R/E/P Community

R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Terry Manning => Topic started by: David Kulka on February 11, 2005, 12:25:17 am

Title: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on February 11, 2005, 12:25:17 am
I'm a little nervous about starting this thread, and don't want to seem negative or disrespectful to anyone working in audio back then, but I think the topic is worthwhile.

I think most would agree that during the 60's and 70's, tremendous advances were made in recording technology.  I think we'd also agree that among the hits of that period, there was a huge range of sonic quality -- some records were superb and rival anything ever recorded, others were downright bad and suffered from obvious problems.

I was an R&B fan back then and collected a roomfull of records.  It was clear that some sounded much better than others and when I started in recording -- as a mastering engineer in '75, on a Neumann system -- I began to wonder why.

Motown comes to mind -- I hope Bob Olhsson will forgive my naming them, and will offer his perspective.  The sonics of Motown records were a back and forth, or maybe random study in recording quality.  Songs on an album would sound totally different from one another, some were compressed to death, some weren't, some had hum from beginning to end, others had clipping or high frequency distortion.  Why?

Now, I did a yearlong research project on Motown recordings, and have spoken to a few of the original engineers, and have spent a lot of time at the Motown museum (though that's only one of the many facilities Motown used back then), so I think I know a few of the answers -- but I'd like to hear what others, who were there at the time, have to say.

As a side note, I've noticed that listening to CD versions of the old albums that I know, things don't change that much -- although background noise and distortion are improved and there's generally less compression, the great ones still sound great, and the others still have problems.

All in all the Memphis hits sounded pretty damn good  and trust me, I have listened to a lot of those records -- a lot.  "Comparisons are odious" they say, and generalizations aren't much better but I'll stick my neck out and say that in my opinion, Stax and the associated Memphis labels beat the Atlantic disks in terms of sound quality.  (By the way, wasn't Stax distributed by Atlantic, and didn't they use the same pressing plants?  The disks looked and felt the same.  And where were the Stax records mastered?  Locally, or at the pressing plants, or in New York?)  Anyway, there was a sonic gamut with the Memphis hits too -- not so much, but it was there.

I'm wandering a little, but this is the heart of my question: what were the specific reasons that some recordings weren't nearly as good as others that were done at the same studio, perhaps in the same month?  Malfunctioning gear or maintenance problems?  Unqualified engineers?  Executives or producers with demands that backfired?  Bad monitors?  Booze, or working under too much pressure, with too little sleep?

Again, I have the utmost admiration for the talented people who made these great records; some of the best American music ever.  It must have been dizzying and challenging recording in the 60's and 70's; big records recorded around the clock, while technology surged forward at a mad pace.  Bravo to the men and women that made it happen; I hope no one will mind my poking around and asking about some of the problems back in those days.
Title: Re: The 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on February 11, 2005, 12:56:11 am
David Kulka wrote on Fri, 11 February 2005 00:25

 

All in all the Memphis hits sounded pretty damn good  and trust me, I have listened to a lot of those records -- a lot.  "Comparisons are odious" they say, and generalizations aren't much better but I'll stick my neck out and say that in my opinion, Stax and the associated Memphis labels beat the Atlantic disks in terms of sound quality.  (By the way, wasn't Stax distributed by Atlantic, and didn't they use the same pressing plants?  The disks looked and felt the same.  And where were the Stax records mastered?  Locally, or at the pressing plants, or in New York?)




Boy, great thread opener!

I want to respond to many things you have said, and will, given time for thought.  I'm sure many others will do the same.  This topic is loaded.

But I will quickly respond to the quotation above, which requires fact, more than philosophy.

Stax was distributed by Atlantic for it's first few years (up until about '69 or '70, or perhaps '71?). after which they changed to Gulf + Western (Paramount).  Then they later changed distribution to CBS, which dealt the death blow (that's a whole different story there).  The Atlantic Stax records were indeed pressed at the same plants as Atlantic's own product.

The whole Atlantic/Stax thing I think is actually a bit of a sticky subject, at least as far as the true Stax people were concerned.  They were proud and excited that Atlantic were getting their product a wider audience, and better distribution, but were somewhat resentful of what they felt (even if not overtly demonstrated) was the intrusion of "the folks from New York" into their domain.  The usual cast of executives and producers at first came down to Memphis to "oversee" the production and the audio quality of the product, but there was mild friction.  Stax made it known that they would take care of everything themselves.  This was not a big fight or anything; quite a bit of it all was by implication.  I, too think the Stax product (indeed most of the Memphis product) sounded better than the Atlantic (but then perhaps I'm too close to it all, and a bit biased?)

At first the Stax product was mastered by the local tech genius Welton Jetton, who was the manufacturer of the SpectraSonics-by-Auditronics consoles that both Ardent and Stax used (amongst others at Stax).  He had his mastering first at the Pepper (commercial house) Studios, and then independently at his Auditronics Mastering.  (This was where I mastered Led Zeppelin III.)

But later (forgot what year) Stax put their own Neumann lathe into their building on McLemore Avenue.  It had the standard Neumann rack mounted "console"  with EQ & compression.  Larry Nix was the mastering engineer, but the "closest thing to a producer"  of each project would usually co-master his products.  Cropper did this, and Booker, and Hayes/Porter, and I did as well for Al Bell & my stuff, or for many of the things I mixed for people, and also for the first Ardent records, including Big Star #1.

We used to joke that the long acetate threads which were "thrown away" by the lathe (from the groove cutting) was really Isaac Hayes' hair (for those who don't know what this thread looked like, it was a very jumbled, thin, spaghetti-like black mess which went into a jar-like container, and had to be emptied when full..we would put a match to it for fun.)  This lathe was later sold to Nix himself, who put it into the Ardent building on Madison.  Brad probably knows the rest of that story.

