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Harrison strips
Old 13th April 2003
  #1
Gear Nut
 
stuntmixer's Avatar
 

Harrison strips

Howdy everyone.

Quick question: I have the opportunity to take my pick of channels out of an old 24-trk Harrison desk (don't know model) that a friend has bought for cannabilization. He got it really cheap as there are some "issues" with the condition of some of it.

Now, I have heard both good and so-so things about Harrison pre's and eq's. Mark McQuilken (of RNC fame) advised me that they were "built like tanks" but really of only slightly-better-than-average performance. He mentioned also that because Harrison used a "logic" style of build that the job might be pain in the a** (something about a multitude of power supplies).

Others have told me that these are underrated peices and rank up there with Trident or Neotek stuf. I have never put ears on any Harrison gear so I don't know.

The new owner of the desk is cplanning to send the majority of the good channels to Mr. Marquette (sp?) for reconditioning/boxing. As I could have my pick and get them for next to nothing, it feels like this could be an opportunity for me to get a couple of nice pre/eq's and a little education for cheap.

Now I am not sure that I phrased my questions to Mark right nor am I sure that I know enough to do the job right, but I am more than game for the challange. If anybody has any experience with Harrison stuff please let me know what you think.

Thanks,

Charles Rieser
Southwind Studios
Austin, Tx.
Old 13th April 2003
  #2
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Harrison was sort-of a step up from MCI with better automation but worse noise levels. SSL pretty much put them and MCI both out of business for record work. All three created a big market for outboard mike preamps and equalizers!
Old 13th April 2003
  #3
Gear Nut
 
stuntmixer's Avatar
 

heh hhmmmmm....I see.


Thanks Bob, I guess since all I would be getting is the pre and eq, you would be saying "nay". That is the feeling I have been getting. I am still tempted to try to put together a two-shannel box simply because I want to experiment (and am a glutton for punishment). I can always sell it.


Any other Harrison experiences?

Thanks
Old 14th April 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

harrison's are cool if their is a console full of them but i really wouldnt waste ur time and effort and more so $$$ getting them racked up. I know someone that racked a few MR4 modules and it kinda left me scratching my head?

I think people sometimes get a bit crazy and gearslutz fever take s over when someone mentions 'modules being racked'. You really have to draw the line somewhere again what they will provide you with and the cost involved. There is a fair bit of tech work to get this things properly racked as they are complete channel strips generally. They are not seperate PRe/EQ sections like our much loved neves.. so your signal is gona be travelling all along th extra signal path... hmmmm THese are not worth racking up and they are pretty plain and boring in my opinion. MCI 400 modules are way cool but a bitch to rack and not really worth the effort too as they too are a whole strip. Also the transformers which are what make them sound so cool are not located on the module itself but rather on the main board of the console where the module plugs into, so that is even more hassle to rack up
.. but a whole console of 400 series is a bitchin lil desk!

Once again Rupert got it right! keep all the goodness in a single unit!

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 14th April 2003
  #5
Gear Head
 
droog's Avatar
 

There was a Harrison here until recently that was like no other. It was a MR-4 that had been modded to the shithouse!! All the generic IC's had been replaced with Analogue Devices chips , and the fet switching (mainly for routing and EQ bypass) replaced by relays. You had a choice of 2 mix busses ; a solid state , discrete Class A mix bus ; or a valve class A mix bus. The signal path in the channels was extremely minimal. Sounded pretty amazing.

It was a definite labour of love.
Old 14th April 2003
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Droog..

Was that the paradise console?. I used to know someone who worked regularly on that console and said as much. What is or has it been replaced with? and where did it go?.. console heaven?

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 14th April 2003
  #7
I want to one day have a pair of Series 3 Harrison Ch strips racked up. I dig the EQ for guitars. Great mid control.

Hows the project going Charles?

