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The power of 'Vintage'

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Kemble, May 9, 2003.

  1. Kemble

    Kemble Guest

    I have ingested volumes of information over the past 5 years (no wise cracks about it only being 5 years please). And now I've come to the point of just having to ask this question.

    If Marshall heads from the 60's are 'THE DEAL' and a Neve 1173 is 'THE DEAL' and a (enter any prized vintage gear here...LA-2A, Drawmer gates, old pedals....whatever...) is 'THE DEAL' then why doesn's someone with the brains to do so MAKE MORE OF THEM?

    Out of production and hard to find Neumann mics? JUST MAKE MORE! (?)

    If the truely 'don't make them like they used to' then why doesn't someone recognize the market and MAKE SOME?

    Just wondering......
     
  2. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) Yea, I liked my old Ford Galaxy 500 XL! Bring it back. All 4000 pounds of it. LOL

    My Allen & Heath system 8 24/16 weighs 165 pounds.
    The new 24 ch. Mackie, in the PCR, I can tuck under my arm, chips and plastic is cheap, it does not sound as musical to me as the A&H. To build that board today would end up with a cost of 25 to 30k retail, because it is hand made.

    Today things are cheaper, some things better, some things are not. It is really a tough market, audio gear. There is a healthy after market of used gear, and the same hype may be needed to move some vintage gear, as well as all the new gear.

    Once the assembly line starts cranking out the new stuff, the new and impoved version is already for the next run.

    Now we have outboard pre's, then someone will design a console strip, with compression, EQ, and auto faders, and before ya know it big consoles will be happening again.
    :s:

    --Rick
     
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Vintage stuff can be very cool but sometimes it needs more care that it is worth to keep it going. There are companies that are making reissue Neve knock off and re issue LA EL OP style limiters, but to me it 's not just the old designs that are cool but the old school methods of building gear. Discreet parts, large power supplies, huge PCB board traces and hand built point to point wiring. What isn't cool IMO is stuff that is being built on robot assembly lines, new design pc boards using very large scale integration chips that can be automation stuffed cheesy power supplies (wall warts) and suspicious methods of spec'ing the gear. That being said there are quite a few OEMs putting out great gear. Kurt
     
  4. Recording Engineer

    Recording Engineer Active Member

    That right there speaks volumes!

    To quote a dear friend: "lost art"
     
  5. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    :) It is just the modern way of doing things. Automated manufacturing technique, with less waste, modern materials. Henry Ford utilized just about everything involved in the assembly process including engine shipping crates sized to be broken down and used as floor boards in model A cars.

    Without these innovations, these products would not be accessible to the masses. Look at how tube aluminum is used in design of rack gear, in the 70's. Now, many of the same concepts use plastic. Wall rats do isolate noise from the unit, I am sure that electronic considerations were sacrificed to allow that. Alesis uses wall rats in a lot of rack gear, but using AC type rats with some of the supply components in the gear itself seems to provide better results.

    The new gear has a price that is so reasonable, though it may have quality, a life span of reasonable use and disposal is actually possible, paving the way for an upgrade. IOW use it up, and throw it away.

    There has been a proliferation of this type gear. It did not use to be that way. Unless it was an auction to liquidate a studio, the prices of vintage gear was maintained. I paid 600.00 for a 13" Sony Trinitron in the 70's. Today, I can buy a 36" Toshiba for about 400.00. Lots of plastic, but it does what it is supposed to do, and well. If it breaks after 5 years, is it worth fixing? I will most likely buy another type, and upgrade too.

    --Rick
     
  6. Kemble

    Kemble Guest

    I follow what all of you are saying and understand how the market drives things. I am very thankful that economics and technoloy has driven a Mackie 1202 onto my desk and a Rhodes piano SF2 into my 'keyboard'.
    On that note, my relatives were over last weekend, and couldn't for the life of them figure out why I had a "Piano" (Midiman keystation) that didn't make any sound when I plugged it in :D

    There is such great info here. Thanks guys.
     
  7. BeatleFred

    BeatleFred Guest

    Here's a company thats still somewhat in touch with its past legacy, I just picked up this book, its Great! : AudioKarma
     
  8. BeatleFred

    BeatleFred Guest

    Sorry- the URL didnt get posted correctly. For anyone who's interested, its at the site: http://www.audiokarma.org in the Forums, Turtable and Tape section (about the new Teac/Tascam company history book that just came out).
     
  9. Mark Burnley

    Mark Burnley Guest

    Hi All,

    I come from an audio DIY perspective, so I just want to add a few points...

    All the older equipment mentioned above were products of their time. When something like the LA2 was manufactured, it was a piece of "industrial" equipment, and the process of manufacture involved:

    *Lots of R+D including "Breadboarding" of the circuit.

    *Components generously rated for voltage and temperature.

    *A lot of metal!

    *A lot of metalwork/fabrication/paint etc.

    *Hand assembled tagboard and point-to-point wiring to tubes/controls.

    So lots of man/woman hours, labour-intensive, and built to last/be servicable.

    But at the same time, people at home had tube radio, hifi and TV sets made with very similar methods and processes. Big punched chassis, hand assembled etc. Tubes, transformers, higher power rated components and the "tooling" for such construction was the norm, and easily available.

