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Hello If anybody know anything (books, links, jurnal articules, own thoughs) about following topic, pelase help:
Studio recording in 50s and 60s (1950-1969)

- Studio Design - what kind of materials/ 'traps'/ etc - was used to get best sound quality
- how they reduced unwanted sound
- what was the studio structure
I would be very grateful for any answers and sharing knowledge

Kind regards


RemyRAD Wed, 11/29/2006 - 00:51

In the fifties and sixties, there were not a heck of a lot of independent studios at that time. Most were owned by the record companies. Look into RCA recording studios and CBS recording studios in New York City. They were huge places with wooden poly cylindrical walls and diffusers. The dimensions of the studios were large enough to house the largest symphony orchestras, complete with 200 voice choirs and soloists and still have lots and lots of available space with ceiling heights of up to 30 feet! The recording equipment was mostly custom-built and utilized all tubes. The RCA series of ribbon microphones were nearly universally used.

Whereas the smaller independent studios such as Sun records that recorded Elvis Presley was something much smaller and more akin to a smaller radio station control room and studio booth. They frequently utilized a radio station console of maybe six to eight inputs and one or 2 Ampex Mono tape recorders. Effects? They didn't have any effects. Equalizers? They didn't have any equalizers.

And then came Les Paul and Mary Ford who changed everything! I mean in 1960, Les Paul, was working with Ampex to develop an 8 channel recorder to accomplish some of his breakthrough recordings. Things were pretty basic back then. Acoustic engineers were hard-nosed practical guys and did not design studios with the boutique like flavor that we have today. Back then, we didn't have sound panels, isolation gobo's. We had "sound nigger's", which had nothing to do with African-Americans. An expression that has obviously fallen out of favor today. Thank goodness!

Where's Mark Richards when you need him??
Ms. Remy Ann David

JoeH Wed, 11/29/2006 - 02:42

Don't forget the British/European side of the pond, as well.

Look up anything and everything you can on Abbey Road Studios (before and after the Beatles - LOTS of folk recorded there). Also use Google search to check out Deutsche-Grammophone, Decca, and EMI. TONS of studios existed back in that era, and I'm sure there are books and books written on the golden era of British and European recording. (of course, the recent Beatles compendiums of instruments and studio gear will give you a great insight to it, as well.)

The British/Euro scene was as busy, if not busier, than their USA counterparts in those years. It's ALL Good! 8-)

anonymous Wed, 11/29/2006 - 13:43

I have a documentary, which i love, and am watching right now :), called Tom Dowd: and the Language of Music. He was in the studio thoughout the 40's, 50's, 60's, and so on. It's essentially about Tom, but it shows and tells a lot about how the studio was then. So if you come across it, you should pick it up. Even if it doesn't give you exactly what you're looking for, it's really interesting.

anonymous Sun, 02/04/2007 - 22:39

a lot of "rock u drama" movies actually have authentic pro audio equipment depictions. for instance i noticed a fender bassman in the johnny cash movie. in the buddy holly story there is an la-2a. in ray and a bunch of others. remy is most likely right that in the fifties they had little to no dynamic processing. i think they did have the la-2a though. right about at 1960 tube mics were used more. and at the same time the advent of the ampex 350's. by the mid sixties you have pultec and fairchilds. by the late sixties the integration of JFET stuff, the 1176 the birth of better solid state mics like the u87 (whose predominance probably lie in the 70's) the sennheiser 421 was developed at this time. finally into the 70's you have the neve op-amp stuff. at that time i'm not sure if it was quite as op-amp based as it is now.

nothing like the studer 827 would have been solidified until the mid seventies.

also, vox, marshall, and fender all credit their births at 1959, however the bassman was the most original design (obviously designed for electric bass) next came vox which probably inspired marshall as much as the bassman did.

Davedog Mon, 02/05/2007 - 09:19

The Tom Dowd movie is an essential watch. Good call.

The 40's were the times when the technology was strengthend by the rise of German microphone technology obtained in the post-war world.

Credit American engineers with multitrack technology. The Euros didnt get the eight tracks until the middle 60's with the first ones going to Olympic and I think Pathe' Marconi.

The late 40's and early 50's saw a revolution for LIVE music in the creation of a company called Fender. Suddenly an electric bass which played in TUNE and could be heard over the brass section appeared. Guitars had clarity with the advent of amps that could fill a hall and also be heard over the drums and brass. Regular people with an interest in music could go down to the store and buy a good quality guitar for a pittance and start their own little Western Swing band or such. The creativity fueled by this Henry Fordesque establishment cannot be held in high enough regard.

The model for the people who operated the studios, owned directly by the labels, was created in the 30's and 40's. This remained in effect until the 70's. It was (and some places still is) a good-ole-boy network. You started in the library and climbed the ladder to new jobs as the years passed.

A good read on the construction of recording rooms and how this all fit together is the Recording the Beatles book released last year. Remember, Abbey Road/ EMI was the best studio in the world and EMI the biggest of the biggest. ALL of the outboard gear ,so highly prized these days, ie: compressors,effects, etc. came from the engineers in the European studios. Search Telefunken/history.

