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Author Topic: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger  (Read 46457 times)

tombola

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Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« on: March 22, 2005, 03:09:01 am »

Hi Terry - This is my first post on REP and I'm a little bit in awe - 'I'll Take You There' is one my my favourite-sounding records ever, perhaps second only to Chris Blackwell's work with Grace Jones at Compass Point.
I recently read this story: http://www.pastemagazine.com/action/article?article_id=1467 about the Flickinger console built for Sly Stone. It's pretty hyped up, but got me really interested in Dan Flickinger - but there's only a tiny amount of information on the web. (Although I did read that he bought five of the first batch of ten minimoogs!)
In another post on this site, GM said that Flickinger has "been out of audio since somewhere around the time of the Ike Turner/Bolic Sound debacle" which doesn't mean much to me.
Does anyone have any stories about him or his work? It sounds like he did some great things (I read that a Flickinger 2269 was used by Robert Margouleff to record Stevie Wonder's vocals in the 70s), then disappeared.
Thanks!  
Tom

RMoore

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2005, 04:17:59 am »

Sorry to chime in here - but the folks from Key Club / Skibbe Electronics have a 'Sly Stone' Flickenger console & are apparently planning to issue a preamp based on the Flickenger - could be interesting: http://www.keyclubrecording.com/

<quote from site>

"Gear in the works

Remote gain preamp inspired by Flickinger mic pre monolithe OP                   Amp

All Skibbe Electronics products are hand built and tested at The                   Key Club Recording Co. in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Please e-mail                   skibbeelectronics@keyclubrecording.com                   or call or call 269.926.7553 for more information or to order."
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RMoore

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2005, 04:29:16 am »

BTW I just read the link above about the Kills recording & Key Club almost certainly must be the studio they found w Sly Stone Flickenger
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cgc

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2005, 07:44:56 am »

Yeah the Kills did that album at Key Club about a year ago.  Bill has tracked down a ton of info about Dan Flickinger and his consoles and he really should publish it.  I went out to Key Club to pick up a tape machine and got the whole story over about 4 hours.  It's a must hear for studio geeks.

The description of Sly's desk is pretty accurate: it does have black light paint, the meters are beyond psychedelic and the board itself is just a controller for racks of amp card based electronics.  It's also pretty temperamental according to my friend who has worked on the circuits - the EQs will blow up and oscillate!  That board is apparently the oldest parametric EQ around.

I would recommend anyone looking to do a project and wanting to get away from the city to give Bill and his studio a look.  
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wwittman

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2005, 12:47:13 pm »

We had some huge, tube compressors built by Flickinger at the Record Plant... they were very Fairchild-like (more than any other that CLAIMS that) and good sounding.
But BIG.

The one time I worked on a Flickinger console however I was underwhelmed.


Was it Fame that had one, Terry?
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William Wittman
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compasspnt

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2005, 02:07:53 pm »

Dan Flickinger was to me a very odd duck.  He was two things at once:  1) a brilliant audio technician who was in some ways quite ahead of his time (or at least he had someone somewhere who was); and 2) a snake oil-selling con artist.

At least one of his consoles was installed at Stax for some period; I don't remember if it was more than one, and for how long it stayed.  One may indeed have been at Fame, but I'm not actually sure about that.  They did have a pretty decent sound, as I remember.  But there was always something too showy and odd about them for me.

Then Dan came to our old, original Ardent Studio on National Street, probably in about '67-68 or so, and cornered me privately.  He offered me a large bribe if I would go to John Fry and talk him into buying one of the Flickinger consoles to replace our SpectraSonics/Auditronics.  I was quite taken aback by this; and it left a very bad taste in my system.  Of course the money would have been great to have, especially back then as a very young, struggling musician/engineer/producer.  But I threw him out, and went to tell John the whole story.  This then "got around" in the Memphis community, and Dan's presence there diminished somewhat.  I heard a few years later that he was sent to prison for some fraudulent activities.  Now this whole offer thing may not have been as bad as I thought at the time; I guess a "finder's fee" bonus might not have been such a bad idea, if everyone knew all the facts, and made their decisions based upon them.  But that wasn't how Dan approached it.  He was secretive, and implored me to be so, and to lie if necessary for money.

So since then, I have kept the same thoughts; I don't care how good his equipment is, or was, I wouldn't use it.