    As the "consumer revolution" progressed, people (we!) wanted "more for less". Manufacturers of domestic electronic equipment realised that they could "life-span" equipment.

    "Okay it gets real hot in the box, but they'll want to buy a new one in two years" kinda attitude, so lower spec (cheaper!) components were used.

    Semiconductor equipment arrived on the scene and suddenly it's like- "lets dispense with the metal". Small circuit boards with less heat dissipation meant smaller chassis, and even products with no traditional "chassis" in a plastic case.

    Over the years, people expected cheaper and cheaper equipment, and as attitudes changed, the word "disposable" began to be used.

    I've worked on a lot of older equipment over the years, and some of the 40's, 50's and 60's equipment were incredibly over-engineered. But saying that, they were still working/fixable!

    Whereas more modern equipment I've opened up has been shoddy ! I've seen things like voltage regulator IC's (used in the power supply to set the voltage) without a heatsink. The component has got so hot that it's actually blackened the components around it, and melted the solder off the leads. Also, resistors burnt to a crisp because they were seriously underrated, and faulty/intermittent connections made to controls/connectors.

    Things like this drive me mad. Which is where DIY comes in...

    After studying equipment over the years, I've built up ideas and thoughts about what makes inherent reliability, and what leads to disaster further down the line. When I make my own equipment, I'm usually designing without constraints of time. So there's no "I need it yesterday" attitude. So I take time to rate and specify components, and design efficient, stable and accurate circuits and layouts.

    This doesn't always cost more money directly, but it does take more time! And to big companies, time is money. With the explosion of home/project studios, companies have hit on the fact that lots of people want "pro" spec gear. But at a certain level it will be built to a price. Some of the equipment I've opened up is nearer consumer standard than pro standard, but you do get what you pay for. Most of the time :eek:

    Then there are the real audio companies, not all of them huge corporations who have the skill, courage and commitment to design and release well built, well designed and hugely successful pieces of studio/music equipment.

    Hope you're still with me, but this is a subject close to my heart. If you want to see some great "Pro standard" DIY, pop over to Tech Talk, people often post pictures of projects which will blow away much commercial gear.

    Check out this article...

    Rod Elliott "The State Of Manufacturing"


    The future is smaller companies specialising in quality design and manufacture, employing local people and generally raising the standards of the art.

    :c:

    Mark

    --------------------------
    "Oscillators don't, amplifiers do....."
    Anon.
     
  10. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    The trick is in getting someone to "make more of them" without thinking they are smarter and batter than the original makers.
    Everytime someone decides to 'improve" the old design they blow it.
    Improving usually involves finding a way to make it either cleaner or cheaper. Neither being desireable.

    A company recently started making Hiwatt guitar amplifiers to the same standard as thsoe made in the early 70's.
    And know what? In order to do it right, the new ones cost MORE than the going rate on the originals.

    Add to that that most people are all too happy to pay for a thing that LOOKS just like the revered older thing without regard to actual sound.

    I think new Gefells blow away new Neumanns (but Neumanns SAY "Neumann" on them).
    I think Geoff Daking's Trident clones blow away much of their competition. But they don't SAY Trident (or Neve) on them.
    And i think Universal does a good job with the latest reissues of La2a's, but again, they are NOT cheap.

    It isn;t so easy to recreate a Fairchild 660 or 670 without spending at least CLOSE to what the "vintage" units sell for. And again, many poeple wnat to buy something for a LOT less and convince themselves it's the same.
     
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    wwitman,
    You are correct sir! Sourcing parts that are getting more and more scarce and finding people that have the skills to assemble this stuff is becoming an expensive proposition. I am so glad that United ended up in the hands of Bill Putnam’s kids. They have the soul to see to it that their Fathers designs are done justice. API is staying relatively true to the originals also. But their are other companies that are producing new designs that are quality. Summit, Millennia and Manley are all producing new designs that use old school design techniques. The bottom line is, quality costs. In cars, housing and yes in audio equipment. But the up side is if someone buys a quality compressor, pre amp or microphone, it will be a lifetime investment. They will spend their money once and when they finally decide to leave the business, in many cases, they will be able to sell it for what they paid for it. In some cases, more. It is not uncommon for quality audio gear values to keep up with inflation. IMO it is hard to come across something you can use that is that good of an investment. Kurt
     
  12. shaneperc

    shaneperc Member

    I just wish the boutique companies that make quality equipment (for a quality price, of course) would stay that way.

    On the one hand, you have most gear companies that cater to whoever's buying, and that's usually the weekend warriors setting up shop in their garages to record demos for their band. Then you have companies that build good gear for the much fewer people that appreciate quality and are willing to pay the price.

    I don't mind the people buy junk, or even when that's all some companies put out. I just hate it when quality manufacturers give in to the temptation of cheaper production techniques and pretend that it's the same stuff they were putting out before. You know, the "It's the exact same preamp.... oh, but we put in a smaller power supply. Oh and we're using thinner metal for the chasis. Oh, did I say metal? I meant plastic. I think the phantom power button is still metal though!"
     

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