Category Archives: Recording Studio History

Dig this c. 1972 Toronto studio ‘Manta Sound’

MantA_2SOOooo it’s been almost a month since I’ve written anything here.  Things have gotten quite busy around PS HQ, what with custom fabrication work for clients, sessions and equipment upgrades at Gold Coast Recorders and other assignments of which I will spare you the details.   Thanks to a few helpful contributors, I still have dozens of issues of the old DB mag and hundreds of pieces of obscure 70s/80s pro-audio and high-end consumer hifi literature to dig thru+upload for y’alls edification.  In the meantime, if you ever need a jolt of weird old audio flotsam, bookmark my Instagram and have a look.  I keep pretty active on there,,,

For you today: a profile of Manta Sound Toronro from DB mag way back in ’72.  According to this source,

“In the early 1970s, the audio shop was a Canadian recording pioneer thanks to its famous Studio 2 that could accommodate up to 70-piece orchestras. Studio 2 made it possible to do more complex recordings than had been done in Canada before, Potma says.  Studio 2′s rich history also includes providing the facilities in 1985 as the Canadian music industry gathered to record Tears Are Not Enough for famine relief in Ethiopia. Artists involved included Young, Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot and Platinum Blonde.   ‘It seems like a century or two ago,’ Potma says. ‘That was huge. That was probably the biggest thing that we ever did – our little part of that.’    More recently, Manta completed a James Brown recording for the Jackie Chan actioner The Tuxedo, filming around Toronto. *

Manta_3 Manta_4 Mant_Sound_1

Reeves Sound Studios NYC (1933 – 197X)

Reeves_1948- Frances_Flaherty-Eugene_Ormandy-CRFAbove: Reeves studio A during music scoring for “Louisiana Story,” a 1949 Oscar nominee for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story. The soundtrack score, composed by Virgil Thomson, won a Pulitzer Prize.  L to R: co-director Frances Flaherty, conductor Eugene Ormandy, and C. Robert Fine, mixing engineer. (Source: T. Fine)

Considering that owner Hazard Reeves was the man responsible for introducing the magnetic soundtrack channel to motion-picture film, as well as being one of the developers of Cinerama, which prefigured both the stereo hi-fi music revolution and the IMAX film-format, there is surprisingly little information online regarding his Reeves Sound Studios (hf. RSS).  RSS was in operation from approx. 1933 – 1980, and although it was primarily a sound-for-picture facility, some important albums were cut there, including early efforts by Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane.

Monk_at_ReevesMonk listens to playback at Reeves c. 1956.  Photo by E. Edwards.

PS dot com contributor T. Fine has provided some background on this important piece of recording history.  If any readers worked at RSS during its long history, please get in touch and tell us about it.

Reeves_1948-Eugene_Ormandy_conducts-Louisiana_StoryAbove: soundtrack recording session for “Louisiana Story” in 1948.  Eugene Ormandy is conducting the orchestra, with pickup via Altec 639 “Birdcage” microphones. (Source: T. Fine)

RSS opened its doors in 1933 (source: NYT). The earliest detailed account we have of its actual operation is a 1949 article by one Leon A. Wortman.

Click here to download a PDF of the article: Wortman-Fairchild_Studio_Design-low

Wortman’s piece(s) was originally published in the trade publication “FM AND TELEVISION” and subsequently re-published for promotional use by the Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation.  T. Fine: “Reeves (Sound Studios) was full of Fairchild and Langevin gear. Buzz Reeves was good friends with Sherman Fairchild.”

Reeves_SchematicAbove: schematic for RSS circa 1949 (Wortman)

Reeves_ChannelA_cuttingroom_FAirReeves_B_roomReeves’ Room B c. 1949 (both above from Wortman)

Reeves_1948-CRF_Eugene_OrmandyAbove: Eugene Ormandy (L) and Bob Fine (R) work the Davens at RSS in 1948 (source: T. Fine)

T. Fine: “During the time my father worked for Hazard “Buzz” Reeves in the late 40s, he engineered jazz and classical records for Mercury and Norman Granz (who later founded Verve Records). Among the significant jazz recordings were “Charlie Parker with Strings,” some sides in Granz’s deluxe “The Jazz Scene” album, and Charlie Parker’s latin-jazz sides with Machito on Mercury.  Among the classical recordings for Mercury was the first U.S. use of the Neumann U-47 mic for orchestral recording: William Schuman’s “Judith” and “Undertow” performed by the Louisville Orchestra with Robert Whitney and William Schuman conducting.

