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What Do Australian's Know About Sound?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by stedel, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. stedel

    stedel Guest

    G'day folks. To any of you interested enough to drop in - welcome. Hope you find the following interesting. If you already know this, sorry for wasting your time.

    We have a great industry magazine here called "Audio Technology". In issue 18, Rick O'Neil of Turtlerock Mastering in Sydney ran his usual column with the moniker "What would an Australian know about sound?". Apparently Rick was slightly miffed about the reception he got when in Ireland.
    In fact the first part of his article is a sustained tirade against the Irish. (point taken Rick but it's gonna be a while before anybody shouts you a Guiness man!!!)

    Anyway in a fit of patriotic pique Rick ran the following (which as you can see I've quoted at length!). Most people would be aware that companies like Rhode Microphones and Fairlight had/have their origins in Australia. But there were a couple of surprises for me in Rick's article. Maybe some of you would be surprised to find out where some of your of gear originated.
    But then again....what would I know right?

    "At the end of World War 11, with Europe flattened and the rest of the world's industry scattered to the wind, the world's leaders set up trade agreements which lasted well into the 60's./ Different countries worked in different areas of expertise. The Indians would make the rubber, the Americans made the tyres. Meanwhile, Australians produced whatever they could (usually wool and wheat). But in one very interesting electronic trade agreement between America and Australia, amalgamated wireless A.W.A. and R.C.A. America figured a good use of resources was that America would make one kind of vacuum tube and Australia would make another. Both countries would label the tubes as if RCA made them all. RCA made most of the world's vacuum tube amplifiers (ie the gain stage) and AWA made more complex power and radio types. Some bright spark in AWA Sydney Australia invented a radio tube whose output could be varied depending on a sidechain circuit within it and created the vari-mu tube. This is interesting because when applied to RCA gain circuits (and with a lot of trickery), hey presto you have the makings of the best compressors/limiters ever heard. If you've ever heard a Fairchild limiter or a RCA BA6 that's the sound of an Australian vari-mu tube pumping away, and that was the sound of recorded music - nearly every record ever made and broadcasted prior to end of 1970 was flowing with one of our tubes. Open up any sound magazine and look for the word vari-mu, its still as popular as ever.

    In 1970 some clever Australian chaps, Thiele and Small, took on the task of creating formulas for making predictable speaker boxes. Their formulas when applied to vented bass boxes are the primary design rules for low frequency systems. Every time you hear a subwoofer, you are hearing the sound of some Australian shaking your insides out.

    Lets not forget the clever Australian Bruce Jackson who figured out in 1985 the digital rules as applied by the Sony Corporation were not right. And when everybody else was marvelling at the wonders of digital recording, Bruce, an Australian, was fixing the sound, getting rid of the harshness. His digital filters were retro fitted into nearly every Sony and Mitsubishi digital recorder and lots and lots of 1630 mastering system. Bruce's gone on to do other things now, but at the time his work established a premier digital audio company. You may have heard of it....Apogee Electronics.

    And what about Avalon stuff? Winton Morro figured out way before anybody I ever heard, that outboard preamps were better then running through the console. He came into Festival Studio's (hey I've recorded there!-Stedel) in the late '80's with his beautiful boxes that use class A discrete circuits running on 80 volt rails (that's about the theoretical maximum voltage). His first couple of prototypes used to blow about one day in 10. When I asked him why he used 80 volt rails when they fail one time in 10 he said "because high voltage gives you massive headroom and massive headroom sounds better. I use 80 volt systems which I can nearly get stable most of the time, because 81 volts blows up everytime". The Avalon stuff has been rock solid for over 10 years now and because no one in Australia would support his vision for superlative sound, Avalon moved to America. So now we're in a weird position of lusting after American gear that in fact's really Australian.

    Oh yeah...what about Duntech's speakers? Duntech are internationally renowned as being the best hifi speakers on the planet. Guess what? They make 'em in Adelaide."

    Course if he's wrong, remember, don't shoot me - Im only the messenger.

    Kind regards on top down under
  2. wiggy

    wiggy Guest

    Hey Stedel!!!!

    What Rick says in his rant is very true. Rick has been around the block a few times and is pretty much on top of all things audio...

    He does have nice studio in the milbar complex..

    It is a shame that we as Australians can be a bit short sighted when it comes to things related to Audio. What Rick relates to in is Avalon is so damn true. Wyn Morro must be laughing all the way to the bank as there is so much Avalon....especially 737's in studios here in Australia, we must have given him enough $$ to build his own retirement home.. lol

    And many of Australia's finest Neve consoles have found there way to LA, NY or somewhere else. After the gear sharks went through Australia there are only a handful (less than 4) of classic neves now left in Australia.

