Category Archives: Manufacturers

Forgotten 70s Pro Audio maker Gately Electronics

Gately_Stereo_Mixer_Briefcase_1970Above: Gately’s Stereo Briefcase Mixer circa 1970.

Gately Electronics was a Pennsylvania-based pro-audio manufacturing and importation/ distribution operation which seems to have operated between 1968 and 1975.  I often noticed adverts for their EM7 mixer in the old AES journals; the EM7 had a sort-of Pultec or maybe LANG vibe, and I was curious enough that when I found one AS-IS for $100 on eBay I went for it.  You can read my account of restoring my EM7 and its attendent EQ7 outboard equalizer accessory at this link.  The short version: it is a very well-built machine, and I was therefore surprised that Gately seems to be completely forgotten in the pro audio world.  Anyhow, I noticed that a pair of AS-IS Gately 1800 compressor cards went for an absurd amount of money on eBay last month, so I figured that maybe the world does need to know.  I therefore present: every piece of period documentation that I could find on Gately Electronics, its products, and operations.  Enjoy, and let us know if you are using any of this kit nowadays.

Gately_ProKitMixer_1972 Moms_Wholesome_Audio_Mixer_1973 Gately_ProKit_2_1974 Gately_PK6_EQ6_1972 Gately_C1616_Console_1975 Gately_ad_1974 Gately_1974_Micromixer

Above, from top to bottom: Gately ProKit 6-channel mixer (available as kit or assembled!), Gately’s Moms Wholesome Audio live PA board, Gately ProKit 2 mixer, and Gately EQ-6 and EK-6 equalizer and reverb accessories for the Pro-Kit (confused yet?).  Below that, John Yoder of Hope Recordings recommends the Gately C1616 studio console.  Next is an advert announcing Gately’s distribution of Ortofon lathes and Schoeps mics (yes please). Finally we see the Gately Micromixer, which appears to perhaps be the same as Moms Wholesome Audio Mixer?

Gately_EM7_Mixer_1969

Gately_EQ7_EQ_1969

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Gately_Em7s_1971

Gately_PEQ7_1971

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Above: the Gately EM7 and EQ7, as described in my earlier article, followed by the subsequent updated versions EM7s and PEQ7.  The PEQ7 seems to have exchanged th fixed hi-shelf control of the EQ7 for a five-frequency high bell curve EQ.  Low frequency control is presumably still a shelf-type.   I can’t find any other info on the ES-7 echo unit.

In 1974 a writer from DB (I imagine Woram or Zide; no credit is indicated) traveled to Gately’s Philadelphia-area facility.

You can download the account of their trip at this link: Gately_DB_Feb74

Gately_Factory_1974_2Gately_Factory_1974If there are any Gately alums out there, drop us a line; and if anyone out there is using any of this Gately kit, please let us know your thoughts.  I have yet to use my EM7 and EQ7 on a production, but at some point I hope to be able to do a shoot-out versus some better-known contemporary units such as API and Neve.

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From PS dot com reader J. Roberts:

“I have a Gately Prokit II that I bought from Bob Todrank back around 1976. Bob had one of the first audio businesses in Berry Hill.

The mixer still works, no repairs ever, factory wired, I think it may be something like serial # 101w, but I will have to look and see. I kept a search on ebay for Gately and finally something surfaced… an original manual for my mixer.

I like that mixer because it is simple, no eq or anything to mess up, just set levels and pan. Interesting that the headphone out has no volume control, but I bought an old pair of Koss with faders just to use with that mixer. It looks to have very high quality components.  I do not know about ICs, wondering if the ones in there are ok or should be upgraded.  Does not have the output transformer option either.  In a day or two I plan to feed a Coopersound micpre into the line ins and see what I get.  I guess I should lay down some tracks and make another classical guitar LP, as I did back around 1978. Mastered at NRP by Larry Boden. Very fun times.”

Rare Tony Schwartz Interview/Profile From “Better Listening Through Hi-Fi” July 1957

Tony Schwartz is a towering figure in the worlds of audio production, advertising, and media studies.  I recently came across a very obscure, AFAIK never-before-reproduced (feel free to prove me wrong here guys…) profile on Schwartz from the July 1957 issue of “Better Listening Through High Fidelity” magazine (h.f. ‘BLTHF’). As far as I can tell, BLTHF was an advertorial publication distributed gratis via electronics retailers in the 1950s.  The author of the piece is Robert Angus.

DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE: TonySchwartz_1957

If you are not familiar with Schwartz’ work, read this basic profile here.  Schwartz ranks alongside such luminaries as Brian Eno, Janet Cardiff, Morton Subotnik, and not too many others in my personal  pantheon of audio greats.  Schwartz is widely recognized to be the first person to successfully conceptualize and properly exploit the possibilities of tape-recording-as-art.  Not music recording or music production, mind you, simply documentary tape-recording. Schwartz then took this hobby, essentially, and went on to create one of the most significant careers in the history of advertising and media production as a producer and director of commercials.  His most famous production, which I teach in not one but two of my classes at the Uni, is the spot known colloquially as ‘Daisy.’ If you have never seen this short piece of film, take sixty seconds to watch it below.  You will see a no-budg spot that many media pundits acknowledge as having possibly decided one of the most crucial presidential elections in US history, an election that, had it gone the other way, could (and yes this is a stretch) have significantly altered the course of all human history.  Watch the spot:

NEways…  so, so much has been written about ‘Daisy’ that there is literally no way I can add anything new to the conversation.  Which is partially why I was so thrilled to uncover SOMETHING about Schwartz-in-his-salad-days that seems to have been largely overlooked.  As far as ‘Daisy,’ a quick google search will reveal much more than I could offer at this point in the evening, two-drinks-in as-it-were.  One more point before I go… in case you were wondering what brand of tape machine Schwartz was using for his editing work in the 50s:

Yup that’s a Magnecord.  If you are interested in learning more about Schwartz, let the man himself speak to you.  I recommend first his excellent book “The Responsive Chord.” For a buck-o-five you got pretty little to lose and maybe a lot to gain…

Fairchild Kit Of The Early 1960s

Above: the Fairchild 661 Auto-ten (a noise gate, apparently), 740 Lathe, 602 and 600 Conax (de-essers, apparently), 670 stereo limiter, 663 Compact console channel compressor, and 666 compressor, which wants you to know that it is emphatically NOT a vari-mu compressor.

Today on PS dot com: some pro audio gear from NYC’s legendary Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation.  This post will strictly be a scan of marketing materials from the era, as I have never used or serviced any of these pieces (other than a 670 clone).   A PS Dot Com reader alerted me to the fascinating story of Sherman Fairchild, the man behind the corporation that brought the world this very advanced audio technology: you will not be surprised to learn that he had roots in the aviation industry and a key connection to IBM.  See the comments section or click here to learn more.

this gets a little lengthy so click below to READ ON…

Continue reading Fairchild Kit Of The Early 1960s

What’s a Fostex?

Download the 4pp circa 1984 Fostex Full Line (condensed) catalog:

DOWNLOAD: Fostex1984

Fostex was the yin to Tascam’s yang in the home-recording 80s.  What does this mean?  What is the sound of 4 tracks of noise reduction with no recorded signal?  ANYway…  I always imagined Fostex equipment to be just a little bit flimsier and crappier than the similar Tascam products…  although in retrospect I think they were about equal.   The two pieces of ‘pro’ tascam/fostex gear that i owned back-to-back (balanced-input CDR recorders) both failed completely in 2 years each, so clean slate there.

Fostex 250 cassette 4-track machine

Is someone out there collecting examples of every 4-track machine from the 80s?  (the pre-ADAT era)?  Likely.  If you are that weirdo, blogging away about the relative merits of each, do drop a line.

I seem to have a massive amount of early-80s FOSTEX ephemera piled up here, so I guess this gonna be FOSTEX week at PS.  First stop: The B16 1/2″ 16-track machine.

Pilot Radio Corp Hi-Fi Line Circa 1962

Download the entire twenty-page 1962 PILOT hi-fi catalog:

DOWNLOAD: Pilot_HiFi_Line_1962_Catalog

Models covered include: Pilot 610, 602MA, 602SA, 654MA, and 746 receivers; Pilot Mark III, 280B, 285, and 780 FM tuners; Pilot 230, 240, 246, and 248B stereo integrated amplifiers; Pilot 200, 120, and 100 FM Stereo Multiplexers; Pilot-Garrard RC-3, RC-5, and RC-4 turntables; and Pilot PSV-2, PSV-3A, and PSV-4 speaker systems.