Old 14th April 2003
  #8
Lives for gear
 
sonic dogg's Avatar
I've worked a bit on a Harrison console, it was an older one maybe series 3 and like Jules I thought the eq section was really happening....
Old 14th April 2003
  #9
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by stuntmixer
...I guess since all I would be getting is the pre and eq, you would be saying "nay". ...
I suppose I'm saying I don't think it would be worth a big hassle, especially if it's utterly stock. But then, the only console modules I've ever been very excited about were a Helios input module and the API 550 series equalizers. I'm not saying a Harrison wouldn't be a step up from a Tascam or even a low-end Soundcraft. and I'd certainly agree with Mark McQuilken that while to me it's nothing special, you could also do worse.
Old 14th April 2003
  #10
Gear Nut
 
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Thanks one and all. You have reinforced the feeling that I had to start.

While I certainly didn't expect these to sound like Helios', 2020's, 1273's, or 512/550's, I guess I was hoping that they were a little further up the food chain than to have Tascam nipping at their heels (funny mental image). I am waiting for a return phone call to find out what series the board is.

Wiggy - I am interested in your comment about the transformer. By coosing a power supply, I would essentially be replacing that transformer would I not? (My junior electronics badge is probably showing). Is the choice of power supply important? What type would make it sound cool again?

Also the issue of the pre and eq being inseperable (did I understand that correctly?) is a bummer.....

Anyway, right now since the project will really only cost me parts, time (and my pride...well thats already been spent) I am leaning towards going for it just to see what the process is like. I am now interested to see if there is a way to pull the eq section by itself, maybe. I could use a couple of differently flavored eqs more than I need another couple of mediocre pres.

Thanks again,
Old 14th April 2003
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Harrison

Quote:
[i]
Anyway, right now since the project will really only cost me parts, time (and my pride...well thats already been spent) I am leaning towards going for it just to see what the process is like. I am now interested to see if there is a way to pull the eq section by itself, maybe. I could use a couple of differently flavored eqs more than I need another couple of mediocre pres.

Thanks again, [/B]
FWIW, I greatly prefer my Harrison's pres to the Syteks I was using to track drums; the Harrison're much punchier. I love the eq, too. Any idea what series this is? I'd like some spare strips. I've got a series 3; maybe that's the magic series? I think the Series 2 is supposed to be really good, too. -E
Old 14th April 2003
  #12
Lives for gear
 
bjornson's Avatar
 

I say go for it. I've racked over 20 different manufacturers and counting. Don't let the logic circuit scare you, none of its rocket science, and you can split the pre and eq easily. I devised a 8 output power supply each w/selectable phantom, that has 2 independant +/- voltages to each output. This way all my little friends can be plugged in quickly. I've found every pre has a use.... plus it keeps things interesting. (The latest addition is a soundcraft series 1 16X6 serial # 004. Big transformers and all hand wired on 1 big ass metal faceplate. Funky old skool british eq.
Old 14th April 2003
  #13
Gear Nut
 
stuntmixer's Avatar
 

Thanks bjornson et al. I am gonna do it, why not?

Now, I don't mean to drag this on, but ANY advice on the type/brand of parts to look for or better yet, what to stay away from, would by greatly appreciated.

Also if anybody wants one let me know. They are not really mine but I can get to 'em.

Thanks again,

Charles
Old 15th April 2003
  #14
Gear Head
 
droog's Avatar
 

Quote:
Was that the paradise console?.
Yes it was

Quote:
What is or has it been replaced with? and where did it go?..
Billy still has it and will never let it go. He sold the building in Wooloomooloo and moved all the gear up to Gosford where he has set up a very nice private studio. Lots of very fine gear in that place.
Old 15th April 2003
  #15
Lives for gear
 
MIKEHARRIS's Avatar
cant be easy to rack up long modules like these..Neve's n API's were of the cassette type of construction....but as they have NO value...y not try...( but why would you )
Old 15th April 2003
  #16
Gear Nut
 
stuntmixer's Avatar
 

good point .....hmmmmmm

Here the info I just got: "It's a 2824 Harrison, with a FET switching card"

Does that mean anything to anyone? Thanks again.

Stuntmixer, "Don't thry this at home kids....."
Old 16th April 2003
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by stuntmixer
good point .....hmmmmmm

Here the info I just got: "It's a 2824 Harrison, with a FET switching card"

Does that mean anything to anyone? Thanks again.

Stuntmixer, "Don't thry this at home kids....."
Hi there Stuntmixer.