But more to come from many on the rest of your questions or comments, I'm sure!

Terry
Title: Re: The 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 11, 2005, 02:11:46 am
I could (should?) write a book. In a nutshell, Motown paid for bleeding edge production technology with some pretty funky sound. Our home brew 8-tracks had pretty bad hum and not much top end on both tracks 1 and 8. This meant bass was recorded at a hot level on 8 and the lead vocals were recorded on 1 because it could be high-passed and brightened up with a Pultec.

Beginning around 1959, Berry Gordy started recording and editing backing tracks in his basement which then had lyrics written and were taken into a studio for vocal overdubs and mixing. He reinvested the proceeds of his early success in a photography studio that he converted into the Hitsville recording studio.

In mid 1961 Mike McLean, our resident mad scientist/chief engineer, built a pair of 1/2" 3 track machines with sel sync from Ampex parts. The track for "Please Mr. Postman" was recorded during the first 3 track session. Things soon evolved into going 3 and 4 generations 3 to 3 before a final mix. (These were the first tape machines I'm aware of to have a bias ramping circuit for punching in tracks, the technique being lifted from an article about a new 35mm dubber with that capability in the SMPTE journal.) This was followed by the pair of home brew 8-tracks 3 years later. (The first 8-track release was "Where Did Our Love Go.") Now we were only doing 2 or 3 generations before mixing!

Things cleaned up quite a bit, at least back to the best 3 track level, after we finally built a desperately needed mix room in early 1966. This had a 3M 8 track reproducer and a pair of Studer C37 1/4" machines which were awesome sounding. The funky studio 8 track machines finally got replaced by brand new Scullys in '68 but we got the 16 tracks before ever using them for anything but transfers. We wound up using them for tape echo and extra mike preamps.

The production method was frequently one of fill up the tracks and then sort it out in the mix. We mixed a LOT, dozens for very release. These were all compared to each other from hot-as-possible 45 10" acetates by the quality control department. (The artists were never charged for studio time.)

By '64 it was entirely union sessions and we were expected to come up with at least one finished track an hour for six hours every day. In many ways it's amazing it sounded as good as it did. I also don't think most of the reissues have really done it justice. It's been a battle getting them to use the right masters that, fortunately, we have been winning lately.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Radd 47 on February 11, 2005, 06:40:18 pm
Remember that a lot of the early stuff was mixed to sound good on AM radio. Some of the tunes did not translate well to FM.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 11, 2005, 08:15:53 pm
I frankly never saw that. Berry Gordy would reservice DJ copies if he heard a problem but this was about musical balance, vocal level, etc. rather than the limited bandwidth. Frankly the sound of AM radio in the '60s was frequently better than the sound of over processed FM is today.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Radd 47 on February 17, 2005, 09:15:45 pm
I think the  Buck Owens stuff was eq'ed for AM. I think it was a matter of killing the bass a little as AM has a tendency to make the bass a bit pronounced,(one of the reasons Motown stuff sounds cool on AM) and that would not go good with that "train coming down the track" Bakersfield sound.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 17, 2005, 10:22:51 pm
Don't get George Martin started on what Capitol did to the bass!

We were among the first to use eq for effect rather than just trying to make things more natural sounding but what we did had a lot more to do with what it sounded like in the music director's office than what it sounded like on the air.
Title: Re: The 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: drumsound on February 17, 2005, 11:55:27 pm
Bob Olhsson wrote on Fri, 11 February 2005 01:11

I could (should?) write a book.


Please do!

Thanks for the informative posts.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: stevieeastend on February 18, 2005, 04:08:39 pm
...again Spectrasonics...

There has to be something special about this...?

cheers
steveeastend
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: WhyKooper on February 18, 2005, 05:34:32 pm
Bob-

So does this mean there are rooms somewhere full of reels of 3trk-16trk Motown multitracks?  Especially the earlier stuff?  Like in the zillions of reels of Beatle 4 track stuff that was sent to Pro Tools and remixed for the Beatle anthology?

Have all those Motown multitracks been archived?  Is anyone working on or negotiating some remixing?  Or were the original tracks thrown away/erased as submixes came together?  I wasn't quite following what might still exist.

Early Motown stuff has it's place in history, but I for one would like to hear some remixes after 40 some years of hearing the same Supremes/Smokey Robinson etc mixes over and over and over and over.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on February 18, 2005, 05:48:50 pm
steveeastend wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 16:08

...again Spectrasonics...

There has to be something special about this...?

cheers
steveeastend


Hi Steve,

I was just about to answer a  few days  ago, but was "interrupted" in being able to post...

Anyway, at the time, the SpectraSonics consoles just seemed "normal" to me.  It was what I had, and what I  used.  And I haven't heard one in years now...I only can go with the sound of the older recordings compared to what I work on now.

Those desks were, in retrospect, very simple, basic, and clean.  I would say that there was somehow a lack of buildup of low-mid frequencies (the dreaded 250-400 range!).  This allowed the 'good' lows and the 'normal' high end to shine through well.  I don't know to what to attribute this, but it is my first thought about the SpectraS sound.  The mic pre's I always liked a lot.  I distinctly remember in the early 70's getting hold of my first  API, and not thinking very much of it, compared to the Spectra's I was using then.  Now, this is hard for me to believe, and to say, as I use the API's (and Brent Averill versions thereof) quite a bit.  But that was my very first impression "in the day."  

The EQ's were OK, in my recollection.  They were very basic and simple, and took a lot of turns to get anything out of them.  While this may have seemed a bit weak, it also probably kept me (and other users) from going over the top with EQ...that is, everything stayed in a "good and normal" range.  And I do believe that  the best thing to do is usually nothing...keep it simple...

