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Lately I have been listening to the Santana albums recorded in the late 70's. Particularly the albums Festival, Moonflower, Inner Secrets, and Marathon. I was wondering if any of the members on here had worked with any of those recording sessions and can provide any information as to how they were tracked and mixed. They sound so natural compared to many of the tracks I am hearing today which have (how dare I say) a more clinical sound.

Any information on the history of those projects is gladly welcomed.


KurtFoster Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:51

Fred Catero did "Festival" at Wally Heider's (currently Hyde Street Studios) in SF. Catero was one of the first producers in the SF area to record the hippie bands in the 60's, including Big Brother and Santana among others. Frank DeMedio built all the studios' custom gear and consoles, using Universal Audio (UA) console components, military grade switches and level controls, and a simple audio path that used one preamp for everything in a channel. He designed the console with 24 channels and an 8-channel monitor and cue—replicated in both the Studio 3 setup in Los Angeles and the remote truck. Monitor speakers were Altec 604-Es with McIntosh 275 tube power amps. i would venture a guess they were using AMPEX recorders.

Moonflower, was also at Heider's, with live tracks recorded on tour. produced by Tom Coster and Carlos Santana.

Inner Secrets recorded at Western Recorders, L.A. Producer Brian Potter Dennis Lambert. Western was UA 610 consoles and AMPEX recorders.

here's a history and equipment list from Western

Marathon Produced by Keith Olsen, Santana, David De Vore. Olsen was a primary engineer at Sound City so that may be a clue as to where it was recorded. Sound City was Neve and Studers.

that's what i could find, fwiw.

DonnyThompson Fri, 12/08/2017 - 01:58

Kurt Foster, post: 454387, member: 7836 wrote: thanks Donny. i used to go to Hyde Street Studios all the time. they were the major gear rental in the SF area in the 90's and i was up there all the time picking up or dropping off gear that had been rented for sessions. Heider had 2 rooms (SF /LA) and a remote truck.

I bet you got to use some very cool gear!!

KurtFoster Fri, 12/08/2017 - 07:24

my studio KFRS, was in Fremont CA. We had an MCI 636 console with "steam powered" (tape based) automation. we also had a large selection of outboard including a a pair of AMEK 9098 mic pres EQs, a vintage LA2A, two LA3's, two LA4's an LA22, a Manley EL OP, a Valley People Dyna-mite and more, so i think i was working with some great gear all the time. What we rented was usually GML EQ's and occasionally someone wanted an Avalon 747 or a Distressor or some weird piece like that. anything to accommodate a client!

JayTerrance Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:29

You know, I wonder if what I'm hearing that sounds so "natural" to me is the custom built chamber rooms that Wally Heider's had. Then again, maybe it is just the sound of the natural air of the studio.

It definitely is nice to go back to that time period for a change in listening every once in awhile. Not that the recording sound of that era is better, it is just different....not quite as "hyped or manufactured" sounding as today's sound.

KurtFoster Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:05

Davedog, post: 454426, member: 4495 wrote: I would still own an MCI/Sony console. Especially if I could find a nest of Fred Forsell preamp cards

Davedog , there's a pretty nice little table top Rupert DNA -
Amek BC2 BCII on flebay right now for cheap that would fit perfect in your setup.

i saw this and it cracked me up! the song was recorded on an MCI JH 500 console at Royal Studios by Boo Mitchell.

Davedog Tue, 12/12/2017 - 19:20

Ha! Lotta stuff in that small footprint. As is usually the case I shoulda (woulda/coulda) bought the Amek Angela they had for sale at Superdigital a few years back. It was Gino Vannelli's and was in incredible condition. Could of had it for a bit more than I paid for my Ghost I owned for years. Now, these consoles are starting to make a comeback of sorts. They'll never command the kind of cash they did new, nor will the brands OTHER than Neve, API, SSL, and some of the rarities like Helios, Langevin, or Quad Eight, bring as much. But they are going back up and getting scarce.

As for me. I have an idea to build a room. But I have to get off my dead ass and start working the one I have. I'm looking at a 'niche' type of thing. I could easily specialize in drums and vocals. And designing for that would be a manageable design.

And for the record. I've missed out on several full length's lately simply because my studio doesn't LOOK like a studio per se. You still NEED a separate control room and a board to sell time. Really.

Oh. And if says SSL or something like that on it, you attract attention.

Davedog Tue, 12/12/2017 - 20:13

I don't have the height I will get when I build from scratch, but I DO have a real acoustic tile self-supported ceiling from the 60's. One inch tiles. Four points of attachment in an 18' X 22' span. Drums sound good in here. And vocals. And guitars can be done anywhere....I want the 'other' small studios who are doing full lengths to do their drums here. Maybe vocals too...I have a very good selection of mics and not many have a ViPre. But I drone on and on about that thing. You'll never know till you try one.

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audiokid Wed, 06/30/2021 - 12:57
Wow, just found this topic! I loved this era of Santana. I jammed to Moonflower and most of Santana's work until I was good enough to start my own band in the 80's. Such an amazing era of guitar based (amazing musicians) music. The sound of Moonflower, Inner Secrets and Festival have been my benchmark in all respect to musicianship and sound engineering. Great thread!