Universal Audio, was a designer and manufacturer of recording, mixing and audio signal processing hardware for the professional recording studio, live sound and broadcasting fields. Universal Audio was responsible for many innovations in the recording and sound reinforcement industry including the modern mixing console layout, per channel equalization (or EQ) and effects connectors (or send buses). The firm began in Chicago, founded by Bill Putnam Sr. in the 1950s, as a design and manufacturing addition to 'Universal Recording', his recording studio business. When Putnam moved to Hollywood in 1957, the manufacturing company was renamed UREI, and included a division called Teletronix.
UREI and Teletronix
Insulated from the recording studio changes, Universal Audio was thriving upstairs in the first Hollywood building under the new name United Recording Electronics Industries (UREI). The manufacturing and design company had acquired the patent rights to the electro-optical LA-2A stereo leveling amplifier. UREI also acquired National Intertel, which became the Teletronix division. From this acquisition came technology which developed into the 1176LN peak limiter in 1968, and the 1108 FET preamp.
Other well-received UREI products included the LA-4 electro-optical compressor limiter, the UREI Teletronix LA-3A electro-optical leveling amplifier and the 500-series UREI graphic equalizers.
By 1976, UREI had moved their manufacturing and service center to Sun Valley, California.
JBL-UREI co-branding (1985 to 1987)
Edward M. Long of E.M. Long Associates in Oakland, California collaborated with UREI to create the 813 family of time-aligned studio monitor speakers in 1977. The 813 used Altec Lansing, and later, JBL loudspeaker drivers.
In 1985, Putnam sold the studios as well as the manufacturing division and left the business. JBL picked up the UREI name and service contracts, releasing "JBL-UREI" branded products such as the 5547A graphic equalizer in 1986. Putnam died in 1989.
In 2005, Soundcraft began to offer a UREI-by-Soundcraft badged 1620LE, with 'LE' standing for 'Limited Edition'. The mixer was a renewal of the UREI 1620, a 1980s-era clone of Rudy Bozak's classic 1960s-era disc jockey mixer, the CMA-10-2DL. Soundcraft provided the new product line with its own website: www.ureidj.com.