There were few features on the desks, meaning minimal echo/cue sends/returns, no automation, and usually not even a  monitor section.  But I would like to be able to listen to one today, just to see.

And again, these consoles used in Memphis at the time (Ardent, Stax, Pepper, et al) were built locally by Auditronics, under license from SpectraSonics.  The later Auditronics (non Spectra) consoles I did not like much, and I don't know a lot about the non-Auditronics Spectra's made in Utah.  But Mr. Dilly, the owner, was quite a character, and really into the hi-fi side of recorded audio, so they're probably good.

I was sort of the test platform for their real-life use of the Spectra products.  They sent us the first prototype limiter, which later became the 610, and we helped tailor it to pro use.  I wish I had one of those now, too, just to see what it's like today.

Anyway, maybe I'll run across something to try out now, and can give a much better report.

Thanks,

Terry
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 18, 2005, 09:05:44 pm
Universal has all of the Motown catalog at their New Jersey reissue facility. They have been doing some remixing although frankly most haven't been as good as the originals.

Many of the songs are very challenging to mix and thus far nobody seems to have wanted to invest in the amount of time that would be necessary to do better. Many of the bigger hits were remixed after we built the mix room in 1966.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 18, 2005, 09:08:40 pm
David, I believe that the Mussel Shoals studio had a going through by Tom Dowd, who was recording many of the Atlantic sessions there, like Aretha and Otis Redding.  That could account for the good sound that came out of there.

It's funny, jazz recorded to 2 track in the 1950's by Rudy Van Gelder sounds so much superior to stuff even recorded today.  (Yes, I'm not sure that technology is always to blame, because people still make shitty sounding records.)  Then I listen to those 1970's Al Green records, and even though they have vibe for days, they sound terrible.  Or listen to live records from 30+ years ago.  Live At Leeds still blows me away.  Live Dead, recorded in 1968 was one of the very first 2" 16 track records.  What a great sounding record.  The Newport Jazz Festival recordings from the late 1950s and 1960s all sound great.  You had a stage full of U47s with make shift pop filters on them!  
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 18, 2005, 09:53:36 pm
J.J. wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 20:08

 The Newport Jazz Festival recordings from the late 1950s and 1960s all sound great.  You had a stage full of U47s with make shift pop filters on them!  

You also had no stage monitors!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on February 18, 2005, 09:57:40 pm
J.J. wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 21:08

David, I believe that the Mussel Shoals studio had a going through by Tom Dowd, who was recording many of the Atlantic sessions there, like Aretha and Otis Redding.  That could account for the good sound that came out of there....


Hi JJ,

Yes, the Aretha was recorded there, and was beautiful; not sure where those were mixed.  But Otis was recorded only in the bigger of the two Stax Studios in Memphis, and mixed either there by Cropper, or on a couple of occasions, mixed by Cropper and me at Ardent on National Street in Memphis.

Quote:

....Then I listen to those 1970's Al Green records, and even though they have vibe for days, they sound terrible....


I also mixed the Al Green stuff.  They were tracked by the staff at Royal Studios (home of Hi Records) in downtown Memphis.  The multi's were unbelievably distorted in tracking, which made the mixes very diffucult.  That's why producer Willie Mitchell brought them to me; he knew that they had great songs, great performances, and great vibe, but technically they really needed  cleaning up.  I did what I could, and I actually (today) love the result, that is, the overdriven carefully sound mixed as well as was possible.  But back then, it was a struggle, and I never felt it was as good as it should be.

Terry
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: WhyKooper on February 19, 2005, 10:43:30 am
I like the dry quality of the drums/strings etc on the "Still In Love With You" mix.  I wasn't really used to hearing strings and dry brass mixes that way at the time that recording came out.  Or hi-hats so far out front.  Everything seems close mic'd, no reverb..well I don't hear it anyway if it's there.  That mix certainly adds to a great vibe imo.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on February 19, 2005, 11:35:11 am
WhyKooper wrote on Sat, 19 February 2005 10:43

I like the dry quality of the drums/strings etc on the "Still In Love With You" mix.  I wasn't really used to hearing strings and dry brass mixes that way at the time that recording came out.  Or hi-hats so far out front.  Everything seems close mic'd, no reverb..well I don't hear it anyway if it's there.  That mix certainly adds to a great vibe imo.


Yes, there was some reverb, but not much was used by today's standards, or even by that day's standards!  The 'verb used was the ubiquitous EMT plate.  I found that the overdriven sounds from the multitracks were presented in a better light when not attempting to mask them with reverb.  One thing I've always believed in is that if you have something that has issues (a sound quality, a  performance, whatever) but is absolutely essential to the song, just put it right out there; don't try to hide it.  The importance of it will take precedence over any anomolies.  With the Al Green stuff, this meant almost everything in the track...it was either distorted, or the strings or horns were out of tune, or something;  but it was also all GREAT, and important to the final picture.

Terry
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 19, 2005, 02:23:01 pm
A perfect example of "what's right" overwhelming "what's wrong."

Every recording has plenty of both. Going for "nothing wrong" is just about the biggest production mistake there is.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 19, 2005, 02:24:27 pm
Terry, struggle or no struggle, you did an unbelievable job mixing the Al Green stuff.  Even though the tracks lack clarity and have some distortion, the mixes do a great job of conveying the music.  I always say that Exile On Main Street may have horrible fidelity and sound terrible, but you don't miss a single nuance of what those songs are about because the mixes pull it togethehr.  I had always understood that the problem with Al's was his studio that they tracked the stuff in.  Is that correct?  I don't know if you worked on this record, but Al Green Is Love is among my favorite all time soul records.  "Take Me Higher" and "Rhymes" just fucking kill me every time I hear them.

