Skip to main content

The AMEK M3000

Hello RO, audiokid advised me that RO members may like to hear the story behind this console as well as follow the progress as it is refurbished back to it's original spec. (or beyond)

As you can tell by the pic,(below) it was stored in a garage and had been there for 4 years. It was covered, so despite the desert heat that the console would feel on a hot summer day, the dust did not get to play.

Since the M3000 is a rare console; not many have had an opportunity to hear one, let alone see one beyond pictures (even those are rare). Before I get to the details of my console and how it ended up in my possession... Let me shed a little light on the mystery of the M3000 to the masses, or at least those whom are unaware of its origin and history.

((((if you just want to see pics, I suggest you start scrolling now)))

A brief history of the M3000 (if you want more details, comment for them)

Depending on whom you speak to, many believe the M3000 as Amek's first "Large-Format Recording console". Officially introduced in 1979 as Amek's Top of the line console. A basic version of the M3000 sold for around $46,000.00. The first M3000 was actually installed in Amazon Studio's, Liverpool in 1978. The first one was more of a refined prototype then a production model. So far, Former AMEK staff in the UK, can count 8 (including Amazon) being built and delivered. All M3000's were in some way or manner custom built to the spec of each customer.

The 8 M3000's are:
Amazon Studio's, Liverpool UK
Aura Studio's, NYC NY USA
Trafalgar Rome, Italy (2 consoles)
Mayfair Studio's, London UK (some huge hits recorded with this one)
Enterprise Studio's, Burbank CA USA
Paul Ratajczak, LA CA USA
Klaus Schulze Germany (Keyboardist for Tangerine Dream)

Now it is easy to see why so little information is available on this console or even it's sound.

The M3000 set a new standard for Amek, the EQ was the first 4 band fully parametric (Variable Q on all 4 bands) console they had produced. It was also the first AMEK console to utilize automation (Allison 65K). The automation used the then high end dbx 202 VCA's, 24 Buses, 8 aux's and Quad panning. the below picture just hides the sheer size of these, mine is approx. 108" wide and 48" deep. Or put another way, it filled a 5' x 12' open trailer, where you could not walk around the console inside the trailer.

The M2500 and the G2520 is essentially a baby M3000, using close to the same EQ and topology. Know you can kinda start to imagine how a M3000 would sound like.

Graham Langley designed the console from the ground up. Despite the seemingly popular myth that R. Neve had something to do with the design of this console and a few others of the same era. Let me be clear, R. Neve did not start to work with AMEK till after the bankruptcy of Focusrite in 1989. The design is pure GL.

All the engineers I have spoken to that have used this desk... in simple terms. Want it back or miss it dearly. The EQ has by far got the most comment, along the lines of "Best EQ ever created" "Control that just goes beyond words" "the Variable Q on all 4 bands goes from nearly a volume knob to damn near a notch filter". I ask anyone who has used one of these consoles to comment, I would be very interested in hearing your experience and thoughts. With only 8 built, (lets remove for a moment that AMEK at the time was a small company, that did not have the same market reach (or advertising budget) as Neve, MCI and a then very fast growing SSL) I know you are thinking what was the bad? Well, the only complaint was... reliability. Everyone loved the sound of the console,(mic preamp/EQ/Mix Bus etc..) it would just crap out at the wrong time. . Unfortunately, no matter how good a console sounded, if it cracked or popped during a take, it negatively effected the financial prospects of the studio.

I will leave it at that for now.


How did i get mine? well. This is were the backstory becomes somewhat important. Again, if i am babbling by all means scroll to the pics...

For years I have spoke of designing my own console from the ground up. (I know crazy idea) I even have a few threads on other forums discussing such. Anyway, were i am at in my day job actually opened some doors to actually achieve this lofty goal. During one of my many discussions of the topic with a co-worker. He offered me (at a good price) this AMEK M3000 as a frame to build on. Now, just like any crazy idea, you start down a path blind and not know were exactly you are going end up. .

