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Producer's Workshop - Classic Hollywood Studio
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Hamburg58
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#1
21st April 2012
Old 21st April 2012
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Producer's Workshop - Classic Hollywood Studio

So this is an old room in Hollywood. I work in the studio now as this place:
Boulevard Recording - Hollywood, CA

Its an amazing room. I'm always trying to find out more history about the room. I've compiled quite a bit. I've asked Bill Schnee a few details about the past of the studio to try and put it together. The basic tracking for Steely Dan's Aja is probably the biggest credit to the studio. Also Pink Floyd spending over 2 months there finishing and mixing The Wall. As well as Rumours being mixed in Producer's B. It was attached to Doug Saxx's Mastering Lab until a few years ago when Doug moved to Ojai.

I know there were Stevens tape machines and a custom Langevin Console. Ringo did Goodnight Vienna there too. Quite a list of records I have that were done there. And in the 90's it was Westbeach. Lots of Epitaph records and punk records. But the most notable of the 90's in my opinion that was done there is Mazzy Star's Fade Into You.

Any stories.. I'd love to hear about the room!
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#2
21st April 2012
Old 21st April 2012
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I worked there in the early 1990's. I did maintanence. Mostly it was those cranky Stevens 24 tracks they had.

It was a utility room, really nothing special except it was conveniently located on Hollywood Blvd.

In this case, it was the indians, not the arrows...
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21st April 2012
Old 21st April 2012
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the Stephens were the best thing about the place.

I always thought the room itself was a bit dodgy
something always felt a bit 'unfinished' about the place.
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21st April 2012
Old 21st April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwittman View Post
the Stephens were the best thing about the place.

I always thought the room itself was a bit dodgy
something always felt a bit 'unfinished' about the place.
Well I'm so sorry you guys didn't like the room. I've had people come back to me after going to Sunset to redo drums at my place. Maybe they had a bad engineer but I cant imagine it's rocket science to get a good drum sound at Sunset. I've only been in 2 but wasn't hard. I've also been in long enough to learn the room and its kinks. And some fixes have been done to the place acoustically. There's no longer any commercial carpet on the walls. I'm not sure how people mixed with that stuff up. If you're ever around come see it. Ive put some time into it. Bill Schnee said he thought it sounded better than he'd heard it in years. It was too dead when I got in there and didnt sound spectacular. I asked what was on the walls in there in the 60's and early 70's when it was Continnental Recording and roughly followed those guidelines.

Last edited by Hamburg58; 21st April 2012 at 08:00 PM.. Reason: Spwlling
#5
30th December 2012
Old 30th December 2012
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My memories of Producers Workshop go back a long way, to when it was practically new. I'm not sure who owned it when my band, Stark Naked and the Car Thieves started recording there in spring of 1967, but we were being produced by Eddie Cobb, and Emory Gordy was first engineer, seconded by Ron Hitchcock. We did six tunes there and a several more later before moving out to Ritchie Podlar's studio in the SF Valley. A lot of groups recorded there in those days. I remember one session we came in after the Cowsills and they'd gotten so high they puked all over the place. Our session was held up for over an hour while the staff tried to clean it up. Worked only partially, it stunk all night long. There were many other top artists who recorded there but don't remember any more off the top of my head.

Years later, AVI Records, which was Seymour Heller (managed Liberace), Ray Harris, and Eddie Cobb, bought the studio and used it for all in house recording. Eventually it was sold and all the stock was moved to Nashville.
#6
30th December 2012
Old 30th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamburg58 View Post
I know there were Stevens tape machines and a custom Langevin Console.
Before the Stephens, there was a Scully 288-16 track. The console was custom designed by Audio Industries in Hollywood, similar to one that Buck Owens had in Bakersfield. The console was based on Langevin AM16's, Langevin 600 slide wire faders, and Audio Industries own ARC401 IC based summing amplifiers/API output transformers.
Producers' was the first client for the Mastering Lab/Altec 604 crossover and the studio for the early Sheffield Lab direct to disk recordings.
Attached Images
File Type: bmp 401.bmp (2.25 MB, 705 views)
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31st December 2012
Old 31st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathode View Post
Before the Stephens, there was a Scully 288-16 track. The console was custom designed by Audio Industries in Hollywood, similar to one that Buck Owens had in Bakersfield. The console was based on Langevin AM16's, Langevin 600 slide wire faders, and Audio Industries own ARC401 IC based summing amplifiers/API output transformers.
Producers' was the first client for the Mastering Lab/Altec 604 crossover and the studio for the early Sheffield Lab direct to disk recordings.
Very cool stories. Bud Wyatt was telling me by the 80's they'd ripped as many transformers out of that console as they could. I still have the 604's that have been there for years. And some mastering lab crossovers :-)

Very cool about the Scully! Never knew that..
#8
31st December 2012
Old 31st December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larryinla View Post

Years later, AVI Records, which was Seymour Heller (managed Liberace), Ray Harris, and Eddie Cobb, bought the studio and used it for all in house recording. Eventually it was sold and all the stock was moved to Nashville.
What equipment used during it's AVI records period ?