I have a Harrison 3624, which is the larger frame version of the same console. Mine is from '79, and the schematics are dated '77-'78.

There are a couple of salient points made by earlier posters in this thread.

First, when these babies are updated with modern equivalent components, there's a big improvement to overall sonics. In my case, the console was recently recapped and rechipped, and the summing amps were replaced with John Hardy 990C's. Sounds very good indeed.

Second, as someone else already said, the value of this thing is as a console - not as a set of racked modules. Properly maintained, these are VERY respectable sounding consoles, for most likely silly money.

The FET switching card was a standard feature of this console - it was actually quite cutting edge at the time, in terms of routing flexibility. The idea of a digital (logic-based) switching network controlling signal flow through the desk was something just starting to take off at that time. (SSL was just getting going then with a similar approach, but more over the top.)

Basically there are a four stages on each i/o module, that go to the switching card, meaning that the signal flow through the module can be programmed. Which gives a lot of flexibility over how the console is set up, in terms of how mic or line inputs get routed to the EQ section, the mute/solo system, etc. Nothing very impressive now, but in those days, it was quite advanced.

All the faders are VCAs. You have 24 busses, and then 9 VCA groups, so you can set any channel fader as a master for any group.

The mic pres are transformer balanced - should be Jensens in there. Mic amps are IC-based, and sound decent enough, but not class A discrete Neve type good. (All the line inputs have iron in the path also.) They have a reasonably meaty sound, but not the finesse of a fine standalone pre. Pad, phase on each, and +48V always on.

So personally I would not bother racking them up, but I'm happy to have 32 of them in the console for when I run out of the first-call stuff (which is pretty damn quick, in my case).

Where this thing shines, however, is as a mix desk. I really love it. It's got a big, solid open kinda sound. Definitely a "big console" sound. Lots of headroom, and very low noise. Certainly no audible noise problems to my ears. Again, the rechip probably improved that significantly.

The EQ on these desks is a 3-band, with switchable curves, and +/-12dB. The EQ is not surgical, but it's quite musical, and certainly absolutely usable for real mixing. Won't make you throw out a Pultec or a Massive Passive, but in general, it works perfectly well. (The 32 buss version from around the same time had, I think, a 4-band.)

Also, there's a great high pass filter on each channel - works like a charm.

Auxes are limited - 2 sends, plus a stereo cue mix, which can be used as 2 more aux sends at mix. But like I said, the routing is flexible enough that there's usually not much of an issue there.

The P&G faders control VCAs which are fine. You can't switch the VCA out, but I can't say it's a problem for me.

Oh, did I mention it's a quad mix buss? And groovy plasma metering? Hell there's even a phase meter.

All in all, with the proper TLC, it's a serious console that is best kept as a console, IMO. You can do some GOOD mixes on this beast. Splitting it up, while maybe doing a favor to people like me who might buy some spare modules, really is missing the point of the desk.

One nice thing about Harrison, btw, is that they're still in business, so you can still get your hands on schematics and other documentation if you need it. You need to be pretty handy with a soldering iron - all wiring is to solder terminals on the back.

The modules are fairly easy to work with though - the layout is spacious compared to modern crammed PCBs. But you sure need the schematics AND the physical wiring diagrams to make sense of it all. Some parts may be hard to find these days, but that's life.

Power supply puts out 18V for the audio, 24V, 48V and something else, I can't recall right now, I'm not looking at it.

Anyway, sorry to go on and on.



Hope this helps...
Old 17th April 2003
  #18
Gear Nut
 
stuntmixer's Avatar
 

Fadeout - yes yes Thanks for the insight. Now I am once again confused as to what to do....

Apparently, this particular desk is in pretty bad shape. While I haven't seen it, I was descibed to me as "non-operational". The owner was actually most delighted over the fact that the patch bay was in good shape. He told me that he has been advised by several people to abandon hopes of a full restoration.

My original idea was (like most of my ideas) a little...um, idealistic and over reaching. I thought to upgrade the master section and box it with 8-12 working channels and have a great little side-car. hhmmmm.

Thanks again for your opinions about the board, you obviously know it well. I have to see it before I can decide anything.....

Charles
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