SH Spotlight Studio Historians - 1950's-'60's typical recording studio setup & use

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Tim S, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. Russ Gary

    Russ Gary Engineering Legend

    In the 1960's Wally Heiders studio one in Hollywood had very similar equipment to the gear shown the United Recording photo.
     
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Hi Russ,

    Do you think Bill Putnam designed the gear at Heiders?
     
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    It's funny (well, not "ha ha" funny, but interesting) that when the HI-FI era started (February, 1953), the major record labels were upstaged by the upstart Mercury and their ambiance filled one microphone "Mercury Living Presence" classical series as engineered by New York recording wiz Bob Fine. This mean that the major labels were all of a sudden scrambling to find BIG spaces to record in. The old unconsecrated churches, ballrooms, masonic temples, etc. that the major labels came up with to get natural echo meant a complete change in their philosophy of recorded sound. In the 1940's, ALL music, pop and classical had a dry sound, like movie soundtracks. You were expect to "add" the ambiance when the sound hit YOUR listening room. The Hi-Fi craze meant realism and all of the record companies needed echo FAST!

    While they were scrambling, an engineer was scratching his head and thinking: "Instead of finding a building that had big echo in it, why don't we just build an echo chamber instead?"

    So, he did, at his Universal Recording in Chicago, Bill Putnam built a tiled room for echo that looked like a giant bathroom consisting of a loudspeaker and microphone at the other end of the room. This could be piped in to the dry signal at will and sounded darn convincing. Thus, the echo chamber was born.

    When Bill Putnam moved to Los Angeles he built the famous United Recording in Hollywood. By that time he had seen his "echo chamber" idea spread across the country and indeed around the world.

    Listen to any early Bo Diddley or Chess recording from the early 1950's and you will hear Bill Putnam's original echo chamber in use.

    One of the giants of the recording industry.

    http://www.uaudio.com/company/history/bill_sr.html
     

    Attached Files:

    yasujiro and Tommyboy like this.
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Dave,

    Sunset Sound in 1966 and when I recorded there in 1989. Let me tell you something. It probably sounded better in 1966! Tubes Rool!
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Stax Fan

    Stax Fan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest
    Great stuff! :cool:
     
  6. jtaylor

    jtaylor Forum Resident

    Location:
    RVA
    Thanks all for sharing the great photos.

    Steve, any images of John Kraus at work?
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I have seen some amazing pictures of him at work at Capitol Tower Studios A and B (recording Stan Freberg, Nat Cole, etc.) but these were original 8 X 10's that used to be on the wall in his office at Capitol in the 1970's. I have no idea where those pictures are now..:(
     
  8. jtaylor

    jtaylor Forum Resident

    Location:
    RVA
    Too bad. I don't think I've ever seen a pic of him.
     
  9. DoctorDave

    DoctorDave Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ohio
    Yup....tubes vs. transistors.....and the audio path was probably a lot simpler back then......certainly more direct. Thanks for sharing those pictures. A lot changed in 13 years!
     
  10. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    Anyone know what Bunny Robyn had in Radio Recorders when he recorded Fats Domino in the late 50s?

    Jason
     
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    What he had for lunch you mean?
     
  12. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    Wow, tough room today.

    Equipment. Mics, tape recorders and the like. :)
     
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

  14. Stax Fan

    Stax Fan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest
    Maybe hard-wired vs IC's too? Tubes have the magic, no doubt about it.

    Dublin's a beautiful town, BTW. We go to the Memorial Tournament (from Dayton) more often than not. Gotta support Jack. :righton:
     
  15. Russ Gary

    Russ Gary Engineering Legend

    Hi Steve

    I tend to think Bill Putnam did not design the gear especially for Heider. Probably, the tube console (very much like the United photo you posted) and the outboard gear used in Heiders Studio One was purchased from Putnam's Universal Audio and its installation supervised by Heiders chief engineer, Frank DeMedio. Heider and DeMedio, however, were former Putnam employees and Wally's studios reflected many Putnam design techniques.

