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Layla, elton john, beegees, eagles +1000s more=mci. So why no MCI standalone Pre?
Old 16th May 2015
  #1
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Layla, elton john, beegees, eagles +1000s more=mci. So why no MCI standalone Pre?

And before anyone says "cuz they sucked....", wait a minute.

I tried out a Pacifica (console) in 1977 and then an MCI j500 or maybe it was a 600 series by then. The Pacifica was pleasant enough to sit in front of. I liked the MCI much better than the Pacifica once I got in front of it...although I distinctly remember that my "like" was not insignificantly based on the vca automation capability of the MCI .....a necessity for me by then. Quad Eight told me at the time that automation was being discussed. Which wasn't going to work on my timeframe.

Okay, there's my experience with Quad Eight. Here in the 21st century, we have Pacifica and Ventura pres. I don't remember all the recordings done on a Pacifica but in 1977, I was looking real hard to find them so I could factor that into my buying decision. Whatever... Pacifica pres are here and the world can never have enough pres.

But....... why are there no MCI pre clones? Does Sony forbid it? And as to if anyone wants to say "MCI sucked..."... well...... no they didn't. I've even recently been hearing that early ssl consoles were based on the mci pre circuits of maybe even the 400s. Don't know if that's true, but in any case, I never sat in front of a console at Criteria etc and thought "this sucks".

So what gives? If there are Pacifica pres... why are there no 636 pres or whatever?

If nothing else, the pr would seem to insure a couple of sales of an MCI branded pre. After all, look at this tiny partial list someone else posted of stuff tracked and mixed with the "junky" mci stuff......


Bee Gees - Tragedy *
Bee Gees - Too Much Heaven *
Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love
Bee Gees - Jive Talkin
Bee Gees - You Should Be Dancing *
Bee Gees - Love So Right *
Bee Gees - Staying Alive *
Bee Gees - Saturday Night Fever *
Eagles - One Of These Nights
Eagles - Lyin Eyes
Eagles - New Kid In Town
Eagles - Hotel California
Eric Clapton - I Shot The Sheriff
Elvin Bishop - Fooled Around And Fell In Love
Andy Gibb - I Just Want To Be Your Every Thing
Andy Gibb - Lover is ( Thicker Than Water )
Andy Gibb - An Everlasting Love
Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing
Joe Walsh - Rocky Mountain way
Samantha Sang - Emotion
Andy Gibb - Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away)
Grand Funk Railroad - We're An American Band
Rod Stewart - Do You Think I’m Sexy *
Jimmy Buffet - Margaritaville

Gold Albums

Bee Gees - Saturday Night Fever *
Bee Gees - Children Of The World *
Bee Gees - Here At Last – Bee Gees Live *
Bee Gees - Main Course *
Andy Gibb - Flowing Rivers *
Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing *
Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard *
Eric Clapton - History Of Eric Clapton
Grand Funk Railroad - We're An American Band
Eagles - One Of These Nights *
Eagles - Greatest Hits *
Eagles - Hotel California *
Joe Walsh The Smoker - You Drink The Player You Get
Average White Band - AWB
Average White Band - Cut The Cake
Marshall Tucker Band - Together Forever
Soundtrack - Grease *
Crosby, Stills, Nash - CSN
Stills, Young Band - Long May You Run


... and no doubt a thousand more mixed in recent years on mci consoles out there that are still limping along.
Old 17th May 2015
  #2
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Drumsound's Avatar
Its a good question.

Maybe its because Jeep had such a terrible sense of aesthetics. Tan and Brown? Yeesh. I look at my JH24 and think its the ugliest piece of gear I'll ever own.
Old 17th May 2015
  #3
Gear Head
Bump
Old 17th May 2015
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Its a good question.

Maybe its because Jeep had such a terrible sense of aesthetics. Tan and Brown? Yeesh. I look at my JH24 and think its the ugliest piece of gear I'll ever own.
When I was a/b-ing Quad Eight and MCI, I actually liked the MCI color scheme on the consoles. When I sat in front of the Pacifica with all its crème and red, the first thing I thought is "man this is going to get really dirty looking after a few months of use.

