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Harrison 32-series console... sound? Consoles
Old 22nd November 2009
  #1
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Harrison 32-series console... sound?

Harrison 32-series console: can anyone elaborate on what these things sound like? Sonic character description please.

This is sort of a re-post from the "New Product Alert" section of this forum. Great River has introduced some new 500-series eqs that are based on the Harrison 32-series console... but no reviews on the eqs yet. I'm really itching to know what these eqs might sounds like. Anyone who has used a Harrison 32-series console, please chime in and perhaps wet our whistles with a little info as to what we might expect from the sonics. Can it be compared to anything else perhaps?

Thanks.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 666666 View Post
Harrison 32-series console: can anyone elaborate on what these things sound like? Sonic character description please.

This is sort of a re-post from the "New Product Alert" section of this forum. Great River has introduced some new 500-series eqs that are based on the Harrison 32-series console... but no reviews on the eqs yet. I'm really itching to know what these eqs might sounds like. Anyone who has used a Harrison 32-series console, please chime in and perhaps wet our whistles with a little info as to what we might expect from the sonics. Can it be compared to anything else perhaps?

Thanks.
Bruce Swedien swears by his Harrison console, he still owns one, in fact, the plug-ins released by Harrison (or UAD cant remember which one) are modeled after Bruce's console. Harrison consoles IMO are great sounding consoles.

A little bit of topic: I have 2 MCI JH-500, which are almost the same as the first Harrison consoles cuz Dave Harrison used to work at MCI in the design department, so after he left MCI he made his own company and based his console (i think the 3232) in the MCI JH500, although IMO the Harrison is not as good as the MCI, but they both sound very similar. But of course we all know, Harrison its still manufacturing products, and MCI was sold to Sony and totally destroyed MCI.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #3
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i can't speak for the console as a whole, but i do own a pair of channel strips taken from a 32. eq wise the top end and high mids are so tight. really something. not a go to for warmth in the lower end though. prefer the harrison series 10 for that
Old 22nd November 2009
  #4
tekis
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Harrison 32 Series

Smart Studios in Madison, WI used to have one upstairs. It sounded good and had UNBELIEVABLE hi/lo filters! Nothing bad to say about it. Used to be cheap on the used market. I think they were ok on maintenance too.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #5
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I worked a lot with a 32. Indeed great filter section, I thought it sounded pretty warm though. Liked it lot, very precise as well.
But if I recall correctly, the maintenance and durability was a little nightmare. Something was broken every week or so.
Old 22nd November 2009
  #6
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Harrison 32 series....

I would strongly suggest you take a listen to Michael Jackson's album "Thriller"....

Alot of folks seem to like the way it sounds. I recorded and mixed the entire album on a Harrison 32 series...

Personally I don't think the sound of recorded music gets any better than the Harrison 32 series....

Bruce Swedien
Old 22nd November 2009
  #7
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didn't Frank Zappa use a harrison console?


Love your work Bruce!
Old 23rd November 2009
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
I would strongly suggest you take a listen to Michael Jackson's album "Thriller"....

Alot of folks seem to like the way it sounds. I recorded and mixed the entire album on a Harrison 32 series...

Personally I don't think the sound of recorded music gets any better than the Harrison 32 series....

Bruce Swedien
Hey Bruce i respect you and your work a lot, but you know i just have something to say: "MCI POWER!!!!!!!", you know it, harrison's consoles are just JH-500 copies!!, hahahaa (im joking btw, but its true, dont mind me being one of the MCI rec forum admins heh )
Old 23rd November 2009
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the filters are indeed fantastic!
Old 23rd November 2009
  #10
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Old 23rd November 2009
  #11
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666666's Avatar


Thanks for all the input, guys!

For anyone interested, here's the original thread at the New Product Alerts subforum, discussing the new Great River Harrison 32EQ:

Great River Harrison EQ!

And here's a blurb about the 32EQ at the Great River site:

Great River 32EQ

Old 23rd November 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
I would strongly suggest you take a listen to Michael Jackson's album "Thriller"....

Alot of folks seem to like the way it sounds. I recorded and mixed the entire album on a Harrison 32 series...

