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Desk used to record Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven up for sale
Old 27th November 2018
  #1
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Desk used to record Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven up for sale

Desk used to record Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven up for sale

The original studio console used to record Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven is heading for auction at Bonhams next month.

The Helios console, which was also used by the likes of Bob Marley, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones, is expected to fetch a six-figure sum when it goes up for sale in London on December 11.

“It is hard to overestimate how crucial a role this console has played in the British rock and pop scene,” said Bonhams Specialist Claire Tole-Moir.

“Songs and albums recorded on this bespoke console and its original parts rank among some of the most recognisable and best-loved pieces of music in existence, and have resulted in Grammys, Brit Awards and multiple number one spots. This console is a piece of Britain’s modern cultural history.”

The unique studio console is actually an amalgamation of two separate studio desks built by Helios Electronics, who also built consoles for The Beatles’ Apple Studios.

The first is the Basing Street Studio 2 Helios console, which was first installed at Island Records’ newly-constructed London studios in 1969.

The studio played host to many legendary names and recordings, but perhaps none are more famous than Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, regarded by many as the greatest rock song of all-time.

In December 1970, the band began work at the Basing Street studios on what would become their seminal album Led Zeppelin IV, which sold more than 37 million albums around the world.

Although most of the album was recorded using a mobile studio at the country house Headley Grange, the bulk of sessions for Stairway to Heaven took place at Basing Street, including Page’s iconic guitar solo.

Other artists who used the console during this period included Bob Marley and The Wailers, Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton, Sly Stone, Jimmy Cliff, Harry Nilsson, Jeff Beck, Mott The Hoople, David Bowie, Free, The Rolling Stones and Steve Winwood.

The second console was built in 1973 and installed in the bespoke Hook End Manor studio of Alvin Lee, guitarist and singer with the band ’10 Years After’.

Renowned musicians who used this desk included George Harrison, Ron Wood, Tim Hinckley, Boz Burrel, Jim Capaldi, Mick Fleetwood and Joe Brown.

After years spent shaping the musical landscape, both desks ended up in storage until they were rescued and given a second life by another pair of music legends: Elvis Costello and Chris Difford of Squeeze.

The pair teamed up in 1996 to open their own recording studio, HeliosCentric, which Difford described as “a chapel of music in the most idyllic spot”.

They spent two years carefully amalgamating the two historic consoles into one remarkable desk, and the result was a studio which attracted contemporary artists such as Paul Weller, Dido, Sia, Cage The Elephant and Keane.

Now, after almost 50 years of hit-making, the console is seeking a new home, where a future generation of musicians and performers can create their own legacies using a piece of true music history.
Old 27th November 2018
  #2
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EvilRoy's Avatar
Does it have USB?

Old 27th November 2018
  #3
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Now I understand why Kirk Hammett is selling his mansion for 13Millions, maybe he is collecting money for this.
He's a lucky guy if he can buy it.
Old 27th November 2018
  #4
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Originally Posted by Kimi777 View Post
Now I understand why Kirk Hammett is selling his mansion for 13Millions, maybe he is collecting money for this.
OP said "six figures", which is <$1M. Seems kinda low. But then since there are so few buyers that could actually afford it, appreciate it, put this huge thing somewhere, and actually use it...maybe it's not out of line.
Old 27th November 2018
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u87allen View Post
OP said "six figures", which is <$1M. Seems kinda low. But then since there are so few buyers that could actually afford it, appreciate it, put this huge thing somewhere, and actually use it...maybe it's not out of line.
I think that it could go over 1M, maybe 3 or 5.
It's a piece of history.

But maybe I'm too optimistic.
Old 27th November 2018
  #6
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Sigma's Avatar
I recorded PP Arnold on that console in the late 1980's..lol just to show there are dumb asses everywhere..I put up an 87..no audio..first time on a helios..I go hey do me a favor pop in a 57...errr the kid didn't turn the console phantom on

it felt like you were sitting inside a big console organ..the wood finish was beautiful..and the patch bay was below and to the right of the main board..sweet

i was also at eel pie and red bus same weeks ..the helios was far better than the vintage neve and custom mci 500 series in those 2 studios
Old 27th November 2018
  #7
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Hmmm....they say in the write-up that the console is at Bonham's.....but didn't he pass away a while back?
Old 27th November 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samuraisoundman View Post
Hmmm....they say in the write-up that the console is at Bonham's.....but didn't he pass away a while back?
Bonhams is an English auction house
Old 27th November 2018
  #9
ccg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samuraisoundman View Post
Hmmm....they say in the write-up that the console is at Bonham's.....but didn't he pass away a while back?
Very punny.
Old 27th November 2018
  #10
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Drumsound's Avatar
Didn't we already have this thread?