    But the coolest is never going to be sold. Its the one where i do a bit of hothouse and it's still rocking after 27 yrs. 8024

    Ozzies ROCK!!!
  3. Irene

    Irene Guest

    Well my folks are Irish and while signed to Japanese run JVC I had UK based Australian management and worked with the adorable and legendary UK based Australian producer Julian Mendelsohn....
    It's no news to me that Australia rocks :)
  4. chealy

    chealy Guest

    What were our Irish friends basing their impressions of Australian engineering on? The quality of music recording coming out of Australia? Maybe it 's more a problem of differing tastes. Can anyone turn me on to some great sounding Australian albums to check out?
  5. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Well now you see chealy...How would YOU feel if somebody said "Can somebody turn me on to some great sounding English albums to check out?"

    You'd think what?
    Nah doesn't matter...look out mate that bus is just about to run over you!!!

    Anybody else out there hasn't heard any "great sounding" Australian music in the last 37 years?

    Geez, yer bum's that interesting? :) :cool:
  6. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    Speaking of Austrailia and sound, I believe the Rode mics have taken the industry by storm. Great product, very well made and getting great revues.

    As to good Austrailian songs, I have the double CD of The Little River Band and those tunes have held up really well over the years.

    Of course I'm old so what do I know?
  7. chealy

    chealy Guest

    Whoa - seemed to have touched a raw nerve with Stedel! Serious question though...
  8. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Home Page:
    Great Australian bands that I love include: "Hunters & Collectors", "The Church" and "ICEHOUSE"
  9. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    "Tie me kangaroo down, sport / tie me kangaroo down . . ." ;)

  10. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Good waive of your flag there Stedle.

    Good on ya!

  11. B Callaway

    B Callaway Active Member

    Dec 30, 2001
    As an Aussie muso/producer myself, my view is that Australians over the years have been very good technically however they have lacked good "ears" in many cases. I got very frustrated many times with the "we don't do that here approach" and many other technically hungup rules. I know many other such stories. Many bands here either record o/s or use an o/s producer. Many local productions didn't cut it.

    Sure the general sound of our productions has increased but lets not go overboard yet.

    Sure we have many technical claims to fame in mnay idustries - do you know that airplane black boxes were invented here - true. The problem was there was no support locally :w: so off to the USA goes the patent.

    But lets not gild the lily, we have to be confident that we can produce world class sounds not because we invented some good techo stuff.

    University of Woolloomooloo
  12. lavoz

    lavoz Guest


    The latest from those great minds "down under" might be a high-end amp by the name of "Halcro." They can be a bit pricey, but when you start to measure distortion by the billions, I guess you'll have to pay for it!
  13. stedel

    stedel Guest

  14. stedel

    stedel Guest

    G'day chealy..well yeah a little bit of a raw one. :cool:
  15. stedel

    stedel Guest

    "Once a jolly swagman
    Camped by a billabong
    Under the shade of a coolabah tree..."

    (then there was the squatter, the troopers (one,two, three), the jumbug, the tucker bag,
    his billy, his mathilda, and of course, waltzing..and his ghost.)
  16. Ted Nightshade

    Ted Nightshade Active Member

    Dec 9, 2001
    "Watch me wallabies feed, sport, watch me wallabies feed
    They're a dangerous breed, sport, so watch me wallabies feed"
  17. daniel_c

    daniel_c Guest

    Hmmm Bruce , Bruce , Bruce...

    I've been wondering whether i should throw my two cents in about all this. I'll try not to go off on a tangent here while I make a couple of points. :)

    Australia has a very small music market , especially when compared to the USA. A platinum album is 70,000 untis here compared to 1,000,000 over there. The size of our market has an effect on production budgets and the production infrastructure.


    I'm not sure what you mean by this. I'm not trying to be a smart arse about this :) :D

  18. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Cool. There you go folks. A reputation for high end taste, skill, attention to detail, precise and extremely quality consciousness and control, spunks, finely crafted, researched and executed designs, lusted after.

    Hey I like me more already!!!!!!
    AND WE'VE GOT A CRICKET TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Which I'm not sure how I feel about. I go with the late great Douglass Adams on this.
  19. stedel

    stedel Guest

    Actually I'm not aware that the wallaby is dangerous at all. The only danger maybe is that they possess an over abundance of cuteness which attracts millions of tourist. However some twisted people think this is a ghood thing.

    Now Cassowary's. They're a different matter. This is a bird that grows to more than six feet tall.
    They're like those raptors in Jurrasic Park. They'll stalk you, outrun you, and rip your guts out. Leterally, slash you wide open. There are on average three deaths a year in the Northern Territory from Cassowary attacks. Basically if one targets you, unless you;ve got a gun or a friend who just happens to have a killer boomerang or a spear and knows how to use them...fast..there's not much you can do.

    How would you like that on your little funeral notice?
    a. Cause of death - giant six foor bird.

  20. chealy

    chealy Guest

    Thanks for the suggestions - must admit I'd forgotten about Icehouse ("Hey little girl..)
    You may be interested to know that Hunters and Collectors seem to be available only on import in the UK. I'll check out The Church though - the latest album is available on through a well known Internet retailer.
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