    Wally later built Studio Three at the same Hollywood location. The story of Studio Three’s creation goes something like this: Putnam’s United/Western Studio Three was one the hottest (most single hits) studios in town and Wally wanted that hit sound for his new room. He booked a half hour of time at United/Western Three, measured the room, copied the surfaces and control room as much as possible, and built his own Studio Three. The major departure from Studio One's equipment was the solid state console that Putnam designed.
     
  16. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    No I hadn't seen that, very cool. Thanks for the links.

    However, I've just realized my early senility led me to say Radio Recorders instead of Master Recorders, where Robyn recorded Rick Nelson, The Coasters and Sam Cooke, as well as Fats Domino. So that would have had three track too. I'm guessing a bunch of Neumanns as well, right?

    Jason
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Can you list the songs you are referring to? I don't know the studio but I do know what songs were recorded with three, two, one channels, etc.
     
  18. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    There were quite a few sessions there, starting in 1953:

    Goin' Back Home, You Left Me, 44 (Sept 19, 1953)

    I Lived My Life, Little Mama, I Know (July 10, 1954)

    Help Me, All By Myself, Ain't It A Same, Oh Ba-a-aby (March 15, 1955)

    La-La, Blue Monday (March 20, 1955)

    Don't Blame It On me, If You Need Me (November 7, 1955)

    Howdy Podner, So-Long (November 30, 1955)

    What's the Reason I'm Not Pleasing You, The Twist Set Me Free (June 21, 1956)

    Blueberry Hill, Honey Chile (June 27, 1956)

    It's You I Love, Valley of Tears, Wait and See, True Confession (April 11, 1957)

    Little Mary, Stack & Billy, When I See You (June 15, 1957)

    Sick and Tired, No, No (February 4, 1958)

    If You Need Me, Hands Across the Table, So Glad, Darktown Strutter's Ball, Margie, The Sheik of Araby (October 30, 1958)

    My Heart is Bleeding, I Hear You Knocking, Lil Liza Jane, Every Night, When the Saints Go Marching In, Country Boy (November 4, 1958)

    And I see by looking at the discography that Domino did do a session at Radio Recorders in April of 1953, so I'm not completely senile!

    Jason
     
  19. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey

    Jordan, look in Sessions With Sinatra - there's a picture of John Kraus at one of the Tower's Ampex's. Too bad there's not one of him in the control room or the performance areas.

    I've also looked for pictures of John Palladino - the only one I could find was with his back to the camera, and I needed John to tell me that was him from me sending him a copy of what I found. I've never seen his face...
     
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    All 15 ips mono recordings.

    Are these in stereo?:


    If You Need Me, Hands Across the Table, So Glad, Darktown Strutter's Ball, Margie, The Sheik of Araby (October 30, 1958)

    My Heart is Bleeding, I Hear You Knocking, Lil Liza Jane, Every Night, When the Saints Go Marching In, Country Boy (November 4, 1958)


    If so, if his voice is centered, it's a three track recording. If his voice is on the left or right only it's a two track recording...
     
  21. Russ Gary

    Russ Gary Engineering Legend

    Steve and Jason,

    I believe the Fats Domino song is Blueberry Hill. I've read that's the only song he cut in California while signed to Imperial Records.

    Russ
     
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I didn't think he cut much here but according to the above, he did I guess.
     
  23. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight

    Location:
    New Orleans, LA
    That would make sense, of course. The Bear Family box is packed away right now and I can't get to it, otherwise I'd check. I'm a little curious about the songs with overdubs, like It's You I Love and Valley of Tears. I could have sworn Valley of Tears was stereo. So that would have just been a 1/4" tape to tape overdub.

    Jason
     
  24. dongle

    dongle New Member

    Location:
    CA
    Interesting thread!

    I have a question. Here's a slightly better scan of Columbia'a 30th St NYC Studio, and also Fred Plaut manning the controls:

    [​IMG]

    In the left-hand shot, I see three tape machines. In the center there is one black, one white. Are these both mono? Then the one to the far left, that's an Ampex three-track? I believe there would be another three-track out of frame there, provided the other two are mono.
     
  25. dongle

    dongle New Member

    Location:
    CA
    Was the lava lamp part of the stock studio setup, or was that your own addition? :cool:
     

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