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EMI Abbey Road EMI REDD.37 Is For Sale

Discussion in 'Vintage Analog Gear' started by Sean G, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I saw this too, Sean... I'm on VK's subscriber list and they sent me the link you provided.

    After thinking about this logistically - and it doesn't really matter anyway, because I'd never even be able to afford the power supply for this desk, let alone the whole she-bang, so it's all just a hypothetical parlor game - here's what I think:

    While it would be ultra-cool to own this rig ( I'd actually be more excited about the J Series Studer tape machines that are included), and while I'm a huge Beatles/George Martin fan ( I love everything I've ever heard coming out of Abbey Road during it's "golden" years)... but past the initial shine of it all, of owning a piece of history, I'm not sure I'd be able to do any better work with this stuff than what I'm using now...

    I sure loved the sound of this gear on The Beatles records I've heard over the years, but I think that's more because it was The Beatles...? There's no doubt that this gear contributed to their sound, but on the other side of that coin, I heard Lenny Kravitz's first album after he bought this gear, and truthfully, I wasn't all that impressed by how the record sounded; I thought the sonics were a bit harsh and brittle, but perhaps that's because it wasn't tracked or mixed in the rooms at AR, or maybe because it was missing the added "magic" of Martin, or the beautiful warmth and silk that cookers like Geoff Emerick, Alan Parsons, Ken Townsend, Norman Smith and Ken Scott got out of this equipment? I dunno, just kinda thinking out loud I guess.

    I suppose my question would be, if cats like Alan Parsons ( or even Giles Martin) aren't running red lights to get this gear, and considering that Kravitz has sold it to VK, then is this perhaps an indicator of how technically valuable this stuff would actually be in today's recording world?

    There's no doubt that this gear has its own unique character, its own special vibe; and I don't believe anyone would argue that... but... is it the right vibe for modern recording? Or is it just a sonic one trick pony? (Don't get me wrong... it's an awesome pony... LOL)
    Would it really prove to be an asset for what we're doing now, in 2016? That's not rhetorical... I don't have the answer to that question, either... but I do know that it would be a very expensive specialty vibe to have.
    I suppose it's all about whom you ask; removing the historical factor from the equation, and speaking strictly in terms of sonics, if you asked someone like Kurt ( @Kurt Foster ) or one of our other analog recording advocates, the answer would probably be a resounding "Yes".

    OTOH, if you asked someone like Chris ( @audiokid ), I don't think he would find it as valuable from a sonic or technical approach.

    Like I said, there's no doubt that owning it would be cool, if for no other reason than knowing you own a piece of definitive musical history... but, if I had the money that I suspect this package is priced at, would I really choose this over a classic Neve, or SSL, or even a Harrison? Or even the world's most diverse collection of the highest quality mics, preamps and EQ's?

    Honestly, I really don't think I would...

    IMHO of course. ;)

  3. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Its something you would expect to be in somewhere like the Smithsonian...FWIW I too think sonically it was advanced for its time, and this is a piece that has much provinence, but things have progressed so far from that point in time that unless you are a niche like Daptone who go for that particular sound of the 60's, something of this calibre regardless of its pedigree aint going to do it for you in todays' world unless that is the sound you are chasing (and have the bank balance to match it because as a console of such prominence, you can more than double what it would be truly worth in real terms just because of its history and provenance...)

    I would imagine the upkeep for a console of this calibre and given its history would be a mortgage unto itself...it would not be cheap by any means to keep operational in working mode or of the condition one would expect for what it is...given its age.

    I think there is a place for this console somewhere, but as you allude to Donny, it all comes down to what side of the fence you sit. For those who are into the old school vibe and sonics, this is probably considered to be the holy grail of consoles which helped shape as much a part of the sound of early British rock as much as the players themselves who tracked through it.

    But for those who are immersed in the modern digital audio realm, they may only see this as a thing of the past, a relic worthy only of admiration for what has been passed through it, what was achieved with it in its day, and for that alone.

    My school of thought, maybe derived from my love and passion for old cars, is that just like an old classic from the 50's...it should be driven, and maybe the same goes for this classic piece...maybe it deserves to have signal passed through it for years to come, just as it was initially designed for all those years ago.
    But then again, there are those who maybe feel that it should be mothballed and admired from behind glass, never to pass a signal again. Either way, I'm glad its still here to be admired one way or another...unlike many consoles from that era were scrapped long ago if not for the fortune or luck of where they were located and who tracked through them, such as the case with this one.

    For me it does pose the question though...something I pondered since I was first aware of its re-emergence and subsequent sale, and maybe I'm not the person to ask but hey, I am going to anyway...
    Do you think that it may be a case of Mr Kravitz making a decision to sell this particular piece due to a realisation of what can be achieved now today sonically in the digital realm?...
    Or is the sale based on a financial aspect, due to declining album sales?..or is he just selling this to achieve a premium sale price, due to the provenance of what this particular console is?

