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Studio Gear Back in the 80's Reverb/Delay Processors (HW)
Old 28th December 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Studer's Avatar
 

Studio Gear Back in the 80's

Hi all !

Happy holidays !

I've got a simple question :

What was (all) the gear used back in the days to get that typical sound from the late 70s to the early 80's (78-82) ? Used in rock, disco, pop and so on ?

Consoles, microphones, techniques, recorders, compressors... ?

I'm only 25 and I want to know how they made it sound way better than today.

Any techniques details would be extremly appreciated.

Best wishes !
Old 28th December 2010
  #2
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bassjam's Avatar
 

Standard of musicianship was much higher for a start, there was much more time spent in the studio, engineers were not just people who attended a college course and had pro Tools LE at home.

In terms of gear not much has changed when it comes to top end stuff other than analogue tape is now much rarer.
Old 28th December 2010
  #3
Certainly Analog Tape was the recording medium.
Everything was mixed thru Consoles - automation was rare or non existent. (this was the era of many hands on faders during the mix)

Gear was manufactured not on a price point but to achieve the best possible sound. (Stuff wasn't mass produced in China as cheap as possible. )

Loudness (the way it is today) while still an issue had not got to the smashed levels of today - that's a big one.
Dynamics were retained in the music.

Most releases were done in big budget studios with quality Engineers / Producers and great gear - the idea of anyone being able to record on a shoe string budget while not new was not prevalent as it is today.

I'm not sure but I'm guessing the mics used around this time were classics from the preceding years - Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, Shure, RCA etc.

I'm also interested to get perspectives from guys who worked in this era.
Old 28th December 2010
  #4
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buddachile's Avatar
 

Also, they didn't snap everything to grid and autotune the hell out of everything. In general recordings were much less uniform (some say 'perfect') than today, and as a result more organic or human feeling.
Old 28th December 2010
  #5
ha ha yeah - no copy and pasting. heh
Old 28th December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
 

.......Everything was mixed thru Consoles - automation was rare or non existent. (this was the era of many hands on faders during the mix) ...........

Huh??? In 78-82, fader and mute automation was the norm . I sure had it as did everyone else I knew. Hundreds of tracks via synchronized tape machines was also the norm. This thread makes out like that was the stone age or something.
Old 28th December 2010
  #7
fair enough - I'm probably getting mixed up with early to mid 70's.

Tell us more - I wasn't doing music then - I was in High School. :-)
Old 28th December 2010
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

80's MTV music?
Linn drum machine
Tom Scholz Rockman
Tape
$$$$$
Talent
Real studios
FM radio
Old 28th December 2010
  #9
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Real players, tape, almost nothing digital.
Old 28th December 2010
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Studer View Post
Hi all !

Happy holidays !

I've got a simple question :

What was (all) the gear used back in the days to get that typical sound from the late 70s to the early 80's (78-82) ? Used in rock, disco, pop and so on ?

Consoles, microphones, techniques, recorders, compressors... ?

I'm only 25 and I want to know how they made it sound way better than today.

Any techniques details would be extremly appreciated.

Best wishes !
I think Late Queen and Boston (in general) demonstrate this "organic" natural quality very well.........you can def tell EVERYONE ....band and engineers were all hands on top end and VERY creative with studio tools.....
I'll never forget the tape loop on mic stand in Floyds "money"......love that sheeeaattt!


ps ....Although many do STILL manually fade w many hands......dont underestimate the technology of automation and "digital" equipment "back then"........ amazing craftsmanship and NO guitar center!
Old 28th December 2010
  #11
Gear Head
 

the standard for players these days def isn't what it was back then...not that I was around heh
Old 28th December 2010
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Studer View Post
Hi all !

Happy holidays !

I've got a simple question :

What was (all) the gear used back in the days to get that typical sound from the late 70s to the early 80's (78-82) ? Used in rock, disco, pop and so on ?

Consoles, microphones, techniques, recorders, compressors... ?

I'm only 25 and I want to know how they made it sound way better than today.

Any techniques details would be extremly appreciated.

Best wishes !
Outboard-Pultecs, DBX 160, LA2A,LA3a,1176, AMS 1580 and RMX16,Lexicon 224,Ursa Space Station,H910 and 949.