On the other hand, yeah, the pressed fake wood and machine shop look of the multitracks wasn't really pretty. But those mostly sat out of direct view in a dark corner, so I didn't think about the esthetiques much.

I don't know why Sony just sits on all the MCI intellectual property assets. Even if they don't want to do a standalone pre themselves, I'd think they'd license the idea to someone else.
Old 17th May 2015
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
When I was a/b-ing Quad Eight and MCI, I actually liked the MCI color scheme on the consoles. When I sat in front of the Pacifica with all its crème and red, the first thing I thought is "man this is going to get really dirty looking after a few months of use.

On the other hand, yeah, the pressed fake wood and machine shop look of the multitracks wasn't really pretty. But those mostly sat out of direct view in a dark corner, so I didn't think about the esthetiques much.

I don't know why Sony just sits on all the MCI intellectual property assets. Even if they don't want to do a standalone pre themselves, I'd think they'd license the idea to someone else.
Those brown consoles are still ugly though.

As to Sony, they are just too big to give a ****. The bought MCI to kill the JH because they were close to releasing the APR series, which everyone hated, and they eventually just ceased to deal with pro audio.
Old 17th May 2015
  #6
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intellectual property

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
I don't know why Sony just sits on all the MCI intellectual property assets. Even if they don't want to do a standalone pre themselves, I'd think they'd license the idea to someone else.
First of all, we are in agreement that many of those recordings sound great,
no doubt in part due to the preamps in the consoles.
However, they are 1970 era text-book designs: input transformer with a variable gain ic op-amp, no electronic vodoo.
The same can be said for the preamps in early SSL consoles.

It is rather ironic to mention Sony or MCI in the context of "intellectual property".
Sony allegedly stole video tape machine technology from Ampex in the late 50's
and has been charged with theft of digital related IP, also from Ampex in more recent years.
And we have MCI that obtained it's tape machine audio circuitry from Ampex's designs,
with nary a thank you or acknowledgement.
It borders on creepy and might be why a few folks loathe the MCI brand.
Old 18th May 2015
  #7
Early MCI preamps were a 2001 opamp and a Beyer mic transformer, generic stuff, slow transient response and a saturated low end. 600 era mic pre's used a 5532/5534 opamp and a LM394 matched transistor pair, similar to modern pre's like Millenia, etc. Good for a cleanup, but not that revealing stock as they are slew reduced from compensation caps and cheapo bypolar electrolytic coupling capacitors. Use quality caps and opamps and they will open up nicely.

Since the audio fashion of the day is dirt and old stuff, those designs have not been as embraced as the more colorful designs have.
Old 18th May 2015
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post

600 era mic pre's used a 5532/5534 opamp and a LM394 matched transistor pair, similar to modern pre's like Millenia, etc. Good for a cleanup, but not that revealing stock as they are slew reduced from compensation caps and cheapo bypolar electrolytic coupling capacitors.
Any idea what the Quad Eight structure was at that moment in time (fall 1977-spring 1978) for the Pacifica/Ventura? I dragged out my brochures and notes from 1977 AES last night since that's when I had narrowed it down to those two companies.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #9
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Nothing super fancy going on with MCI circuits, but they certainly do sound good. (this applies to 400/500 series)
I've got a whole bunch of MCI 500 modules, some of which I've cut-down to rack up and just use as pre/eq, I just haven't had the time to finish the project!
Old 23rd May 2015
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Any idea what the Quad Eight structure was at that moment in time (fall 1977-spring 1978) for the Pacifica/Ventura? I dragged out my brochures and notes from 1977 AES last night since that's when I had narrowed it down to those two companies.
I have some older Quad 8 cards here, it's a transistor opamp with Jensen transformers. Modern, low noise transistors quiet those down well.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #11
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Hi
There is relatively little 'new' in terms of circuitry and old themes and ideas get rediscovered from time to time.
Some of the much vaunted 'class A' designs used by someone with an R in his name appeared in technical documentation from the likes of Texas Instruments with minor 'tweaks'.
Since good transformers are expensive nowadays you have to really WANT to use them in 'new' gear so recreating an 'OK but not outstanding' circuit is hardly likely to hit the headlines and make it a worthwhile product.
This combined with the fact there is FAR more to the 'sound' of a mixer than just a few mic amps puts it even less likely to be used.
About a third of this thread so far has talked about aesthetics and not strictly the 'sound' which in itself is pretty revealing.
Matt S
Old 24th May 2015
  #12
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T_R_S's Avatar
I always hated MCI preamps…..
OpAmp pres yuk!
FWIW John Hardy made preamp cards for MCI consoles back in the 80's
Old 24th May 2015
  #13
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Hi
The John Hardy and similar ARE op amps! In fact the circuitry is very similar to the integrated circuit op amps from 40+ years ago. Granted using 'discrete' parts allowed better optimisation but they are still op amps.
Matt S
Old 24th May 2015
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
The John Hardy and similar ARE op amps! In fact the circuitry is very similar to the integrated circuit op amps from 40+ years ago. Granted using 'discrete' parts allowed better optimisation but they are still op amps.
Matt S
That was not my point. MCI consoles did not have discrete preamp's so they were nothing special and Hardy even built cards for them because in their day they were not not noted for having great preamps.
Old 25th May 2015
  #15
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Aisle 6's Avatar
I purchased a couple of MCI500 series channel strips and had them racked up. It is certainly a flavour and I like it for some things. The EQ can be very useful.
Old 29th May 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cathode View Post
And we have MCI that obtained it's tape machine audio circuitry from Ampex's designs,
with nary a thank you or acknowledgement.
It borders on creepy and might be why a few folks loathe the MCI brand.
It was Jeep's MCI replacement for Ampex 351 era electronics that put MCI on the map.