Anyone have any pictures ?

Vintage pictures are always cool...
#9
1st January 2013
Old 1st January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack P View Post
What equipment used during it's AVI records period ?
Anyone have any pictures ?
Altec 604e/Mastering Lab crossover monitors (early version of the "Super Reds"), Marantz 240/240 power amplifiers, Stephens multitrack machines, Inovonics 201 and LA-2a limiters, ITI eq.

About transformers being ripped out of the Audio Industries console, the techs developed their own plug in amplifier card minus the API output transformer which replaced some of the the ARC401's. It is nearly impossible to remove transformers in Langevin AM16's.

The 2nd (mixing aka quad) room had a Howard Steele designed Quantam console, some have mistakenly thought it to be a Quad/Eight. It was IC based and used Reichenbach input transformers (pre Jensen) and eq inductors.

There are photos of Producers on album jackets of the early Sheffield Lab direct to disk recordings, "Distinguished Colleagues" and "Thelma Houston".

Some historical notes:
The owner of Sidwalk Productions/Continental Studio went on to become the lieutentant governor of the State of California: Mike Curb.

One of the clients of Producer's back in the early 70's was none other than Jim Jones, yes THAT Jim Jones.
#10
8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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We have both of the Stephen's and a number of the Langevin pre's from Producer's Workshop. Still working great and running strong.
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8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgtarplayer247 View Post
We have both of the Stephen's and a number of the Langevin pre's from Producer's Workshop. Still working great and running strong.

Man I'd love to have some of those Langevins. If you know of where any are or are selling any. Which tape machines do you have from Producers? There were a few different Stephens. Buddy of mine has one that was here. We managed to find the Stephens shipping list and match his up to Producer's. I think Rob Schnapf has another that was in here. Seriously been searching for some of those Langevins that were here. a few of the old engineers said they had a line on some of them but we never were able to prove it. Email me! Would love to know anything you know about the history of this place. It's very hard. It wasn't well documented like a lot of the other Hollywood studios. I'm putting together an extensive Wikipedia for the studio as all 3 studios.

By the way we ended up building a Helmholtz resonator to put in a corner of the control room and some bass traps in some of the upper corners and the bass response is much better in here now. Think we're going to build a few wood diffusers and put them on the left and right walls to see if that helps break up the room a little more. The mix position is super focused. Would love to widen it a little.

email me please! Last poster.

info@boulevardrecording.com
#12
8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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We have both of the Stephens 24 track recorders, and I believe 16 of the AM16's. Both of the Stephens are in working order and have all the original parts (to my knowledge). We also have the ability to link them together for 48 tracks of multi-track recording. We also have rare pieces or gear like a Stephens analog de-esser that I believe came out of Producers Workshop too. The owner of the studio has been collecting gear for 30+ years and was friends with John Stephens before he passed away.
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8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgtarplayer247 View Post
We have both of the Stephens 24 track recorders, and I believe 16 of the AM16's. Both of the Stephens are in working order and have all the original parts (to my knowledge). We also have the ability to link them together for 48 tracks of multi-track recording. We also have rare pieces or gear like a Stephens analog de-esser that I believe came out of Producers Workshop too. The owner of the studio has been collecting gear for 30+ years and was friends with John Stephens before he passed away.
What studio ? Are you in Nashville?
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8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathode View Post
Altec 604e/Mastering Lab crossover monitors (early version of the "Super Reds"), Marantz 240/240 power amplifiers, Stephens multitrack machines, Inovonics 201 and LA-2a limiters, ITI eq.

About transformers being ripped out of the Audio Industries console, the techs developed their own plug in amplifier card minus the API output transformer which replaced some of the the ARC401's. It is nearly impossible to remove transformers in Langevin AM16's.

The 2nd (mixing aka quad) room had a Howard Steele designed Quantam console, some have mistakenly thought it to be a Quad/Eight. It was IC based and used Reichenbach input transformers (pre Jensen) and eq inductors.

There are photos of Producers on album jackets of the early Sheffield Lab direct to disk recordings, "Distinguished Colleagues" and "Thelma Houston".

Some historical notes:
The owner of Sidwalk Productions/Continental Studio went on to become the lieutentant governor of the State of California: Mike Curb.

