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Chiozzo
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#1
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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Live Sound back in the days

I've always wondered about what gear were used at pop/rock concerts in the sixties and fifties? Is there any book concerning this topic? Until now I haven't found one yet. I'd like to know more about PA systems and monitor techniques. Somebody can tell me something about it, please? Thanks...

(English is not my mother tongue, so I'd like to get some kind of advice regarding the language...thanks)
#2
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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There isn't really much info on sound reinforcement from the 60's except what you can find from manufacturers' literature. And many of those companies are long gone from the business. Companies like JBL, E-V, and Yamaha are still around and you may be able to archive information from them. E-V printed a "PA Bible", Yamaha printed a tech support manual to support their PM series mixers, JBL published various technical bulletins.
I started mixing live sound during the late 60's. Things were pretty crude then. You were lucky to have 12 channels on the board, many brands of power amplifiers simply could not hold up under the harsh demands of live sound, and the speaker systems were horn-loaded beasts that blasted sound with little regard to phase coherence or linearity.
Cable systems were archaic and prone to malfunctions, the monitors were a single mix to some floor wedges, you were lucky to have a single graphic equalizer!
Your English is very good...
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22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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to add to Moonbaby's statement..

The Beatles quit touring all together cause of the lack of proper infrastructure to suit the big venue shows.. we take it for granted today.. but the older generation will tell ya how it was, and the industry has come leaps and bounds since then. Perhaps putting a man on the moon tweaked a lot folks imagination towards innovation back in the day.
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22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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historyofconcertsound.org
see link for stuff...

That isn't all that long ago, some of the old farts are still around,

Maybe ask your question on a website with more live sound participants.

For really old days, the sound reinforcement product development was driven by movie industry providing realistic sound for movie theaters. Altec, JBL, EV were old names in theater sound.

Prior to talking pictures, crude sound reinforcement was for political speeches, and the like, but nothing like modern stuff for scale or technology.

JR
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22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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holy smokes.. that Clair system hung for Elvis looks pretty scary !
#7
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetboatguy View Post
holy smokes.. that Clair system hung for Elvis looks pretty scary !
That's how you flew PA in the old days... made a big cart on wheels (made it easier to put on the truck in one piece), add flying points to the cart, bolt all your speakers to the floor of the cart... attach cart to lodestars and press up!
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22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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oh thank god.. it never dawned on me that boxes are bolted down to the plate
#9
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetboatguy View Post
to add to Moonbaby's statement..

The Beatles quit touring all together cause of the lack of proper infrastructure to suit the big venue shows.. we take it for granted today.. but the older generation will tell ya how it was, and the industry has come leaps and bounds since then. Perhaps putting a man on the moon tweaked a lot folks imagination towards innovation back in the day.
It would indeed be interesting to be on stage and you can't hear what you are playing due to all the girls screaming.... Those days are most likely over. Unless you encounter screaming fans with an acoustic folk duo, of course.
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22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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yeah if you listen to the recorded live beatles concerts from those stadium gigs they are buried under a wall of white noise coming from the audience.

i remember reading somewhere that Yes at least claim to be one of the first if not the first band to mic up their drumkit as a standard for gigs, so that cant be earlier than late 60s, early 70s
#11
22nd January 2013
Old 22nd January 2013
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there's some info on Woodstock about. Sorry can't really find a link now. But I remember reading about how The PA there was put together with various amps (tube & solid state) and apparently a special mic was developped for the fedtival to provide more gain before feedback, this mic would later become the sm57/58.

I also read somewhere that in the old days, valve PA systems would have hi-z inputs to simply plug à guitar into. Also, that's why The controls on vox amps f.i. are facing back, because The amp was to be put in front of the player, facing The audience.

One thing i often wondered about is why you see singers in live footage from The 60's with 2 mics taped together. what was that for?
#12
23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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The 2 mics thing was simply one for live, one for record.
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alex_kyuss View Post
The 2 mics thing was simply one for live, one for record.
lol.. and it looks goofy as hell.. regardless of the era
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
The 2 mics thing was simply one for live, one for record.
Quite often second mic would be used for the monitor system feed.
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetboatguy View Post
oh thank god.. it never dawned on me that boxes are bolted down to the plate
Aye, that or ratchet strapped.
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Chiozzo
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Thanks...So were rock and pop concerts in the sixties and fifties really enjoyable? And could the musicians play easily together also without monitors? It seems to me that pop/rock music at the time was more record-oriented at the time. It's strange...
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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my first concert experience was with my parents.. I was about 10 or so ?

