Saturday, 23 January 2010

Soundcraft Stuff

I drove up to Manchester / Oldham today to pick up these beauties from ebay. We are turning studio 2 into a an analogue room so we can record bands and stuff. Thanks to Mike Tunng! More to follow on this, but here are pics of the new Soundcraft Series 2 console [mid 70s] and the Soundcraft 760 2 inch 16 track

I met the sellers in Oldham where they are building a great looking studio in an old mill. They have a lot of space, the live room is 3000 sq ft. Really nice guys! [they gave me an old copy of Electronics and Music Maker from 1983 that had this picture of Keith Emerson on the cover. Nice mixer!]

Phaser Tests

I decided to make a comparison of the varoius Phaser units around the studio [and the 2 new ones I got in the post today - the Smallstone and Mu Tron. Thanks Omidyar!]

The test material is a Linn LM1 sequence going through the Studer 902 mixer with some Lexicon 224 on the snare, some Telefunken spring reverb on the bass drum, and the toms and hh are going through a Roland SBF-325 Flanger and Vesta digital delay. The whole lot is then going through a dbx 118 compressor. Its all in mono too becase the phasers are all mono

Okay, so here's a taste of the phasers. They were all set to full phase with slow modulation

1] Electro-Harmonix Smallstone phaser. This one is from the Cold War era. It's quite an interesting story probably and I haven't googled it yet but the result is a a black box that looks like a land mine

2] MXR Commande Series [1981]. A cheap plastic pedal that replaced the Phase 90 orange pedals of the 70s

3] Mu Tron Phasor II. This was released in the late 70s, and is exactly the same as one half of the Bi Phase phasor phaser

4] Roland 100M 172 module. From the lovely 1978 modular series

5] Serge Modular. Made in the mid 70s in california and uses bananas

Monday, 18 January 2010

Solar Point, The Moon

When I was in California I was secretly scouting for dream houses. I saw a lot of cool places and decided if I was to one day move out there it would be Beverley Hills, Mullholland Drive, Hollywood Hills that I would want to be. Who wouldn't? But today I found this property which is in the desert 2 hours from Hollywood but might as well be on the moon. It would make the perfect Boutique-Recording-Studio-Pod experience

Skyview Dome House- Harold J. Bissner, 1968. Built in a starkly beautiful desert location, this home by famed architect Howard J. Bissner is a futuristic dwelling that is high drama from the moment it appears on the horizon. It sits, or rather has landed, on a 150 ft. cinder cone where it surveys 60 acres of wild, untamed desert-scape

The house is a dome with slender legs that hug the top of hill. As you snake your way up the drive that spirals around the hill, making your way to the top, your first views of the house are impressive, but not nearly so awe-inspiring as the views of the desert landscape that surround you. Once you reach the top of the hill though, the architecture takes on a more prominent role in your experience. The 2500 sq. ft. structure is composed of massive curved timber beams that form a dome, all open-beam wood on the inside, and covered with a smooth stucco shell on the outside, with arched openings around the entire perimeter of the house. The shell-like dome reaches beyond the outer wall of the house, which is an uninterrupted 360 degrees of glass, to create a deep overhang that shades the interior from the brilliant desert sun

From the interior, these arches frame 360 degrees of breathtaking desert and mountain views, as well a private 4 acre lake and gorgeous sunsets. The rooms of the open-plan interior radiate out from a central service core of natural stone that contains the 2 bathrooms and storage areas. Carved out of the stone cylinder, a fireplace surrounded by a sunken conversation pit is a focal point of the living area. Partial block walls create the spaces for a hallway and two large bedrooms, while leaving the space overhead completely open, emphasizing the loft-like openness of the home. There is also a fully-equipped kitchen, open to the living space, that features original wood cabinetry matching the built-ins that surround the conversation pit

More than a beautiful, comfortable place to live that provides a feeling of shelter and security, this home is a means to transport the occupant to endless views of the mountains, lake, desert floor and hills of ancient volcanic rock. It is fitting then, that it should resemble a space ship. From any of the 18 sliding glass doors, from the 600 sq. ft. sundeck, or from the observation deck at the very top of the dome, the views that this home affords are otherworldly

from this website
$750,000 [£460,000]

Sunday, 17 January 2010

My MCI Trip

Now that the MCI 416 is fully up and running in studio one, I thought it was time to post pictures of the acquisition

After finding the desk on ebay and contacting Jack, the seller, I paid him a deposit and made my travel arrangements. I left London at 0900 hours local time from Paddington

The flight was delayed by several hours due to bad sky. However eventually I was on my way

I arrived at Daytona beach and it was sort of still the same day, a very long one... But I was pretty excited to see the desk and finally meet Jack, so he came and picked me up

On the way to his place there was a crazy storm boiling up, which it seems is quite normal for Florida. I thought it was meant to be really sunny and nice all the time....

There she is! While we were going through some rudimentory tests and things his house took a direct lightning hit and it blew his power out. I will never, ever forget that moment, storms are exciting. Luckily no damage was done and I went back to the hotel


The next day Jack [on left] enlisted the help of two strong friends and we spent the day getting the console into Rick's [far right] SUV. It fitted in with less than an inch to spare! Then we went to the pub and got very drunk. Jack is a very kind and special man who is a bit of a legend having worked as a producer in Nashville for years and that's the sort of person you want to spend the evening with in a local bar. I had walked on to the set of Cheers. The MCI itself had spent most of it's life in Nashville, and had been used on many great recordings. Chris Kimsey ( Rolling Stones engineer-producer) spilled a cup of coffee into it on one occasion. According to Jack [aka Stackatrack] "I was sleeping in the front office couch when he awoke me at 3 AM saying "Stack, I believe we got a bit of a problem"...when I got to the control room the meters were all pegged and the monitors were crying quite loudly....I powered it down and called the MCI service tech@ 3:30 AM...He got it up & running in a couple hours and for the next 30 years never let me forget waking him up"

Rick took the SUV back to his garage and parked it up for the night. He had driven it into the garage with people in the front with him and it only just fitted. When we came to get it out the car had risen up and now it was wedged inside his garage. We had to let air out of the tyres to get it out

I stayed at Rick's house which was cool because he had a drum kit and studio set up in his front room, which overlooked the pool where I had a night-swim in the rain. We left For Miami that same night at 4am. Rick is a very interesting person who has a theory about Atomic Physics and how to create world peace and harmony and free energy. This is what we discussed on our epic 5 hour road trip south to Miami. All to the soundtrack of his crazy-ass tropical music! At one point he started playing harmonica solos over the top of it

Finally we get to Miami and find this really remote little office in the giant sprawling airport. The company I chose to transport this delicate item are called Dangerous Goods Of America and usually transport very dangerous stuff like explosives and chemical warfares. I left it in their capable hands

I spent the rest of the week in LA visiting Richard and family and generally checking out that scene, and then I was on my way back home, via the Grand Canyon

Eventually the MCI arrived here in London after being held up in customs for a few weeks. When it arrived we got millions of polystyrene peanuts everywhere

I kept it upstairs for a few months while Alan went through it all and I made space downstairs in studio one. There was very little that needed doing to, just as Jack had said

And here it is in place, and it is amazing and well worth all that hard work getting it over here. Thanks to Jack and everyone I met on my trip I truly hope to see you all again one day