When you think of //Long Island City/Audio History//, what comes to mind, if anything?  Likely Fairchild and Marantz.   Pilot made neither pro-audio nor true high-end hi-fi, but as the graphic above reveals, they had quite a deep and storied history.   I have only one PILOT piece in my audio-pile (never say c%!!&ction) – an early stereo extension speaker – but I would bet that some of these pieces are pretty decent.

Audio + Design Scamp Outboard Modules

Audio + Design (Also known as Audio & Design, or Audio and Design, or Audio Design Recording- hf. ADR) is a British firm that was responsible for the first FET-based limiter.  Their ‘Vocal Stressor’ dynamics processor has long been rumored to be the the kit limiter used on many Led Zeppelin recordings.  For readers who have not spent much time in recording studios:  John Bonham’s  drum sound on the Zeppelin records is still, 40 years later, regarded as a benchmark of rock drum sound, by both drummers and producers/engineers.  And by rock-music fans in general.  A lot of time gets spent daily in recording studios around the world trying to ‘get that Bonham sound.’  So this rumor is somewhat significant.

Other well-known users of the ADR compressors include Mike Chapman, producer of The Sweet and about a million other seminal 70’s groups.

Anyhow.  The unit featured at the head of this post is module from ADR’s ‘Scamp’ line of plug-in modular audio processing equipment.  From what I have been able to tell, various units in the Scamp line were available between at least 1976 and 1984.    Modular racks of audio processing equipment were very popular during this period.  The concept is a good one: users can purchase a single rack-case with slots that accept the manufacturer’s modules.  The Rack-Case has a built-in power supply which provides the voltage(s) that the units need in order to operate.  In this way, a single chassis/powersupply can support up to 17 pieces of processing gear, rather than each little compressor, EQ, etc., each having their own.  Since the current draw of these items is so low, it makes a lot of sense. It saves a lot of space in the studio, and it saves money.

Of the other contemporary manufacturers of modular processing set-ups,   The DBX 900 series is perhaps the most widely-seen.  Valley People, Aphex and API also made these types of product lines.   The API 500 series has survived, and in fact become a contemporary standard in recording studios, with dozens of independent firms currently making a huge variety of processing units to fit the API-500 spec frame/voltage.   I have a DBX 900 rack and an API 500 rack, and they are some of my most-often used pieces in the studio.

There is a lot of documentation on the web regarding the DBX 900 series and the API 500 line.  The ADR Scamp line-up is not as well-represented.  Click on the link below to download 18-pages of 1976-1984 SCAMP paper.

DOWNLOAD:

AudioAndDesignScamp1984

The Sound of ’51

In the process of preparing tomorrow’s post, I came across these circa 1951 microphone ads.  Check em out.  Some icons here, some forgotten specimens.

I have never used these BRUSH mics.  Seem like communications, rather than recording microphones.

These particular EVs were primarily intended as HAM/PA mics.  I have a few 630s and 636s and I’ve never been inclined to use them in the studio.

Ah.  the ‘ELVIS’ mic.  Perhaps the most iconic vintage microphone in the world. 

The Turner 99 is a great mic.  I own a few of these, and I do use them in the studio from time to time.  They are very clean, with a reduced (midrange-y) frequency response. I have had good results using a 99 as a ‘close’ vocal mic, along with a good AKG or Neumann condenser mic as a ‘room’ mic, 6′- 10′ feet off the same performer.  

I have never used an ‘aristocrat,’ but Turner did make a few decent hand-held dynamics back then… I have a model 510, which was their top-of-the-line, and it is a good mic; definately worth checking out if you want something ‘different’ but still useful.

ICON: Guild Instruments

Even if you have never played a guitar in your entire life, you are probably familiar with the Gibson and Fender guitar brands.

These companies have existed for decades (a century for Gibson) and they are, at this point, American icons. The brands themselves, divorced from the actual products that they represent, get licensed for use adorning other products.

(web source)

Other great American manufacturers are even willing to co-brand with these companies.

(web source)

Gibson and Fender guitars are of good quality, and their ‘classic’ models are functionally/sonically very different instruments, so it makes sense that they have existed for so long in opposition as healthy competitors.
There are, of course, other classic American guitar brands. Martin guitars. Gretsch Guitars. And Guild Guitars. Martin has been around for over 150 years, and they are primarily very demure acoustic instruments.