Terry
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Fig

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2005, 03:41:31 pm »

Hi there,

I saw the name Flickenger and had to read the thread.

Just wanted to note that I grew up on a Flickenger 20X20X44 at 9 East Huron in Chicago.  I really enjoyed learning on it and using it.

The equalizers were quite amazing (even if the detents pointed down - toward the operator - pan knobs were like this, too).

It was built in the days of 2" 16 track and was very proud of the fact that it had 20 inputs (four more than you need).  Of course, the 2" 24s came out and then you were four short.

The tape return section (which had 24 returns, BTW) had panning for quadraphonic and gates on the inputs.  Even the input, selsync/repro selections per track were avaialble on the console.

Its my understanding he made 'em one at a time and would custom config them as the buyer wished.  I guess that's true of many a console maker, though.

That device got moved to Fulton Market, in Chicago, where it still resides - if I'm not mistaken.  Its been a while since I have visited.

Here's a pic of the beast:



index.php/fa/876/0/






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fclayton

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2005, 03:46:39 pm »

Just curious.... does this sort of thing happen often?

And what about simple endorsements?

BTW Although it's belated.... hope you can stick around as moderator.

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electrical

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2005, 04:21:27 pm »

I will go to my deathbed claiming Flickinger consoles are the best sounding mixing desks ever made. Period.

I have worked on several, and in good repair, they have the best bass and the best high-end of any desk of their era. They crap all over anything built since. Slightly noisy, but that's a small price to pay.

There is a perfect-condition 24x8x24 at Black Box, a remarkable studio near Angers, France. I have made several dozen records on it, and I would gladly make all records on it.

The best.
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RMoore

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2005, 05:28:23 pm »

Funky looking console - very 'Star Trek', 60's style..
Gotta love that push button routing matrix off to the side!
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brewsbee

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2005, 05:30:09 pm »

Two other 70's studios with Flickengers were Nashville's Cinderalla and Muscle Shoals Sound  -- between their Universal tube and and MCI in about 78, as I recall.  Nice sounds from both during that era.
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jwhynot

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2005, 09:20:49 pm »

Quote:

and I would gladly make all records on it.

Wow that's a serious endorsement.  Steve - do you know of any of these machines in California?

Cheers
JW
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Fig

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2005, 12:19:46 pm »

Ryan Moore wrote:

"Gotta love that push button routing matrix off to the side! "

It was certainly cool, until you had to change out the lightbulbs.  Thank g*d for interns!

Mr. Albini, you could contact Paragon Recording about their Flickengers, if you are seeking one.  They had two, the one in the picture (black writing on stainless silver) and another clone which was black metal with the writing in stainless silver.  My understanding is that the black one was a prototype, and ended up being built for Sly Stone.

Their CR "C" had a small, broadcast-type Flick that was pretty cool, too.

Last time I was there, on Fulton, they were employing an Amek BIG (or some such) and the Flick was just sitting idle - I wanted to use it but the house engineer was "patched-in" and didn't want to reconfigure.  I was on a discount rate so I didn't argue - but regret it now.

Being the guy that physically moved it from 9 East Huron (four flights of marble stairs - no elevator) to Fulton Market, that Flickenger and I got to know each other pretty well. Rolling Eyes

I do agree with you, it allowed even a hack like me to make some damn good recordings in those days.  I wish I had some of the pres and eqs in my rack today!

Osci-later,

Fig  
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wwittman

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2005, 02:11:42 pm »

It's interesting, Terry, that he was trying to talk you into replacing a Spectrasonics with the Flickinger...
my recollection is that they were actually very similar sounding desks.
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William Wittman
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compasspnt

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2005, 02:35:29 pm »

wwittman wrote on Wed, 23 March 2005 14:11

It's interesting, Terry, that he was trying to talk you into replacing a Spectrasonics with the Flickinger...
my recollection is that they were actually very similar sounding desks.


I agree...same general approach, sounded similar.  He was going for the money, not caring about our sound.  But the build quality was much higher on the Spectra...at least ours, built by Auditronics.
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wwittman

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2005, 02:39:37 pm »

Yep.
Record Plant NYC had a large wraparound Spectrasonics that was also ('secretly') put together by Auditronics.

Oddly, I DIDN'T think much of the actual Auditronics desks.. I think they may have cheaped out in an effort to price compete with MCI.
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William Wittman
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compasspnt

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2005, 03:17:06 pm »

wwittman wrote on Wed, 23 March 2005 14:39

Yep.
Record Plany NYC had a large wraparound Spectrasonics that was also ('secretly') put together by Auditronics.

