Tag Archives: fairchild

Lost to time: Check out the Fairchild 627 Equalizer circa 195nvr

fairchild_627_equalizerApologies for the poor image quiality; these came from the research department of a long-gone British broadcast-gear-manufacturer via some dampish papers that I purchased recently from a rare-books-dealer in London.  I had never heard of the Fairchild 627 ‘Variable Equalizer,’ even though I recently sold an example of its (even-more-rare) predecessor the model 540, which in retrospect seems to be the ‘boost’ sections of the 627 plus a mic preamp plus a 20-watt cutter-head power amp.  Well shit.  Now i wish I had measured the values of the triple-ganged frequency-select pots.  Why?  We will get to that in a minute.

fairchild_627_equalizer_internals

vintage-unobtanium-fairchild-627-tube_1_99dc4f93df9c200f11996b06da8735f3image source

A quick google search suggests that there are thought to be only 5 Fairchild 627 equalizers in existence.  One seems to have sold on eBay recently in the $7000 region.  The 627 is a line-level EQ with continuously variable low and high bell boost sections as well as high and low roll offs. Unlike a Pultec, though, it is an active EQ, and it uses some pretty unusual circuitry – especially the high-cut section, which I don’t comprehend at all.

fairchild_627_block_diagram

fairchild_627_equalizer_schematicOne point to note: T2 should be wired to reverse phase.  I was v excited to find this schematic, because it seems like a pretty easy piece to build – there is no mention of the proper B+ voltage, but 250 is generally a safe bet; there are no weird inductors (the UTC S-23 plate-load choke is an off-the shelf part, so we know its specs  -5000ohm DC, 300 henries); the audio transformers don’t need to handle DC and the turns ratios are spec’d:  BUT:  But.  Those triple-ganged pots.  WTF do we do about them?

Can anyone crack this case? Any insights, pls let us know in the comments section.

On the plus-side:  at very minimum, this schematic does reveal an excellent and easy way to implement a 6E5 seeing-eye tube simply paralleled to a grid in the audio path.  So at very least, now i know how to use those v excellent things in my mic preamps.  Way more evil than a VU meter.

Also: the 6SN7 output section is a neat little self-contained module; def worth trying it with a Hammond 156C choke and an Edcor 15K:600 1/2 watt.   The 156C is the closest modern part to the S23 spec; it is rated 150h and 3.7K ohm, seems close enough?  I used onna these on a hunch in my OP6-semi-clone and it worked just fine in that application, so I am guessing it may work fine here as well.  fairchild_627_boost_curvesfairchild_627_high_low_frequency_rolloffsfairchild_627_curves_2

 

The Fairchild Model 540 Mic Preamp/ variable EQ/ Cutterhead amp c. 1945

Fairchild_540UPDATE: THIS HAS BEEN SOLD.  IT IS GONE.  I HAVE NO FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT IT.

Extraordinarily rare, way ahead-of-its-time Fairchild mic preamp/ continuously-variable 2-band boost-eq/cutter-head amp from 1945.  Built as a limited-edition model, very few were made and this could be the only example remaining.  This one was (professionally, it appears) modified very long ago for use with a Magnecord (likely PT6) tape machine, unit is otherwise complete with tubes and a working, good-sounding Jensen Alnico PM8ct speaker.  Mic and line transformers appear to be Kenyons.  Unit removes from its road-case for standard rack-mounting.  Condition poor to fair; needs complete restoration.  With some work this could be the ultimate marquee-rack unit for your world-class studio.   Came to me on a trade and I have no other information on it; AFAIK, schematics are not available online but being as it is circa 1945 technology, it should be repairable by any experienced tech.  Fairchild_540_advert_1945Fairchild_539_540(above: catalog image with companion Fairchild #539 portable lathe)Fairchild_540_nameplate

Fairchild_540_JensenPM8ctFairchild_540_rearFairchild_540_open

The Fairchild Model 605 Stereo Tube Phono Preamp c. 1959

Fairchild_605_606_preHow y’all  doing on this frigid day in March,,,  so listen, srry abt not posting much new material this past year.  I’ll be frank: as phones keep getting better and better, and online content keeps getting more and more tailored TO the phone as a consequence thereof, many of us are spending less and less recreational time in front of the laptop (although I am still planted in front of some sort of Mac, invariably, for my production and composing work,,,) and more of that ‘leisure’ time with the phone.  Instagram rather than ‘scoping blogs’ seems better tailored to how most folks are spending their recreational internet time these days.  So we’ve been keeping an active+vigorous presence up there.  This blog isn’t going away, but do check out the IG account if you have not yet.