One of the clients of Producer's back in the early 70's was none other than Jim Jones, yes THAT Jim Jones.
That's superb. Wish I had some of those modules here. Still have the Big Reds. Not the amps. Wish I did. Still have the mastering lab crossovers too. They're raunchy sounding speakers. But I've grown to love them.
#15
8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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You got a beautiful looking shop there, glad it's being lovingly cared for. Looks like you are getting the sound perfected.
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8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamburg58 View Post
What studio ? Are you in Nashville?
We are in Orange County, in the Laguna beach area.
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8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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I'll try to post better pix later, but in the background you'll see the two Stephens
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Producer's Workshop - Classic Hollywood Studio-imageuploadedbygearslutz1357657541.603781.jpg  
#18
8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgtarplayer247 View Post
We have both of the Stephens 24 track recorders, and I believe 16 of the AM16's. Both of the Stephens are in working order and have all the original parts (to my knowledge).
A grey faced Stephens 24 track, from Producer's, is in a Ladera Ranch, Orange County studio.
The remnants of the console, basically the 1/4" thick aluminum panel, is in a fellow's basement in Franklin, TN.
The 2 track mixdown machine (s) were 3M model 79's. One replaced a Scully 280SP/14, the large transport that took 14" reels and ran at 15-30 ips. That Scully got modified with Inovonics transformerless electronics, the units designed with 748 op amps.
The 3M 79's had extensive modifications. One can only hope that the 741's were replaced.
#19
8th January 2013
Old 8th January 2013
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As Cathode stated before the grey-faced Stephens is in Ladera Ranch, along with the brown faced Stephens which is also in Ladera Ranch. I work in the studio that has both of these machines.
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9th January 2013
Old 9th January 2013
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Oh, I just couldn't leave my original post up. Couldn't do it!

It's a great room, at which many tremendously talented peeps worked.

I hope you maintain the tradition!
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14th January 2013
Old 14th January 2013
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I mixed an album at Producers Workshop in 1978. This was sometime after Rumours and before The Wall. My assistant engineer told me he had worked on Rumours and had stayed on at the studio after the mixing was done. The mix room was simple but beautiful to work in. I'm not religious but standing at the console you could just about see (hear) God. The Big Reds had been modified (dividers cut out of the 604 horn) and this seemed to smooth the midrange response. The room was also perfectly symmetrical. I was so taken by the monitoring that when the UREI came out with the 813s I bought a pair and hauled them around from studio to studio. I've always wondered if the Producer's Big Reds were a prototype of sorts for Ed Long's design.
I was told that they had taken the transformers out of all of the equipment in the mix room including the tube equipment. I think that had a lot to do with the clean extended low end you ended up with in the mixes (one of the things I loved about Rumours). There were 2 EMTs just outside the mix room and it was eerie because each one had a distinctive sound which I could easily map to various songs on the Rumours album. I suggested cranking one to change the delay and was cautioned that they were both already in their sweet spots so I went with that.

I remember coming in one day for a mix and the tech had a 2 track machine (I think it was actually an A440) with one of the cards on an extender with almost half the parts missing and he said " it's starting to sound better". I was also told that they had removed any infrequently used or unnecessary circuits in the console (the best analog path is a straight wire). Less is better.

Anyway, working there was a great experience and I realized that a great studio is not one that you fill with every piece of equipment you can afford but one where you have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve and just get what equipment you need (and if it doesn't exist invent/build it) to get there.
#22
21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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I was trained by one of the co-designers of the pre-amp that was used to bypass the transformers at Producer's Workshop. His name is David Coe and he owned Salty Dog Recording. There was DEFINITELY a philosophy they both used. It was mentioned before: use the shortest, least obstructed path from signal to tape. My understanding was that nearly every element at Producers was modified to run transformerless (as was ours). We used a Stephens for years, then modified some M-79s, not to mentions the entire console (can't remember the name) and virtually all the condensor mics. Others who worked at Producer's (and might be helpful in obtaining info/pictures/stories were Galen Senogles, Rick Hart, and Pete Kruegar.
#23
21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgtarplayer247 View Post
I'll try to post better pix later, but in the background you'll see the two Stephens
Did you get the blackface Stephens from me? I bought one that had been sold to the studio by Bob Ezrin and it even had a road case. I owned several more Stephens decks over the years including a rare 4 track 1/2" machine and a 16 track that had been owned by L. Ron Hubbard.

I still have a rack of preamps that were used outboard at Producer's Workshop.

Unbalanced output (no tranny) but just amazing sounding.
#24
21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qzic View Post
Anyway, working there was a great experience and I realized that a great studio is not one that you fill with every piece of equipment you can afford but one where you have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve and just get what equipment you need (and if it doesn't exist invent/build it) to get there.
A lot of people could learn a great deal by adhering to this one quote.
#25
21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray_subsonic View Post
A lot of people could learn a great deal by adhering to this one quote.
It's always about what you know and how you use it. Good gear is necessary for competing top level productions but what is 'good gear'. This again depends on the task and leads again to: It's all about what you know and how you use it.
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#26
11th April 2013
Old 11th April 2013
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Well here's a story I already posted here a couple years ago.


