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Vintage King: Life After Abbey Road Studios: The EMI/Abbey Road Studios REDD.37 Console


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On 12/18/2018 at 12:28 AM, Werner Althaus said:


The board's specs likely exceeded those of the tape recorder.



This ^.  Maybe not by much, but it really doesn't matter.  It really didn't matter going to vinyl.  The capture and distribution mediums were always the bottleneck.  I have a friend who's restored 1930 era RCA and Western Electric film sound capture systems, and their direct output sounds thoroughly modern.  


Anything with multiple audio transformers in series (probably 4 minimum here) will be band limited to a degree.   Many will also have 'air' presence bumps in the 15K-20K range from transformer resonances, so upper treble is frequently the most boosted portion.  


I make records with 1930's and 1940's tube preamps and ribbon mics on a regular basis, and no one ever complains about limited bandwidth.  This console certainly should exceed a lot of what I use.   I also run an early 1950's RCA BC-2B console that I restored, it's manual states +/-1.5dB 30-15K, and it beats that according to Spectrafoo Complete and an Audio Precision test set.  


The problem with a console like this (outside of maintenance) is the very limited set of routing and control options.  There are studios that exist purely in that niche market, selling nostalgia, and some are busy. 

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38 minutes ago, EmRR said:

The problem with a console like this (outside of maintenance) . . .


Well, that IS the hard part.


Toured Muscle Shoals studio last fall.  Nothing special there except for nostalgia.  Not  a great room, Studer 800-series 24-track, and an API desk.  Not shoddy, but not Abbey Road.  But the stories.  Wow!  About how Lynyrd Skynyrd paid the bill for a super-famous client who dined and dashed.   How Linda Ronstadt had to record her vocals in the evening after everyone had left.  Seems she caused a widespread inattentiveness if the band was with her in the studio.  Funny stuff!





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14 hours ago, tourtelot said:


Toured Muscle Shoals studio last fall.  Nothing special there except for nostalgia.  Not  a great room, Studer 800-series 24-track, and an API desk.



You went too late :( When I went in November 2011 Noel Webster was still in charge. This was just after The Black Keys did their record Brothers there. Noel bought the studio when it was basically in ruins and brought it back to life and made it a historical landmark. The entity that purchased it from him has made several updates and renovations to turn it into a 'museum tour' of sorts. Not much is left of the mojo that once was.


When I went, unannounced while visiting my wife's family, we had to walk around back to the basement level and knock on the door until we got a response. Noel met us and welcomed us in after I explained that I'm a sound nerd visiting from LA. He's from Chicago and was cooking up some sausages and offered us lunch while we looked around and he told us all the stories.


The control room, at that time, was host to a 12 input SpectraSoncis console, a couple Ampex 351, Otari RADAR 24, and a Pulltec. There were a few more things in the rack but nothing crazy. He also took me out to a bunker behind the main building and showed me an RCA console he said was Sinatra's from NYC. There were also some big film machines like a telecine and maybe a moviola as well. I recall he mentioned that stuff was used on Jaws but that's real foggy now...In the front room he was attempting to set up a mastering room with an old G3 running Sonic Solutions and some outboard Weiss stuff. Smart, interesting guy that Noel. Sort of a cook, but aren't we all?


Sorry for the old crappy iphone photos...




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Muscle Shoals (shoals of freshwater mussels) was a wide spot in the road running alongside Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Florence Alabama known as the tri-cities. Muscle Shoals outgrew the other cities and they became known as the quad-cities and now just the Shoals. I lived in Tuscumbia about 3 miles from the studio and never knew it was there until many years later. I rode by that studio hundreds of times on a mighty 4.8 HP Cushman scooter and never gave it second glance and I was an audio nut back then. The anonymity of the studio may have been one of its drawing cards. If the equipment was just standard for the times then the people that operated the studio must have been the edge. Just as it is today.