Only the first 24 channels worked (part time) as the console was suffering from intermittent issues, hence why they moved it to the garage. Channels 25 through 36 served as parts to keep the first 24 serviced. Of the 36 channels only 28 faders were physically installed (removal of the blank fader panels shows that faders were at one time there). The console did come with a box of parts, most of which came from AMEK LA in 1996 when the previous owner had picked the console up. AMEK handed over all they had on hand at the time. The only physical issue was some missing braces, which was not attached to console when originally received in 1996. What shocked me more was it came with complete documentation. I mean every thing! From hand drawn schematics of the entire console, original manual, a 1979 Advert for the console and all the documents accumulated by previous owners, to include a letter from Amazon Studios.

At the time I got this home, I had huge plans and changes ahead for it. The idea's were flying and the excitement was gaining energy. But, like most cases of eager naivety, I had no clue of what I had or how significant it would be.

Like most here, I had never seen a M3000 before only vaguely ever heard of one. So i did a little research, found out how rare they were, but even then still not deterred from my original plans at the time. I will quote what I had stated on another forum (proaudiodesignforum)in regard to this:

"Now, at some point, no matter how eager you are to re-invent the wheel, when you have something like this in front of you. You pause. Unfolding the fragile schematics is like a walk back in time to the office of Langley and company. You begin to feel the amount of work that went into building something like this in the era it was done in. Then history at some point steps in and reminds you, only 15 of these were ever built."

Even then (2 weeks ago) I was unaware of the true number M3000's actually built. Today that statement is even more profound. The more I researched the more I became aware of just how remarkable of console this thing already is. Through simple google searches or speaking with fellow engineers whom have used this console, one thing was clear, this was not going to be a re-design of my idea's but a refurbishing of possibly the most underrated console ever created. Yes, my search did end up with communication directly with Graham Langley and Nick Franks. The closer we look at my particular console and it's details, the higher the belief is, that it is in fact the console from Amazon Studios, UK. (if you view the pics of the one in Amazon and compare it to mine, they are identical) There is more, that identifies it as coming from there. The frame and its construction type, were and when it was built, etc. The serial number will be verified once the "Serial number book" is located.

All the complaints about this console can be easily corrected and in my case will be. You will get to see every step, if you are so interested.

Joel

Comments

audiokid Sun, 04/28/2013 - 17:50
indeed!

Re image size:
Dropbox will work but damn, if you close the account then the images are gone here and we might want to look back on this thread 20 year from now
. I don't know what else to do about the file size issue. We need to be so careful of people abusing the system ( and believe me there are people that register every day just to be spammer) so I have a set number for the size.

audiokid Sun, 04/28/2013 - 18:06
This may come as a surprise but I hate Facebook and want no part of it. However, I know most people are loving it so thats cool by me however, I'm not worried about you going away Joel, but rumors are , like all empires, FB will fall.

That all being said, I can't see them unless I've signed up. :(



But, I think you might actually be able to upload them there, then copy them to RO and they would be optimized then. Dunno..
Lots a hassle. This will be fun regardless of the pics disappearing overtime . Max's thread is a masterpiece.

audiokid Sun, 04/28/2013 - 19:14
lol! Trouble is what we thrive on, or setting to record straight.
When I saw you here the other day, I knew it was a like old times. You read my mind. I immediately PM you back and then jumped in the truck, high tailed it to the store, stocked up on Single Malt and salty food for at least 6 months man! For gawd sake, don't let us down!

 
Attached files

Gette Sun, 04/28/2013 - 19:56
Nothing will be as challenging as a certain german whom i even had to address in german! but, you are right it was fun and in the end, we all gained something. Nothing was ever personal, just proper vetting of a topic. I welcome questions, even the ones that question my statements or opinions. Its the only way to allow a group to gain from an experience. The real reason for starting this topic was not to create envy. I wanted the story of Amek to be known. So much is unknown about the company and little credit is given to GL in the audio industry as a whole. As some one who looks over schematics daily. I am telling you, the design of this desk is just incredible and i can see why so many had such strong positive remarks for it. That is why i am here, to honestly share the whole experience. the good, the bad, the ugly and the remarkable.

