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Before elec tri cal recording, 1 twas a Ll, acoustic. Before tape,
there were disksJ flat disks and cylinders, and a Tew other
closely related formats. This is how_accoustic records were made
; firstly, the banq would play in the room, specially treated roomt0 get the best s ound r pcs sLb Le on the disk. 'the air
vibrations coming 01'1' the ,band (sound) would go down a big morn
, about 10 foot in diameter. The horn was attached to a diaphram and th~ diasprrun to a .r-e eer-d Lng stylUS. Meanwhile, the 'r-e c or-dd ng
stylus i~ cutting a groove in a revolviIlg wax disk beneath it •. That 1~ hew aecauablc recorded were made. once you had cut the s
ong , that was your record. No over-dubs Or' nuthin-I because the
masce.r record has just been cut , The wax would be pressed into
however many records you wanted and this 1s the same process
as they use today.
By the late 20' S t "there were e lee tri cal recording sys terns. This
consisted of a microphone into an amplifier and then the ampllfi
ar W::a.s connected to a cutter head. A moving coil cutter head is
basi ely the same as a moving coil loud speaker except instead
of having a cone, there is a sty1us liYhieh cuts the groove and
vibrates eithe·I" latera1y or verticaly f'or- mono and both for ster
eo. The first stereo cutterhead was designed in the 19301s by
Blum1ein. Early in 1931, the Columbia Gramophone Compaay merged and became EMI (Eleotrical and Musical Industries). New joint
research laboratories were set up at Hayes and Blumlein was
officaly transfered there on the first of November the same year
• It was during the 1930ls that the first tape recorder was made by Telefunken however , they wo uLd not be commercialy used till
the late 1940's.
Electrical recording of the ,direct to disk :typed, carriedR on just like the 1930's however, equipment was increasingly· getting
more technologicaly more advanced. For example, Western,E.lectric
had come up wi th be t t e r- recording mdcs , mi,xers, and ,recordi.ng heads. At this point there were no commerclalsteroee cutting systeme.ilso, since the 19~O'B, the standard of' lathes had risen, a lot. From Wih~l*P lathes of the early 20's, by the 19!~O's;
Mr. ,Larry Scully had developed a very precise recording lathe
witb is s-till one of the .standards today. ,Neumann na,d also dev-
eloped. tblbu:e AM-131 by the 30's and by the time they had develop ed thier latest lathe in the 1970ts" it was practicaly the same
apart from that it WaS e Le c tz-onf.o a Iy -c ontzr-e.l Led , In about 1947, Alexander M. Poniatoff developed tbe first commercial
magnetic tape recorder in Redwood City, Ca.lif. under his company name, AMPEX. It was the m.odel 200 recorder and most of the proje.l
ct had been funded by Bing Crosby .• Not many of these 'machines
were made. I know Capital records had a few and some major
radio stations hada few. In 1949, they developed the model 300. This was alot cheaper in price; no gold contacts like the 200
, the headblock: faced outwards this time, the deck was alot smal
let', the electr4mics were similar, the NAB hub was now a standard and the quality of tape was incpeasing rapidly. The use of tape ment that it was alot easier to edit and manipulate.
• :l; ~.
You could also recorded over previous material. None of this
equf.pmerrt was cheap. For e xamp Le, a scully l,athe would have
set you back $50,000 in the 194C)l5. By the end of the 194o!s,
sorne of the best disk recording equipment on the planet was made • This includes Westrex heads, early O:rotofons, gpampians and
In 1949, Co Lumb l.a had come out with thier 33 1/3 micro-groove L. p and RCA came out with there 45rpm single .• At the time J the
two corporations were rivals of eachother in the race to see
whoa format would sell the best. _0 one knew what was gotng to
happen with any of the formil!.s, if one would sU0ced the others or
... #r I
what. It turned out by the 12" 33 1/3 disk selling just a awe Ll, as the 45. However, at first, the majority of people could
not afford the correet playback equipment to play thier disks on so the cheaper you made the turntable, the more likely
people would buy it and get the records. These formats both had an advancement in r-e c or-df.ng which W<&S the Micro-groove. 78' s
are cut standard groove which 1s alot fatter and deeper that MG
so with micro-groove, you can rit alot more program material on
the disk. They were using the speed 33 1/3rpm prior to 1949
exeept it was only used .for transcriptions OJl the r-ad i o and it
was used for a.dverts and spoken word. It was known as the
'Economy Speed ' , In theory, tbe faster the disk, the better sound quality is produced. As the 78:rpm format slowly fadded
out in the late 50's/early~ 60's, so did the standard groove and makilmg records with acheLLac , The records designed by- RCA and
Columbia were intended to be pressed on vinyl and not shella.lie which meot that u-8ing vinyl, the signal to noise rat10 Was great
ly changed and vin.yl records were alot qui ter and a lot less
fragile. This is why alot of' 781s which were made for disk-
jockey USA only were pressed on vinyl so that they were alot less
fragi Le ,
By the SOlS, d:lrect to disk recordings were still happening •.
