and thus improve that section of the frequency range. We also wanted something that could be implemented as an upgrade so it would be compatible with, and have the same centre of gravity as existing systems," says Robineau.

In November last year, Turbosound were ready to carry out a demonstration in the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing in a number of configurations, to evaluate the Flashlight Mk2 against its forbear, the Mk1. Among the listening forum were Britannia Row directors, Bryan Grant and Mike Lowe, Jerry Wing, leading sound engineers Jon Lemon and Jody Perpick - the latter from Jason Sound in Canada, and engineers from Zero Db in Japan.

"In all there was a panel of 12, and the feedback was quite unanimous," remembers Philippe Robineau. Jerry Wing commented. "Flashlight Mk 2 offers the same excellent dispersion characteristics as the Mk1 but the throw of the box has improved due to the highly-sensitive units employed. This has given much greater SPL and headroom from each box, with a clean and fast top end that seems to throw for days. This is matched with the warm and powerful bass of the TFS-780L, which by being horn-loaded has a good front-to-back dispersion, with no build up of PA bass on stage."

The system debuted on the BRIT Awards and has since been out with Manic Street Preachers, Beck, Semisonic, Depeche Mode and Bob Dylan. Comments from Bob Dylan’s production crew in particular have fully vindicated Turbosound’s decision to extract more longevity from one of the world’s most popular systems, pending the development of a brand new large-scale system further down the line.

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