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Questions about mixing history
Old 21st September 2009
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
amundsen's Avatar
 

Questions about mixing history

A few question about mixing desks history:

1. What was the first mixing desk ever? When?
2. First mixer with total recall?
3. What was the first desk with automation?
4. First desk with motorized faders?
5. First MIDI mixing controller?
6. First digital mixer?

Thank you in advance.
Old 21st September 2009
  #2
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Need help with a class project...

OK.

1. No one can say for sure. Probably sometime in the 20's or 30's designed by and for a radio station

2. SSL 4000B in the late 70's / early 80's. They didn't work as well as one would have liked because they shared one VCA for automation and dynamic control [but had a clearer audio path due to one fewer VCA in the audio chain] so the 4000E was developed... along with the 6 buss [laid out as 3 stereo busses] 6000E

3. The first automation system was made as an 'aftermarket' system, I believe by Valley Audio

4. NECAM was the first motorized fader system, it could be fitted to any Neve desk of the era

5. Not sure, I think it might have been a Valley system or possibly CAD's "Mega Mix" system

6. While I'm sure there were many proto-types before from various companies... the Neve "Capricorn" was the first "produced" digital console product
Old 21st September 2009
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
amundsen's Avatar
 

Thanks, Fletcher. I hope someone can provide additional information.

It's strange that the history of mixers is do badly documented on the Web...
Old 21st September 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
I would look hard at Bell System/Bell Labs/ERPI history for a specialized audio mixer. Western Electric was home of sync optical-film-sound for a long time.

Radio first for the most basic mixer, but for a multi-input/multi function per input and flexible routing, I'd look at re-recording mixer for motion picture soundtrack c. 1927.

I'm recalling a 16 input all-transformer passive unit somewhere in Tremaine "Audio Cyclopedia 2nd Ed.", but it seems pretty sophisticated, and not the first of its' kind.

Cheers.
Old 21st September 2009
  #5
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emrr's Avatar
There are certainly custom designed mixers back into the late 1920's. There may even be a stock RCA before 1930. I've had a commercially produced RCA 4 into 1 passive mixer with EQ that dates to 1932. I've seen ads for Gates Radio broadcast consoles from 1932-33. They look more like table radios of the era, and give only a few channels into on output. Most commercially produced mixers of the early 1930's are passive control surfaces, mated with a rack of amplifiers. Sales evidence suggests that possibly the Collins 12H of late 1936 might be the first commercially produced all-inclusive console, having 5 preamps, a line amp, and a monitor amp in the same case with the mixing and switching controls. The first larger scale all-inclusive commercial consoles from Western Electric, RCA, and Gates all came along within the next year or so. RCA, Gates, and Collins also continued making the old style control surface and amp rack system in the higher end offerings up until WWII.

The other class of mixers would be remote amps. RCA and Gates had portable broadcast amps with multiple inputs mixing to one output in the early 1930's.
Old 22nd September 2009
  #6
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by amundsen View Post
It's strange that the history of mixers is do badly documented on the Web...
Pretty much because nobody gives a **** except college students who have a "busy work" paper to do.
Old 22nd September 2009
  #7
Gear Addict
 
MX582's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Pretty much because nobody gives a **** except college students who have a "busy work" paper to do.
now thats funny.
Old 22nd September 2009
  #8
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

We had an automated 8 track mixer at Motown around 1966. Our 16 track mix consoles employed the same technology for fader grouping in 1970. We chose to not pursue automation because spliced up mixes generally beat out the automated ones when it came to excitement and creativity.

I understand EMI was also experimenting with automated mixing in conjunction with their first eight track machine.
Old 22nd September 2009
  #9
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The Reel Thing's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
We chose to not pursue automation because spliced up mixes generally beat out the automated ones when it came to excitement and creativity.
now that's great to hear someone still believes in that. i've tried many times to use automation on all channels, but i've always found that the events sound so predictable in the mix lateron. i've made my best mixes using automation only for basic things, then just going crazy on the faders and splicing the master tape later from the best parts.

tom

analoghaus :: studio label verlag - home
Old 22nd September 2009
  #10
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plexisys's Avatar
 

Quote:
6. While I'm sure there were many proto-types before from various companies... the Neve "Capricorn" was the first "produced" digital console product
During my time at Neve, prior to the Capricorn, Neve built a number of test digital consoles. This goes back to the time period of owner transition between Rupert Neve and Siemens.