Joel

Gette Mon, 04/29/2013 - 21:07
To be honest, my mind is a wash of idea's. How can I make this thread be more then just a picture book? Aside from the console itself and gaining the insight into what it is and how it was made... What else does the forum want to know? IE: how to replace old DBX 202's with new variants, How to modify consoles that use the old type reed relays to use modern versions. this list could get long... Although most of this information could be found elsewhere, should it be restated here?

Dunno really, maybe a picture book with a little sideline talk About GL, NF and Amek maybe exactly what is needed, nothing more/nothing less.

Davedog Tue, 04/30/2013 - 10:17
The picture book sounds like a nice idea. Being available for pertinent questions about specific build items is also a great idea.

On a side note.....several years ago when I first started the current studio (version 5 now!) I almost bought a pristine Angela for a very low number and kick myself everytime I think about not doing so. It was owned by a Pop/Rock music star at the time and he was extremely meticulous about taking care of his gear. The fellow that bought it took it to a small town and it sits in his private studio probably doing not much. Also a Langley designed board.

The latest I hear about Amek lines is they are (or have) built a broadcast board and it has been rebranded by Soundcraft.....Does this mean the end of this company? I'll look into it.

On another side, I almost always forget to include them in the BIG SEVEN discussions of the Consoles That Made Recording History. There are as many Ameks on famous records as the 'others'.

Kurt Foster Tue, 04/30/2013 - 11:36
The latest I hear about Amek lines is they are (or have) built a broadcast board and it has been rebranded by [="http://www.soundcraft.com/"]Soundcraft[/]="http://www.soundcra…"]Soundcraft[/].....Does this mean the end of this company? I'll look into it.


read that [[url=http://="http://www.langley-…"]link i posted[/]="http://www.langley-…"]link i posted[/]. Amek is owned by Harman ...

the Angela was built in response largley to the MCI 600 series.

Gette Tue, 04/30/2013 - 19:15
Harman International purchased Amek in 1993. They closed the doors on the brand in 2004. The Amek broadcast console BB100, that is now being produced under the Soundcraft Brand name, was due to a high demand for it's return.... Maybe they may get a clue and re-launch Amek. Or better yet, sell it to some one who believes in the brand and the products they had produced. ....

As far as the console is concerned, just waiting on a large order of cable.... will have some great pics of that spaghetti bowl! :cool:

Working on more images to share...

Gette Sat, 05/11/2013 - 13:37
Here is a pic of the console in its original installed location at Amazon Studios. Pic is from philsbook.com which also offers a quick history of Amazon Studios.

 

Right now just anxious to get to rewiring the frame. A large job, but a big start in the process of bringing her back to life. I am also going over every module to identify the "Missing" parts, that have been removed over the years. I will say, resourcing is going to be an interesting adventure.

A note: For those who are looking for the schematics of this console whom either own one or a module (to rack). The copies I have are very large and fragile, I have only found one location willing enough to scan them, however, the scans are of very poor quality. I need to find a flatbed scanner large enough to make good, readable copies.

Any ideas in the vegas area?

Joel
Attached files

Gette Sat, 06/22/2013 - 13:28
It is still a work in progress. Cabling is taking more time then I wanted it to. But when you can only work on it in free time outside the daily responsibilities and Family duties... Makes for slow progress, will get some pics up of Progress as it stands in a week or so... Once the cabling is down,,, the rest will be a joy and will come together quickly.....

Gette Mon, 08/26/2013 - 20:04
Well here we are some months later... Now the Fun begins. In truth I was working slow knowing I will be shortly relocating to a new location. I did not want to start and have to move the console in a partial state. It is allot easier to move this console in pieces and in the condition it was in. The frame was surprisingly light once the cage/bucket was removed.... However even with a huge amount the wire removed, it was an incredible beast to move... The console is now in the room it will live in for at least the next few yrs,, Cage is set up for rewire. however, will look at ways to lift it up further from the ground in the next few days. I will Try to stay deligent and updating this forum on progress, even if its only one wire installed....diddlydoo

here is the bucket exposing all her delicate parts

 
Attached files
x

Register

Your recently read content