“Here is a cut from the “Charlie Parker with Strings” sessions, followed by Charlie Parker with Machito and his Orchestra.

BobFine_ReevesCuttingRoomAbove: Bob Fine in the Reeves A cutting room, 1949.

Ed: Bob Fine would leave RSS in the early 1950s to build his own sound studio Fine Sound, which was purchased and then closed by Loews/MGM. In 1958, Bob Fine opened Fine Recording Studios on 57th Street.  You can read our account of Fine Recording Studios here and here.

T. Fine: “In the 50s, Reeves was the studio for a bunch of significant Riverside Records jazz recordings.

In a 2007 interview, Riverside founder/producer Orrin Keepnews (who’s still alive and in his 90s) talked about making a deal with Buzz Reeves to get the studio and engineer overnight at a cut rate if he block-booked chunks of days.”

“Not long after (1954), we made a long-term deal for a studio that was of great value to us..  (We) had become aware of Reeves Sound Studios in the East 40s. It was a big room—although easily brought down by screens and baffles to the small-group size we basically needed. The studio was used primarily for radio jingles and other advertising agency work. That meant it was rarely in use after daytime working hours. They agreed to give us almost unlimited time for a very low annual flat fee, provided our recording was basically done at night. It was a real meeting of needs. That low studio rate, and the quite reasonable union scale rates in that far-off deflationary period, made it possible for us to do a lot of recording with very little cash, which was a pretty essential factor in the early growth of Riverside.”  (source)

T. Fine: “It was perfect for jazz because Keepnews would have the guys come by to record after their club dates. He got a more relaxed but still tight feel than some of the Blue Note and Prestige sessions at Van Gelder, where the guys would often show up in daytime hours, off-kilter from their night-owl schedules.

“Reeves figured so prominantly in Riverside’s viability that some first-edition Riverside LP covers included a little graphic on the front boasting of “Riverside Reeves Spectrosonic High-Fidelity Engineering.” In the early stereo era, the “Stereosonic” replaced “Spectrosonic” in the logo.

“According to the Riverside Records discography located here, the sessions at Reeves began in late 1955 and continued until 1961.

TheloniusHimself (SOURCE)

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T. Fine: “In the 60s, Reeves turned more to sound-for-picture work, and they were an early TV-sound production center in NY. They later did a lot of sound mixing for videotaped productions, especially with WNET Public TV.  Reeves bought out Fine Recording in the early 70s, and Bob Fine then managed Reeves Cinetel Studios in the early 70s. One of the projects he worked on then was producing the sync’d sound masters for the simulcasts of Don Kirschner’s “In Concert” late-night weekly rock concert series.”

“RSS produced a 4-track 1/2″ tape that was sync’d to video by a 59.95 Hz signal on one track, stereo audio (fed to the simulcasting FM station) on two tracks and mono audio to feed the TV station audio (or mono radio) on the 4th track.”

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FirefoxScreenSnapz002T. Fine: “In 1972, Guidance Associates (still in business in Mt. Kisco NY) produced a filmstrip centered around RSS sound engineer Bill Brueckner. Bill’s work day described in the filmstrip involved putting the soundtrack together for a Cheetos TV commercial. The filmstrip shows images of a 1970’s sound-for-picture studio in action. Brueckner is shown working in two separate studios at Reeves. The studio where the commercial was made was the more modern studio. The console appears to be custom-made, probably using Langevin faders and internal parts. The second studio shown, where Brueckner is recording a voice-over later in the filmstrip, is older. Visible there are a Fairchild full-track tape machine, an Ampex 300 full-track, plus a very old mono console.”


