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Author Topic: About Sixties Reverb:  (Read 26198 times)

Offline canada

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About Sixties Reverb:
« on: January 29, 2005, 05:46:27 pm »
I heard stories in school about the verb chambers that were used at EMI back in the day.  When you listen to mid to early Beatles recordings, the reverb is gorgeous. Just flawless.

Does anyone here know more about this procedure?  Which studios employ/employed these chambers, who builds/built them?  Any anecdotes about them?

I'm also a huuuge Beach Boys fan, but I can't seem to find out about what kind of reverb devices were used at Gold Star or Western or even Motown in the sixties.  Wondering if they were plate or even spring reverbs instead of the chambers.

Thanks in advance!
If you can't tell, I'm a reverb junkie.

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Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2005, 12:18:10 am »
It was ALL of the above! A GOOD plate often sounded better than a mediocre chamber but we used them in any imaginable combination.

Offline compasspnt

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2005, 09:52:09 am »
Yes, as Bob says, it was "all of the above."  At Abbey Road there were (back then) three chambers.  The one The Beatles used the most was the one in Studio 2.  It had several clay pipes placed randomly around the room, and was mic'ed with Neumann KM56 valves.   I have used it many times, and it was indeed amazing; short delay, but very much character.  Not sure, but it may still be there.  It was to Ringo's left (if you look at the photos of his drum kit in the back corner of the room.  The door to it was under the clock in the centre rear.) AR also had great EMT plates.

At Stax we had a couple of very wierd chambers, concrete, long, narrow, dank, wet, and the home of a rat or two, down in the basement. But they, too sounded awesome.  I think the mics there were EV's.

EMT plates were heavily used in the 60's.

Here at Compass Point, I recently cleared out all the old equipment, boxes, and other assorted collected junk from one of the two old chambers upstairs.  I put one KRK speaker in it, and two Beyer mics.  The sound of it blew me away.  We have good EMT's and I use them and love them all the time.  But this chamber...wow.

The convenience and space saving of modern digital units makes them attractive, inexpensive, and easy to patch in and use.  But there is no comparison to a GOOD chamber or a well tuned plate.

Best to all,

Terry M

Offline David Kulka

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2005, 10:46:32 am »
In the 60's there were basically two ways to get reverb -- echo chambers and EMT plates (which were introduced in '57).

As I recall, Chamber 3 at Western (the one connected to Studio 3, where the Beach Boys hits were made) was in the back of the building, about 8 x 15 with non parallel walls and a sloping (or maybe sawtooth) ceiling.  The walls, ceiling, and floor were covered with several coats of shiny varnish and the room was sealed with a "meat locker" door.  There were two speakers at one end (Altec 604's?) and two microphones, the location escapes me now.  I made a sketch of it one time, I should find it one of these days.

The sound of the room would change depending on humidity and temperature.  There were several other echo chambers at Western, and one of them could only be accesssed from the back alley.  One time an engineer heard weird noises in his echo returns, it turned out that a homeless guy was camping out in the chamber!
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Offline antti

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2005, 11:14:45 am »
Abbey Road still has the echo chamber in studio 2 and
6 EMT plates if I remember right. Terry, you recorded
Isaac Hayes's 'Walk On By', right? One of my all time
favourites and a reference. What was your approach
to that? Mics, mic placement? What was the set up for strings?
12-2-2? Was it cut live or did you overdub some parts? Thanks,

Antti

Offline J.J. Blair

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2005, 02:10:37 pm »
FYI, if you are using Altiverb for your DAW, they have the United Western reverb chambers sampled and available.  They also have Wendy Carlos's EMT 140 plate, which when mixing in the box, is probably the verb I use 95% of the time.
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Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2005, 02:32:41 pm »
David Kulka wrote on Sun, 30 January 2005 09:46

In the 60's there were basically two ways to get reverb -- echo chambers and EMT plates (which were introduced in '57)...

There were the 3 Fs, Fisher, Fender and Fairchild... Laughing

Offline RMoore

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2005, 02:53:41 pm »
I have 2 of the F's: Fisher & Fairchild,
The Fisher Spaceexpander sounds cool in its special way...
I use it a lot..
Both are pretty noisy.
I haven't used the Fairchild in ages..
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Offline Bradley Danyluk

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2005, 01:34:12 am »
It's funny, I absolutely detest the reverb sounds on old albums, especially the Beatles.