By todays standards they are nothing special but at the time they were amazing. If you had to ask the price you could not afford one.
Old 22nd September 2009
  #11
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
Need help with a class project...

OK.

1. No one can say for sure. Probably sometime in the 20's or 30's designed by and for a radio station

2. SSL 4000B in the late 70's / early 80's. They didn't work as well as one would have liked because they shared one VCA for automation and dynamic control [but had a clearer audio path due to one fewer VCA in the audio chain] so the 4000E was developed... along with the 6 buss [laid out as 3 stereo busses] 6000E

3. The first automation system was made as an 'aftermarket' system, I believe by Valley Audio

4. NECAM was the first motorized fader system, it could be fitted to any Neve desk of the era

5. Not sure, I think it might have been a Valley system or possibly CAD's "Mega Mix" system

6. While I'm sure there were many proto-types before from various companies... the Neve "Capricorn" was the first "produced" digital console product
we were the first commercial facility to use Paul Buff's system [allison 64k.. memories little helper] ..don't know what was the first mix though

Quote:
Paul C. Buff is name-checked on the cover of "Freak Out!" (1966) under the heading "These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them"; he is also mentioned in "The Real Frank Zappa Book" (1989) as an "amazing gentleman" (see the chapter "Let's Get Into Show Business").

Inventor, engineer, artist, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Buff was a key player in an early turning point not only in FZ's career, but surf music in general, and the nature of the recording industry itself.

Paul Conrad Buff grew up in Cucamonga. Joining the Marine Corps, after graduating, he trained in aviation electronics. He returned to civilian life and took a job making parts for guided missiles at General Dynamics. After a few months at the "Bomb factory", as FZ would refer to it, he was bored with his job so he borrowed $1000 and, knowing nothing about the music business, set up the Pal recording studio in Cucamonga. Recording studios were usually controlled by the big record companies at that time so he could offer a cheaper alternative for would-be bands to record. His lack of knowledge and finance meant that the studio produced a different sound from the major studios which became known as the "Pal Sound". He worked with groups such as the Surfaris ("Wipe Out"), The Chantays ("Pipeline"), and many others.

In 1960, Ronnie Williams introduced FZ to Buff. Paul, Frank, Ronnie, Ray Collins and Dave Aerni recorded a bunch of 7" singles at Pal recording studio between late '60 and 1963. Buff claims to be the "Godfather of Snorks" and other such early Zappa noises..., although, according to Ray Collins, this title should go to Dick Barber.

In 1963, Buff got the opportunity to work with Art Laboe at Original Sound in Hollywood where he engineered the Run Home Slow soundtrack recording. By mid 1964 FZ had moved into the Pal Studio and in August FZ purchased the studio from Buff for $1000, his Fender Jazzmaster guitar and a set of drums. FZ recalled (in TRFZB): "In other words, I agreed to take over his lease and the rest of his debt." FZ renamed the studio as Studio Z.

Buff continued to work at Original Sound recording groups such as The Strawberry Alarm Clock and Sugarloaf. He set up Allison Research Inc. to produce and market the studio equipment he had designed. Allison Research flourished and Buff moved to Nashville. Here he became interested in developing photographic lighting equipment and set up the White Lightning company. Over the years this has become a leading supplier of professional photo lighting equipment.
Old 22nd September 2009
  #12
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
We had an automated 8 track mixer at Motown around 1966. Our 16 track mix consoles employed the same technology for fader grouping in 1970. We chose to not pursue automation because spliced up mixes generally beat out the automated ones when it came to excitement and creativity.