Personally I don't think the sound of recorded music gets any better than the Harrison 32 series....
Don't overdo! But er.. you have a strong argument looking at the broad popularity of the record.

I did some "research" on the sound of Thriller and know some details about the way it's recorded and mixed. Since the Harrison filters are now available as plugin and hardware, a question comes to my mind: to what extend are the filters responsable for the timbre/colour of that record? Or, isn't it the overall design that makes the Harrison desk quite good phase-wise. I seems that the desk is especially strong in handling transients in a very pleasant way.
Old 23rd November 2009
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tekis View Post
Smart Studios in Madison, WI used to have one upstairs. It sounded good and had UNBELIEVABLE hi/lo filters! Nothing bad to say about it. Used to be cheap on the used market. I think they were ok on maintenance too.
As sweet as that one sounded it was modded to the nth degree!
Old 24th November 2009
  #15
Umm!

Answer:= Abba?
Old 24th November 2009
  #16
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A lot of the better quality Chicago house records were recorded on a Harrison, also a lot of early Ministry stuff. Very sweet sounding board.
Old 24th November 2009
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dabigfrog View Post
didn't Frank Zappa use a harrison console?
Yep. It was fitted into his house on Woodrow Wilson Drive. I remember it had a bit of hiss that recorded perfectly on his Sony 3324.

The sonics? Take two cotton balls and insert one into each ear. That's the Harrison sound.

I rebuild them here regularly and they tend to have a more limited hf bandwidth than common English console designs. Yes, they were made for 2" tape. For more modern productions using higher bandwidth storage at 96k or 192k sample rates mods are needed to open up the bandwidth. They tended to use 68 pf feedback caps everywhere despite the feedback resistor values. With higher 30k ohm resistors that limits bandwidth and even 20k hz is rolled off a tad on measurements.

With low offset precision opamps many of the electrolytic coupling caps can be removed, that really opens up the sound. Add some premium MIT film caps in the EQ's and you can boost 10k hz full up, no hiss, no spit. Boost 1~3 k full up, no barking, no nasal sound. Cut and sweep the mids and no phasey swish sound. Crank up 20k hz and it's like a thousand ants crawling all over your body.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 24th November 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Yep. It was fitted into his house on Woodrow Wilson Drive. I remember it had a bit of hiss that recorded perfectly on his Sony 3324.

The sonics? Take two cotton balls and insert one into each ear. That's the Harrison sound.

I rebuild them here regularly and they tend to have a more limited hf bandwidth than common English console designs. Yes, they were made for 2" tape. For more modern productions using higher bandwidth storage at 96k or 192k sample rates mods are needed to open up the bandwidth. They tended to use 68 pf feedback caps everywhere despite the feedback resistor values. With higher 30k ohm resistors that limits bandwidth and even 20k hz is rolled off a tad on measurements.

With low offset precision opamps many of the electrolytic coupling caps can be removed, that really opens up the sound. Add some premium MIT film caps in the EQ's and you can boost 10k hz full up, no hiss, no spit. Boost 1~3 k full up, no barking, no nasal sound. Cut and sweep the mids and no phasey swish sound. Crank up 20k hz and it's like a thousand ants crawling all over your body.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Hey Jim, what was it about the filters that gave it that sound?
Old 24th November 2009
  #19
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With ULTIMATE respect to Mr. Sweden, I've gotta go with Jim on this one. I've logged many hours with both a stock 3232, and one that has similar mods to those Jim described. It wasn't even close. Getting rid of the caps and speeding up the chips transformed the console into something that actually had trasient response.
Also, I found the EQ bandwidth to be (for me) unusably narrow....like a lazer beam. That's another useful mod.

Kirt Shearer
Old 24th November 2009
  #20
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This is all interesting stuff. Thanks guys.

I do very much look forward to hearing some reviews of the new Great River 32EQs specifically though. Nobody's heard these yet? If you have, please chime in.