T. Fine: “The filmstrip (with accompanying LP) was part of a set titled “People Who Work In Science,” probably aimed at middle school aged kids.  I found a mint-condition copy about 10 years ago; I assume a set was sent to my father since the ‘Sound Engineer’ strip was done at Reeves. I immediately transferred the LP, and eventually found someone to scan the filmstrip for me. Bill Wray, head of the AES Historical Committee and a retired Dolby exec, married the sound to the picture. He started out with side A of the LP, which has mid-range pitch manual-advance tones. He assembled the piece in Final Cut Pro and then laid over the side B audio, which had low-frequency auto-advance tones which I had notched out. We just recently finished it, got permission from the original publisher and posted it to the AES’ YouTube page. Thanks to Peter Haas for scanning the filmstrip and Jay McKnight for doing very good Photoshop cleanup on the images (the filmstrips were manufactured on that type of film stock that fades out to red over time).”

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And that’s pretty much all I have been able to uncover regarding Reeves Sound Studios.  Hazard Reeves himself was a very public figure with a great number of technologies and awards to his credit; he started sixty companies in his lifetime, won an Oscar, helped introduce the blender to American kitchens, and owned a major audio-tape manufacturing facility just a stones-throw away from where I grew up in Danbury Connecticut.

7-inch reel late 60s frontAbove: a 7″ reel of consumer-grade Reeves Soundcraft audiotape, manufactured on Great Pasture road in Danbury CT.  

10-inch reel 1957 front10-inch reel 1957 rearAbove and left: a 10″ reel of industrial-grade Reeves audiotape.  T. Fine: “Interesting data on the rear of the box. This was sound-for-picture music work done at Reeves Studio B. The engineer was “J.H.”, most likely Jack Higgins, the engineer who made most of the Riverside jazz records at Reeves. You see notes for “Pic-Sync Fairchild,” meaning the tape was recorded on one of the studio’s Fairchild tape machines using the Pic-Sync system, which used a tone modulated at 14kHz to sync with motion-picture cameras and projectors. I can’t fully interpret the take sheet, but it looks like they were scoring to picture, with timing marks indicating footage from the film projector.”

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HazardReeves_w_CineramaSoundHead_c1948Above: Hazard Reeves with a Cinerama 6-channel sound-head circa 1948

Cinerama_6_channel_console_C1952Above: an unknown audio engineer operates the 6-channel playback console at a Cinerama movie theater circa 1952.

The 3-camera, 3-projector, 6-channel surround-sound film format known as Cinerama has proven to be Hazard Reeves’ principal legacy.  There is a ton of information online regarding this far-ahead-of-its-time quirk of film history, so I won’t repeat any of that here.  But I would like to point out how interesting it is that although Reeves possessed the technology to create 6-track magnetic audio masters as early as 1948 (as evinced by the image above), he did not chose to apply this technology to music recording.  We can only assume that this was because the musical aesthetics of the day simply did not require it.  In 1948, live music was still the paradigm of musical-sound; there was evidently not sufficient demand to build a console and studio workflow that would allow for multitracking and overdubbing until a decade later, ever though the actual recording technology evidently existed.  This begs the question of what technologies we currently posses that could be put to the service of creating entirely new musical aesthetics, but which we are dismissive of, or simply blind to.

Nonetheless, Reeves’ diversified and energetic ventures reveal a man who boldly took advantage of the emerging technologies of his era to develop better and more effective communication products.   Reeve’s assessment of the relation between media form and media message is stated quite eloquently in this passage he wrote in the November 1982 SMPTE Journal:

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Show, don’t tell.  That’s the message here. And ultimately this is remains the critical factor in creating meaningful artwork and communication, regardless of the tools and technologies used to produce it.

Joe Osborn, studio bass great, 1972

JoeOsborn_1972Joe Osborn stands alongside Carol Kaye, Herbie Flowers, and James Jamerson as one of the all-time great session bassists.  As his wiki entry indicates, “Many producers and arrangers chose to spotlight his contributions by mixing the bass line more prominently than had been customary, and incorporating brief bass solos into their arrangements.”