I understand EMI was also experimenting with automated mixing in conjunction with their first eight track machine.
i'd be interested to know how the system worked and who designed it because this is the first i heard of it
Old 22nd September 2009
  #13
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big country's Avatar
 

what industries ultimately made a desk,
contributions of design
was obviously a collection of technologies from different fields


radio were every thing started and ended up

as you had entertainment and the need to
go from entertainers to broadcaster


patch bays telephone ( bell ) I'm sure they had impact on routing capabilities

19 inch rack an influence of military equipment


I'm mostly guessing and putting pieces together
Old 22nd September 2009
  #14
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by big country View Post
so wait what industries ultimately made a desk it was obviously a collection of technologies


radio were every thing started and ended up

as you had entertainment and the need to
go from entertainers to broadcaster


patch bays telephone ( bell ) I'm sure they had impact on routing capabilities

19 inch rack an influence of military equipment


I'm mostly guessing and putting pieces together
the FILM industry birthed modern audio
Old 22nd September 2009
  #15
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big country's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
the FILM industry birthed modern audio
yes and NO

Quadraphonic / 5.1

44.1 / 48

do you see what I see



phrases

High Fidelity / ?

film adds more speakers , samples and fancier words
possibly even fancier named High pass filters
Old 22nd September 2009
  #16
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
i'd be interested to know how the system worked and who designed it because this is the first i heard of it
It was designed and built in our shop like most everything else at Motown. I don't know the technical details because it was during the period I was a nerd locked in the mastering closet. Our shop guys went on to play major roles in the console business including Quad-Eight and Yamaha.

A huge proportion of the stuff I rant against were innovations we developed at Motown!
Old 22nd September 2009
  #17
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by big country View Post
yes and NO

Quadraphonic / 5.1

44.1 / 48

do you see what I see



phrases

High Fidelity / ?

film adds more speakers , samples and fancier words
possibly even fancier named High pass filters

In 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia was the first film to be released in a multichannel format called Fantasound. Some important innovations are as follows:

the click track
dispersion-aligned loudspeaker system with skewed-horn
the pan-pot
control-track level-expansion
overdubbing of orchestral parts
simultaneous multitrack recording
and the development of a multichannel surround system.

and a lot of those rca ribbons that we all love today were designed with FILM work in mind hence the brown non reflective paint jobs
Old 22nd September 2009
  #18
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
we were the first commercial facility to use Paul Buff's system [allison 64k.. memories little helper] ..don't know what was the first mix though
I guess I was close as Allison Research turned into Valley Audio sometime in the 70's
Old 22nd September 2009
  #19
Lives for gear
 
big country's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
In 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia was the first film to be released in a multichannel format called Fantasound. Some important innovations are as follows:

the click track
dispersion-aligned loudspeaker system with skewed-horn
the pan-pot
control-track level-expansion
overdubbing of orchestral parts
simultaneous multitrack recording
and the development of a multichannel surround system.

click track
tap your foot

what about two channel stereo
A or V

Audio, once again slap another speaker on that puppy it now good enough for the movies

put another channel on it

allot of these innovations you speak of are just a natural eventual evolutions
and some a little excessive
Old 22nd September 2009
  #20
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Sigma's Avatar
YouTube - Joe Tarsia - Sigma console automation

the dude who filmed it used a clip of our GML automation on our 52 input neve 3 off

the allison was VCA based with information bounced between 2 non adjacent tracks there was a small box where you could sub and ride groups..every pass delayed the rides so after awhile of working with it and learning the systems nuances , people actually rode early on the first passes and let it fall into place as passes went by
Old 22nd September 2009
  #21
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher View Post
I guess I was close as Allison Research turned into Valley Audio sometime in the 70's
paul was quite the characterheh
Old 22nd September 2009
  #22
Lives for gear
 
big country's Avatar
 

I buy that the movies pulled and lead the audio industry
( quantum social physics kinda way )



the movie industry leading seems more pulling than pushing

look at the flavors of styles of music to styles of movies

almost spot on

so YES


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
the FILM industry birthed modern audio
Old 22nd September 2009
  #23
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Sigma's Avatar
the one thing i know..and this is because it just came up in a meeting..i see no future in 5.1 audio for music not tied to video