Old 24th November 2009
  #21
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I had a 4232 in my studio in the 80's- Slow, warmish sound, thick on transients even after upgrading all the opamps to 5532's-
Eq very musical.
A maintenance nightmare! Hopefully they aren't including that feature into these new modules...
Old 24th November 2009
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
Hey Jim, what was it about the filters that gave it that sound?
Which "that" is that? Those are standard 2 pole 12 db/octave butterworth filter slopes, just like in SSL's, Neve V's, Soundcraft 2400's etc. Some used 353/072 opamps, others used 5532 opamps. Most all used mylar caps.
The low pass filters could be very usable for those working with fizzy-tizzy digital systems like Pro Tools, they just filter out that hf distortion and crap while adding some non-linear phase shift to slop it up a bit. That is the result of non-linear butterworth slopes.

For neutral storage systems, I tend to switch LPF's out. If you don't have tizzy, no need for them to solve a problem you don't have. They tend to be used here for pre-filtering reverb sends and some returns. I find the LPF on a Echoplate II send pulls out the shhhhhssss crap on sibilence while allowing the 20k bandwidth returns to run full open. It also works well for prefiltering out cymbal leakage out of overhead reverb sends. That is wonderful when done on the Bricasti M7.

HPF's do get used lot's here as my system records/plays flat to 2 hz. Sometimes there is just a bit too much stuff down that far you don't want to have.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 24th November 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The sonics? Take two cotton balls and insert one into each ear. That's the Harrison sound.
Can't agree 100% The mix amp is a bit of a bottle neck in the original console, but the sound you can get is still just incredible. There are so many of Bruce's earlier and more recent mixes done on a Harrison that speak for themselves. I work on his console so I pretty much know exactly what's in there.

Have done quite a bit of experimenting with my own 32 series consoles. To my ears, simply 'modernizing' everything isn't the best way to go necessarily. The consoles have a musical quality you don't want to mess with. It's nice with lower noise and extended bandwidth, but there are other considerations too. One important upgrade (apart from the mix amp) is the power supply.

Martin
Old 24th November 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peeceebee View Post
I had a 4232 in my studio in the 80's- Slow, warmish sound, thick on transients even after upgrading all the opamps to 5532's-
You mean 4032 I guess? The opamps in the channel modules are all quads, so 5532's don't work without an adapter. How did you solve that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peeceebee View Post
A maintenance nightmare!
There's a couple of serious issues to fix, but once they are taken care of, it can actually be a fairly solid console.

Martin
Old 24th November 2009
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Kantola View Post
Can't agree 100% The mix amp is a bit of a bottle neck in the original console, but the sound you can get is still just incredible. There are so many of Bruce's earlier and more recent mixes done on a Harrison that speak for themselves. I work on his console so I pretty much know exactly what's in there.

Have done quite a bit of experimenting with my own 32 series consoles. To my ears, simple 'modernizing' everything isn't the best way to go necessarily. The consoles have a musical quality you don't want to mess with. It's nice with lower noise and extended bandwidth, but there are other considerations too. One important upgrade (apart from the mix amp) is the power supply.

Martin
Depends on what modernizing you do. Most that have heard before/after comparisons remark it's like after their ears pop when landing in a jet. The old soft sound may work well for pop/rock/vintage/protools stuff, but it's a big low pass filter for any acoustic recordings without digital storage artifacts.

The 5534 sum amp design is stressed with a 40 or more input console. The opamp just runs out of loop gain. Just dropping in a National LME49710 will lessen that problem. For MR4's and similar, I've ended up replacing the summing opamp section with a grounded base discrete/hybrid designed PCB. That solved the loop gain problem. There is a MR4 in Maryland that is 2 56 input consoles combined. It has 112 channels all with Uptown moving faders as all the VCA stuff was removed. The suming amp PCB allows 112 input summed with less than .001% THD. Crosstalk also improved quite a bit. A mix with 110 faders is just as clear as one with 10 faders, that is the result of pulling loop gain losses out of the summing designs. In describing Harrisons, the expression "room for improvement" comes to mind...

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 25th November 2009
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The sonics? Take two cotton balls and insert one into each ear. That's the Harrison sound.
I wonder how Bruce solved that problem on the records he mixed on the Harrison. His records are not known of their veiled sound. Are you still around, Bruce?
Old 26th November 2009
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Kantola View Post
Can't agree 100% The mix amp is a bit of a bottle neck in the original console, but the sound you can get is still just incredible. There are so many of Bruce's earlier and more recent mixes done on a Harrison that speak for themselves. I work on his console so I pretty much know exactly what's in there.