Click the link to download a great short article on Osborn from DB mag, 1972.  Author is one David Perry: JoeOsborn_Downbeat_1972

Philips INC Broadcast Remote Truck c. 1979

Truck_illstrdMeanwhile in LegoLand…  download an eight-page article from the Philips Broadcast Tripodium 1979 (catalog? Trade Show Book?  no idea…) on the subject of a three-camera A/V remote production vehicle as built in 1979:

DOWNLOAD: Phillips_Remote_Truck_79

Truck_ExteriorTruck_LayoutAlthough this machine is perhaps more a part of video rather than audio history, I came across this arcane publication recently and I though that it might make a nice counterpoint to the Bob Fine Remote Truck article we published last week.  The Fine truck, remember, began life as a Film Camera/mono audio truck before becoming a multitrack audio truck.  Anyhow, this Philips vehicle (no idea how many of these exist…) manages to pack an entire live-tv-production operation into a 25-foot-long van.  Pretty incredible.  As depicted in the images above, there is workspace and kit for a video line editor, compositor/chyron artist, sound mixer, tape op, and producer.  Pretty incredible…

Anyone out there operating a DIY remote truck today?  Tell us about it!

CableSpoolsAbove: rear of truck/cable spool area

Bob Fine’s Recording Truck : 1951 – 1966

CineCruiser_1951In a previous article, we offered a thorough treatment of Fine Recording, INC. (hf. “FRI”), the NYC recording studio that pioneered high-fidelity music recording in the 1950s and 60s.  FRI principal Bob Fine also built and maintained a high-fidelity remote recording truck beginning in 1951.  This recording truck was used to create master recordings for dozens of albums for the Mercury Living Presence and Command Classics labels.  Perhaps most remarkably, the truck saw thousands of hours of action not only throughout the United States, but on several European tours as well.  In 1962, it was the first American recording unit to be allowed into the Soviet Union to record Russian musicians.  PS dot com contributor Tom Fine, son of Bob Fine, has provided us with some rare period documentation of the truck along with many never-before-published photographs of the operation in action.  Here’s the story of Bob Fine’s remote truck as told to us by Tom Fine.

InsideTheTruck_1951Interior of the truck (1951)

“Jerome Hill was an heir to the Great Northern Railroad founder. Hill was a documentary film maker as well as a painter and philanthropist. One of his early movies was a documentary on the painter Grandma Moses. The film’s soundtrack was recorded and mixed at Reeves Studios in NYC, where Bob Fine was the chief engineer. Hill had a house in Rockland County, near Bob Fine’s home in Tomkins Cove.”

Hill-Fine-FR-A-08Hill (L) and Fine (R) mixing Hill’s film “The Sand Castle” at Fine Recording Studio A.

“At the time Bob Fine left Reeves to form his own company, Fine Sound, Hill was beginning work on a film about doctor, humanitarian and organist Albert Schweitzer.  When Hill was planning the film in 1951, he decided he wanted a mobile film studio to go to France and spend several weeks filming Dr. Schweitzer in his home town, and also capture Dr. Schweitzer playing the organ in his home church.  Hill put up the funding and Fine designed and built a custom vehicle to accomplish this.  Built on a 1951 Chevrolet frame, the truck was initially dubbed the “Cinecruiser.”

TruckInt_1951Above image/text from AUDIO ENGINEERING, Oct 1951 (no author attributed).  Click here to download the complete article: AE-5110-Fine_Sound-reduced.  

From Audio Engineering 10/51: “Mr. Fine’s assignment was to design and construct a completely mobile ‘location unit.’  With a thirty day deadline, the unit (…) was designed and constructed, laboratory and road tested, and driven aboard a freighter bound for Europe and its first assignment.”

BobFineCam_textAbove: source: A/E, 10/51

Tom Fine: “In its initial incarnation, the truck was outfitted to shoot 16mm or 35mm film with sound. There was a primitive 3×1 mixer and two Fairchild tape recorders which were locked to the camera via Fairchild’s Pic-Sync system.

Signal_Flow_1951Above: Cinecruiser equipment compliment c. 1951 (source: A/E, 10/51)

“The Schweitzer film was eventually completed and went on to win the 1957 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. The full film is available now for viewing on YouTube.

“After completing production on the Schweitzer assignment,  Hill generously loaned the truck out for Mercury Living Presence recording trips, beginning in 1952 in Minneapolis.