1. during a movie you are fixed at the point source/screen

2. listening to music alone most times you are moving and doing

3. the "exit door" phenomena and subsequent dolby digital roll off of hf [and low too..but not for the same reason] for rear channel info to combat our hunter gatherer "hey the wolf is behing us..we can't see it but the increasing high frequencies of the cracking branches mean it's closing in..and the hass effect..makes listening to 5.1 audio other than that with only rear channel ambient info TIRING and DISARMING
Old 24th September 2009
  #24
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
In 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia was the first film to be released in a multichannel format called Fantasound. Some important innovations are as follows:

and a lot of those rca ribbons that we all love today were designed with FILM work in mind hence the brown non reflective paint jobs
Yep and it was the boys at Electrodyne that built the panner for this to happen... thank you John Hall and Don McLaughlin...

One RCA Skunk mic capturing the whole Wells Fargo stage set up... try that today!
Old 24th September 2009
  #25
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
It was designed and built in our shop like most everything else at Motown. I don't know the technical details because it was during the period I was a nerd locked in the mastering closet. Our shop guys went on to play major roles in the console business including Quad-Eight and Yamaha.

A huge proportion of the stuff I rant against were innovations we developed at Motown!
Hi Bob,

If you don't mind me asking would that be David Gordon or David Geren you are talking about with Quad Eight?

I know there is a bit of a sticky wicked about the first automation system as EMI says it was them, Motown says it was them and Sigma says it's them... my guess is all 3 are right because these types of systems were not being built commercially until the Allison Research guys did it and no one was "sharing" that kind of technology back then...
Old 24th September 2009
  #26
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I was thinking of John Windt and Mike McLean. I'm pretty sure we actually were first in 1966. What we were doing was kept very quiet even inside the company.
Old 25th September 2009
  #27
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emrr's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
In 1940, Walt Disney's Fantasia was the first film to be released in a multichannel format called Fantasound.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
Yep and it was the boys at Electrodyne that built the panner for this to happen... thank you John Hall and Don McLaughlin...

Fantasia was made with a system co-designed by RCA and Disney technicians. Some Bell Labs research played a part as well. The manufactured components were, by all accounts, entirely RCA.

Here's some more background:

FANTASOUND*

Fantasia
Old 25th September 2009
  #28
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amundsen View Post
A few question about mixing desks history:

1. What was the first mixing desk ever? When?
2. First mixer with total recall?
3. What was the first desk with automation?
4. First desk with motorized faders?
5. First MIDI mixing controller?
6. First digital mixer?

Thank you in advance.
6. The Neve DSP-1 was the first commercially available digital console, followed by the ams logic 1. The Capricorn was the first large format digital console with upto 256 signal path.
Old 26th September 2009
  #29
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Silvertone's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by emrr View Post
Fantasia was made with a system co-designed by RCA and Disney technicians. Some Bell Labs research played a part as well. The manufactured components were, by all accounts, entirely RCA.

Here's some more background:

FANTASOUND*

Fantasia
Thanks for the info Doug.

John Hall told me he was involved with this (and Don King confirmed it for me), there was another engineer involved as well that went to work for Electrodyne... I'm going to look back at my original notes to find out the name of the other gentleman, maybe he was with RCA at the time. However I probably shouldn't have used the word Electrodyne... my bad as it was Cinema Engineering they were talking about at this point in time.

You are probably the best audio historian I know on GS, so thanks for trying to keep all the information straight.

I'm going to look for those notes later today and see if the other gentleman was mentioned in the Fantasia article...

Thanks again.
Old 26th September 2009
  #30
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Before the late 1940's you couldn't have built an amplifier stage without stepping on an RCA or Western Electric patent.
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