Oddly, I DIDN'T think much of the actual Auditronics desks.. I think they may have cheaped out in an effort to price compete with MCI.


Oui, oui (but not on me).  The actual Auditronics were nothing to write home about.  I think later he was competing with MCI, but he started well before them.  The very best desks were with the symbiotic relationship between Dilly @ SS and W. Jetton @ Audi.
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Bill Mueller

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2005, 07:03:26 pm »

Between '72 and '76 I worked on a Flickinger at CMC Studios in St. Louis, a Spectrasonics at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia and an Auditronics "Memphis Machine" in our remote truck at Sheffield. I don't know what era the Spectrasonics was, but it only had "Hi" and "Lo" eq. I also worked on an API 24/16 at Flite 3, an MCI JH416 at Sheffield, the original Sontec/Massenburg ITI console at Blue Seas Recording, and Helios and Midas live consoles. Later I worked on a custom Sheffield/Sontec hand made console, a Neve 8068, an SSL 4000E, a Trident Series 80, a Neotec Elite and a Yamaha DM 2000.

My feeble memory rates them:

Flickinger - Very hi fi, crisp and fat. Mysterious patching matrix.

API - very solid and clear. Simple and quite. Easy to use. Punchy. lots of headroom.

Spectrasonics - Warm but very soft, not my favorite. I had to boost the highs alot.

Memphis Machine - noisy, bad pots, transistor sound, thin and dull at the same time.

MCI JH 416 - better than Memphis Machine but by just a little, transistors, harsh

Sontec - Clear and neutral, quiet but not punchy. Tempermental. Great EQ!

NEVE - Open and clear. Very effective eq. High end could be boosted without harshness.

SSL - PUNCH. Snap, Control. Power. Real automation.

Trident - Clear, edgy, punchy but not a lot of control.

Neotec - Super hi fi. Incredible hi end eq, horrible build quality, bad pots, no punch.

Yamaha - Clear, super quiet. Type II EQ better than Type I.

Best Regards,

Bill
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Mark L.

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2005, 07:30:50 pm »

my name is mark, i have the Flickinger 20/24/44 from paragon. it now resides in north carolina at my studio Static King.
it is undoubtedly the best sounding console ive ever heard.    



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R Geoff Ruby

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2005, 12:15:47 am »

Mark,

Welcome aboard, glad you've joined us here.

First off, I'm a fan.

Second, is Static King a commercial studio, or is it pretty much reserved for your needs? (If you want to fill us in on what's been happening there lately, I for one would be kinda interested, but frankly, I'd rather you were writing and recording music!)

Third, if you weren't already aware, there's a reference to Sparklehorse in the Zoolander thread in this forum.

Cheers,
Geoff Ruby
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cgc

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2005, 01:21:28 pm »

Fig wrote on Wed, 23 March 2005 11:19


Mr. Albini, you could contact Paragon Recording about their Flickengers, if you are seeking one.  They had two, the one in the picture (black writing on stainless silver) and another clone which was black metal with the writing in stainless silver.  My understanding is that the black one was a prototype, and ended up being built for Sly Stone.



Bill Skibbe did indeed buy that black 'Sly' console off Marty about 5 years ago.  The story I heard is that it was purchased because Sly was already selling it off piece by piece to fund his 'Record Plant Tape' habit.  That desk was originally 32 input but only 24 channels remain.

Quote:

Their CR "C" had a small, broadcast-type Flick that was pretty cool, too.


Any word on where that one went?
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stevieeastend

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2005, 02:03:48 pm »

I don?t know anything about a Flickinger but I do know, after reading all this information in this forum that I really would love to have a Spectrasonic. I can actually hear the sound in my head and would be curious if someone got any information if there?s one around or some pres....
I would be sooooooooooooooooooooo curious to really get my hands on one and listen if it?s really the sound I imagine...

cheers
steveeastend

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2005, 02:06:37 pm »

Bill, so which one did you actually like best?

cheers
steveeastend

Mark L.