But this always brings me back to the same point, I'd rather hear the 1972 Stones and Al Green in low fidelity recordings than Blink 182 or Evanessence (sic?) on the best sounding recording ever.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: stevieeastend on February 20, 2005, 12:24:40 am
@ bob

thanks for that very important statement which is, IMO, very underestimated.
I am discussing this issue with the artist I am actually producing and we agree that the most important thing is to figure out what to fix and what to leave alone as the artist?s "fingerprint". Actually I am convincing him all the time NOT to worry too much if his lines are exact, in tune, clean.... if they say something/got a personal expression.. this is what it makes different and interact with the public. Unfortunately he is a little paranoid that everybody might say he cannot sing the right notes. So more often than not he is afraid to put out the not so correct lines with lots of personal expression,...

I think the worst thing you can hear or say about a record is if the listener comments something like.... ".... its alright, sounds nice, there?s nothing wrong with that..."

cheers
steveeastend
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on February 21, 2005, 07:08:03 pm
I appreciate all the interesting replies to this thread!  I hadn't looked in for a while and getting caught up now, I see several comments that are in sync with thoughts I'd had...

Terry, thanks for your perspective on the Stax / Atlantic relationship, something I had long wondered about.  Even though Atlantic was big brother in a sense, the Stax records were the real standouts, sonically at least.

I want to "echo" WhyKooper's appreciation of the "dry" sound in some of these older redcordings.  In contrast to what many other labels were doing, a lot of the Stax (and other R&B label) hits really had air and space.  Arrangements were spare, echo wasn't overdone, and his/mids/lows kind of took turns, so the nuances, decays, and grooves were distinct and clear.  I guess this approach was the exact opposite of the "Wall of Sound", which I never liked.  The restrained use of echo was really a plus, it let you hear more of the natural decay of the instruments (and the studio itself, maybe).  Over use of echo gets in the way of music, let's remember that it is "added distortion" in a very real sense and usually takes away as much as it adds!

JJ and Terry wrote of the Al Green mixes, and indeed, I had those in mind when I started the thread.  I'd always wondered "what happened", especially with the drums.  Those songs were huge smashes but even back then, even over a 5 inch speaker in a car radio, you could tell that something had gone amiss.  Terry, thanks for helping to clear up an old mystery.

Bob Olhsson, you should indeed write a book.  Your post had a lot of valuable answers and really addressed some of the things that have mystified me about the Motown years.  Despite the almost crazy variations in overall sound and audio quality, Motown took chances, broke new ground, and got sounds that no one else dreamed of.  I know that Mike McLean is a gifted and brilliant engineer who really propelled the label forward, and developed a lot of inventive recording gear and techniques.  A few years ago I happened to walk the aisles of the vault where many of the old Motown tapes were kept -- boy, a lot of formats and an amazing amount of history, to be sure.

You wrote "Frankly the sound of AM radio in the '60s was frequently better than the sound of over processed FM is today" and I agree.  In the late 30's, several 20kHz "wideband" AM stations operated, and in the 60's it wasn't uncommon for AM stations to go out to 12 Khz. or more.  The limiting factor was usually the telco audio line from the studio to the transmitter site, which might have topped out anywhere between 5k and 15k.  Of course, stations with their studios and transmitter at the same site had a great advantage.  I think it was 15 or so years ago that the FCC mandated a fairly severe high frequency rolloff ("...emissions 10.2 kHz to 20 kHz removed from the carrier must be attenuated at least 25 dB below the unmodulated carrier level...") much to the detriment of AM.

Another interesting tidbit about AM is its "one-way" NRSC pre-emphasis curve.  The stations boost high frequencies with a gentle curve that starts at 1k, rising to +9db at 9k, then at 10k, there's a brick wall filter.  There is no complementary curve in the receiver, except in a few modern, high end sets. This was done to compensate for the poor HF response in most AM radios.

index.php/fa/702/0/

Well, getting back to the topic.  I guess there were a lot of different reasons for the less than stellar sound in some of the big 60's and 70's hits but I have the impression that by the late 1970's the bugs, whatever they were had been resolved and sonic quality -- on nearly all labels, and with nearly all studios -- was much more consistent.   Maybe better monitors (and Dolby, or at least the consciousness that Dobly brought to the industry) account for some of this.  When I was at United/Western back then I listened closely to the releases that we worked on, and I can't think of any that had the kind of problems we've been discussing.  Come to think of it though, it seems that none of the 60's and early 70's records out of United/Western, A&M, or Capital had these kinds of problems.  Maybe the L.A. studios had a bit of a technological edge?  Who knows.

Anyway, as JJ said, a little distortion didn't stopped those records from becoming beloved smash hits, proving once again that the music is what really matters.

Terry, thanks again for taking the time to mod here this month.  I'll be sorry when March rolls around and this section shuts down.  And thanks for the wonderful recordings of people like the Dramatics, Eddie Floyd, Carla & Rufus Thomas, Fredrick Knight and Jean Knight (any relation?), Johnnie Taylor, The Sweet Inspirations, The Emotions, and so many more.  Twenty and thirty-somethings who aren't familiar with those tunes ought to seek them out; there's a gold mine of fabulous music from those great days.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: J.J. Blair on February 21, 2005, 07:47:35 pm
David, the point that you bring up about the monitors is something that I have always wondered myself.  And not just the monitors, but the rooms.  I have always wondered if the improvements in those areas has more to do with the improvements in sonic quality, because we still use much of the same gear, with infinitely better results.  In fact, most of us will say that the gear then sounds better than new gear, which once again leaves the possible answer to that equation as being the monitoring.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on February 22, 2005, 09:33:02 am
My understanding is that most of what was going on at Capital and United/Western were live recordings without nearly as much "help" for the artists as we were doing in Detroit. When I got to Wally Heider in San Francisco in 1972, I was utterly impressed with how much better equipped the studios were but shocked to find out how much less sophisticated the typical productions were. It's nice to put things in tune with Auto-tune but you pay a price in sound quality. The same is true to a lesser extent with all production manipulation.

