McLaren Audio History

Mclaren Audio Brief History

Mclaren Audio was first manufactured in 1976. David Burger a director of Zetka Industries lived next door to a well know audio retailer, John Button. John suggested that there was a need to fill some gaps in the audio market and Zetka might have the electronics expertise to produce it , specifically Phono preamplifiers and graphic equalisers. Further to this he suggested Paul Mclaren would be able to contribute technical direction for the products.

Paul did this and with some negotiation, the McLaren brand was established with the 101 moving coil pre-amplifiers, the 201 Moving magnet RIAA pre-amplifier and the 301 Graphic first on a fairly small scale for the local New Zealand market, this continued until 1982 with the product range slowly expanding. In 1982 a review in Australian HI FI prompted the design and consequent manufacture of the ZPE range of professional power amplifiers primarily for the Australian market.

Zetka Indusrties, electronic workshop, mechanical workshop in background, Pharizyn St Lower Hutt. Mid 1981, Judy and Maize at the bench.

My involvement started in April 1981

My space in 1981

The scale of the Audio operation was expanded to deal with this large increase in demand and provided the incentive for further research and development.
In 1985 the 02 Mclaren series was launched on the New Zealand and U.S. markets with initially a slow response. However after some cosmetic redesigning the product was accepted into a number of overseas markets. (U.S. Hong Kong, Canada, France, Italy, Australia, Germany, Taiwan)

Early prototype McLaren 902

The Mclaren Audio range has also been reviewed by a few international magazines including Audio, The Absolute Sound, Australian HI FI, La Nouvelle No 10 and HI FI Heretic.

Outlined Below are the products on which I (Bruce Crothers) have had a major involvement while with Zetka Industries.
McLaren 601 Basic Pre Amplifier Early1981
Mclaren 701 100w Power amplifier mid 1981
Mclaren 801 180w Power amplifier mid 1981
ZPE 500 250w/channel power amplifier early 1983
ZPE 600 300w/channel power amplifier 1983
ZPE 1000 500w/channel power amplifier 1983
Mclaren 602 Straight line preamplifier mid 1985
Mclaren 702 100w/channel power amplifier mid 1985
Mclaren 402 Full function preamplifier late 1985
Mclaren 902 250w mono power amplifier late 1985
Mclaren 1002 F.M. tuner 1986
Mclaren A150 Intergrated Amplifier late 1986
ZPE 400 135W into 8 200W into 4 Prof Amp 1987
ZPE 700 250W into 8 350W into 4 Prof Amp 1987
Mclaren 603 Preamplifier late 1988
Mclaren 703 Power amplifier 100W/channel late 1988
Mclaren 903 250w mono power amplifier late 1988
Mclaren A150B Integrated Amplifier early 1990
ZPE 1500 460 into 8ohm 750W into 4ohm Prof Amp late 1990
Mclaren 603S Preamplifier late 1990
Mclaren 703S Stereo Power amplifier 100W/channel late1990
Mclaren 903S Mono Power amplifier 250W/channel late1990

First ZPE electronics
First ZPE prototype

The scale of the Mclaren operation has reduced after 1981-1990 years but still has strong reputation in the N.Z and overseas markets.

Amplifier Consultants Ltd (Bruce Crothers

Order of A150B amplifier for Germany in Amplifier Consultant’s workshop

With Zetka industries failing in 1990. I have continued development of the range under Amplifier Consultants and have completed designs for the products below.

Mclaren Aura 30w integrated Amplifier mid 1992
ZPE Series 3 Proffesional power amplifiers early 1993
Mclaren Astral 50w integrated Amplifier mid 1993
Mclaren Vega control preamplifer Late 1993
McLaren 704 Power system 1995
McLaren 604 Preamplifier 1996

McLaren 704 PCB

From 1993 I have developed a series of services in modification of Compact disk players addressing some major deficiencies. This also led to a modification/upgrade service for McLaren amplifiers again addressing problems which were inherent in the earlier designs.

In 1998 I moved to Taipei Taiwan and closed down the production of McLaren Audio in favour of family life with my new-born son Jason.

After my return to NewZealand and taking on other employment I continued to upgrade McLaren amplifiers on a as required basis.

I was asked by a colleague in my day job in 2012 what amplifier he should buy so I recommended he buy a used McLaren, which he did. He then decided to purchase new speakers and went to a store to audition some. Leaving the store dissatisfied with all the amplification offered to audition them, he requested a visit using his McLaren A150 to audition them again. The store agreed.

He relayed the story to me, that he set up the amplifier and waited for one store sales team to move away with another customer. Then as soon as he started streaming music through his phone, he had an audience. Being asked where they could get one of those (A150), Could they pull up a couch and have a decent listen. At the peak he said there were about twelve people.

On hearing this story, I though “this is a nearly 30-year-old amplifier standing head and shoulders above modern offerings I know more about electronics and physics than I did when I designed it. I want to have another go at this”.

I did and the results were very quickly well beyond my expectations. Refining these concepts has led to the release of a series of upgrades that take McLaren amplifiers that are still competitive in their standard configuration with modern amplification, taking them to an unexpected level of performance, while at the same time not requiring new materials and recourses use. Please take a look at the upgrades page to see what’s on offer.