RemyRAD Mon, 02/05/2007 - 19:25

RCA had been making variable mu compressors since the 1940s. Nothing new. CBS was also making compressors starting in the late 1940s, think AUDIMAX and VOLUMEMAX in the sixties. Bill Putnam's UREI stuff was largely an early sixties happening. Sure, he started with tubes but that didn't last very long, with the exception of the LA2A, which was also discontinued for a while and then resurrected and then again and then again. I think largely because the little optical thingy utilized an electroluminescent panel and not light bulbs or LEDs? That's why the LA3A was almost as popular. Electroluminescent panels ballistic illumination and persistence, is far different from other types of light sources.

Multi-band dynamics is nothing new either. Larry Durough put out a 3 band "discriminate audio processor", back in the 1970s and so, multiband processing, became popular, first for radio, now for recordings. It helped start the FM audio loudness wars, which CRL Circuit Research Labs and Robert Orban quickly chimed in with their own units.

acualung666, I think somebody is put something illicit into your air tanks?
Ms. Remy Ann David

Davedog Mon, 02/05/2007 - 20:58

aqualand666 wrote: nice use of the word pittance, but i seriously doubt that was the case.

Here's where its obvious that you're still a yearling.

Telecasters (the FIRST Fender guitar) retailed for a bit over $150 when they first started. If you were an aircraft mechanic, or an electrical engineer in the early 50's this was an easy do. Gas was 17 cents a gallon and your typical house cost around $7500 bucks free and clear. Who do you think BOUGHT these guitars at such high numbers? Musicians? There just werent that many at that time junior.

You can seriously doubt whatever you want, but that wont change the facts as they were told to you by people who were there.

Perhaps you should get some new reading material in by the toity.

MadTiger3000 Tue, 02/20/2007 - 09:46

Hilary wrote: Okay, gas now costs about 15x as much, houses cost about 20x as much in the Rust Belt and twice that everywhere else, but Telecasters don't cost 15-40x as much. In comparative terms they cost more than twice as much then as they do now. In '49 or so, $150 was real money for anyone.


$150 ----> $1270.59 in 2006

Isnt that just about the price of a CustomShop Tele which are built to specs and looks of the ones in 1952??

Some things never change.

For anyone too young to fully realize the effect Leo Fender had on the music industry as a whole, please spend the time and research this. Not only what Fender did, but what life was like when I was just a kid watching Elvis and Roy Orbison.

BobRogers Tue, 02/20/2007 - 10:12

Inflation calculations are fun but it's not clear to me that they really capture the differences in purchasing power and disposable incomes between eras. Sure $150 was real money back then. But compare it to the real money that it took to buy a piano or a sax or a trumpet or a Gibson archtop guitar. Fender clearly lowered barrier to entry for an individual and he really lowered the barrier for a group. A quartet could make as much noise as a 15 piece dance band. Bigger profit margins all around.

BobRogers Tue, 02/20/2007 - 10:24

Inflation calculations are fun but it's not clear to me that they really capture the differences in purchasing power and disposable incomes between eras. Sure $150 was real money back then. But compare it to the real money that it took to buy a piano or a sax or a trumpet or a Gibson archtop guitar. Fender clearly lowered barrier to entry for an individual and he really lowered the barrier for a group. A quartet could make as much noise as a 15 piece dance band. Bigger profit margins all around.

drumist69 Sun, 03/18/2007 - 21:09

As a complete aside to the main topic and the turn it has taken...People like to glorify the fact that someone like Leo Fender made instruments affordable to the masses, and talk about the creativity this unleashed upon the world. Conversely, other people will moan about the advent of affordable recording gear and cheap Chinese mics, and how these developments are destroying the recording industry. I think maybe a parallel could be drawn here. One could argue that in the early 50's, electric guitars (etc) became more widely affordable, thereby increasing the pool of musicians, leading to some great music being made. Likewise, today, recording gear has become more widely available. Then you can figure in the impact of the internet in music distribution. Leaving sentimentality out of the equation, maybe some great music will be made. Just throwing it out there! ANDY

drumist69 Mon, 03/19/2007 - 20:07

I don't follow the logic in that statement. I'm not saying cheaper instruments made better musicians, I'm saying cheaper instruments increased the pool of potential musicians. Likewise, cheaper recording gear increases the avenues for talented, but maybe not mainstream musicians to produce decent quality recordings. Internet distribution also increases the options for "less than mainstream" music to be presented to the masses. I guess the point I was trying to make was that as equipment becomes more affordable and available , the pool of talent is expanded, allowing for the possibility of innovation. The innovation may come in the form of a new take on popular music, or a new way of presenting (i.e. producing, engineering) popular music. ANDY

anonymous Fri, 04/27/2007 - 06:44

I come from the land of Ardent, Sun, and Stax.

As it turns out, just yesterday I was at Stax museum being toured by the owner of the museum and John Fry.

Stax originally was a Theatre. Therefore, the actual recording area had no windows, a slanted floor, and a HUGE ceiling. The booth was put in the back part of the theater elevated off of the ground. Then, the foyer of the theatre was turned into a record store.

Basically, they used anything that they could get (Example: Theater left a bass speaker there, the one that goes behind the screen. They used it till the day that they were evicted for monitoring). Stax worked because of their love for music, not their business smarts. Since everything that they were doing was on wax, it didn't matter that much to them about extra noise; it would always be in there no matter what they did.

If you have any more specific questions don't be afraid to ask. If I don't know the answer, I can ask John.