60s and 70s French music production methods
Old 6th April 2010
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip S Bova View Post
Welcome Dominique!

I'm a big fan of many records made at the Chateau. You mentioned the MCI-jh416 console being in studio A. I figure that that one must have been one of the first 416s ever installed since they didn't come out until about 1972. I know that the first six or so ever made were discreet class A, and then they started using 2001 ICs to cut costs. Do you know if the Chateau's 416 was one of those early six? Also what other kind of gear did you guys have at that studio besides the consoles and tape machines that you already mentioned? I've seen a few lo resolution pics of the Chateau but they weren't very clear.

Thanks so much,

Philip
Hi Philip,

Yes it was one of the first,but they used these 2001 we had to change by handfuls a week...In fact it was at the end of'71.
We had very few outboard equipment,but 4 Urei 1176,2 Astronic eq,4 Kepex gates,3 lovely natural echo rooms and two revox A77 for tape delay...

When I started at The Château, they had a lovely Scully 280 1" 8 tracks,and later we have had these ugly Scully 100 2" 16 tracks.

They sounded great but they were really tape eaters...

DBF
Old 6th April 2010
  #62
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I want to know if you saw the ghost?
Old 6th April 2010
  #63
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What a treat to see you post here Dominique!!! Your body of work is mind blowing, and you are a real inspiration.

Thank you
Old 6th April 2010
  #64
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Originally Posted by juniorhifikit View Post
You rock! Love those albums!thumbsup

Where is Labomatic located? Can't find it on the website.



It's not private - It's called Vega Studio in Carepentras (very close to Avignon), and very much available to everyone. I've worked there before and the TG is lovely.
Hi,
We are in Paris,France,very close to the Champs Elysees.
Old 6th April 2010
  #65
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Originally Posted by baikonour View Post
Sorry I should I 've said "privately owned" yes Studio Vega, they have a website here Vega Studio it looks lovely!
Some of their former clients:

"My Favorite Dentist is Dead"
"Coming Soon"

Great band names!
Old 6th April 2010
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdjice View Post
oui yen a un bon paquet d'ailleurs
Lol. C clair. Bon bref je suis n pas vraiment vraiment francais... 50% hollandais / 50% francais...

And Monsieur Blanc-Francard it's a great honour to have you here on GS.com, Welcome and that we can learn a lot of your knowledge's.
Old 7th April 2010
  #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labomaticstudio View Post
If I can help you in any way in the understanding of this unlimited passion of recorded sound,just ask me things and I will try to respond.

all the best

Dominique
We're you present for any of the Elton John recordings? Curious if Nigel Olsson was using single-headed toms?
Old 7th April 2010
  #68
Gear nut
 

Hi Dominique,

I was wondering if you'd ever worked at the "Studio des Dames"?
Referring to an earlier post on this thread, I believe it is the studio where the bulk of Gainsbourg's Melody Nelson was actually recorded.
It would be great to find out more about this place as I'm told it was one of the best studios in Paris until it closed 15 years ago.
Also, I read your bio on your website and it would be great if you could tell us more about experiencing the changes in sound recording at the turn of the eighties for instance as well as your views on the standard of modern recordings vs 30 years ago?
So many questions to ask, don't really know where to start!

Thanks again for posting on gearslutz!
Old 7th April 2010
  #69
Definitely sounds tom me like single headed toms taped up to the extreme and sometimes maybe mic'ed from the insides... and then hitting tape/transformers pretty hard. But I'm sure that Dominique will have the final word.

Philip

Quote:
Originally Posted by juniorhifikit View Post
We're you present for any of the Elton John recordings? Curious if Nigel Olsson was using single-headed toms?
Old 8th April 2010
  #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip S Bova View Post
Definitely sounds tom me like single headed toms taped up to the extreme and sometimes maybe mic'ed from the insides... and then hitting tape/transformers pretty hard. But I'm sure that Dominique will have the final word.