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2005, 08:53:38 pm »

Thank you very much for the compliment. i have  been writing much for a new lp,
there has been quite a few problems actually recording it, foremost being the
Flickinger.
I am forever amazed at how some people can look you square in the eye and outright lie. i bought the 20/20/44 Flickinger about five years ago. i was told
by Marty at Paragon that the consoloe was 'up and making money' one month before i was to come get it,and that its only problem might be maybe some'scratchy pots'.
i was met at Paragon by three stout boys from Steve Albinis' Electrical' studio to help
me load it , which was very cool but i had hired a moving company to help.
i was dumbfounded why Marty wouldnt to throw in (a) patch cord so i could hear what it sounded like when i got it to Carolina...
Since then i've put around ten thousand dollars and four years into the console.
I later found out that it had only been used for its preamps for the last ten years.

                                                                                                 peace, mark
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Bill Mueller

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2005, 09:01:04 pm »

steveeastend wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 14:06

Bill, so which one did you actually like best?

cheers
steveeastend


Steve,

It appears that you were asking me my preferences as there is no other Bill on this thread. So..

All of my experiences were affected by the artists I recorded on each console. Some consoles I used for many years, others I did only a few sessions on. So take my word with a grain of salt, as another engineer and another artist could very well get better or worse results.

I did not like the MCI and the Auditronics Memphis Machine at all. I used both of them for hundreds of sessions and they constantly required that I take extra ordinary measures like repatching around line inputs and such to try to squeak the last bit of fidelity out of them.

I liked the Flickinger but I had only a few sessions on it so I am not an expert. However I do remember it to have a special presence. I don't remember even having to use an eq on that board.

I used the API for about a year, 60 hours a week and for a tracking console it was right there with the NEVE. Contrary to many however, I am not a fan of the API eq. I always wanted some degree of boost or frequency that was in between what was offered on that console. We had the NEVE 8068 in our remote truck for years and I recorded Aretha Franklin and Smokie Robinson among many others on that console. It had a very sweet, open sound and lots of punch. However, I had to pull every module out of its bay and re-seat it when we got to every gig. That is unnerving.

I did only three sessions on the Spectrasonics. It was my wife's band so I knew the music very well, but to be fair, Sigma was very very dead and I was trying to get a rock sound. Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom was tracked on that console so we all know it can get a great sound. I was just disappointed with the two band eq.

I worked for a few years with both the Trident and the Neotec. I pushed my boss to buy the Neotec and was burned by the bad pot thing. As I understand it they had to replace about 100,000 pots for free. We just were  unlucky. The Trident was solid to hard and the Neotec was airy and crisp but no punch at all. Great for acoustic recording, but not rock and roll. IMO.

Both the ITI and Sontec consoles were high fidelity marvels. Quiet and open. Not hype, just clean. However, the potted modules on the Sontec fell off the PC boards and the ITI console did funny things with assignments popping in and out. However, to be fair again, the ITI console was installed on a barge in Baltimore's inner harbor at the time and so I think the humidity could have affected it, and we drug those Sontec modules around in a truck which just beat them to death.

This brings me to the SSL, and where my opinion may differ from some. I loved the SSL. I considered myself an SSL engineer for many years, because of the control that I could get with that console. I originally wanted to move to the SSL not for its sound however. It was not superior to the Sontec in any way. It was a business decision. There were only about a dozen SSL's in the US at the time and it was regarded as the best. It brought business immediately. We had added Aphex automation to the Sontec, but I was constantly trying to explain that console to clients. Not with the SSL.

So, I liked the Sontec and the NEVE for tracking and the SSL for mixing. In the end, not much of a revelation I'm afraid.

Best Regards,

Bill
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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2005, 02:15:44 am »

Its amazing who all have turned up on a FLickenger discussion!
FWIW - I finally did just hear some The Kills music on MTV's EURO 'alternative' show. Whatever video it is they have currently..
pretty crazy bizarre sounding guitar distortion..I wonder how they got that..
A refreshing contrast to all the MTV bands that are supposed to be so HEAVY but have this putrid 'brown' tame kind of distortion..
One thing about the Flick - they sure win hands down in  the nice coloured lights dept.!
In Dutch 'Flik' means 'the fuzz / the cops' ...
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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2005, 06:32:35 am »

Bill,

thank you for this very informing answer. Actually I am glad that you brought up the SSL. I like this console also very much and because of all this "SSL-bashing" ;-)which seems to be around I sometimes wondered if I am deaf or something....
Neve for tracking and SSL for mixing seems quite logical. As you mentioned already, the character and kind of direct sound of an Neve in combination with the punch and control, the sound of the stereo compressor and VCAs (if you decide to mix on the large faders) the great automation if you like that, endless routing possibilities etc.....

