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A brief history of the Amsterdam company.

How should a sax player in a rockband manage to project the sound of his horn over the dominant group sound?. Early in the eighties SD Systems decided to try solving this old problem. No mike existed which would offer sufficient quality and without limiting the freedom of movement of the player.

The fact SD designers were sax players themselves was of great advantage for the development of the mike.

The legendary LCM85 was born: a Leightweight Condenser Microphone, which could be directly attached to the bell of the sax by means of an adaptable mounting system. With it, total freedom of movement on stage finally came, as well as an end to those ever dominating guitars.

SD Systems was established in 1981. Actually they were musicians, earning a living elsewhere during daytime, performing in the evening and in between developing equipment in the garage. Serge Schrier, present director of SD Systems, was playing in the rock circuit, at the time where he met Rob Dugour, guitarist and sax player.

Initially SD Systems was chiefly engaged with custom-made equipment for specialist professional users. Thanks to contacts in the music world, the client’s wishes could be directly translated into technical terms.

Stereo guitar amps (revolutionary in those times) and modular 19″ mixers were marketed in small series. the first 19″ rackmount mixer ! During 1985, the highly specialist knowledge thus acquired was put to use in the development of the LCM85.

In a certain way the LCM85 meant a fresh start: with the complete concentration of existing manufacturers on voice mikes and studio mikes, a gap in the market was discovered.

In those days the LCM85 was still made in a very primitive way: the housing of the capsule consisted of a male-XLR plug with four hand drilled holes in the sides, and to shield the capsules they used mosquito screen which happened to lie in the attic.. The capsules had to be sorted individually with 75% dropping out due to great variation in quality at that time. A very time-consuming job because it had to be done by ear holding the sax in their hand.

In 1986 the first mike system for drums was designed: the LCM90.With its integrated power supply and easily fitting mounting system, gripping the rim of any drum, this mike also turned out to satisfy users’ expectations to the model after another, tailored to optimal amplification of each different fullest. One new LCM instrument, was offered to the market.

Meanwhile the competition’s attention was attracted. Thanks to annual participation in the Frankfurter Messe they quickly picked up ideas: two years after the introduction of the LCM85, Ramsa (Japan) came with a mike system for sax and drums. In 1987 Shure developed the SM98 with a very primitive mounting system. In 1988 AKG introduced the minimike series. In the USA Countryman was introduced. Copies were made with enthousiasm: in 1990, Beyer introduced a system which looks close to AKG.

Basic mistakes were made in the design of many of these models: the strong sound rumbles from the sax keys were striking, just as a wrong mike-position, bad frequency characteristics in the high range, the design of the preamp, feedback and instable mounting on the instrument.

All the mikes in the LCM series are characterized by a unique mounting system and superior sound reproduction which is pure and natural and very clear in the high ranges. For each application special high-quality condenser elements are selected, whose characteristics are exactly tailored to their specific use.

The LCM89 model for example is favoured by many jazz sax players, because during low volumes the patented elastic hangup of the element almost totally eliminates sound rumbles from the keys.

SD has built up a worldwide network of endorsers, in classical as well as in jazz and rock music. This gives a lot of feedback so they know exactly what the needs are.

In Holland and Germany, SD is doing the representation direct. This has the great advantage that through these direct lines the retailers’ and customers’ wishes can be honored more quickly.

In order to get firm footing in the US, SD has strongly exerted theirselves to enter the American market. Rayburn Music in Boston was the first shop to sell SD mikes. Now, thanks to the introduction of a revolutionary and ingenious low cost model, the SX-1 sax mike and the High Power LDM94 model that is especially developed for the US market, the American interest is increasing. Many Americans play with enormous sound pressure because of the ‘power’ mouthpieces which are fashionable over there. A shame, because combining older mouthpieces with an LCM89 mike the dynamic range is higher and variation in sound is easier! In the meanwile, many endorsements are settled with great musicians.

Serge Schrier : “It started with Emilio Lyons‘ visit at the Frankfurt fair. Lyons is a famous saxophone repairer who works for Rayburn Music, Boston: he ‘nurses’ the instruments of nearly all the great musicians on the American Jazz scene. about: he introduced us to Stan Getz in 1987. Getz became SD’s first major endorser. I’ve been in touch with him often, an extraordinary kind and charming man. His death shocked us. I myself have been a Jazz fanatic since I was fifteen. It was a great honour to personally meet nearly all my great idols from those days, either at the North Sea Jazz festival in The Hague or at our place. We have developed a personal relationship with them. Americans -however famous- have always been very pleasant and are always receptive to new ideas ! ”

SD Systems has its base in Amsterdam, Holland. Their new premises are located near the beautiful old centre of town.

Right now, more than 22 different systems are in production. All this has been made possible mainly by new facilities which they now have at their disposal. At first place new premises have made it possible to make development and assembly more efficient. Many jobs are put out to contract to some very specialised suppliers in our surroundings.

SD produces on demand. Parts are ordered at the right time in the right amount to arrive when they are necessary. This reduces the need to keep stock, cost efficient. Most models and parts are hand made. All parts are tested exhaustively in the several stages. Products leave the factory in perfect condition.

At this moment SD Systems is being distributed in about 25 countries, the quality and number of the distributors are still increasing. There are great plans for the future, for example, to extend the range to all stringed instruments, building studio microphones and special wireless systems. A new section has just been set up which will occupy itself with making small series of ‘custom made’ systems like for example mikes for (contra-)bassoons, bass-clarinets and others.

A PERSONAL NOTE FROM THE FOUNDER
Dear music friends, SD Systems is Back with a Big Bang!

Due to circumstances we have been out of the market for many years. SD Systems has now been restarted with many plans for the future and we can deliver all our products again.

We are so glad to discover that all of you didn’t forget SDS, thank you for your many emails and for still believing in our products!

I’m looking forward to meet you again by email, phone or at music fairs. Please contact us at: sdslab@gmail.com for fast response on all your wishes.

I’m looking forward to a fine and fruitful cooperation and thank you all, for your great enthusiasm and support!

Kind Regards, Serge Schrier, SD Systems Instrument Microphones