Working in a high-tech industry requires a high level of innovation and the ability to almost re-invent your technology as time progresses.

This is a mantra that is followed closely by Solid State Logic, but not long ago it almost paid the price after a series of different owners caused the business to struggle.

Based in Begbroke, near Woodstock, SSL is now once again a thriving international business supplying state-of-the-art consoles to the music and broadcast media industries.

The company was originally founded by entrepreneur Colin Sanders in 1969, when the first products were electrical switching systems for pipe organs, which he described as Solid State Logic to explain the new technology.

Mr Sanders was a music enthusiast and also had his own studio, called Acorn, in Stonesfield. He started to design and build consoles for recording and the business grew from there.

He sold the company for £27m in 1986, and by the time he left in 1992, it had a turnover of £40m. Sadly, he died in 1999 when his helicopter crashed near his home in Souldern, Bicester.

In 1999 the company underwent a management buy-out from Carlton Communications which then sold it on to a consortium led by venture capital firm 3i. But it shrank considerably and by 2005, it was in administration after running into financial difficulties.

Then rock musician Peter Gabriel stepped in, along with American video and broadcast technology entrepreneur David Engelke, to take it over. As a result, about 150 jobs were secured and a new management team was put in place with Antony David, who had previously been sales director during the 1980s and early 1990s, heading it up as managing director.

Mr David said: “When the customers knew who the new management was, we were able to hit the ground running. We set about modernising the company. In some ways it was leading edge but it was still using manufacturing processes set up in the 1980s.”

A small factory in Cambridge was shut down and manufacturing was moved to sub-contractors, which Mr David says helped to improve the firm’s working capital. Assembly of the mixing consoles then took place at Begbroke.

The company makes consoles for a variety of applications for the music and broadcast media industries and its mixing desks can be found all over the world, from the back bedrooms of enthusiasts to major Hollywood film studios.

The broadcast and music industries have, of course, changed considerably in recent times and music downloads in particular have impacted on the budgets and artists’ rostas of recording companies.

Mr David explained: “A lot of the traditional big recording studios went out of business and have been replaced by smaller studios run by producers and the musicians themselves. Our product range has changed to reflect that.”

But while the bigger studios have been suffering, the new digital age has led to more and more people looking to make their own music.

Mr David said: “In the 1980s there were up to 300 top recording studios but now there are thousands of people with capable set-ups and different stages of sophistication.

“They do not want to spend a lot of money doing it, so we have designed what we call Workstation Partner Products, which range from amateur to fully professional quality.

“For example, our Garage Band system can run on an Apple Mac computer.”

The workstation products will this year make up about 20 per cent of SSL’s business. Three years ago it barely existed, such has been the march of innovation in this industry. But this is the essence of why SSL has not only survived after its problems but prospered to the point where it now has a £25m turnover, which has doubled in the last three years, while profitability has been restored. A total of 65 per cent of turnover comes from products brought to market in the last three years. Not surprisingly, spending on research and development is more than double what it was at the time of the takeover and takes up 12 per cent of revenue.

At the other end of the scale, digital technology has had a major impact on broadcasters and post-production facilities. A video asset management system has been developed which allows high speed storage and distribution of filmed material by broadcasters of high definition quality, if necessary, which can then be accessed using off-the-shelf computers.

SSL’s first customer for this is the Network News Service in the USA, which is owned by major broadcasters CBS, ABC and Fox Television.

Mr David explained: “All of their news outlets stream into NNS and a room full of editors and producers sift through it and then make it available to the news rooms where it is edited. The video industry is up to ten times the size of the audio industry and involves very big players.”

SSL has offices in Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Belgium to cope with the demands of a worldwide market, while software development takes place in Romania which has proved fertile for young, postgraduate talent.

Recently though, the local community was acknowledged with the donation of equipment to the new Rock School run by the St Gregory the Great school in Cricket Road, Oxford.

As for the dowturn, Mr David is hoping the traditionally ‘steeper and shorter’ US recession will be on its way out, once the full effects of the European recession kick in, allowing business to continue largely unscathed.

And with the industry continuing to develop, remaining at the cutting edge will be a key priority.