According to people like Jay McKnight (50's to '70s Ampex and MRL) and Dale Manquen (early 3M and later Ampex) Jeep Harned was a paid consultant to Ampex at times.
Remember that Jeep was one of the first people to build a working 2" 16-track machines (the TTG Machine.)
Ampex wasn't averse to working with him.
Old 29th May 2015
  #17
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Ampex and mci

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
It was Jeep's MCI replacement for Ampex 351 era electronics that put MCI on the map.

According to people like Jay McKnight (50's to '70s Ampex and MRL) and Dale Manquen (early 3M and later Ampex) Jeep Harned was a paid consultant to Ampex at times.
Remember that Jeep was one of the first people to build a working 2" 16-track machines (the TTG Machine.)
Ampex wasn't averse to working with him.
I can't speak for Jay or Dale but others at Ampex were not pleased.
Old 30th May 2015
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Its a good question.

Maybe its because Jeep had such a terrible sense of aesthetics. Tan and Brown? Yeesh. I look at my JH24 and think its the ugliest piece of gear I'll ever own.
And yet, in 2015, my JH110c 1 inch 8 track looks strangely sexy. I suppose it's a matter of context.
Old 30th May 2015
  #19
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brill bedroom View Post
And yet, in 2015, my JH110c 1 inch 8 track looks strangely sexy. I suppose it's a matter of context.
C'mon man, MCI gear is just fugly.

Though the 1" 8-tracks do look better than the 24-tracks.
Old 31st May 2015
  #20
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myles's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T_R_S View Post
I always hated MCI preamps…..
OpAmp pres yuk!
FWIW John Hardy made preamp cards for MCI consoles back in the 80's
I have a couple of the Hardy MCI pre's with EQ of unknown provenance, looks like maybe early Sony? Haven't used them in a while, I should do some comparisons.

Bought them back in the mid-90's off rec.audio.pro... how's that for dating myself? They aren't with me but I'll post some photos in a few weeks, if anyone's interested.

I believe they were the first pre's Hardy made.
Old 31st May 2015
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by myles View Post
Bought them back in the mid-90's off rec.audio.pro... how's that for dating myself?
Old 2nd June 2015
  #22
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I mean MCI's are cool but I think the famous records mentioned were better than the consoles and could've been cut on anything.

I've never ever found myself needing an MCI preamp. As cool as they are, there's a much larger list of things people reach for. But it would be a cool idea.

I'm sure if this thread goes deep enough someone will do it and people on gearslutz will buy it because they saw it on gearslutz
Old 2nd June 2015
  #23
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By the way, most of the BeeGees records were pretty artificial (in a sample/loop type of way). At the time it was groundbreaking. They were making drum loops then "Stayin Alive" etc. That's a loop.