Anywho, I wish I could buy it.
Old 27th November 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samuraisoundman View Post
Hmmm....they say in the write-up that the console is at Bonham's.....but didn't he pass away a while back?
Old 28th November 2018
  #12
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Sorry I couldn't help it!
Old 28th November 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimi777 View Post
I think that it could go over 1M, maybe 3 or 5.
It's a piece of history.

But maybe I'm too optimistic.
Meh, untill (relatively) recently pretty much all high quality pro gear was used at serious facilities with serious clients and could be considered a piece of history, but you can still get a nice SSL console, that has probably done as much hits as the Helios, for € 30000. I'd be surprised if this console exceeds the price of an average similarly sized 80 series Neve.

Most band fans can't really appreciate such a console and most commercial facilities would rather invest into a more "standard" piece of equipment.

My guess is that it's going to stay under 200k.
We'll see ...
Bonhams : The HeliosCentric Helios console: Constructed in 1996 through an amalgamation of part of the Island Records Basing Street Studio 2 Helios Console (1970-1974) used by artists such as; Led Zeppelin to record their 'Album IV' which includes the timeless hit "Stairway To Heaven", and Bob Marley & The Wailers to record the albums 'Burnin' and 'Catch a Fire'; with the other part being from Alvin Lee's Helios console from Space Studios (1973-1979); with the final construction installed at HeliosCentric Studios (1996-present),
Old 28th November 2018
  #14
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Sigma's Avatar
m guess 325,000 US
Old 28th November 2018
  #15
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RoundBadge's Avatar
So it’s not the original lustraphone 3 band preamp/eq modules in there.
They were sold off years ago for top dollar and replaced with Tony Arnold’s “re issues”.
I think there’s an article somewhere where he talks about the refurb and selling off the original vintage modules and replacing them with his modern remakes.
I’m sure a good profit was made by selling those.i bought 2 for around 4k each.they sounded nice but certainly no mythical “magic mojo” bullet like some would suggest.
So a Frankenstein Helios frame with re issue modules is going to be auctioned off on the premise it is a piece of recording history.
Hmmm.
Makes me wonder if they’re disclosing all the “technical” details.
Old 28th November 2018
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samuraisoundman View Post
Sorry I couldn't help it!
That line has a Norm Macdonald beat, funny ****
Old 28th November 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
So it’s not the original lustraphone 3 band preamp/eq modules in there.
They were sold off years ago and replaced with Tony Arnold’s “re issues”.
I think there’s an article somewhere where he talks about the refurb and selling of the modules and replacing them with his.
I’m sure a good profit was made by selling those.i bought 2 for around 4k each.
So a Frankenstein Helios frame with re issue modules is going to be auctioned off on the premise it is a piece of recording history.
Hmmm.
Makes me wonder if they’re disclosing all the “technical” details.
I didn't read it that closely. I didn't realize that it was full of modern parts. At that point, why not just buy an empty 1604 frame and fill it with Tony Arnold or Dave Amels modules?
Old 28th November 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I didn't read it that closely. I didn't realize that it was full of modern parts. At that point, why not just buy an empty 1604 frame and fill it with Tony Arnold or Dave Amels modules?
Well hopefully the line amps summing buss amps are still in there.thats part of the “sound”.
Undoubtedly the console probably sounds fine.
But imo that certainly wouldn’t command a $100-200k “historical” equipment price.
Imagine buying a Jimmy Page original Les Paul with new Gibson re issue pick ups.
It might sound ok but it’s not original and definitely wouldn’t command top dollar.
A friend directly compared a 1608 with his original island desk and it was no comparison.he said the 1608 sounded hard,synthetic and plasticy by comparison.
Old 28th November 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
Well hopefully the line amps summing buss amps are still in there.thats part of the “sound”.
Undoubtedly the console probably sounds fine.
But imo that certainly wouldn’t command a $100-200k “historical” equipment price.
Imagine buying a Jimmy Page original Les Paul with new Gibson re issue pick ups.
It might sound ok but it’s not original and definitely wouldn’t command top dollar.
A friend directly compared a 1608 with his original island desk and it was no comparison.he said the 1608 sounded hard,synthetic and plasticy by comparison.
I wouldn't be happy with said Les Paul, or a reloaded Helios. I do lust after a real Helios, but know that it will never happen. I'm sure the consold for sale sounds great, and you are right about the line amps and "infrastructure" and I'm sure that makes a difference compared to loading a 1608.