    We may never know...only Mr Kravitz can answer that....and at the end of the day, who am I to ask such a question anyway?... ;)

    EMI Abbey Road REDD.37 2.0.jpg
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'd be greatly saddened by this; even though I don't believe I'd buy it, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't pack it with bubble wrap, put it into a crate with mothballs and humidity control packets, and store it somewhere - I would use it, because it deserves to be used. I would want someone with a love and passion for this type of gear to continue to use it to track sessions, capture great performances, to mix records. Just because I wouldn't use it doesn't mean that I wouldn't hope that someone else would.

    IMO, there's nothing that says that just because it's one of those historic "Holy Grail" pieces, that it shouldn't be used, or that it should be relegated to a museum somewhere. I felt the same way about Dave Grohl buying Sound City's classic Neve console. I'm glad that he didn't crate it up and put it into storage, or donate it to a museum; I'm happy that he continues to use that Neve to further its history, to continue its classic lineage of sound.
    And, in a very similar way, that SC Neve is just as historic as the EMI desk is; as there were so many hit records tracked and mixed through that baby, so I don't find it to be of any less of historic value than the EMI desk is, or for that matter, Bill Putnam's original UA 610 desk, either. ( video below)

    I've always found it somewhat saddening, (and ridiculous) that there are collectors of fine instruments who don't ( or won't) play them, but instead hang them up on their walls as art - and many of them are works of art, but they should be played... with respect of course, but played all the same. The EMI may not be the sound that I am looking for, but really, that means nothing, because there are cookers out there who would find it to be perfect for what they do... Daptone, as you mentioned, is a very good example. And I'm quite sure that theirs is not the only studio or musician that feels this way. Come to think of it, I'm a little surprised that Macca hasn't jumped on this... unless he already has one, which is possible, as there were several models over the years at Abbey Road. (Maybe Kurt ( @Kurt Foster ) would know... if anyone would, it'd be him. ;) )

    Here's a cool link that explains the various EMI/Reddit desks at AR during the 50's and 60's:



    FWIW, here's a video of Putnam's 610 console, still being used:

  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    As you said, Sean, who really knows but Lenny himself? It could be any number of reasons; the specialized sonics, financial needs, declining record sales... or maybe it's as simple as him finding another console that he feels would fit his current style better, (although I'm not quite sure what his current style is; I haven't heard anything new from him in quite some time). Or, maybe he's following the current trend, and, not unlike Andrew Scheps, has finally decided to go all ITB...

    If you think about the plethora of gorgeous mics and pres that you could have for that money ... preamps that would offer all kinds of different textures and character, it seems to make more sense to go that way. As I mentioned earlier, if I had "X" amount of dollars required to buy the EMI package, ( .. any guess on what this package is selling for? I haven't a clue, but I can't believe it wouldn't be 350 G's at least...remember, the package includes those gorgeous Studer Tape Machines, too), and with that kind of money, I could instead fill a pretty big rack with all different kinds of gorgeous preamps instead; API, Neve, SSL, Harrison, Telefunken, UA, Focusrite, Audient, Wheatstone, RCA, Grace, SPL, Dangerous... and perhaps even a couple of racked EMI modules, too.

    This route would certainly provide far more options for texture and vibe; more diversity.... SS, Tube, FET/ Transformer, Transformer-less.... from all kinds of color to as clean and transparent as possible.

    I think I'd rather have that package than the one-trick Reddit. ;)
  6. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't have a clue Donny, VK hasn't advertised a price, but I'm sure once it sells it may come out.

    IMO it would have to be a package worth $500k or more...but who knows? It would interesting to find out.

    Its probably a case of " If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it..." scenario.

    It was interesting to read while I was trying to google the price there was an article here in Music Radar from 2011 where Lenny Kravitz talks about using a Helios console that used to belong to Leon Russell to record the album Black & White America, where he recorded to tape then transferred to Pro Tools using a CLASP unit. So from that article one could assume he has been using digital since at least that time in one way or another.

    I with you Donny when you say it shouldn't be snapped up by somebody such as a rich collector or musician and mothballed away never to see the light of day again...something like this deserves to be used and heard and maintained to the highest standard because of its provenance IMO.

    It would be great to read about this down the track finding a new home somewhere and entering the next chapter of its life at a place like Daptone or the like, somewhere where they can use something like this console to recreate that tapestry of sonics from the sound of that era, where it will be appreciated and put to good use.

    I'm sure it would be a good selling point to get clients in the door...to be able to track through the same console that The Beatles and many other well respected names did at Abbey Road.

    Who knows?...maybe there is another hit or two still left in the old girl yet. ;)
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm thinking that it's history is likely the main selling point at least to those who don't know much about engineering -which most clients don't- but any musician would love to be able to say that they tracked a song or album thru that desk.

    And I've no doubt that if it was put into the hands of a talented engineer, that it could continue to turn out hits. ;)

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