Fine Sound van - Minneapolis 1955

Fine & Hall Sound Truck 1954 MinneapolisAbove: photos by Bill Decker (via Tom Fine).

“The photos above show the truck in Minneapolis in 1954, during a hot day of recording. Bob Fine and Mercury recording director David Hall are seen sitting on the tailgate.  The two photos above were shot by Bill Decker. Bill was a Rockland County neighbor of Bob Fine. Bill was hired on for almost all Mercury recording trips as the truck’s driver and on-site assistant to Bob Fine and associate engineer Bob Eberenz. Bill was also a photographer, and his images of Mercury recording sessions were used on album covers and CD booklets.

“Jerome Hill gave the truck to Bob Fine in the mid 50s, and it continued to be the Mercury mobile recording studio into the mid-60′s.

CRF_truck_56Above: the Truck re-outfitted with one of the earliest AMPEX 300 3-Track tape machines (right) c. 1956

“Although it was initially called the ‘Cinecruiser,’ the truck did much more time as a regular music-recording truck than a sound-for-picture truck. It was used to make all of the on-location Mercury recordings from 1952 through 1965. It traveled to Europe (England, Austria, France, Italy) and to Russia in 1962.

1960's Early - Truck in Moscow Red Square“The photo above was shot by Harold Lawrence, Mercury’s Musical Director at the time.  In the photo you can see my father getting scolded by a Moscow policeman for parking the truck on Red Square. They were driving toward the Tchaikovsky Conservatory after picking up the truck at a rail yard outside Moscow, and everyone wanted to snap photos at Red Square, so my father pulled over. CBS News captured footage of Mercury’s recording trip to Moscow which was edited into a feature story that ran on the CBS Evening News.  Here is the full clip via YouTube:

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CRF_Milan-truck_3-smallCRF_Milan-truck_2-smallThe two photos above show Bob Fine in the truck in Italy in 1958. Mercury took the truck to Italy to make opera recordings in 1957 and 1958. The truck was rebuilt in 1958 and both Fairchild mono recorders were replaced by Ampex 300 full-tracks.  From 1961-63, the truck also carried a Westrex 35mm magnetic film recorder to many Mercury Living Presence and Command Classics recording sessions.

In the early days of the Mercury Living Presence series, the truck would carry at least two microphones (the main recording mic and its backup), ropes to hang the mics in the recording venue, the two Fairchild tape recorders, a single Altec monitor speaker and a McIntosh amplifier to power it and plenty of blank tape.

When stereo came along, the process got much more complicated: 3 mics plus spares (at least 6 mics), all the extra cabling and ropes, the two Fairchilds plus two Ampex 300-3 machines, three Altec A7 monitor speakers and three McIntosh amplifiers, an ingenious monitor-control system based on a surplus telephone stepper relay (the producer would use a rotary dial to call up the mics or whatever tape machine she wanted to hear in the speakers), and all the blank tape (and/or film) required.”
Bob Eberenz - Detroit 0362 - 35mm Westrex“In the photo above, Bob Eberenz adjusts the faders at a Detroit Symphony session in 1962 with the truck outfitted for 35mm magnetic film recording. At the time the truck was fitted for 3-track mag-film recording, 3-track 1/2″ tape, and full-track 1/4″ mono tape. Bob Eberenz was a native of Jackson MI, and was Bob Fine’s long-time ‘right hand man.’  Eberenz was hired at Fine Sound after previously having worked at Altec (then called All Technical Services), and at MGM’s Sound Department in Hollywood. Eberenz served as chief technical engineer at Fine Sound. He was later hired for Bob Fine’s second studio, Fine Recording (see previous article – ed), where he ran the maintenance and engineering department.  Eberenz also rebuilt the recording truck in 1958.

RWE-truck-underexposedAbove: Bob Eberenz sitting on the tailgate of the truck after it was rebuilt in the late 50s.

“As Fine Recording grew and got busier in the 1960′s, Eberenz became the main engineer on the Mercury Living Presence and Command Classics recording sessions. Often, Bob Fine would make the initial mic placements and fine-tune the setup to the satisfaction of the producer, then fly home to NY for a never-ending heavy schedule of recording sessions at the studio. Bob Eberenz would run the recording equipment for the entire on-location session and then see to it that the truck got back to NY in good shape.