Philip
Yes you're right .The toms were single headed and it was the first time in my life I saw somebody miking them with Neumann U67 mikes...
Ken Scott was on the desk with Gus Dudgeon producing.
Very close miking and Kepex noise gates to "clean them up"It was a première
too for the Kepexes...
Nigel used to spend half an hour to tune up his drum kit.It was really good sounding in the studio,and I was amazed because our custom desk(it was before the MCI) did not have other eq than hi and lo and Ken spend some time in the studio moving the mikes and so,and when he opened the faders just after setting the preamp gain the sound was already here and good....
A really good lesson of mike placement.I did not forget and I never used Seinheiser MD421 anymore on toms...
D.
Old 8th April 2010
  #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labomaticstudio View Post
Yes you're right .The toms were single headed and it was the first time in my life I saw somebody miking them with Neumann U67 mikes...
Ken Scott was on the desk with Gus Dudgeon producing.
Very close miking and Kepex noise gates to "clean them up"It was a première
too for the Kepexes...
Nigel used to spend half an hour to tune up his drum kit.It was really good sounding in the studio,and I was amazed because our custom desk(it was before the MCI) did not have other eq than hi and lo and Ken spend some time in the studio moving the mikes and so,and when he opened the faders just after setting the preamp gain the sound was already here and good....
A really good lesson of mike placement.I did not forget and I never used Seinheiser MD421 anymore on toms...
D.
Ah! another trick I just remember and who made me crazy...
The roadies were changing drum skins and bass/gtr strings after each good take....
Old 8th April 2010
  #72
Quote:
Originally Posted by labomaticstudio View Post
Yes you're right .The toms were single headed and it was the first time in my life I saw somebody miking them with Neumann U67 mikes...
Ken Scott was on the desk with Gus Dudgeon producing.
Very close miking and Kepex noise gates to "clean them up"It was a première
too for the Kepexes...
Nigel used to spend half an hour to tune up his drum kit.It was really good sounding in the studio,and I was amazed because our custom desk(it was before the MCI) did not have other eq than hi and lo and Ken spend some time in the studio moving the mikes and so,and when he opened the faders just after setting the preamp gain the sound was already here and good....
A really good lesson of mike placement.I did not forget and I never used Seinheiser MD421 anymore on toms...
D.
Amazing info Dominique!

So were all the Elton records (at the chateau) done on the custom board, or were any cut with the MCI 416?

thanks,

Philip
Old 9th April 2010
  #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
I want to know if you saw the ghost?
No, I did not see him (them)But we have feel them.
There was a room at the Chateau called the red room.The room was very bizarre because none of the walls were parallels.

The first time I have had a very long night session,Michel Magne,the owner,told me that i could sleep few
hours in this room if I had to rest,because I was starting another session at 9am in the next morning.I went to bed around 4am.
Just after being sleeping,I was awaked by the door slamming.
Stand up,close the door,back to bed,sleep again.
Few minutes away,waked up again,door slamming…
I was very angry,thinking that somebody was waiting me to sleep and open the door.

That was the door nightmare all my short night.

I asked Michel and everybody who played with that f…. door all night long.
Michel just told me" Ahhh…You closed that door.You should not.If you don't close
it ,it won't slam.2 hundred years before,somebody has try to hang himself in this room
and locked the door.Few minutes later he did not want to die anymore and shouted for help.
But the door was very strong and help arrived too late…So now,if you close the door at night
it slams,if you just leave it a bit open it is just fine"

It was just true,and this is the only ghost I met in this house.
But I know many others people have (or believe it) met some.

Often,I have spent nights alone at the Château when Michel was out and I never had any fear.

I loved this place.

D.
Old 9th April 2010
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip S Bova View Post
Amazing info Dominique!

So were all the Elton records (at the chateau) done on the custom board, or were any cut with the MCI 416?

thanks,

Philip
The first album Elton did at the Château was "Honky Chateau" and was recorded on our custom console.
It sounded so funky that I was pretty sure that Ken Scott will tell "What's the hell of this desk!" or something
like it.

When he arrived,he just had a look and tell" Hmm,seems nice"
The first session,I was very anxious as a chief engineer ,ready to patch any ext preamp that we had around..

He made his mike set-up,went in the control room,put all the fader on the zero mark and voilà.

the sound was so great that I thinked "my god,should i have to learn everything from the top?"

That's what I did with excellent teachers....

What I did learn from this lesson:

The sound is coming from the instrument and the player before the mic/di/console.
for example,when the bass sound was not ok,they (Ken and Gus) used to say" change bass"
and try gibson,fender,ricken or whatever else.
When they got a sound close to what they expected,then they started fiddling with knobs…

Later we had our first MCI desk and "Don't shoot me I'm only a piano player and Good bye yellow brick road "were recorded on.

D
Old 9th April 2010
  #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunrobot View Post
Hi Dominique,

I was wondering if you'd ever worked at the "Studio des Dames"?
Referring to an earlier post on this thread, I believe it is the studio where the bulk of Gainsbourg's Melody Nelson was actually recorded.
It would be great to find out more about this place as I'm told it was one of the best studios in Paris until it closed 15 years ago.
Also, I read your bio on your website and it would be great if you could tell us more about experiencing the changes in sound recording at the turn of the eighties for instance as well as your views on the standard of modern recordings vs 30 years ago?
So many questions to ask, don't really know where to start!

Thanks again for posting on gearslutz!
Yes I did.In the eighties,I recorded a french metal rock group in.