Also, in 1950 (I think :it was this date?), the Ampex model 350 was released. This was basiealy a cha.aper alterna~ve to
the model 300. The deck was alot more compact and cer-t.a t n Ly alot aeavfe!il lighter thail the 300 deck. the electronies were now r-a.ckmounf sawell. The Ampex model 350 was probably the moa t
w1.dley used t ape recorder in the history of tape recordi.ng.
This was now offordable to alot of studios and they were made in to the 60s and were used well into the early 70s and are the
machines manny manny hits wer-e ma~e on. In the ea.rly 50' 5, stereophonic tapes were available.for mainly Hi-Fi people
and audiophiles. The .first commercial stereophonic r-ec or-da were available in late '1957 •. Westrex in tbe states had finaly made thier 45/45 system and the English had Decca to make
thier vertical/lateral system. There were a few stereo records
made in the early SOlS but they were Ret recorded on a staggerd
he ad format on it r tape on Magnecords two track pT-6. Most LPLs continued to be cut in mono until about; the mid 601 a when stereo
slowly became more standard. However, alot of singles were cut i n mono up until the very late 601s.
Another s t andar-d i aat Lon made in the 1950 IS (1953 to be exact),
was the RIAA curve (Record Industry Association of America). This is the .recording curve on all records made past 1953. It
is basicly a bass roll orf and a t.reble boost which is compen-
sated for in your phQno pre-amplifier. Sorne of' the =urves bef-
are this included: AES, NAHTB, RCA Qrthe, Cohunbia L.P., Lon-
don , European. The RCA Ortho ultimatly became the RIAA standard. In the very La.tie 1950' ~h. the production of 76' s in America. had practlacly stopped.
The first 8-track tape recorder was made made by Ampex and used I in 1958. Atlantic was onsof the first s tud i oe to get one. They
were made on request only and cost a bomb. I guess they probably
cost about $200~OOO. Ampex had also made three tracks,. and four tracks by now but the 8 tracks was a major step up and was f'irst comissioned by the guitarist Les Paul. 8 channels of tape was
an absolute luxury and a majpr advancment in the recording world
• Howev'er, 8 tracks were not really a standard untill the La te 6 O's. In 1967, Abbey Road wer-e still u.sing two four tra.cks
(J37, built by Studer), they would not get an 8 track until
later. So you can see from this, how advanced the 8 track was
for its day in 1958. Thats not eVen mentioning that it was
first demonstrated by Uhiversal Hecording Corporation with the pentron corporation of Chigaco in 1954.
The EMT plate reverb was also invented in the late t950's. This ment that you could have reverbaration without having
a large echo chamber, which only post studio~ could afford to have. Aany people used tape delay which is splitting the signal
, one goes neat and the other is r~corded and played back and
when the channels are joined, you get a delay with t'@.e neat
just befor it. This 1s not reverb tho. Alot of other new
equipment was available in tae 195018, microphones, monitors,
amplifiers, disk cutting_ equipment and tape recorders. Ea.ch
one stated to be better than the last. Just like todays c.ompu t.e.n
By. 1960, 713 were only being made Ln India, Indonessi'8. and Sounh Airicaand maybe a few other p La.ce s ,« This is why Be a t Le a 7818 are so ra.re and sort after. In early 64 or- late 63, all preduc tioD of 788 had stopped and there no p Laoes pressing shellac, so vinyl was the only disk material left.
Up until the laEe 601s, alot of' music was still being recorded live to mono OI'S tereo and only the posh studips had the four
track tape machines which Vlould usualy only allow for a few (maybe 2) overdubs unless you were bouncing which would Invole re-recording a cl:la- multiple channels of' tape onto one ehanne L
making that tracka a second generatIon which would degrade the s
ound quality. The Beetles are proba.bly me.st known for doing
thLs at Abbe.y Road and alot of people get c onf'uaae.d and say
that they were OnE: of the pioneers of tape bouncing. H-owever, t.hey are not. It was done exte.n.sivly in the early 50s wi.th
two .racks, three tracks and four tracks. And betor l.tha.t. it
was done in the 19308 with disks. Disk editing Was 8. very
skilled art and bouncing was done this way where you would play
the record you. just made and sing along to it or whateve:r, mix
those channels together and then cut that onto a. neW d.isk.
This is ohl,- possible with electronic disk recording equ1pm.ent~ In the La te.50' s or early 60' e , the most advanced d.i.sk recording
lathe evez-made , was rnade , It was built by LYREC - aRTOFON
who were in Denmark. It did not sell very well for reasons
I am not completely sure of. Sante sort of poll tic.s fnvo.Lved,
In the 1960!s (mid to late), tra.nsistor eqUipment was introduced
into reGol'ding stndioa. al'leaper eq_\>lipm~;l'i:1t was becoming more efta
nand quility of build Was going down hill as the use of PCB
becarnemore fre'quent .• By the 70' a 14; had decrea.sed more and
qua Ld ty changed and by eve,ry de e ade, quilmty decrea.sedm.ore.