Nostalgia! I did an LP on the cheap at Producer's Workshop in LA in the early '80's, and I remember walkin through that room and seeing one of the guys crankin on the handle of one of those plates. I also remember a Rumours gold LP on the wall there (also one for Aja and that one good Ringo album).

Once in the wee hours I was hanging out there and heard this mighty QUACK! in the distance. Dead silence, then QUACK!, then more dead silence, then QUACK! I walked down a hallway in the appropriate direction and after several turns (the QUACK!'S gettin louder and louder as I walked until they were REALLY LOUD) I reached another room on the other side of the establishment, and yes they were working on an album of duck calls.
#27
12th April 2013
Old 12th April 2013
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So what was the deal with the mixing of Rumours there? I don't recall any conversation about using the Stephens machines. Did they truck in their own Studers or whatever to do the mixes from the multis?
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#28
14th May 2013
Old 14th May 2013
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Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
So what was the deal with the mixing of Rumours there? I don't recall any conversation about using the Stephens machines. Did they truck in their own Studers or whatever to do the mixes from the multis?
Not sure... Could ask Ken Caillat, he's a phone call away. But they did mix there. Not in my room but in a B mix room that was in the Mastering Lab part of the building. It's my understanding there were Stephens on that side too and a Quantum console. There's a silly rumor going around that this and "The Wall" was mixed on a Quad 8. Not so. It was a Quantum in that mix room. At least that's what every engineer I've met that worked there told me.

I highly doubt they would truck in Studers though. Producers was proud of its clean, transformerless signal path. Not sure how clean they were around then, but at one point Bud Wyatt I am told, had removed the transformers out of everything they could find. The Langevin that was in my room was even transformerless. Was around the time I believe when the famous transformerless tube mic was made by Stephen Haselton at The Mastering Lab. I'll have to ask Steve for details, but this was around the time when they adopted the super clean science of direct signal path and nothing to get in the way.
#29
13th July 2013
Old 13th July 2013
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From my research into The Wall, they did indeed track/overdub some things (In the Flesh, and some others) there as well.

The mixing was done with THREE Quad Eight Pacifica consoles, brought in and tied (3x 24 channel desks) via the stereo busses. (Pacifica being cleaner than the Coronado or Ventura from Q8, as they have no automated faders.) The

Stephens machines were used, but they must have had three then. There are some old PFloyd fanzines that went pretty deep into daily detail on the album.
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#30
13th July 2013
Old 13th July 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianK View Post
From my research into The Wall, they did indeed track/overdub some things (In the Flesh, and some others) there as well.

The mixing was done with THREE Quad Eight Pacifica consoles, brought in and tied (3x 24 channel desks) via the stereo busses. (Pacifica being cleaner than the Coronado or Ventura from Q8, as they have no automated faders.) The

Stephens machines were used, but they must have had three then. There are some old PFloyd fanzines that went pretty deep into daily detail on the album.
I trust your research Brian! I know it well But I will have to disagree with the Quad 8 stuff. There were no Quad 8's at Producer's. Bob Ezrin, Stephen Haselton (the chief tech of the Mastering Lab), Russ Castillo (was the chief house engineer at the time), Bill Schnee etc. Have all said there was no Quad 8 at all. Never was. It was a QUANTUM. Very easy to confuse. And they had a Neve 12 Channel Sidecar too (Bob Ezrin told me that)

Here he is in Producers just a few weeks ago. He came down and told me stories. We actually went into what is now called The Museum of Death, HA! Which is where the old Mastering Lab was located and also the mix room from Producers where they spent quite sometime mixing this thing!

I've done quite a bit of research. I own the studio and know all of the guys that are still alive, that worked on it. All of them said that the whole Quad 8 thing is BS and that it was construed because of the Quantum name being so similar. But no one knows what a Quantum is. They were broadcast consoles. This was a custom one. They did have Stephens. Doug Messenger has one out in the valley. And I believe Rob Schnapf has the other.

Here's Bob in my studio; Producers Workshop, where he spent months finishing The Wall.



Here's a shot Bob emailed me of the old mix room with the Quantum:



Here's a look from behind the console. You can see the Stephens:



Here's a little Producer's Workshop tape box action ! :



Here's Russ Castillo in my control room and you can see the Stephens behind him:



This is the room that is still intact. That I run as a studio. Where they tracked and retracked a good bit of The Wall. Bob showed me where Jeff Porcaro setup to play drums on Mother.

Here's a shot of Pink Floyd's gear setup in my live room while working on The Wall:



I have lots of other shots too!

These photos are all courtesy of Russ Castillo and Bob Ezrin. Enjoy!

Last edited by Hamburg58; 13th July 2013 at 08:28 PM.. Reason: spellin!
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