It was a very good studio,with fair acoustics,but it was very difficult for the free lance engineers like me to work on the Polygram desks,which were designed by Polygram (Philips) team for the inquiries of the Studio des Dames engineering team…The automation system was not very clear,the overall feeling of the desk was very german,I mean more broadcast oriented than the Neves ,API's and MCI's desk we loved.

I think it is true that Serge Gainsbourg had done a lot of vocal tracks there.
As the studio belonged the the Polygram group,every session should have been recorded there
excepted when artist,producers and A&R decided differently.

They had an incredible set of microphones, at least 10 U47 and U67 and all the others,mainly because they
were doing a lot of orchestra recordings due to the studio 1 size.

The technical team was very strong,Polygram was very serious with quality,so all the Studer recorders were lined up 2 times a day,always repaired on the spot in few minutes and so.. A lot of EMT 140 and 240 plates,that we loved to kick in
in the basement to make big noise the headphones of artists we did not like…

Yes we free lance were punk too...


The main change that I have experienced in the beginning of the eighties was the arrival of the SSL 4000 era.
The automation system was so good and the "total recall" such an innovation that all the studios on earth were dreaming to have one.

It really changed our way of working because we had for the first time a desk with eq,compressors and gates on each
channel,compressor on the mix bus,automation on all faders and mutes and the ability to come back two days later and do a fix on a mix ,retrieving all the settings were they were left at the end of the mix.

(if your assistant engineer wrote the recall files properly….)

All this ended with the beginning of an sound uniformity coming in the
mid nineties…

D.
Old 9th April 2010
  #76
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a pleasure to see you here monsieur.
Old 9th April 2010
  #77
Thanks so much for this all info Dominique.
Old 11th April 2010
  #78
Gear nut
 

That's wonderful Dominique, thanks so much.
I think a lot of french music from that era sounds absolutely amazing:
wonderful melodies, strong sense of harmony, lush and esoteric arrangements, great singing, very warm recordings.
I've also heard a lot of interesting stories about the CBE studio in Paris which had a custom made desk and 32-track tape machine, both designed by a german or swiss guy.
Apparently the studio is still going.
Old 14th April 2010
  #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunrobot View Post
That's wonderful Dominique, thanks so much.
I think a lot of french music from that era sounds absolutely amazing:
wonderful melodies, strong sense of harmony, lush and esoteric arrangements, great singing, very warm recordings.
I've also heard a lot of interesting stories about the CBE studio in Paris which had a custom made desk and 32-track tape machine, both designed by a german or swiss guy.
Apparently the studio is still going.
Yes, his name is Gunther Loof, kind of genius !

CBE studio (Bernard Estardy(RIP), Georges Chatelain and his sister Janine Bisson created it… and later, in 1974, B. Estardy staid alone at it), has been one of the most famous recording place in Paris !
Old 14th April 2010
  #80
Gear nut
 

Cool!
Do you know of any other studios that use Gunther Loof designed consoles and recorders?
What are the consoles like?
Old 14th April 2010
  #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunrobot View Post
Cool!
Do you know of any other studios that use Gunther Loof designed consoles and recorders?
What are the consoles like?
I have seen one Gunther Loof console rusting out in a drum booth at Studio Marcadet in the '80s.

Studio Owner was George Blumenfeld who had been partner with CBE and
Bernard Estardy.
Gunther Loof used to design all his tape recorders around a Revox chassis.
I should be able to put a lot of documents about this era on the vintage pages of the Labomatic Studios web site next week end.

Dominique
Old 15th April 2010
  #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labomaticstudio View Post
I have seen one Gunther Loof console rusting out in a drum booth at Studio Marcadet in the '80s.

Studio Owner was George Blumenfeld who had been partner with CBE and
Bernard Estardy.
Gunther Loof used to design all his tape recorders around a Revox chassis.
I should be able to put a lot of documents about this era on the vintage pages of the Labomatic Studios web site next week end.

Dominique
That's great Dominique, thanks.
This thread made me google CBE studio and so I had a look at their myspace page.
Incredible looking studio and it probably hasn't changed at all.
Echo chamber, loads of vintage gear and wonderful analog synths: both an Arp 2600 and EMS VCS3 in the backline!
Well I mean, that's really cool.
I know "Le Sud" by Nino Ferrer was recorded there and it all makes sense now.
I'm curious to find out what kind of artists record there nowadays.It's great to know that's it's still going.
Dominique, have you ever worked there?
Old 15th April 2010
  #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunrobot View Post
That's great Dominique, thanks.
This thread made me google CBE studio and so I had a look at their myspace page.
Incredible looking studio and it probably hasn't changed at all.
Echo chamber, loads of vintage gear and wonderful analog synths: both an Arp 2600 and EMS VCS3 in the backline!
Well I mean, that's really cool.
I know "Le Sud" by Nino Ferrer was recorded there and it all makes sense now.
I'm curious to find out what kind of artists record there nowadays.It's great to know that's it's still going.
Dominique, have you ever worked there?
i did not,but I went several times to pick up tapes and the last time I went there,it was around 1975 and the tape op,Jean-Louis, was very busy because the take-up reel motor was down and he had to wind up the tape manually all day long :-(( bad day for an assistant...;-)
I came back later to discuss with the late Bernard Estardy and the studio had really an incredible feel,due to the high number of great artists who recorded there and the very high skills of Bernard,who mastered his place like no other....
Old 18th April 2010
  #84
Gear nut
 