A&M really came later. It was built by John Windt who had been the shop foreman at Motown under Mike McLean.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on February 28, 2005, 09:55:58 pm
quote "I think most would agree that during the 60's and 70's, tremendous advances were made in recording technology."

You can't lump 60's and 70's together. And what kind of advances ..more tracks? ..solidstate? ..deadening the rooms? ..sonically, those were steps backwards. Sixties records are awesome though, can't think of one that isn't a blast to listen to (is there one?) ..Peter Paul & Mary, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, all the R&B stuff ..Stones, CSN&Y ..Byrds, Dylan, Buffalo Springfield, CCR, Steppenwolf, Byrds ..and a hundred more ..all hot. Seventies did start sounding weird though cuz of the switch to solidstate and ultra dead rooms etc. Exceptions in the seventies (albums that sound cool) were bands that hung on to older ways of doing things (we all know who they are). Basically, sixties used 50's technology ..analog recorders, Pultecs, valve-desks, tube limiters etc ..and it still works today. So, what I ask is .."what the heck happened *after* the sixties?"
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 01, 2005, 08:31:45 pm
I think the introduction of the 16 track machines in the late '60s was the beginning of making something out of nothing. Prior to that, performances needed to be pretty good to sound halfway decent. Achieving exceptional wasn't that much more of a stretch. The appeal of self-contained groups was that labels were no longer beholden to songwriters and really great musicians. It was the beginning of a slippery slope.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 03, 2005, 10:53:39 pm
Yep, 16 track, and the proliferation of transisters ..the sound of records changed overnight.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: stevieeastend on March 04, 2005, 04:32:49 am
For the younger guys like me examples would be great as well...

thanks

steve
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Level on March 04, 2005, 05:17:46 am
Steve, here is a snip for educational purposes of what sound was like in 1959. I sure wish the industry would get back to this level of quality. I try...I really do.

Snip is a short portion from Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

Notice the clarity and dynamics.

Throw some gain on it. It is not "compressed or smashed"..like the fast food of today. This is beef and potatos.

Yea!!!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Level on March 04, 2005, 06:01:01 am
Here is 1968. Still sounding good!!

Snip for educational purposes:

Blood Sweat and Tears 2nd Album.

These productions were considered to be pretty decent for the time period. These also came from a very clean source. Smile

Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 04, 2005, 10:02:43 am
That BS&T would have been 8-track, probably an AG-440.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Lee Flier on March 04, 2005, 12:45:53 pm
Thanks for the reminders, Bill.  And in case anybody misses this point, the huge sonic differences between those recordings and the ones we hear today are still glaringly apparent even on MP3.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: JGreenslade on March 04, 2005, 12:48:46 pm
JJ's point about monitoring concurs with my thoughts – I suspect that the sheer bandwidth and power of modern monitoring has probably influenced "sonic evolution" more than anything (apart from maybe digital).

A few weeks back I was listening to a "live" Stax recording of Carla Thomas (don't ask me the name, it was brought round by a record dealer I know who puts temptation in my path). I still can't get over the sheer clarity of her voice - the detail and coherence was incredible by today's studio standards, let alone live 30+ yrs ago. You'll have to excuse my ignorance on Stax, but I even wondered if they had overdubbed crowd noise onto a studio recording because it was that clear and clean. If it was genuinely live the engineers must've been serious people...

Just to reiterate a point – Not only would a book from Bob O. sell quite nicely (rightly too), but I believe it could have a tangible positive influence on modern engineers. There have been times when I relayed techniques documented by Bob on the Internet to counterparts and their jaws hit the floor! One instance was the time I mentioned the 3 guitarists DI-ed through one monitor – "that’s so simple, why couldn't I have thought of that?". I guess the same old adage relating to composition / arrangement goes for recording techniques as well - the best ideas are "complex simple".

Justin
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 04, 2005, 12:57:21 pm
Bill, I always point to "KOB" and any of the Rudy Van Gelder recordings of that same era as being as good, if not superior to todays recordings.  Very simple ingredients: great players, great sounding instruments, great mics, great mic pre, a great sounding reverb and analogue tape.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: magicchord on March 04, 2005, 01:01:21 pm
Level wrote on Fri, 04 March 2005 03:01

Here is 1968. Still sounding good!!

Snip for educational purposes:

Blood Sweat and Tears 2nd Album...



I've always loved that song.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 04, 2005, 01:12:14 pm
BTW, speaking of amazing sounding albums, who did all the 10CC records?  Terry, don't  tell me you had a hand in those, too.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on March 04, 2005, 01:29:08 pm
J.J. wrote on Fri, 04 March 2005 13:12

BTW, speaking of amazing sounding albums, who did all the 10CC records?  Terry, don't  tell me you had a hand in those, too.


I think I worked on EVERY good record....oh wait, that's Bernard P.  Sorry.

No, I LOVE the 10CC, but wasn't involved.  Always wanted to do that huge overlayed backing vocal thing!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 06, 2005, 02:47:39 am
quote "For the younger guys like me examples would be great as well..."

All the 8-track recordings of the 60's ..Creedence Clearwater, Steppinwolf, Buffalo Springfield, Doors, Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkle, Byrds, ..and all the rest. Then, starting in the 70's, transisters took over. The sixties (and earlier) mixes jell in a much different way.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 06, 2005, 02:08:31 pm
Sorry, none of those were done with tubes!