Gretsch is a newer (80 years?) brand, and instead are known for garish electrics of varied quality but undeniable curb-appeal.

And then there is Guild. Guild never really had a strong identity. They kinda walked the line between acoustic guitars for ‘serious’ folkies and electric guitars for players looking for ‘something different.’ But I have always found them to be the best value in a used (vintage) guitar. The acoustics are a great balance of the chime of a Martin acoustic and the growl of a Gibson acoustic. I love my old Guild acoustic.

It’s much better then my Martins, and i can’t afford a good vintage Gibson, so… Guild is where it’s at for me. And the electrics combine Gibson build quality with the offbeat charm of the cheaper American vintage brands like Harmony and Valco. If you feel drawn to Harmony and Silvertone vintage electric guitars, but you need something that will actual stay in tune and play well… get a Guild.

GUITAR was (is?) a British guitar mag. I picked up a pile of back issues while on tour in England years ago. Here are some great examples of Guild’s 70’s lineup, taken from advertising in GUITAR. (other manufacturers on display in the same issues are Peavey, Ibanez, and Barcus-Berry).

-please follow the link for gallery of vintage British Guild Ads, as well as the conclusion of this piece…-

Continue reading ICON: Guild Instruments

Saul Marantz and The Roots of Great Design

A few years ago I bought a pile of old electronic parts from an anonymous junk dealer.  Random stuff- 5 lbs of crappy ¼” jacks,  some VU meters, a box of giant knobs, etc.  The dealer also had a box of old AES Journals.

The AES, or Audio Engineering Society, is just what the name suggests.  A professional organization for those who work in audio.   I don’t know what the main focus of the AES is nowadays (i am not a member), but in the early 1960s it was very technical.  Not so much an organization for people who engineer audio (IE., use equipment to manipulate audio signals), but rather an organization for people who engineer the equipment that recording engineers would then use to manipulate audio.  Let’s put it this way:  there’s a lot of math involved.  Here’s a contents page from 1964.  This issue was devoted to tape-recorder noise reduction. As in, designing the circuits.  Not just building or using them.

There are some more accessible articles, like this piece detailing a custom-made audio console:

…and, of course, all those great old advertisements.

Anyhow, when i had the chance to examine the circa-1970 AES journals that the dealer sold me, it became apparent that they had once been the property of one Saul Marantz.

I knew the name Marantz as it applies to audio equipment – my wife in fact has a complete (circa 1995) Marantz hi-fi system in her studio – but i knew a little about the man.   Turns out he was a fascinating character.

From the NYtimes: “ A man of many parts — photographer, classical guitarist, graphics designer, collector of Chinese and Japanese art — Mr. Marantz was fascinated by electronics from his boyhood days in Brooklyn. His passion for music led to his first attempts at building audio components…. After service in the Army during World War II, Mr. Marantz and his wife, Jean Dickey Marantz, settled in Kew Gardens, Queens. One day in 1945, he decided to rip the radio out of his 1940 Mercury, where he rarely listened to it, and put it to more practical use in his house. But that transplant required building additional electronics to make the radio work indoors. Such was the hook that snared Mr. Marantz for life.”

Saul Marantz was a  career graphic designer at the time.  He left this career once his Hi -Fi components (co-designed with engineer Sidney Smith) took off.

Learning that S. Marantz had been a graphic designer (and collector of Japanese art) really put the puzzle together for me.  The extremely elegant appearance of all the Marantz products (until he left the company in 1968, at least) always made a big impression on me.  Early Marantz hardware was high-end, sure – with prices and specs close to McIntosh pieces – but their visual design is in a league buy itself.

(web source)

(web source)

In another of the Marantz AES journals, S. Marantz receives an achievement award for outstanding contribution to consumer audio equipment.

The ‘classic’ Marantz designs were introduced between 1950 and 1964.  After that point, it became a ‘name-only’ company.  The more recent Marantz-branded products are of good quality, for what’s it worth.

How important are visuals to your appreciation of audio hardware?  How important the tactile interface with the devices?

When everything is reduced (enhanced??) to a touch screen, with the visual experience of audio tools be heightened, or reduced?