Old 1950's/60's sound....

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by therecordingart, Sep 4, 2004.

  1. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Hey everyone, I just want to start out by thanking everyone that responds to my posts....in the past few weeks of lurking and posting newbie questions....you've helped me turn my projects into respectable pieces of work (in my eyes). Here is one that may not be so easy to answer without spending a lot of time typing....

    I really love the malt shop sound from the 50's. Run Around Sue is the first song that pops in my head, and I'm sure that gives you a general idea of what I'm thinking. Anyways, I can't get enough of the warmth, reverb, and feel of this music. Sure it lacks the punch/brightness of the music today, but it has warmth that you don't hear in music today. (I'm using warmth loosely and can't describe what I hear with any other words, but I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about).

    Here is my question...is the gear they used then still available today? Can you name any products I can search for on the net?

    My idea, like many other studios, is to start a hybrid of digital/analog to capture the best of both worlds. Instead of using analog gear from the 70's/80's...I'm looking more toward that of the 50's. Like I said, I can't get enough of that sound.

    I know that the gear of that time is now considered antique and is probably worth a fortune.

    Does my idea sound off the wall trying to combine that sound with the sound of today? I know I need to start with a tape machine...are there any that you recommend? My idea on this is when I'm tracking drums is to not only have the drums record to my hard disk, but then be routed out of my board to the tape machine. That way I can toy around with both realms....I'd also try guitar/bass/vocals of course.

    I just wanted to rant a little on this, hopefully it is something that is enjoyable for the pro engineers in this community to ponder instead of my usual ignorant questions.
  2. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Aug 12, 2003
    That sounds interesting!!

    Since it's from the 50' tube gear was the only thing availeble.

    Take a look at:

    Western Electric Pre's and Comp's
    Altec Pre's and comp's
    Siemens Pre's
    Telefunken mixers, pre's and comp's
    EAB mixer's and stuff...
    The Neumann U47 mic with original VF14 tube and original capsule.
    Some other German mic's was around at the time...

    And then the Studer C37(2track), the Revox G36 and the Studer J37(4track...Uups i think it's from the 60'ties).

    Happy hunting
  3. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    Check THIS out.

  4. KTek

    KTek Guest

    damn, i'd love to do a modern rock album up in there!! :cool:

    my old recording professor told us that back before tape they basically had "one-shot" recordings. they basically cut some sort of record like a vinyl as they were recording. they'd get a mix sounding as best they could, practice the songs till the audio file was scribed into their brains, and they had to stick it!!! if they made a mistake, they either threw away the bad record, or they lived with the mistake. he said that was still going on well into the 50's, but this is all just off my memory, i wish i knew more specifics about it all.
  5. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    Just want to throw in a few cents of my own....

    My first piano teacher was Rudy Adler. I didn't know until many years later that he was a renowned side-man during the big band era. He played almost every brass and woodwind instrument which made him invaluable at recording sessions, negating the need to hire several people to enhance recordings as it was standard practice to add additional musicians when recording. In the late Fifties until the final show in the mid-Sixties he was concert-master for the Jackie Gleason Orchestra. Oh, just for fun, he played on the theme song for I Love Lucy, among others.

    When I spoke with him years later about recording, in the 30's and 40's, the way a song was "mixed" was to arrange the band or orchestra in a semi-circle around the mic (yes, one mic) and begin playing. The engineer would "mix" by having sections or individual instruments move closer to or further away from the mic as needed. So all recordings of the era are one-shot live performances, no overdubs, no edits, no "fix-it-in-the-mix" to a wax master.

    Movies were done the same way, but you had to be completely attuned to the conductor who was the only person who could see the visuals of the movie. You had to follow his direction implicitly to be sure that the hits, etc. matched the cues. Jack Foley and others performed footsteps, etc. in the same way. If you missed a cue you went back and did it again, and again, and again, and again, and again.......... until it was right.

    In the Fifties it was similar. I spent seven years as musical director for the Del Vikings and spent hours listening to "war" stories from countless legends of the era. If you listen closely you can hear many mistakes, out-of-tune instruments, odd sounds in the background. (I forget which Elvis song it is, but you can hear someone using the soda machine at the end of one of his tracks during the fade-out.) The reason for this is that there were two tracks, one for music and one for vocals. Punching in was chancy at best, so it was very infrequently used. So the band track and the vocal track were, for the most part, one-shot live through the song, even if recorded separately. But the most important thing was the feel, the groove; "It's got a great beat and you can dance to it!" was the mantra of the day. Even Beatles' tunes were recorded in a similar fashion, as well as the bulk of the Motown stuff of the Sixties. So the "sound" is in the way it was recorded, live to tape.
  6. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Awesome. I did check out the website for the studio above....man is that cool! I've had a rough day, and that put a smile back on my face!
  7. mikE@THECAVE

    mikE@THECAVE Guest

    yea get yourself some tube preamps and tube mics for starters -it would be cool to build a echo chamber for vocals
  8. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2004
    Quakertown PA
    I think it's a great idea. I love the old analog sounds myself. The warmth and intimacy of those old recordings have been lost with today's polished digital sounds. I had an old 4 track reel to reel from the late 70's that my band bought new at that time to make demo's. I used it for years until a transformer near my house was struck by lightning at it fried along with some other gear. I know it's not 50's gear but I really miss that old machine. I now work in digital but after hearing your ideas I might have to look on Ebay for a used analog deck. That way I can have the best of both worlds. Thanks for the inspiration.
  9. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    You honestly don't know how good that last comment made me feel. I've been really down on my luck lately, and that really helped! Thank you!
  10. TYY

    TYY Guest

    Nowadays it is all about SEPARATION in the sound.

    To get that old sound you need BLENDING of the instruments.

    The 50's - early 60s sound is less about GEAR and more about TECHNIQUE.

    Use less mics, less tracks, more bleed, more ambience.

    20-20 bandwidth is not necessarily your friend. Many great sounding old recordings (to my ears at least) have little information above 10Khz.

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