Fairchild_605_606_PS_outputOk NEways,,, I was diggin thru the archive for something today and I came across the schematic for a phono preamp that Fairchild offered around 1959 – their model 605.  Strangely enough, their prototype (image at head) was labeled ‘606.’  Production examples do bear the mark 605, though, as this example from a Russian website indicates:

Fairchild_605_606(image source)

There is very little information on the web about this unit – in fact, a google search offers,,, good ‘ole Preservation Sound Dot Com as its first result when queried.  And not much else of relevance.  We apparently ran an advert for this very unit some years back (click here for that earlier post).  So I was very excited to see that this unit, which is VERY buildable using off-the-shelf components, had not yet ‘migrated’ onto the web.  The Fairchild 606 offers both MC and MM input stages, 600ohm balanced outputs, and selectable EQ curves and stereo or true mono LP operation.  Now, I’ve built many Marantz and RCA-style tube phono preamps to great success, but this Fairchild is simultaneously exotic AND obtainable enough to be quite intriguing.   So, DIYers of the world, here ya go:  knock yrself out:

Fairchild_605_phonoPre_Schematic(click on image for a (huge) full size image)

There’s nothing exotic in it: no custom inductors, weird-taper pots, or un-source-able transformers.  The toughest thing to find might be the 4P/6T switch, but you could always sub in a pair of 2P/6T switches and just use two hands.  In fact, the input transformers, which I can confirm are 1:20 from the 600 ohm tap, appear to be garden-variety Beyers:

Fairchild_605_inputTrans(image source)

Regardless, though, you can use any hi-fidelity input transformer with a roughly 1:20 ratio and an input impedance approx.  10X whatever the output impedance of your moving-coil cartridge is.  And if you only use a moving-magnet cartridge, you can skip that part of the circuit entirely and just build the 47K ohm grid-input stage (and all that follows).  As the schematic indicates and the images confirm, this product was built in two chassis:  (preamps+EQs) and (power supply+output stages).  Other details: R109 and R209 are level controls, basic voltage dividers with a 20db range.  EQ offered is flat, RIAA, or RIAA plus add’l roll-off, and the ‘Lateral’ switching positions offered cancel out the vertical tracking information, resulting in the cleanest possible sound from mono records.  The output stage is fairly conventional, but interestingly enough requires single-ended transformers, so you will be rather limited in your options here (a 15K:600 that can handle 8ma DC unbalanced, such as a UTC A25, should work fine).

This is a fairly advanced project, which I have personally not built (yet). I cannot offer any technical support or help with this.  If you have never built a vacuum-tube phono preamp or mic preamp from scratch before, I would not advise undertaking this project.  Good luck, and if you build one, send us some pics!

Fairchild Pro Audio Equipment of 1972

Faichild_Modular_Console_1972

Above: The Fairchild Integrated Console of 1972

How y’all doing out there.  Today at PS dot com: some interesting bits from the archive: a collection of Fairchild data sheets from 1972.  Download all 12 pages here:

Fairchild_1972_prods

Products covered, with texts, specs, and photos, include: Fairchild ‘integrated’ console, Reverbertron 659A, the FPC series of ‘portable mixing consoles,’ 610 and 870 power amps, plus a whole slew of distribution amps and power supplies that i just ain’t got time to list.  Enjoy!

Fairchild_Reverbatron_1972Faichild_PowerAmps_1972Fairchild_FPC_50_Console_1972

 

Highlights from the 1970 AES Convention, Los Angeles, CA

GRT_deckabove: the GRT 500 audio-tape evaluator c. 1970

Just in case you were too-young/too-hypothetical to have attended, we are pleased to bring you highlights from the 1970 convention of the Audio Engineering Society (via ye olde DB Magazine, r.i.p.).   You can download the whole shebang here…

DOWNLOAD: AES_1970_DB_mag

…and we’ve also reproduced it below for your browsing enjoyment.  Products on offer at that time include: mixing consoles from Electrodyne, Gately, Quad-Eight, Spectra-sonics, Fairchild, Langevin, and Altec.  Opamp labs had kits on offer as well.  Tape machines include 3M, Otari ‘of Japan,’ Teac 7030, GRT 500, Norelco (Phillips) pro-51, Sony Superscope TC-850, and Ampex. Dolby’s model 360 N/R system debuted, as did the Melcor ‘all electronic’ reverb and the Urei LA-3. New microphones on offer included the Electro-voice DS-35 and the Shure SM-53.

AES_1970_1AES_1970_2AES_1970_3AES_1970_4AES_1970_5AES_1970_6AES_1970_7AES_1970_8

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:

PullQuote

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.

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

The Fairchild F-22 Condenser Mic c.1965 (aka the Syncron AU7A)

Fairchild_f22_1Fairchild_f22_2

 

 

 Alright so this is a little confusing…  Above is an advert for the Fairchild F-22 microphone, as published in 1965.  This mic is known to be identical to the Syncron AU7A (see previous post)…  so why was it advertised earlier, with a higher price, under the Fairchild name?  Maybe I am getting my dates mixed up here… anyway, Primal Gear in Nashville had a pair of these things for pretty cheap recently, but I was scared-off by the necessity for updating the internal power supply, as Syncron mics require certain mercury cells that are no longer made (or legal, likely).  Anyway…  any of y’all using/have used the F22/AU7A? Let us know…  living here in central CT, once-home of Syncron labs, I feel fairly certain that I will eventually stumble upon one of these things… no luck yet tho.

UPDATED: Compressor Roundup c. 1963

Compressors_1963_1Today on PS dot come: a short but v v informative piece from BROADCAST ENGINEERING , July 1963, which gives specs for nearly all of the broadcast compressors that were available that year.  Models covered include: Collins 26J Auto-level, Collins 356E, Fairchild 666A, 666, and 663; Gates M-5167 Sta-Level, GE BA-9 Uni-levele, ITA AGC-1A, Langevin AM-5301 Leveline, Quindar QCA-2, and the RCA BA-25A

DOWNLOAD: Compressors1963

UPDATE: T. Fine was so kind as to provide the entire 3-part article as a compact PDF.  click here to download it: BrdctEngnrgAudioLeveling_1963

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