Also not a lot of trickery either, Barry's guitar was always DI I have read. Same with bass and most keys unless they were piano etc.

I've never marveled over the BeeGees guitar tone or vocal tone though. The vocals were always too bright and the guitar lacked character. But it didn't matter. They're one of those bands that were so talented that any production would have sounded like the BeeGees and carried those great songs.
Old 6th June 2015
  #24
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roginator's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
C'mon man, MCI gear is just fugly.

Though the 1" 8-tracks do look better than the 24-tracks.
to me SSL is fugly .. MCI 500 is sexy console ..

here is mine MCI .. I love its brown color!
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Layla, elton john, beegees, eagles +1000s more=mci. So why no MCI standalone Pre?-10257094_10152744656622221_916259208278308810_o.jpg  
Old 8th June 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roginator View Post
to me SSL is fugly .. MCI 500 is sexy console ..

here is mine MCI .. I love its brown color!
I don't find the SSL stuff that attractive, but the grey color is way better than the MCI poop brown. That said, I like MCI gear. I like the sound of my JH24, and the things I've heard while at Welcome to 1979 sound great through their 400 series console. It also has the coolest meters ever,
Old 8th June 2015
  #26
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roginator's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I don't find the SSL stuff that attractive, but the grey color is way better than the MCI poop brown. That said, I like MCI gear. I like the sound of my JH24, and the things I've heard while at Welcome to 1979 sound great through their 400 series console. It also has the coolest meters ever,
haha .. ok .. but if you look carefully .. mine MCI is not kinda poop brown .. its more grey brown .. but hey .. I love this colour anyway .. silver ssl - I don't like but thats personal taste ..



poop brown colour have many consoles from 80s.
Old 8th June 2015
  #27
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Hi
Quote:
poop brown colour have many consoles from 80s.
Unquote:

It could be an indicator of iron deficiency or not.

In many ways the aesthetics of a desk determine it's popularity, almost as much as the technical specifications.
Matt S
Old 8th June 2015
  #28
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roginator's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Syson View Post
Hi
Quote:
poop brown colour have many consoles from 80s.
Unquote:

It could be an indicator of iron deficiency or not.

In many ways the aesthetics of a desk determine it's popularity, almost as much as the technical specifications.
Matt S
yeah .. but for example .. some of best sounding consoles ever are to me most ugliest … starting with old telefunken , siemens or EAB, or wsw or even some neve ones .. I actually never like that colour on neve gear … but as i said .. its a matter of taste !

i did worked on MCI 500 in RARE BOOK ROOM studio in NYC … that MCI is BLUE .. neve type BLUE colour … do I like it ( well its ok .. but I'm not blown away by the colour) but i still like sound of MCI ;-)
Old 7th September 2015
  #29
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truth

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
It was Jeep's MCI replacement for Ampex 351 era electronics that put MCI on the map.

According to people like Jay McKnight (50's to '70s Ampex and MRL) and Dale Manquen (early 3M and later Ampex) Jeep Harned was a paid consultant to Ampex at times.
Remember that Jeep was one of the first people to build a working 2" 16-track machines (the TTG Machine.)
Ampex wasn't averse to working with him.
Received a reply from Mr. McKnight:
"To the best of my knowledge, Jeep Harned was never a paid consultant to Ampex, I'm absolutely sure that I never made a statement to the effect that he had been a consultant to Ampex."

How about it Danny ?
Stretching the truth ?
Rewriting history ?
Old 7th September 2015
  #30
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MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamburg58 View Post
By the way, most of the BeeGees records were pretty artificial (in a sample/loop type of way). At the time it was groundbreaking. They were making drum loops then "Stayin Alive" etc. That's a loop.
I walked into the control room at Criteria during a Bee Gees session and was surprised to see pencils and tape reels stuck into Speedys' acoustical treatment around the room. The loop was actually that. The drums were mixed to two tracks on 1/4 tape that was run around the room on those pencils & reels.

Last edited by MIKEHARRIS; 7th September 2015 at 04:31 PM..
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