To track music with the best possible sound and mix it with a console which gives you as many choices as you can probably think of makes it a combination which is hard to beat....IMO

cheers
steveeastend

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2005, 10:05:27 am »

the tracking room i book has a custom built rack (by the owner) of 8 flick. mic pre's and another rack of 8 flick 4 band EQ's (maybe they are 3 band i can't remember)

every other time i'm there one rack or the other is not there.  it blew up or burned up or something.

i've doing sessions and started smelling that burning electronics smell......the owner runs in, powers down the flick units and pulls em out.  brings em back the next day and we continue on.

the EQ's are the worst as far as service.  but man those pres and EQ's sound awesome.

the story i heard from him was another tech friend of his had a 20 channel flick console that wasn't working.

they both decided that it wasn't worth the effort the bring it back to life, but the EQ's and pre's looked easy to pull and rack up.

so they grabbed what they wanted and sunk the rest.

i love using them when i'm there.  and i have 4 sphere EQ's racked up that sound similar, that i take with me when i go there.

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2005, 07:30:10 pm »

Hi. I wanted to chime in about the Key Club in Benton Harbor, MI. I thought the original interview that started this all was rather funny (but that's rock journalism for you...) with the quip about a 'couple of kids' getting hold of it and putting it in their 'warehouse studio' or whatever it said.
If you haven't followed the earlier link to The Key Club website, please do! Far from being a 'warehouse studio' it's about the most fun and inspiring place I've ever worked in. Bill and Jessica spent literally 3+ years of their lives building this place from the ground up (starting with major foundation repairs) and it is a really first-class place with astonishing attention to detail where it counts but a very DIY, Michigan thrift-store aesthetic.

Pertaining to the repair-ishness of Flickinger gear, their console did require a pretty decent amount of work to get fairly dependable (at one point there was talk of 'reresistoring,' not something you hear too much about! I have tracked 3 records there though, and the monitor buss seems to be the noisy part (that Steve was mentioning), because when I take the tracks elsewhere, they never seem as noisy as they seem when cutting them.

And they do sound quite amazing!

It seems like Bill should be on this thread, he is probably one of the larger storehouses of DF information and has made it something of an avid hobby.
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wolfking

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2005, 12:02:39 pm »

hello- yes the kills recorded here at the keyclub- was an amazing time- both jamie and alison are amazing musicians- a real pleasure to work with- jamie had made several records at black box, and loved the console-so it made sense to work out here-
    as for the flickinger- there is too much info to post here- but i will say this- dan flickinger may have been selling snake oil, but the people actually designing the circuits and building the consoles were absolutely top notch- i am too young to have been around for the original wave of flickingers-(my console is older than i am)-  all of my info has been collected by talking with ex-employees-all have been incredibly helpful-as for the electronics - the flick op amp is a +- 24 supply discrete much like the 2520, am10.990c- was actually a mod of the spectrasonics 101, but with output pair added- non unity gain stable, -but has a nice thick mellow sound- alot like 1073, but a little more interesting- the eq's are smooth and musical- four versions of the sweeps that i've found- the eq I large footprint 3 band, the 4 button- this is the one we have- designed by j  weit- 3 band , dual pcb-the 6 button designed by bill isenberg, single pcb reciprocal cut and boost- and the lm 318 version, designed to fit into an auditronics console- there were also fixed freq eq's on some of the early consoles, including the paragon, which later had the sweeps fitted-
our console is the n32 matix- ttl controlled matrix- early versions had fet switched matrix- the 32 matrix consoles were made for ray stevens, sly, ike turner, and don davis of parliament in detroit- the parliament console was built on site at united sound after the demise of the flickinger company- the employees moved the works there and finished the last console after dan had gone to prison- the film heartworn highways has a flickinger in action(nashville) i think at monument-
these consoles have character- both physically and sonically-can't imagine a better board to sit behind for 14 hours a day-
cheers
bill skibbe
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Meriphew

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2005, 02:45:00 pm »

Thx for chiming in Bill. BTW, I enjoyed the article in TapeOp on you guys.

RMoore

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Re: Please tell me about Daniel N Flickinger
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2005, 06:50:11 pm »

I second that emotion
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