I'd love to have been part of that A/B your buddy did.
Old 28th November 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I wouldn't be happy with said Les Paul, or a reloaded Helios. I do lust after a real Helios, but know that it will never happen. I'm sure the consold for sale sounds great, and you are right about the line amps and "infrastructure" and I'm sure that makes a difference compared to loading a 1608.

I'd love to have been part of that A/B your buddy did.
You know I had those original Island/Basing modules for s couple years and ultimately sold them for two reasons.
1-they were expensive and the money was needed elsewhere.
2- they just didn’t sound better then what I already had,vintage neves apis daking chandler redds etc.
In fact I preferred my neves over them by quite a bit.
I also had 4 Helios re issues and 4 Amels modules..(in an api 1608).
Sold them all.pretty “meh” to be honest.
Old 28th November 2018
  #21
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Sigma's Avatar
so wait, this isn't the board that was in the townhouse studios? it looks just like it
Old 28th November 2018
  #22
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
so wait, this isn't the board that was in the townhouse studios? it looks just like it
No I heard the Townhouse console is in a studio in New Jersey?
The console up for auction is a Frankenstein they built from a basing frame and Alvin Lees frame.

Last edited by RoundBadge; 28th November 2018 at 01:54 AM.. Reason: Correction I was thinking the Manor Helios
Old 28th November 2018
  #23
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Oldone's Avatar
So can somebody buy this and tell me if it sounds better than the UAD plugin in?



(Engineer humor)
Old 28th November 2018
  #24
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
No I heard the Townhouse console is in a studio in New Jersey?
The console up for auction is a Frankenstein they built from a basing frame and Alvin Lees frame.
thanks wow they were set up pretty similar visually..ehh it was the late 80's..lol i ee now the wood is formica on the board i worked on was solid oiled wood
Old 28th November 2018
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
i bought 2 for around 4k each.they sounded nice but certainly no mythical “magic mojo” bullet like some would suggest.
I'm so glad that you said this. Cause it is reality when it comes to all of this stuff.

The "magic mojo" is never the preamp, it's the product of the 8956 micro-decisions that happened in the course of recording/producing/mixing the end result.
Old 28th November 2018
  #26
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldone View Post
So can somebody buy this and tell me if it sounds better than the UAD plugin in?



(Engineer humor)
After having the real modules and selling them I'll take the plug in for recall and automation.
I liked the eq a little more than the actual pre amp.in fact Imo with out the eq the pre amps weren't anything spectacular.
Old 28th November 2018
  #27
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bambamboom View Post
I'm so glad that you said this. Cause it is reality when it comes to all of this stuff.

The "magic mojo" is never the preamp, it's the product of the 8956 micro-decisions that happened in the course of recording/producing/mixing the end result.
oh hell yes..150%
Ive heard brilliantly engineered records done with so called "average" mic amps.
Old 28th November 2018
  #28
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Plush's Avatar
Will probably sell for $3-4 Million or perhaps as high as $8 million.

Chinese "collector" dontchaknow. Will use with "revered" Swiss tape recorder. Will get to press the music button.

Many people could easily pay that much and not break a sweat.


I agree with the commentary about the rather unspecialness of the Helios modules, old and new
Old 28th November 2018
  #29
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoundBadge View Post
You know I had those original Island/Basing modules for s couple years and ultimately sold them for two reasons.
1-they were expensive and the money was needed elsewhere.
2- they just didn’t sound better then what I already had,vintage neves apis daking chandler redds etc.
In fact I preferred my neves over them by quite a bit.
I also had 4 Helios re issues and 4 Amels modules..(in an api 1608).
Sold them all.pretty “meh” to be honest.
I know I'm totally guilty of romanticizing Helios because I love so many records done with them.

And the wrap around desks are soooooooo sexy.
Old 28th November 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I know I'm totally guilty of romanticizing Helios because I love so many records done with them.

And the wrap around desks are soooooooo sexy.
Yeah I’m guilty too.
some of the magic records from my youth.
But in reality (contrary to all the marketing b*llsh*t)we all know it’s the desk mics tape machines engineer artist room etc etc blah blah
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