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History of Allison Research

Discussion in 'Vintage Analog Gear' started by One Flight Up, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. One Flight Up

    One Flight Up Flying. Active Member

    Hi everyone,

    Thought you might be interested to read my new article on the History of Allison Research. They invented the Gain Brain and Kepex back in the early 1970's.




    One Flight Up Recording Studio Sydney
    Kurt Foster likes this.
  2. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    cool i still have Kepex and Gain Brain units among others: ) .
  3. One Flight Up

    One Flight Up Flying. Active Member

    Great! What's your favourite use for them? I found the Gain Brain works wonders on a Sitar the other day!
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I remember using both of these, years ago. They were very common in many studios back in the 70's and into the mid 80's, along with Valley People gear.

    I found it interesting that these units were not all that inexpensive for their day - I downloaded the price sheet for June of 1970, and the Gain Brain was $250, with discounts available down to $225 ea, if you purchased 8 or more.

    While $225 sounds like chicken feed to us now, if you consider that in 1970, the average U.S. monthly mortgage was around $75-$100 per month, and the average monthly payment on an "average" new car was roughly $35-$50 per month, you can start to get an idea that $225 was not really all that cheap. In today's dollars, it would be around $1250.

    I'm not saying that an original Gain Brain FET compressor would cost you $1250 now... although it's not impossible, either... vintage market prices, condition, mods, along with rarity and availability, would probably make them, along with subsequent Valley People gear, priced at probably a little more than that ( but you'd also need to add in the price of the rack/power supply, too). It always depends on what the buyer is willing to spend, of course. Personally, if I had $1500 to spend, and was looking for a FET style compressor, I'd probably be more interested in an 1176 than I would the Gain Brain, but, that's just me, because I don't have the necessary rack/power supply for it, and is in no way meant to imply that the GB sub standard in any way.

    There's no doubt that, along with the Kepex gate, the GB was used on uncountable recordings during the 70's; they were studio standards for their time, to be sure.
  5. One Flight Up

    One Flight Up Flying. Active Member

    Hey Donny,

    Thanks for the outline of prices comparatively - then and now. That's a very interesting point, that Gain Brains & Kepexes weren't all that cheap!
    Come to think of it, I wonder whether I'd choose my Gain Brains or my car?!

    Prices on Allison modules these days fluctuate, from my observation. I keep an eye on them on ebay. Sometimes sellers want a few hundred per module. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a rack of 4 or 8 for under a grand! But I think the number one thing about buying vintage gear is that you simply must have it serviced and brought back up to spec. I basically spent as much on servicing as I did buying the 6 modules at my recording studio. You've really gotta factor the servicing cost into the total 'buying price'.

    Another interesting point you brought up is a comparison with the 1176 - both being Fet technology. I actually did an "A / B" test between an Allison Gain Brain and an 1176 (UA reissue). Of course it all comes down to what material you're actually processing, and how you set both units. And of course the circuit designs of the 2 limiters are not alike, it's just that they have the same gain control technology. But for all that, in my little A / B test, they actually sounded pretty similar. We really couldn't pick which was which. From memory we were compressing an electric guitar track....

    Hey, can anyone name any classic 70's records with "that Valley sound"? (The Gain Brain / Kepex combo)


    One Flight Up - Recording Studios Sydney
  6. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    I just use the gate where I think I need them, no particular favorite but probable used most on drums. And I do not do a lot of drum tracking anymore.
    As for the Gain Brain, I want a few more, I have some empty spaces in the rack and want the Gain Brains for them.
    They also made some cool eqs not sure if there as good as some of what we have in todays market place but if I get a chance and the price is right I would like to have at least a couple.
  7. One Flight Up

    One Flight Up Flying. Active Member

    I've seen the Valley People Maxi Q equalizer modules, but never come across the Allison "Mini Q"..... but I know it exists.... there's a brochure for it on my site in the article.. :)
    I used to have a Valley Maxi -Q actually, but I didn't use it much. I'm not crash hot on double-gang pots. Call me fussy!

    One Flight Up | Recording Studio Sydney
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm not seeing the GB's as being particularly rare or hard to find; or for that matter, all that expensive, either...

    Here's an original AR Gain Brain, $275 :

    I would think that you could do a whole lot worse filling empty rack spaces. ;)
  9. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    I use say timing and price.
    I have not been to concerned about getting a few more as they are readily available.
    Also I thought PMI bought all the rights and planned on producing the Allison and / or Valley?

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