“Eberenz left Fine Recording in 1967 and went on to work for two decades at the movie-sound equipment maker Magnatech, ending his career as President of that company.

“In the 1990s, Eberenz was instrumental in the Mercury Living Presence CD reissue project. He restored the Ampex 300-3 tape machine and Westrex 35mm magnetic-film machine, and rebuilt producer Wilma Cozart Fine’s custom 3-to-2 mixdown console, which was made out of Westrex modules.

 

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CRF_Milan-truck_1-small Fine in Milan ’58

“Just about every Mercury Living Presence recording made from 1952 through 1964 that wasn’t made at Fine Recording (in other words, about 90% of them) was tracked on the Recording Truck, as was every Command Classics recording made from 1961 to 1966.

“Probably the most famous Mercury records with the truck were the Moscow recordings of the balalaika orchestra and the Byron Janis piano concerto records with Soviet orchestras and conductors. Also of note: the two ‘Civil War’ deluxe 2-LP albums, which featured extensive sound-documentaries made with real civil war weaponry recorded by the truck at Gettyburg PA and West Point NY. And certainly not least, the mono and stereo ‘1812 Overture’ recordings by Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony, which also used real-deal 1812-era European cannons, recorded at West Point. Both versions of the ‘1812 Overture’ were Gold Records.

For Mercury alone, the truck logged as many as three months a year on the road from the late 50′s to the mid 60′s. Literally thousands of hours of tape rolled at Mercury sessions on the recording truck.  The truck was retired from Fine Recording around 1966.   It was donated to the Oradell NJ Explorer Scouts troop, and was last seen alive and working in the early 1970s”

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We’d like to express our thanks to Tom Fine for providing this important piece of sound-recording history.  In addition to Tom’s father Bob having engineered the audio for so many of these historic recordings, Tom’s mother Wilma Cozart Fine produced the Mercury Living Presence series and oversaw its re-issue on digital  You can learn all about the Mercury Living Presence re-issue series at this link.  

One final note: The PRESTO recording corp offered an account of Bob Fine’s recording truck in their 1952 newsletter.  You can download that piece by clicking here:   Fine_Sound_Truck-presto_1952-150

Audio Production Primer c. 1965

EchoSendFrom B.E. mag sometime in ’65 comes this article by one John Harmer.  Nothing all that notable in here except to marvel as just how incredibly primitive the techniques discussed are.  For instance, above…  an explanation (and this is in a fairly technical broadcast-engineering magazine, btw, not a consumer-facing publication) of… an echo send!  Hey everything had to start sometime, right?  Also, there is much music from 1965 that still sounds fkkn incredible today, so there’s no reason to accept a ‘linear-progressive’ narrative of technology, is there…

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE: AudioMastering_1965

Consoles of the 70s : part 2

Auditronics_Grandson2_1975Above: the Audiotronics Grandson II console circa 1975

Way back in October of 2010 I ran a short piece about some 1970s audio consoles, and now 70s month rolls on with an extensive image gallery of some iconic and some obscure mixing desks from that decade.  I’m a hardware mixer fan; I learned audio production in a studio with a Trident Trimix and my brain often just defaults to finding solutions and working-methods that are faster to do with a real console rather than via a DAW.   I would never give up my Pro Tools, no way… but I honestly can’t imagine giving up the flexibility and endless options that a good-sounding, full-featured console offers.  At Gold Coast Recorders, our Wheatstone SP6 has been going strong for two years now; I’ve had to replace the control room section due to a weird intermittent issue, but I since I had planned ahead and bought a spares-board it was pretty painless.  If you look past the real fetish-brands like API and Neve (great stuff, no doubt) there are a million bargains to be had if you are able to do a little tech work (or pay a decent technician).  I bought both of my SP6s for about $1500, TOTAL, with shipping, and put about 60 hours into arriving at a single great-functioning piece, fully cabled to my patchbays, and with a lifetime worth of spares.  Considering that these SP6s cost around $40,000 each in the mid nineties, this is a pretty great deal.  I guess I’d sum it up this way: if you record bands, if you have the physical room for a console, if you have the patience and/or where-with-all to do some basic troubleshooting, and the board is modular (very important….), I feel like you really can’t go wrong.  Given the outrageous prices of vintage outboard gear on the market today, vintage consoles represent an amazing bargain.  And a potentially amazing headache.  So be careful.