Have done quite a bit of experimenting with my own 32 series consoles. To my ears, simply 'modernizing' everything isn't the best way to go necessarily. The consoles have a musical quality you don't want to mess with. It's nice with lower noise and extended bandwidth, but there are other considerations too. One important upgrade (apart from the mix amp) is the power supply.

Martin
Gotta agree with Martin here, modernizing can ruin the sound Harrison lovers have become used to. I always used to have a few hot rodded channels with a faster, cleaner front end which was useful for certain sounds, but certainly not all!
Old 26th November 2009
  #28
That's what the sockets are for. You can always drop back in the old 07x and 553x opamps to "recover the losses".

However, there is little to be gained sticking with the stock summing sections as they show so much loss. Just dropping 5 bucks for a pair of National LME49710NA opamps for the sum amps is not a big deal. It's stupid simple. If you want a bit more color a BB OPA1611 is another good sub. So is an AD8597.

Drop those in and report back the changes to us. It will only cost 5 bucks and it's reversable. You can always go back to the 1970's with a couple of chip swaps.

Are you curious enough to try it? That is a determining factor in whether you are still searching for audio bliss or if you're a stick in the mud.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 26th November 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
That's what the sockets are for. You can always drop back in the old 07x and 553x opamps to "recover the losses".

However, there is little to be gained sticking with the stock summing sections as they show so much loss. Just dropping 5 bucks for a pair of National LME49710NA opamps for the sum amps is not a big deal. It's stupid simple. If you want a bit more color a BB OPA1611 is another good sub. So is an AD8597.

Drop those in and report back the changes to us. It will only cost 5 bucks and it's reversable. You can always go back to the 1970's with a couple of chip swaps.

Are you curious enough to try it? That is a determining factor in whether you are still searching for audio bliss or if you're a stick in the mud.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
A little bit off-topic here, but does this also applies to the summing bus on a JH-500 which also uses the 5534?
Old 26th November 2009
  #30
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualflip View Post
A little bit of topic: I have 2 MCI JH-500, which are almost the same as the first Harrison consoles cuz Dave Harrison used to work at MCI in the design department, so after he left MCI he made his own company and based his console (i think the 3232) in the MCI JH500, although IMO the Harrison is not as good as the MCI, but they both sound very similar. But of course we all know, Harrison its still manufacturing products, and MCI was sold to Sony and totally destroyed MCI.
Your history is a bit off. Harrison worked at MCI and designed what was MCI's best selling console ever... the 600 Series. The 500 series was a Grover "Jeep" Harned's design. Harrison left MCI and started Harrison [a logical progression] but those designs had more in common with MCI 600 Series designs than MCI 500 Series designs.

Sony's destruction of MCI was entirely market related and not anything to do with quality. When Sony first purchased MCI in late 1983 they actually stepped up the reliability of the machines. Though during this transition period [mostly 1984 and a bit into 1985] quality was often sketchy as the employees who built MCI machines seemed to fear that Sony was going to shut them down.

What happened was quite the opposite... Sony built up MCI... they built more machines with better reliability [gold sockets for IC's being just one of the reliability improvements] and began to produce 600 series consoles at a feverish pace. They opened up distribution from what had been a small circle of "MCI Dealers" to include music store chains and dropped the prices of their equipment dramatically.

This led to the initial wave of "studios that shouldn't exist" in the late 80's as anyone with $40,000- and a dream could own a JH-24 and 636 [36 input 600 series console]... before that time it would cost double or triple that amount to become a 24 track studio with a decent console.

Many thought this was Sony's way of "devaluing" analog recording to help entice upper end studios and rental companies to purchase their 3324 digital multi-track machines [which ran well over $100k a piece]. Though nobody knows if this was indeed the plan, it was certainly the result... which if you look at it in many ways started the backslide of audio quality and professionalism we now enjoy to the fullest here on Gearslutz!!

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans... happy Thursday to the rest of the world.

Peace.
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