Ampex only made a handful of tube 8-tracks and another four or five of us made our own out of Ampex parts. The tube era was over by 1964 although some of us who already owned tube gear kept on using it until '67 or '68.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 06, 2005, 02:56:36 pm
Right ..recorders weren't tube, nor the consoles, sept for maybe Columbia and a couple others? ..I don't know, when did they switch over?
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on March 06, 2005, 03:51:31 pm
Bob, thanks for chiming in on the tubes vs. transistors point.

While the last round of tube gear represented a mature technology and the first waves of transistor stuff were a little primitive by comparison, I don't think this really accounts for the lesser quality recordings that I was referring to.  For sure, there were lots of bad sounding 60's and 70's records made on tube gear, and lots of great ones recorded with solid state.

I strongly suspect that the lesser quality recordings had much more to do with gear that needed repair or was being used incorrectly, gear patched in ways that it wasn't really meant to be patched, ground noise, mods and homebrew gear that didn't quite cut it, record levels set way too high or low, machines with their bias set for the wrong kind of tape or not set at all, wacky EQ settings, sloppy mic technique, etc. etc. etc.  In other words, human error.

As stated before, I think the industry grew up a whole lot during the 60's and 70's -- guesswork was replaced with more educated engineering, and better monitoring revealed problems that may not have otherwise been apparent.  Also, maybe better mastering systems and the advent of "hi-fi" forced engineers and studios to deliver better sounding product.

Of course, the above includes a lot of sweeping generalizations, and plenty of exceptions could be cited.  (To me, one glaring exception is Stevie Wonder's 70's albums -- Innervisions sounded fabulous; the next few didn't even come close.  Come to think of it, "Contract On Love" sounded pretty good too. Smile Who knows...)
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 07, 2005, 02:11:18 am
This must be David Kulka of "David Kulka's Studio Electronics" ..those UA Newsletters are awesome ..I can't stop looking at them!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 07, 2005, 11:21:04 am
David Kulka wrote on Sun, 06 March 2005 14:51

While the last round of tube gear represented a mature technology and the first waves of transistor stuff were a little primitive by comparison, I don't think this really accounts for the lesser quality recordings that I was referring to...
That generation of tube gear was mature but far more important, it was the last generation of professional audio technology that was designed on practically a cost no object basis for reliability. This was because there was still plenty of RCA and Western Electric gear around that had been intended to be leased to their customers rather than sold.

Maintenance of that gear had been at the manufacturers' expense and not the customer's, a BIG difference!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Level on March 07, 2005, 12:00:24 pm
My huge studio in 95, everything (Console/multitrack/outboards) were leased but we still had a labor clause. This is when I got damned keen on slinging solder to the next level.

Sony under lease:

2000/day labor + expenses. Those guys would spend 4 days to figure out what was wrong and you told them exactly what parts needed to be replaced the first 10 mins.

632.00 for a "send module". Costed 12K labor. Fuck that.

You use it, you learn to repair it...no matter what. True engineering at its best.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: J.J. Blair on March 07, 2005, 01:49:25 pm
Bill, I feel like such a hack compared to older generation guys.  Not only did they have to learn how to fix, they probably built it themselves in the first place!  "Let's see, I need to make something to limit the transients.  What if I use a variable MU device?"

Yeah, I can swap out caps, potentiometers and op amps, and even change a fuse!   I'm practically functionally retarded compared to Bill Putnam, Malcolm Toft and Tom Dowd.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 10, 2005, 09:41:26 am
And custom consoles!  (pre-70's) CBS, Capitol-Melrose, Sunset-Sound, Heider, etc ..I'd like to know more about them.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on March 10, 2005, 06:46:17 pm
At the moment I'm in North Carolina, and have just spent an interesting day with Mike McLean who was chief engineer at Motown, starting in the early 60's.

Among other things, I had been looking forward to picking his brain about this topic.  One of my first questions was "So Mike, why is it that when I listen to the early Mary Wells songs, I hear hum all through the tracks?

He laughed and said "Because at the time I was just a young kid, and didn't know that one side of the tube heater wiring needed to be grounded!"

He explained that when he was first hired, Motown was young and on a shoestring budget, but Berry Gordy desperately wanted a 3-track recorder.  Ordering an Ampex machine would have cost too much so after a few days of prodding, Mike finally convinced Gordy to let him build one from scratch.  Mike copied the Ampex audio electronics, and bought a deck from a local manufacturer that made tape transports.  It saved Motown several thousand dollars; "Please Mr. Postman" was the first hit recorded on it.  If the signal to noise ratio wasn't perfect I guess Mike can be forgiven, because he was only 20 at the time!

Also, Mike showed me a two part interview in Audio magazine (November and December 1997) that points out another angle in this "What happened..." question.  In the article, he says that test acetates were evaluated on "...an incredibly crummy phonograph, just like a gum-chewing teenager might have.  You know, a crappy little thing with a crummy arm and a cheap crystal cartridge.  They'd put that acetate on there and see if it skipped.  That was in addition to a good hi-fi Empire turntable with a Fairchild SM-2 magnetic cartridge."

I guess it's important to remember that Motown's main market wasn't hi-fi enthusiasts with expensive gear, it was the gum-chewing teenagers and that if it came down to a sonic choice between the two, good sound on a crummy phonograph would be the deciding factor.  I'm sure no one thought about or cared how those records might be judged 40 years later, on a high end audio system.

By the way, a footnote to this story is that as we were eating dinner at Applebees a few hours later, "Please Mr. Postman" was played on the sound system, causing me to do a slight double take.  But I guess Mike has experiences like that all the time!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on March 10, 2005, 08:55:55 pm
In a way this is Part 2 of the previous thread.