Quad8_2082_Console_1972Above: Quad/eight 2082 console circa 1972

Interface_series_100_mixer_1973Above: Interface Electronics Series 100 console circa 1973

SAIT_Console_Belgium_1973Above: Sait, a Belgium maker, offered this board in ’73

Allen_Heath_248_1973The Allen+Heath 248 portable mixer circa 1973

ADR_Consoles_1973ADR console circa 1973

Auditronics_Grandson_Console_1973The earlier iteration of the Audiotronics Grandson, this one from 1973

API_1604_Console_1974The API 1604 as-seen in 1974, and as still-seen in studios worldwide

Sphere_Alpha_Mixer_1975Sphere was a high-end console-maker that I know almost nothing about; here we see their ALPHA, a compact model from 1975

Interface_104_108_1976In 1976 Interface offered the 104 and 108 series consoles

Trident_1977Above: the Trident range circa ’77.  Apologies for the poor scan, I think I may need to invest in a new scanner.  As I mentioned at the head, I learned on the Trident Trimix, which was a ‘portable’ unit (portable but still around 150lbs!) that was offered a bit later.  I later learned the dark side of the Trimix is that…  aside from the mic inputs, none of it is balanced and the signal-to-noise ratio is very poor.  Which brings up a good point: before investing in one of these things, research the specs.  What I hadn’t known then is that the Trimix was originally conceived of as a live console… designed especially for Queen, if I recall correctly…Anyhow, yes the EQ sounded amazing and the build quality was high but it was far too noisy for modern productions.

SpectraSonics_consoles_1977Above: Spectra Sonics console circa 1977.

Yamaha_PM200_1980The Yamaha PM2000 of 1980, successor to the -“Japa-Neve” PM1000.  And apparently even better?  Weigh in…

Langevin_Consoles_1970The Langevin AM4A of 1970.

Fairchild_portable_Console_1970Here’s an unusual one: The Fairchild Portable Console of 1970, likely one their last pro-audio products.  I have never seen one of these before.  Anyone?

Fairchild_Integra_Console_1968…and not quite the 70s, but…  Fairchild introduces their INTEGRA console, 1968, with the bold notice “No Audio In The Console.”  It’s pretty incredible how ahead of its time Fairchild was.  Anyone ever use an INTEGRA?  Did it sound good/work well?  Bits and bobs from these monsters seem to surface on eBay all the time, but I doubt there is still a complete unit out there.  Anyone?

Fairchild_Integra_Components_1968…and here’s a breakdown of all the aforementioned bits+bobs.

Langevin_AM4A_Console_1968While all of the Fairchild Integras may have been carved up, the Langevin AM4A, certainly the opposite end of the technological spectrum, seems to have fared quite a bit better… I often see these on the market in the $10K range, and I have to admit I have often been tempted…  Can any one tell us how these compare in terms of noise and response to a modern summing mixer?  Anyone using these to mix thru?

Wigend_WAL100_ChannelStrip_1969Wiegand Audio Labs offered their Model 100 channel strip in 1969

Olive_2000_Console_1972Montreal represent!  I KNEW there had to be a Montreal maker of boards in the 70s… and sure enough, we find OLIVE.  Here’s the Olive 2000 circa 1972.  Seems lost-to-history…  anyone?

Altec_9300A_Console_1970

Much closer to Langevin than Fairchild, here we see the Altec 9300 circa 1970

Studer_189_Console_1972Above: Studer 189 circa 1972.  Just $148,000 (no typo) 2013 dollars! 

SpectraSonics_Consoles_1972Spectra Sonics 1972

Olive_2500_Console_1972Olive also offered a 2500 model in 1972

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If any of y’all are actively using any of this stuff, write in and let the world know how they are in terms of sonics, reliability, and general utility.  There is very, very little information online concerning some of these pieces, so you could end up being very helpful to some potential future user of these these machines…