Tag Archives: scully

Highlights from the 1971 AES Convention

AES_1971,,,and today, perhaps unsurprisingly: some of the new kit unveiled in 1971 at the NYC AES show, also via DB mag.  Of note: Auto-Tec, Scully, Ampex and 3M intro’d new 16-track machines, Neve made a push for a new console (would this have been the series 80?), AKG introduced the BX-20 reverb, Melcor showed its model 5001 electronic reverb (anyone???), and a new company called Eventide introduced a digital pitch-shift device!  The Neumann U47-fet and Sennheiser MHK-815 mics were introduced, as were the Marantz 500 and Crown M2000 power amplifiers.

Click here to DL a pdf of the proceedings: AES_1971_DBmag

AES_1971_1AES_1971_2AES_1971_3AES_1971_4

There is just a shit-tonne more of this stuff, so click the link below to READ ON;;;;;

Continue reading Highlights from the 1971 AES Convention

Scully kit of the early 1960s

Scully_270How are y’all doing today…  long-time readers will know that there is a lot of Scully material on this site… Scully was a Bridgeport institution; I drive by the ole Scully plant everyday on my way to the studio.  Not sure what goes on in that large brick structure these days, but many years ago it was turning out most of the lathes that were cutting LP masters in the US.  Scully tape machines were never as ubiquitous as their lathes, but were a big part of the US recording scene nonetheless…  Scully was a small family-owned company that competed favorably with Ampex, and this itself is notable. Anyhow…  at left is the Scully 270 transport, and below, I found a couple of period adverts for the 280, which seems to have been their most successful tape-machine design, if the number of surviving units is any indication.  My friend Sal sold his 280 -two-track AND 4-track machines, together with carts and racks, for $1000 last year…  and it was hard to find a buyer even at that price.  I will probably forever regret not buying them myself, but…  you can’t have it all, can you…  Anyhow, if you are using a 280 these days, drop us a line and let us know whatcha think.

For more Scully info, click the links below:

The Scully Model 100 16-track machine

Larry Scully interview and history

The Scully 601 LP Lathe

What’s inside a Scully 280?

Scully_280_1964Scully_280_1965

Excellent Article on Larry Scully and the Variable-Pitch Lathe c. 1956

Download a six-page article from HIGH FIDELITY 1956 concerning the history of the Scully corporation of Bridgeport Connecticut, including an explanation of the significance of the variable-pitch Scully lathe.

DOWNLOAD: High_Fidelity-5612-Scully_Sm

At left: Larry Scully circa 1956.  Thanks to reader TF for this very interesting piece.  As I have mentioned before, I drive by the old Scully factory nearly every day on my way to work at Gold Coast Recorders.  I had been hoping to uncover some history of this once-great Bridgeport institution and this article certainly sheds some light.  Some interesting bits from the article: in the 30s, Scully briefly ventured into the manufacture of P.A. equipment.  And beer coolers.  Also of note: the price of a Scully lathe in today’s dollars?  $72,000.

Previous Scully Coverage on P S dot com:

The Plant

The Model 601 Lathe

Some very neglected Scully 280s

East Bridgeport, CT

Above: the view along Crescent ave from the intersection of Crescent and Bunnell, where a later Scully Recording Instruments Corp. plant once stood.

Last weekend I stopped by 305 Knowlton, a gallery/artist-studio-building nearby my studio Gold Coast Recorders; there was a flea-market/craft-fair event happening at 305.  My friend J and  I bought some records from MT (who is in all likelihood the first person I ever bought a used record from, some twenty-plus years ago…): I picked up Obscured By Clouds, Booker T and The MG’s ‘Uptight’ soundtrack, and a Ma Rainey Comp.  I asked J if he wanted to take a ride to see some local history, and within a minute we pulled up next to this impressive but nondescript building.  “What’s this?” asked J.  My response: ‘those old records in your lap – they were most likely created using machines designed and built in this very building.’

This is the Walter Street address once occupied by the Scully Recording Instruments Corporation (h.f. SRIC).  As far as I can tell, SRIC dominated the US vinyl lathe market for most of the 20th century.  Not much has been documented about the history of this important company, but we can conjecture a few reasons why they may have sprouted in this unlikely spot.  East Bridgeport was developed and built by PT Barnum (yup, the Circus-impresario) largely to support the mid-19th century sewing machine industry, especially the works of Elias Howe.  Howe’s tale is a long and complex one, but his company was responsible for drawing a huge number of skilled mechanical craftsmen (or Mechanics, as they were then known) to East Bridgeport in the mid 19th century.  This in turn led to the reputation of Bridgeport as one of the machine-making capitals of the world.

Above, another view of the former SRIC address on Walter street.  At some point in the 1960s, the SRIC moved a few blocks away to the intersection of Crescent and Bunnell.

The parking-lot shown above is situated at 480 Bunnell, which is indicated as the late-60’s address of the SRIC.   I’ve had various audio-related enterprises based in East Bridgeport for seven years now; in addition to GCR, my modest audio-electronics shop is located just a few minutes from Bunnell street on Connecticut ave; my old recording studio was also once based in that space.  I don’t know why it never occurred to me until now to investigate the previous neighborhood connections.  Bridgeport has several other notable audio-historical connections which I will be documenting soon, starting with Columbia Records.  Stay tuned…

Audio Transformer As Signal Processor

Sometime in the past couple of years, Tape Op ran a short piece by Allen Farmelo titled “Using Transformers to Transform Audio.”  You can read the piece in its entirety here.   My reaction at the time was ‘it’s about time!’  Audio transformers are a crucial part of what we think of as an ‘old-school’ or ‘vintage’ sound.  My clients at the studio often ask me what makes tube-audio gear desirable, or ‘better,’ and I am always quick to relate that when vacuum tubes are operating in a linear (IE., not-distorting) way, you shouldn’t really ‘hear’ the tube – it should be amplifying, nothing more, nothing less.  Of course once you push a tube into breakup the effect can be quite different than a distorted FET or transistor but you get the idea.  A clean tube signal should sound… clean!  So, anyhow, the next point that I will make is that tubes are rarely very far from audio transformers, at least in pro-audio equipment, owing to the usefulness of ‘free-gain’ at input stages and the necessity of plate-or-cathode-matching at output stages (if this sounds like jargon to you/// basically/// tubes need transformers in order to play-nice with other pieces of gear).   The point: what we think of as ‘that tube equipment sound’ is really due to the transformers as much as the tubes themselves.

I won’t go into all the various effects that transformers create, as Farmelo does a very good job of explaining it in his piece.  Suffice to say: it is a very real, and very subtle effect.  Audio is a game of inches, though, ain’t it.  So when a regular customer of mine recently ordered a custom piece to allow him to use some high-quality transformers as a subtle signal processor in his studio, I was ready to go.   Here’s what I whipped up:

A single-rackspace unit – two 4PDT toggle switches on the front offer clickless true-bypass for each channel.  The switches are beautiful Japanese made units; each can handle 12,000 (yes twelve thousand) watts of electricity.  They should last…

On the rear we see Neutrik XLRs (my price/performance favorite) and…  a pair of 600:600 FREED output transformers pulled from some Scully 280 electronics that were too far gone to rebuild.  The transformers themselves are flawless, though, and they sound great; I have many of them at use in my own studio for various tasks.

Inside it’s just a buncha wire… Belden 9451… and at the rear you can see the heavy copper ground buss with a single chassis-contact point on the left.

Overall the transformers introduce a 1db loss in level to the program.  The effect is certainly subtle at reasonable levels, but I notice a more ‘organized’ sound to the extreme low end – it seems less vague while still retaining the full extension in the subwoofer.