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The ADT Story with Abbey Road Studios’ Ken Townsend

Recording engineer and former Abbey Road manager Ken Townsend recalls how he invented the classic effect known as Artificial Double Tracking (ADT) while he was recording the Beatles in the 1960s.

Comments

Boswell Sun, 12/05/2021 - 07:29

Thanks for posting this, Chris.

I remember having a long talk with Ken Townsend when I was doing my only Assistant Engineer session at Abbey Road in 1968, but he never mentioned that he was experimenting with this technique. The accepted way of creating the popular "phasing" sound at the time was to play two copies of the track simultaneously on two identical replay machines and combine the outputs. You then took a fountain pen (important!) from the inside pocket of your jacket and held the body of it against the flange of one of the feed spools to introduce an increasing delay on that machine's output. The resulting sound subsequently became known as "flanging" (often spelt "phlanging" in those hippy times).

I guess that Ken's variable-speed motor feed technique was a real enhancement, as it eliminated the need to re-sync the tapes and run a second time, which was necessary if there was more than one instance of flanging on the song. By careful use of the oscillator frequency control, Ken's method could catch up again.

audiokid Sun, 12/05/2021 - 08:51

That is so cool! How simple and yet, look where the fountain pen took us. Wow, how things have changed eh. Thank you for sharing this and adding to the topic, Bos!

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