It was the late 70's.. Acadian/Cajun band by the name of 1755.. I think it was this experience that got me hooked

funny thing is.. fast forward years later
I've done sound for all members of 1755 in various other bands and projects.. kinda sweet to see it happen full circle in my career.
#19
23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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The other interesting observation was that in the early day rock concerts the drummer was on the same level as the rest of the band. I think in the seventies forward the drum kits became elevated, and PA:ed as well.
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiozzo View Post
Thanks...So were rock and pop concerts in the sixties and fifties really enjoyable?
I'm far too young (well, just about! ) but god yeah, they'd have been amazing! Remember that it hadn't been done before like this - unlike these days where it's all been done a million times, experiencing that must have been fantastic regardless of the technicalities and sound quality
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinvanda View Post
yeah if you listen to the recorded live beatles concerts from those stadium gigs they are buried under a wall of white noise coming from the audience.
The Beatles 1965 concert in Atlanta is often regarded as the first use of stage monitors, at least for a large scale live performance, and it so impressed the Beatles that Brian Epstein asked the audio provider for that show, Duke Mewborn with Baker Audio, to handle the sound for their other shows but Duke apparently saw little future in it and turned down the offer to continue with his business. That letter as well as some related articles used to hang outside Duke's office at Baker Audio, Baker is still in business but Duke retired some years ago.

From what I understand, the system used for the approximately 34,000 people at that show used three cardioid, dynamic microphones; two out front and one over the drums. The mains were two stacks of around six Altec A7s per side while four 175W Altec 1570 amps powered both the mains and monitors. The mixer, a 10 channel Altec, was up in a glass enclosed booth with mixing directions relayed via telephone.
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23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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#23
23rd January 2013
Old 23rd January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cover'd View Post
I'm far too young (well, just about! ) but god yeah, they'd have been amazing! Remember that it hadn't been done before like this - unlike these days where it's all been done a million times, experiencing that must have been fantastic regardless of the technicalities and sound quality
I can't speak for the '50s but in the 60's i attended several Doors concerts with opening acts ranging from the Who to Linda Ronstadt (Stoned Ponies, she was cute 40 odd years ago).

I didn't pay much attention to the PA systems, it was a lot louder inside clubs with live bands in Boston back then IIRC.

JR
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24th January 2013
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Monitors? What in the heck are monitors?

My band's first PA in the early 60's was a Bogen 100 watt PA amp and two University horns on sticks. Yuk..

We played two concerts with Sonny & Cher and two with the Dave Clark Five and audiences of between 8 and 10,000 folks and we didn't have monitors. At the Sonny & Cher concerts, the PA consisted of two 15" Sunn cabinets with JBL horns on each side of the stage. That was in 1965 and 66.

The really big shows used Voice Of The Theater boxes in stacks and again, no monitors at all.
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24th January 2013
Old 24th January 2013
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WEM

There was a British company WEM (Watkins Electric Music) that designed/manufactured PA gear. You can google info on them and there is some photos/history/etc on-line that make for a good read. There is also several web sites with Altec Lansing info that may be useful, as well other speaker and microphone manufacturers (Shure, E-V).

Although many guitar amp manufacturers (Kustom, Fender, etc) offered very basic complete PA systems in the 60's, Sunn and Acoustic Control Corporation were the first companies to develop and market complete high performance PA systems (w/o microphones, of course) with many features considered pro level... even by today's standards.
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24th January 2013
Old 24th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobbieNuke View Post
There was a British company WEM (Watkins Electric Music) that designed/manufactured PA gear. You can google info on them and there is some photos/history/etc on-line that make for a good read. There is also several web sites with Altec Lansing info that may be useful, as well other speaker and microphone manufacturers (Shure, E-V).
WEM at their finest!



Anyone interested in old PA should watch the Rolling Stones Hyde Park 1969 DVD, both for the images but also listen to the sound, you can hear that the amps are absolutely cranked.
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