Best Regards,

Larry Fisher

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21 hours ago, tourtelot said:


Well, that IS the hard part.





Maintenance with anything like this is best applied as a ground up rebuild, if you really want to use it and have reliability.  Do that comprehensive rebuild before installing, then it's not hard from then on.  I've countless pieces from the 1940's and 1950's I rebuilt right away, which have run flawlessly for two decades since.  


Nice pics guys!  Looks like they used to have sort of the right stuff in there before the changeover.  

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22 hours ago, SonicBoomPole said:

Not at all! However, if I walked into Abbey Road and saw a Trident and a Scully I'd make a weird face and a strange grunt.....then ask if we get lunch on this tour.

  Yes!   That’s what I mean!

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4 hours ago, tourtelot said:

Found out on my last trip to London that there are no tours of Abbey Road.  Studios are too darned busy for shenanigans.


Well, were too busy.




Let us know when next make it over ... although I'm not currently there and 'plan' to be abroad in the near future ... I'll give you a tour of soho boozers frequented by engineers and musicians and famous venues which have 'changed purpose' if we manage to sync up.


I don't think there are many studios doing the tour thing but one that does spring to mind is or recently was Dean St Studios in St Anne's Court where Visconti, Bowie maybe T-Rex recorded ... I know the alley well as I also worked in a couple of studios beside it and drink in the boozer just around from it.


I'm not surprised that Abbey Road don't do tours but there's nothing to stop you from turning up, introducing yourself as a fellow engineer and asking for a look around. Or call them up beforehand. Been in Maida Vale - and Air Lyndhurst - but never Abbey Road, even when I lived down the road from it.



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  • 7 months later...
10 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

So that was basically a commercial for a used console?   


Good point. But it was more interesting than most re-election campaign ads for used politicians.


Reverb also tossed up a text article to go with the video: https://reverb.com/news/video-t-bone-burnetts-historic-bushnell-console-is-coming-to-reverb


And the asking price was $595,000 USD. It's listed as sold, but don't know the selling price.


Jim "didn't have room for it anyway" Feeley

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6 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

Yeah, kind of low "life-partner acceptance factor" for a living-room install...   At that price it has officially become a Rich Guy Status Object.


Sadly, you're probably right. Though someone like Dave Cobb would be a good steward of that board. I kind of think of him as a younger T Bone. But then, he already has a big old API board...  https://www.soundonsound.com/people/dave-cobb


OTOH, that board is a bargain compared to: 

Abbey Road Recording Console Used for Dark Side of the Moon Sells for $1.8 Million

"The console is being sold by producer Mike Hedges, who bought it off of Abbey Road when the studio was revamping its equipment in 1983. No information about the buyer has been disclosed."


Maybe the guy who bought the Black Strat bought it? 🙂 

Why Colts Owner Jim Irsay Paid $4 Million for David Gilmour’s ‘Black Strat’

“I love Strats, and this is the Strat,” Irsay says. “This is the one that was the signature guitar for those incredible Floyd leads”

Money went to a charity, so OK I guess. And I like that he wants to play the thing:


"Now that the real Black Strat belongs to Irsay, the Colts owner is looking forward to playing it. But he says he remembers when he got Elvis Presley’s guitar he was “playing it a shitload” and started thinking, “You shouldn’t play the King’s guitars so much.” Nevertheless, with the Black Strat, “I’m definitely going to be getting some notes out of it, man."


Better than just sticking it on a wall. That's been an issue for my son, who's a musician. He plays sax, and while great saxophones (e.g.,- Selmer Mark VI) for a long time were much less expensive compared to classic guitars (a local sax tech says the prices are lower because, "jazz musicians are broke, and doctors and lawyers don't play sax"), prices have been increasing over the last 10 years. The story is people are buying great instruments, treating them as objets d' art, and not playing them. So while he's set for now, if he needs/wants another instrument to tour (when that hopefully becomes a thing again), it's gonna cost him a lot.

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  • 11 months later...

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