I guess it's a generational thing... I was an 80's child and really got into music in the 90's so I far prefer modern recordings. I try and try but simply cannot "get" the supposed magic of the old recordings. Everything sounds thin and weak to me, like they're on the other end of a tin-and-string-phone. It only sounds good on a top-shelf system, and that's not my style of mixing. The reverbs bug me most of all. It's dark and too big and there's just too much of it!

Just an alternate perspective. I know it's blasphemy but I can't help it.
Bradley Danyluk
Vanilla Dome Studios
Vancouver, Canada

Offline David Kulka

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2005, 01:34:23 am »
"There were the 3 Fs, Fisher, Fender and Fairchild..."

I guess I should have said "high quality reverb"
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Offline WhyKooper

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2005, 01:53:27 am »
I never liked Beatles/Abbey Road reverb much either.  But boy...I LOVE those dvd Anthology remixes.  Including the way the reverb sounds now.  I'm still trying to figure out if the guys who remixed this stuff used new reverb or the old AR equipment.  I've tried getting more info, but contacting those people at Abbey Road is like trying to walk into Ft Knox.

By taking all those original slave reels, syncing up the slave tracks, and remixing stuff like "Penny Lane"...getting it's 37 "un-submixed" tracks sorted out and mixed in the new way...it's just so GOOD sounding.  I've been listening to both the stereo and surround mixes for over a year now.  My gripe is that the entire songs aren't always there on the dvd Anthology.  I don't know why there's not just a section of music "only" on the dvd as was done on the Yellow Submarine package.

Offline Bobro

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2005, 02:16:53 am »
dasbin wrote on Wed, 02 February 2005 06:34

It's funny, I absolutely detest the reverb sounds on old albums, especially the Beatles.

I guess it's a generational thing... I was an 80's child and really got into music in the 90's so I far prefer modern recordings. I try and try but simply cannot "get" the supposed magic of the old recordings. Everything sounds thin and weak to me, like they're on the other end of a tin-and-string-phone. It only sounds good on a top-shelf system, and that's not my style of mixing. The reverbs bug me most of all. It's dark and too big and there's just too much of it!

Just an alternate perspective. I know it's blasphemy but I can't help it.


Only some one who never understood a word the Beatles said would get on your back for speaking your mind honestly.

For example, I find PF's Dark Side of the Moon, which was proffered as the pinnacle of recording art in recording class, sonic kitsch.

Brubeck's "Time Out", now that's a recording IMO, with sweet use of space- it just shimmers with golden-orange light. Fred Plaut is credited as engineer, also on other recordings I think sound great but I never see him mentioned in articles and forums, don't know a thing about him.

Personally I love even older recordings, 50s back through 20s, especially old East Bloc recordings (Melodiya). Talk about "dark"- yet to my ears just glowing with light.

Those are room reverberation.

-Bobro









Offline claveslave

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2005, 03:09:59 am »
WhyKooper wrote on Wed, 02 February 2005 01:53

I don't know why there's not just a section of music "only" on the dvd as was done on the Yellow Submarine package.


Probably because the Yellow Submarine re-mixes are a complete disgrace.

Offline pontuso

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2005, 04:13:05 am »
[quote title=dasbin wrote on Wed, 02 February 2005 06:34]It's funny, I absolutely detest the reverb sounds on old albums, especially the Beatles.


  In my opinion there is a huge difference depending on what albums you listen to. Up to Sgt Pepper I only listened to the UK mono albums ,which if I´m correct where the only mix sessions Beatles attended(No one was interested in stereo). US Capitol wanted to remix early Beatles albums & singles for the American market. They believed that the UK mixes in general were a little to dry. There are some horrible examples. The guy responsible for the  Capitol remixes of "I feel fine" and "She´s a woman" should be declared "enemy of good taste". Of the UK releases I think the first "Please please me" album where a little to reverberant, but hell, it sounded great on radio.

Offline JamSync

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Re: About Sixties Reverb:
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2005, 04:23:46 am »
Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 30 January 2005 05:18

It was ALL of the above! A GOOD plate often sounded better than a mediocre chamber but we used them in any imaginable combination.


Bill Porter told me that RCA NY used to call down to Nashville and demand that he tell them how he set up his EMT and he would always refuse! He really got a kick out of it...not to mention the great sound he got on those Everly Brothers' records. I believe one of his tricks was that he used the airconditioning to keep the plates chilled so the 140 sounded brighter.