Old 22nd May 2011
  #1
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Scepter Studios

I've been listening a lot lately to the 1st VU album: "Peel Slowly and see", "Velvet Underground and Nico", whatever you want to call it.

Whatever you think of the music, the recording itself certainly has a beautiful sound.
I'm trying to work out where that beautiful recording sound is coming from, because there are VU tracks I'm not even that into but I can listen and really, really enjoy because of the recording sound. Really quite strange.

The album was basically recorded at scepter studios, definitely not one of the higher end studios of the time. One thing I notice is that the recordings have an amazing reverb sound for the most part, which I'm blaming on the acoustics being nice in the studio. Sunday Morning however has reverb that sounds a bit artificial however, which makes me wonder if the reverb is entirely natural on the other tracks. Theres strange touches too, like the backing vocals on femme fatale sound quite strange, like they have had a lot of audio information stripped from them.

Does anyone have any insight into the sound of this album or for that matter, does anyone know anything about scepter studios.

I'm wondering if a lot of what I'm hearing is clear recordings on valve based equipment of the time?

love

Freya
Old 23rd May 2011
  #2
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Old 23rd May 2011
  #3
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Old 27th May 2011
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stryker View Post
Pretty interesting read on the album and the studios.
FM SHADES: VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO - April 1966 Scepter Studios (Norman Dolph Acetate)
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Thanks Stryker!

Yes! I was already checking out that thread. The acetate recordings are interesting because although it sounds like they really tweaked and edited the recordings in another studio, that recording sound can clearly be heard on the original recordings.

The whole thing is really bringing a lot of questions to me because I find that if I listen to that VU album for too long it makes it harder to listen to other recordings. I made the mistake of putting on a mazzy star album right after it, and the album just sounded so harsh and clinical and kinda nasty compared to the VU album. Thats nothing to do with the music, it's about the recording.

I wish I could find out more about scepter. I found out it was a small studio run by the label of the same name and it was financially in a perilous state throughout its existance, and it seems to have been built in an old warehouse, but thats all I can find out.

I'm guessing a lot of what I'm hearing is the equipment of the time, I'd love to know what desk they were using etc.

love

Freya
Old 27th May 2011
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freya View Post
Thanks Stryker!

Yes! I was already checking out that thread. The acetate recordings are interesting because although it sounds like they really tweaked and edited the recordings in another studio, that recording sound can clearly be heard on the original recordings.

The whole thing is really bringing a lot of questions to me because I find that if I listen to that VU album for too long it makes it harder to listen to other recordings. I made the mistake of putting on a mazzy star album right after it, and the album just sounded so harsh and clinical and kinda nasty compared to the VU album. Thats nothing to do with the music, it's about the recording.

I wish I could find out more about scepter. I found out it was a small studio run by the label of the same name and it was financially in a perilous state throughout its existance, and it seems to have been built in an old warehouse, but thats all I can find out.

I'm guessing a lot of what I'm hearing is the equipment of the time, I'd love to know what desk they were using etc.

love

Freya
These are questions that have been plaguing me for 10 or so years. I'm an Aussie, and on my first trip to NYC, I was determined to find the location of the old sceptor studio, but I could never find enough info to acheive this.

So, this mystery continues...

Let's make some assumptions. Run down studio; probably tracked to 3-track or maybe even 4-track. Tube tape machine. Probably tube console - who knows who would of manufactured it...could be custom made, or it could have been Altec or...who knows?

Probably lots of dynamic mics. Probably not a great deal of outboard. There's not too much "audible" compression like a lot of records from that time. Just lots of levels into the red and presumably tape saturation.

I would love it if someone who actually knows what they're talking about in regards to this album (as opposed to me) would now come out and set the record straight... It would be 10 years of frustration relieved!!

Liam.
Old 27th May 2011
  #6
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Liam, you are going to love this photo I just found:




Wow! Awesome photo! So what is the stuff behind Nico?
Any ideas?

love

Freya
Quote
1
Old 27th May 2011
  #7
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This is the studio area I think:



Judging from the right hand corner, the studio bit is still being partly used as a warehouse!
Old 27th May 2011
  #8
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The floor and ceiling seem to both be split level going by these photos.
Old 27th May 2011
  #9
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Is this a shot looking into the control room somehow? The lolipop mike could be for talkback? If so maybe this is a large valve console? It looks like those holes are for venting?

Does anyone recognise the out of focus overhead microphone?
Old 27th May 2011
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neukoln View Post
These are questions that have been plaguing me for 10 or so years. I'm an Aussie, and on my first trip to NYC, I was determined to find the location of the old sceptor studio, but I could never find enough info to acheive this.

So, this mystery continues...
Liam, I think this might be the address:

"In 1965, Scepter/Wand moved into new space at 254 W. 54th St. They had their own recording studio and a warehouse in addition to the office space. It was the big time."
Old 5 Days Ago
  #11
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Night of the living thread!

I just stumbled across this article about the recording.
Sadly it doesn't give much indication of the equipment in use but I thought I would share it here:

The Velvet Underground 'Heroin'

Freya
Old 5 Days Ago
  #12
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those look like ampex 350 or 351's in that photo, a two track and a four track. If you know the glassy top end that a 351 has, you can kinda hear that on this record for sure.
Old 4 Days Ago
  #13
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Femme Fatale, Run Run Run, All Tomorrow's Parties, There She Goes Again, I'll Be Your Mirror, Black Angel's Death Song, and European Son were all recorded at Scepter.

But Sunday Morning was done at Mayfair Studios, and I'm Waiting for the Man, Venus In Furs, and Heroin were all done at T.T.G. in Hollywood.
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