Founded in 1997 by the husband and wife team of Mark and Beth McQuilken as a means to produce and distribute the Really Nice Compressor (RNC), FMR Audio has been in the making for years. Mark and Beth have been high-tech design consultants under the name of Electronic Design Services (EDS) since 1986, providing cost-effective electronic designs and design support for such companies as RCA, Motorola, Lockheed Martin, Boston University Center for Space Physics and BMW, to name a few.
Throughout it all, Mark's audio-design and audio-production projects punctuated their otherwise normal industrial existence.
In 1978, Mark's obsessive interest with dynamic processors began while wondering why the "on-air" broadcast processors he had been installing in various radio stations cost so much with so little inside them. Although he subsequently learned the reasons for this, Mark's first attempt to develop a pleasant sounding compressor/limiter resulted in the award of a U.S. patent for an optically-based compressor in 1982. His first multi-channel rack of compressors was used extensively on the road as well as on studio projects in 1978-1980.
The structure of this compressor laid the groundwork for Mark to apply his early 1980's exposure to audio product design/development and DSP to help solve the compressor price/performance puzzle. The first version of the Really Nice Compressor appeared in 1984, but due to the cost of DSP hardware it was far too expensive (about $1200 per channel) to permit high-volume consumption by Mark or anyone else with similar musical interests and budgets.
At the beginning of 1997 while booking a record number of consulting contracts for EDS, teaching audio production at Austin's Community College (ACC), and (still) needing many channels of high-performance compression for his various recording projects, Mark decided to "put the compressor to bed" by finalizing the design of this multi-year pet project. Since Mark and Beth had been selling a high-end predecessor to the RNC, the IntelliCompT, for a number of years, they had accumulated multiple comments about the strengths and weaknesses of the IntelliComp's performance and were ready to "downsize" the product to keep costs low (so that Mark could afford many channels of quality compression) while taking advantage of almost 4 years of software development and compression-algorithm tweaking. The result appeared in May 1997 as a do-it yourself kit for Mark's ACC students, so they could get a taste of using a soldering iron... another survival skill necessary for today's recording engineer.
The students enjoyed building and using their compressors and in honor of its first audience, it was dubbed the RNC1773 after the section number of the ACC class (Commercial Music Management 1773) in which it first appeared.
Shortly thereafter, a half dozen units were sent to several friends, primarily as a "thank you" for helping Mark and Beth tweak the software. Within a month, Mark and Beth were inundated with phone calls by pros and amateurs alike who wanted to purchase RNCs for their own use. In August 1997, the RNC began rolling off the assembly line...