Thanks a lot Dominique.
You've worked several times with Serge Gainsbourg; could you share some stories about those sessions?
What were his working methods in the studio, his approach to sound and technology, the extent of his involvement in the arrangements...?
Also, I read in your track list that you worked with Michel Delpech in the 70's.
I really love the sound of those records, so musical and so warm.
It would be great to learn a couple of things about the making of those records.
Thanks again for taking the time to post back!
Old 18th April 2010
  #85
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sedohr's Avatar
 

Salut Dominique! Great stories from one of the great contributors of those legendary times. Keep'em coming! Very inspiring.

Kalli
Old 20th April 2010
  #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunrobot View Post
Thanks a lot Dominique.
You've worked several times with Serge Gainsbourg; could you share some stories about those sessions?
What were his working methods in the studio, his approach to sound and technology, the extent of his involvement in the arrangements...?
Also, I read in your track list that you worked with Michel Delpech in the 70's.
I really love the sound of those records, so musical and so warm.
It would be great to learn a couple of things about the making of those records.
Thanks again for taking the time to post back!
Serge was not very involved with technology,but he liked to listen at a fairly high level at home on his JBL 4430's with Macintoch amp/preamp.
He asked me to come in one time because he did not understand why there was not enough bass on.In fact,the left and righ speakers were out of phase and he was very happy after being wired properly..;-)
His prefered joke about sound was to ask me" would you crank the level "double titan" please!" That would mean in an engineer dialect "turn on the level to 11"
When he wrote a song,he used to give the arrangers a demo recorded with a answering machine cassette recorder on his piano.He payed few lines and said"that is the verse"then he played few more notes ,always melody only and said"that's the chorus".
When he was at the studio listening to the final arrangement,somtimes he was going to the piano to tell the arranger" no no,it is no a F chord here it is a D minor 7"
I have a lot more for later...
Old 20th April 2010
  #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labomaticstudio View Post
Serge was not very involved with technology,but he liked to listen at a fairly high level at home on his JBL 4430's with Macintoch amp/preamp.
He asked me to come in one time because he did not understand why there was not enough bass on.In fact,the left and righ speakers were out of phase and he was very happy after being wired properly..;-)
His prefered joke about sound was to ask me" would you crank the level "double titan" please!" That would mean in an engineer dialect "turn on the level to 11"
When he wrote a song,he used to give the arrangers a demo recorded with a answering machine cassette recorder on his piano.He payed few lines and said"that is the verse"then he played few more notes ,always melody only and said"that's the chorus".
When he was at the studio listening to the final arrangement,somtimes he was going to the piano to tell the arranger" no no,it is no a F chord here it is a D minor 7"
I have a lot more for later...
Fanastic, look forward to it! Did you ever meet Brel btw?
Old 20th April 2010
  #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labomaticstudio View Post
Hello,
I was chief engineer at the Château in '71.We had a MCI JH-416 desk in studio A and a Custom build desk in Studio B built with Studio Technique modules and API 550 EQ (4 only).I have recorded a lot of great albums on these two desks,included "Catch bull at 4" from Cat Stevens with Paul Samwell-Smith producing and "The Warrior" from T.Rex with Tony Visconti producing.
We were 16 tracks at that time, recorders were Scully 100 2".
in 74 The Château closed for a while and I started to freelance in Paris.
I have recorded in all the studios of this era,very few had high tech equipment except the major companies studios,EMI,Philips,Barclay.
EMI had the TG desk,and very soon big Neves,Barclay had an incredible custom Neve with narrow modules which is always working in "Studio de la Frette" near Paris.
Philips studios had "Polygram" desks built by the Dutch engineers of the company.
Inependant studios had either custom built or the new MCI desks which were the first stock consoles with in line design.
I am upgrading our studio site and I hope next week enough time to put in line an incredible amount of documents,pictures,magazine articles from this marvellous era...

DBF
Home
this is what makes GS the greatest website in the world ..

thanks for all the great comments Dominique!

jeremy
Old 21st April 2010
  #89
Gear nut
 

Thanks Dominique.
Looking forward to hearing more!
Old 21st April 2010
  #90
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initialsBB's Avatar
 

Great Gainsbourg stories!
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