During the late 1960's, the music scene was experiencing the ‘Rock and Roll’ revolution, but musicians were restricted to using low power, valve (‘tube’) amplifiers. In the middle of this, a teen-age Malcolm Hill designed his own high power solid state amplifier that he used for gigs with his own band. Malcolm's solid state design pioneered the use of silicon output devices and integrated circuits: this revolutionary approach delivered much higher power output than available elsewhere and thus quickly drew attention to itself. Soon other bands were placing orders for their own "Malcolm Hill Amplifier", quickly followed by DJs, who were experiencing their own Disco revolution (this model was branded ERC, the name of the manufacturing operation, run by long-term associate, Robert Lingfield).
As the industry matured in the mid 1970s, Malcolm branded his designs as "Hill PA Systems" which rapidly became established as a proven range of exceptional-sounding audio products. Radical, pioneering, mixing console designs followed the same path to success as the HILL amplifiers. Many systems were built, using HILL amplifiers and mixers, together with speakers from JBL/Gauss and Martin. At this point Malcolm took the logical step to designing complete, integrated speaker systems, ensuring that people using a "Hill" system would always get the best experience from the product. In the late 70s, Malcolm helped in the merger of several existing HILL system clients to form MHA Rentals. Ron Blechner, Mike Scarfe, Martin Connolly and Andrew Jones were the team behind MHA, soon to become one of the world’s leading touring sound companies.
Image: Monsters of Rock - Donington
The Eighties saw massive expansion at HILL. ERC became HILL Audio Ltd, and Malcolm passed full management control of the manufacturing operation to Robert, who went on to develop an extensive world-wide dealer network for HILL products. MHA just grew and grew. HILL sound systems were embraced by hundreds of clients, covering all spectra of music, from classic-rock quintet SKY, to the iconic AC/DC. An obvious highlight of the 80’s was being chosen as sound system provider for the global event LIVE AID, broadcast from Wembley stadium.
'00' and '000' Series
Soundmix / Multimix
By the early 90’s, HILL Audio Ltd had greatly expanded in size, employing approximately 100 people and exporting to 80 countries around the globe. However, the company had become dependent on high volume sales of its lower budget products, and massive competition from the new generation of far-east based manufacturers forced HILL Audio Ltd into administration. Millbank purchased the assets from the receiver, but the HILL franchise was dissolved. It was a very sad, tough time. (Robert moved on to become the Sales Director at Martin Audio Ltd, until his untimely death in 2011) Malcolm’s latest design, the radical Chameleon amplifier, had only recently gone into production, so Malcolm went back into manufacturing again, to ensure Chameleon would achieve its potential. By the end of the 90’s, when Malcolm sold Chameleon to Chameleon audio Ltd, the range had evolved to encompass HiFi, high-end studio and high powered touring models.
Towards the end of the nineties, Malcolm had developed another radical design, the compact, coaxial, self-powered, full range Powercube, and developing this technology would be Malcolm’s focus in the new millenium. Derivatives would be the Supercube (M7) the Supersub (M7S), and a full-format Powered LineArray (M8).
Image: Audacious! Church - Manchester
Malcolm's innovation for the 21st century is the Hi-Z technology, allowing self-powered performance to be combined with 'power-on-the-floor' practicality (M10).Today, the Hill Pro Audio team work alongside Malcolm Hill to continue in the delivery of uncompromised audio equipment, devoted to the "faithful reproduction of the original sound".
Image: SSE Arena, Don Broco - Tom Pullen Photography