On the "60's and 70's songs that stand out" thread, I was tickled to see that someone mentioned "Laugh Laugh" by The Beau Brummels.  I'm pretty sure that my uncle, Leo Kulka, recorded that one at Golden State Recorders, his studio in San Francisco.  (A recent Mix article gives him credit for it, though I have also seen Coast mentioned -- maybe someone else knows.)

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned Leo on this forum, but he was a recording veteran with many decades as a recording engineer.  I won't get into the story of his career, but anyone who's interested can find an article about him on my site, in the Scrapbook section.

Leo was very active and recorded a number of Beau Brummels tracks.  At the time the band was signed to Autumn Records, which was run by the amazing Tom Donehue.  Sly Stone was involved in a lot of the productions, as was Bobbie Mitchell.  All three were well known DJ's in SF.  (Tom Donehue was an amazing talent who had a tremendous influence on 60's music, and not just in San Francisco.  But that's another story.)

As a kid I watched the Beau Brummels record at Golden State and I agree that some of their old tracks sound really, really fine, and I can tell you why.  For one thing, Leo deeply understood all the aspects of recording - the music itself, mic'ing, EQ, editing, tape bias and levels, and mastering.  He was a hi-fi "nut" who was always fooling around with one system or another at the house and an afficianado and producer of classical music, and also made a lot of experimental hi-fi and sound effects records.  I really believe that background gave him a huge edge in making pop records that sounded especially good.  (And not to disparage Motown, but I'm certain that he'd never have used a cheap phonograph to check the sound of a disk - that just wasn't where he was coming from.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I think in the 60's and 70's there may have been two camps -- older, established engineers who were grounded in the fundamentals and all but wore lab coats, and younger upstart talents who pushed the boundaries and got exciting new sounds, at the expense perhaps of some basics.  Both sides made a lot of great records but maybe something was lost in the transition.  (Perhaps this same something is also missing from some of today's recordings...)

By the way, the 60's and 70's San Francisco recording scene hasn't really been discussed in this forum, but there's a whole universe of history, stories, and great music there to be mined there.  New thread?
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 11, 2005, 08:16:38 am
What Mike left out was the fact that the crummy little phonograph had been calibrated using a series of RCA skip test records and the acetates were being evaluated for their likelihood of skipping and not for what they sounded like! Thankfully he quickly learned the hard way to ground his filaments and every Motown 3-track and 8-track recording was made on one of his home brew machines. Mike's 3-tracks, by the way, were the first machines, other than mag film dubbers that I'm aware of that were capable of punching into track as a method of editing.

And yes, we were indeed all kids. Kids who had a lot of people at the major labels really pissed off because we were consistently all over the singles charts while most of their artists couldn't get arrested. The most amazing part of the story is that I've recently learned this apparently was done by offering a more compelling product and not by paying off radio which most of us assumed had  at least been a factor!
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: WhyKooper on March 11, 2005, 10:12:04 am
This 3 track thing reminds me of a question that's always bothered me....

If Les Paul had Ampex build a custom 8 track recorder for him in 1953 (or whenever it was)...which worked well, WHY did it then take 10 or 15 years before these things were dumped into the market.  As far as I can see, NOBODY on planet earth thought this would be useful other than Les for most of the 50's and maybe into the early 60s.  

If Les Paul could afford to write a check for one of these, Capitol and Motown could've certainly bought a few earlier than they seemingly did.

"Let's see, I'm Capitol Records over here on Vine and I can afford ten 3-tracks or I can afford ten 8-tracks....Uh, guess we'll buy a bunch of 3-tracks."

W-h-a-t was everyone thinking?
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on March 11, 2005, 12:40:15 pm
WhyKooper wrote on Fri, 11 March 2005 10:12

If Les Paul had Ampex build a custom 8 track recorder for him in 1953 (or whenever it was)...which worked well, WHY did it then take 10 or 15 years before these things were dumped into the market....W-h-a-t was everyone thinking?


Yes, Why Kooper, Why?  One has to wonder.

Most people recording in the early 60's, and ALL those recording in the late 50's (with the exception of LP, and perhaps a very few others) just didn't think one needed "all those tracks."  Music was recorded to emulate live performance.  Not until the mid 60's did producers and artists start making recordings to better, or at least be different than, live music.  The Beatles were obviously a big part of this change, amongst others, of course.  Then only after that did the "change" happen so that live acts were trying to emulate the recorded works!

I don't recall getting a four track until about '64 or '65.  Then the floodgates were open, and we got 8 very quickly.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 11, 2005, 02:21:26 pm
Columbia was one of the first with eight track ..early '66, maybe sooner.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: compasspnt on March 11, 2005, 02:48:33 pm
 Here's an interesting quotation from engineer Wayne Wadham's book, Sound Advice: a Musician's Guide to the Recording Studio



"...My own favorite early multitrack memory is an afternoon in 1964 at A&R studios, then on 47th Street next door to the original Manny's Music Shop. Another engineer burst into the control room where my group was working and declared, "It's here." Our own engineer (now a major producer) took us out to witness the unpacking of A&R's first 4-track Ampex. The entire staff was speechless, circling it as though a spacecraft had landed. Then our engineer, with genuine puzzlement, said, "What are we going to do with four tracks?" Twenty years later I read an interview in which he discussed the awful artistic limitations of working with 24 tracks!"
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on March 11, 2005, 09:39:01 pm
Bob, after posting those replies I was afraid my posts might seem negative or critical.  I'm sorry if that was the case.  I have tons of respect for you and Mike and the whole Motown story, and personally am nuts about the Motown records from those days.  However, I thought it was pretty interesting that 40 years after the fact, a specific answer could be given for "what happened" in the recording of some some well known songs, and felt the story was worth passing on.