And now today, the modern reeording studio Is built out 0.1' the ch~9.pest parts available to the manui'aeturer. Nothing is hand wired , its all PCB and there 1s alot of' plasti,c involved • Equipm. ent made upto solll.ewhere between the·60tsa.nd 70ls Was made so
you could repai.r it. So when you buy the La test computers'ystem today and it breaks, its sent back to the Pactory in China where its cheaper to buy a new system than get it fixed.
I am not putting modern equi.pment down (19701 S - now), I am jsut stating that the quality is alot lower.For example, my typriter has been w()rking glnce 1942 • .i ts made out of metal, its fixable by a normal persoD if it breaks. However, if you buy a. laptop now, its all plastic, it will break if you drop it and if it breaks, you. take it hack to the shop and get a Dew one which
will save money from get.ting it fixed. Because at the end of the
day, it probably cost no more than 20 pounds to make in the factory, if that. So its the same with studios. If your tape ma ch f ne broke <down, bh e technician would .fix it and they were
made to be fixed. They actually cost alot to build and short
cuts were not taken, of course there a.re a few exceptions. How,
if your SCI'een breaks down in your' studio today, I'm guessing
your not gonna get 1 t fixed, your 11 probably have a new one
So, this' says to me tha.t manufacturers are no b r-e.a Ll.y bothered
abcu t the quality of build anymore. I am not going to rant anymore about this because I will wind myself' up, so 1'11
How KittY1 Daisy and Lewis record.
We 11, we all play Ll. ve in the same room with our own micro-
phone each. each of the microphones go into thier own amplifier
wich brings it upto line level. Once at line level, the signals, are fe~ into the B-ti"Qck reco:rq.er where each micil:~ophone gets
ita own chane 11. ~Hit record and play. Tben. we listen. back, and tabts more or Le s s th~ r-e c or-d , If we f'e e L we need to add things, l1kethe ~itaron going up~ the country, We can overdub that, onto one of the free channelso We would never overdub piano or drums or anything like that because when we record, its the
energy we want to capture when we are playing as well as the BOU
nd and if Jour plonki.ng a piano with headptlonea. on along to the .~ 1..
track, it does not realy capture the energy of the vibe., :tf yo u dig me , SO) after we have what wewan't on tape,. w'e mix it.
th.La involve s the signal going through a balance ·~ontrol, a voIurae control, a buffering alnpl1.fler and then ont 0 tnemaster . t.ape (tl, two track). If we feel any e q is needed em a vo ca L say,. we will use a filte;!:' like a cinemaI' eng. filt or a powel'
ed eq li .. ke a Pultec EQPI-A. the pots we go through (Balance
and volume), are all silver contact and physicaly big in siae , they are 50' a ,ainton pots. 'ftle amp11.f.iers on tpeend of the chain to make up the gain are late 40lS or early SOlS RCA amplifiers. and the pre amps for the microphones are of Vortext cn or RCA. manuf'ac sur ez' (both of tube type) .• To hear our music, we go through Leak amplifiers which were designed in about 1947. QUI' ones are from 1949 or before .. The modeJ. is TL12. ~hen they go straight IntoTannoy monf tor r,eaa (19501 s, lnLockwoocl. ca.binets (early 50IS}~ For mix down, we us ed a 3M ma.chine and
an Ampex stereo 350 from 1954. We have alot of other e'qulpm.ent we would have loved to use but time means that gettipg the
stuff up and running properly is har-d ,
We record each tI'ack until we are ha.ppy with what weV'e done. If the energy is not there but every note is right and the timingi S perfec·t\~,. its not usable. If we get Bc. take with good energy but loa.ds of wrong notes, well probablY go with .it.
See flip for equlpmwnt list.
This Ls what we used on the albtUl1 and single
Marconie AXBT!roundMarconl (not sure of model numbar- ) RCA. 44BX/77DX/IO, 00.1
- S.hu_re 51157 (60s or 70s one) / SM58
- Re'slo (not aur-e of model but Lookes like a electp'ie 8haver~
- STC 4033A
Vdrtexion 4/1S/M / P.P.M - Reft. B5 consolett.e
- Ampex AG-44o
- Ampex 300 .
AIapex 350 - 3M Machine
- Homema.de deak c cns i.s ting of a. w~rdrob8 do;o.r( walnut ) wIth Pa Ln t en pot.s' of level and bal~:uacetYiPe.Nothi~ else in there apart from the wire connecting it together.
- For ga.Ln loss, we make it up, wi th two RCA BAlA '.9 on the end •.
- Leak TL12 .1's .
- Tannoy m.onl tor reds in Lockwood cabinets (a pair f·or s tere·Q )
- Grampian type D elltter head wiJh Grampian ll..A.'1- 8.llIpIlfler.
- Presto 8DG recerding lathe.
- RCA BA6A Ihni ters
- Pultee filters and eq's
- Cinema Eng- Filte~
- Homemade EQ'S.
We used this equi.pmerrc purely because we like the aound Qf it. If it sounded like we didn't want it to, we would not have used it. We\'Vel'e Ilottry1.ng to bel vintage I or 'l"etro' us
some p eop l.e may refer to this stuf'.f as , we were trying to capture the srune sound as the records we 10V'e and fraInS: a sound we had. in our he-ad s ,