I'm sure you are right that the "crummy phonograph" was not the only way that recordings were evaluated, but I also think it's fair to say that at many record companies, busting through cheap speakers to get the kids attention was probably more important than making "superb quality recordings", and that must often have been the focus when sonic decisions were made.

I had some reservations when I first posted the topic, which by its nature may have been something of a negative set up!  Thanks for your comments and the information given.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 11, 2005, 09:57:31 pm
Motown bass sound infuenced McCartney's bass sound (starting with "Revolver").
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: sharp11 on March 12, 2005, 08:48:39 am
I believe Atlantic had an 8 track in 1959, courtesy of Tom Dowd's insistence.

Ed
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 12, 2005, 09:17:20 am
I can fill in a little of the 8 track story.

Tom Dowd told me that he ordered the second one after hearing about Les's because it made a lot more sense to do a stereo mix later than try to do both mono and stereo at the live session. When he got the machine, it didn't work so he had to change some of the circuitry. He found out later that Les hadn't actually gotten HIS working until years later which is confirmed by a friend reporting that Les had practically assaulted him at an AES show when it came up that we were using an 8 track with sel sync as our main machine.

My understanding is that the Columbia Records machine had staggered heads. Remember that "legit" sessions prior to the late 1960s were virtually all done live and multi track was seen of as a means of redoing a screwed up live mix rather than as a means of assembling a recording part by part.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 12, 2005, 09:20:17 am
Murray Cullen wrote on Fri, 11 March 2005 20:57

Motown bass sound infuenced McCartney's bass sound (starting with "Revolver").
When I was introduced to George Martin the very first words out of his mouth were "How DID you get that bass sound?"
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Soundbox on March 12, 2005, 09:54:09 am
Bob Olhsson wrote on Sat, 12 March 2005 09:20

Murray Cullen wrote on Fri, 11 March 2005 20:57

Motown bass sound infuenced McCartney's bass sound (starting with "Revolver").
When I was introduced to George Martin the very first words out of his mouth were "How DID you get that bass sound?"


Did you tell him you just used the direct out from a B-15? <g>

Just joking, but that's how it sounds when I do that with mine.

I've been meaning to ask if you ever did use that direct method on those Motown productions... Did 'ya?

-DP

Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 12, 2005, 10:40:43 am
It was just a transformer direct straight from the bass. The bass and all of the guitars were plugged into one homebrew amp that consisted of a 15" Altec speaker and a McIntosh 60 amp driving it. The front end was a mixer so the musicians could put their own monitor mix together. The directs were located at the input jacks of the mixer and came up on the patch bay in the control room.

The only "sound" was James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt playing their Precisions. I practically had a heart attack the first time I tried to get a sound on another bass player.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 12, 2005, 11:28:39 am
I read somewhere that when Beatles were in the states,  McCartney visited a Byrds session and was taking notes in the control room, (who knows if its true). I figurerd he might have gotten the Altec compressor idea that way (but probably from another studio). Anyone ever see that compressor in a studio in the 60's?
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on March 12, 2005, 11:51:36 am
I heard that George Martin had seen outboard limiters in the racks on a visit to Capital.

The Brits were every bit as hung up on achieving that "American" sound as people are today about the very "Beatles" sound that the Brits considered utterly inferior at the time. Nobody ever wants to sound like themselves.

I just hope we finally return to putting the most awesome sounds we can find in front of microphones and recording them. That's what our art has always really been about. Style is often an excuse for the lack of obvious greatness.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: dboy on March 16, 2005, 01:11:04 am
David Kulka wrote on Fri, 11 March 2005 01:55

In a way this is Part 2 of the previous thread.

On the "60's and 70's songs that stand out" thread, I was tickled to see that someone mentioned "Laugh Laugh" by The Beau Brummels.  I'm pretty sure that my uncle, Leo Kulka, recorded that one at Golden State Recorders, his studio in San Francisco.  (A recent Mix article gives him credit for it, though I have also seen Coast mentioned -- maybe someone else knows.)

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned Leo on this forum, but he was a recording veteran with many decades as a recording engineer.  I won't get into the story of his career, but anyone who's interested can find an article about him on my site, in the Scrapbook section.

L

I thought I recognized that name!
David, I had the pleasure of being a student at CRA in '78 and learned a lot from your uncle, Leo "De Gar" Kulka. I spent quite some time watching him master on his Neumann lathe and asking a lot of questions! Some great stories there........
I remember the Quad 8 board and the Stephens 16 track (not all modules worked at the same time!) and the great big room at Golden State. This brings back very fond memories. As I sit in front of my DAW these remind me of why I'm here. Whenever I drive down harrison street, I always wonder what happened to the place. He was a great engineer and teacher.
-RS
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: David Kulka on March 16, 2005, 08:51:33 am
Thanks for the kind words.  Unfortunately, Leo unexpectly passed away in 1998 during a surgical procedure.  Dan Alexander took over the building for a while but then he moved out, and it stood vacant for a long time.  I'm don't know what's going on with it now, but I'm sure it's no longer a studio.

Leo was a totally unique personality with a long career in audio and I still see or hear his name most every day, in one context or another.  Like you said, there are a lot of stories -- a lot.  I should start a forum thread about him some time.

CRA was one of the first real, fully equipped recording schools in the U.S. (maybe THE first) and many students went on to become names in the industry.

Leo loved that Stephens, though of course only one person in the world could service it, John Stephens.  John would stop by once or twice a year, we were always a little awed by him.  I first met Hugh Allen at Golden State, other familiar names are Fred Catero, Scott Beach, Dave Gold (from Gold Star), Mike Bloomfield...but there are a hundred more.
Title: Re: 60's and 70's records whose sonics weren't as good...what happened?
Post by: vernier on March 16, 2005, 10:41:53 am
Ah ..Stephens ..wonderful sound.