Consoles-API,MCI,Neve,Trident,SSL
Recorders-Ampex,MCI,Studer
Microphones-Usual suspects

Techniques-Take best drum parts on tape(4-8 bars with 4 on the floor kick), cut them into small pieces, splice them together and record it a whole bunch of times on tape till you have a consistent 3-4 minutes for song. Play parts on top of that(bass, gtrs, strings, percussion) and do the same. Lay vocals on top. Mix and your good. 70's

In the late 70's and early 80's the TR-808 became popular in studios in NYC and dance and hiphop songs were used on them. It brought the end of using live drums on dance music and ushered in the machine era.
Old 28th December 2010
  #13
In the UK:
AMS, Publison, EMT and Lexicon fx, 1176's and Neve compressors. Neve, Trident, Cadac, Helios, consoles. By the early 80's SSL started to be popular.
Tape machines - Studer.
The usual suspects mic-wise - Neumann, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Coles.

People did edit takes, even individual drum tracks, but it was a razor job and took a long time. Only for the absolute perfectionists.
By the very early 80's people were adding drum samples using sampling delays.
Old 28th December 2010
  #14
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Sigma's Avatar
lol it was pretty simple on our end

neve 8078 , sphere eclipse c , sony 600 series

api 550 a's

some gain brains and keypexs,a few la 4's

2 tube EMt's with marshall tape eliminators on the front end for pre delay

244's, 480's pcm 70's .. ddl's , sub harmonic generator, eventide 910, 949
Old 28th December 2010
  #15
I'm not trying to be smart - just accurate.

No offense intended - maybe Wiki are wrong - I'm not sure. heh

"Lexicon is held in extremely high regard in studios around the world as a manufacturer of effects units, in particular digital reverb units which they were among the first companies making digital reverbs in 1978[2] with the Model 224. In 1986, Lexicon released the 480L (costing more than some cars), a successor of the 224XL. By this time they had built a reputation for extremely realistic, dense and controllable simulation of room characteristics. The 224XL and 480L are heard on thousands of songs and movies throughout the 1980s and '90s. The PCM series was introduced as a smaller, more economical way to enjoy the Lexicon sound, particularly in live situations where the 480L was too cumbersome for a rack rider. First in the series was PCM60 released in 1984, followed a few years later by the Lexicon PCM-70, the latter adding multi-effects and a digital screen interface."
Old 28th December 2010
  #16
Lives for gear
Ummm, i think the fact that they were limited to some degree with how many tracks they had helped a bit...what i mean by this is stuff like it was more common to be using say less microphones on a drumkit...because they were recording to tape, the guitarist couldn't have a billion takes at one thing...so musicians also had to be better to record.

Oh and just because i wanted to mention it. Valley People Dynamite look it up.

Oh....room mics! Live tracking and room mic's...another reason why musicians had to be a bit more on their game.
Old 28th December 2010
  #17
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anguswoodhead View Post
No offense intended - maybe Wiki are wrong - I'm not sure. heh

"Lexicon is held in extremely high regard in studios around the world as a manufacturer of effects units, in particular digital reverb units which they were among the first companies making digital reverbs in 1978[2] with the Model 224. In 1986, Lexicon released the 480L (costing more than some cars), a successor of the 224XL. By this time they had built a reputation for extremely realistic, dense and controllable simulation of room characteristics. The 224XL and 480L are heard on thousands of songs and movies throughout the 1980s and '90s. The PCM series was introduced as a smaller, more economical way to enjoy the Lexicon sound, particularly in live situations where the 480L was too cumbersome for a rack rider. First in the series was PCM60 released in 1984, followed a few years later by the Lexicon PCM-70, the latter adding multi-effects and a digital screen interface."
wow looked at the release date for the 70..1990...hmmm hard to believe ..but i guess it's true..apologies for misinformation
Old 28th December 2010
  #18
Lives for gear
 
andychamp's Avatar
On the less expensive end of the spectrum:
Alesis Midiverb tabletop.
Black and orange Behringer compressors (still made in Germany)
Rockman & PowerSoak

Standards:
Yamaha SPX90
DBX 160 and 166
Bel delays & FX
TC 2290

EDIT: Oops! Read the OP a bit too fast, didn't notice the precise"'78-82" time bracket and took the term "80's" a bit widely.

Last edited by andychamp; 28th December 2010 at 07:57 PM.. Reason: learned to read
Old 28th December 2010
  #19
Lives for gear
The real component....was the budget. And how it was spent.

I remember Mike Chapman sessions where the goal of the day was to record ONE guitar part. One. they would get the main, and then play the guitarist two bar section to double perfectly. Then the next two bars until they had three tracks. Then they would bounce it from the slave machine back to the master in mono. Then it was time for dinner.

Vocals....you can imagine. You sang it right for the song. It it took three evenings....so be it. Comping to tape was an arduous project. Some guys had specialized "comp boxes" that controlled the fades between the 4 or 5 tracks being comped from. I can remember having to pull a word, or syllable out of a track to comp in. I can't say I miss that......

An typical budget was 250k. All spent on studio, players, some food and accomodations. Today...what, 75?. Non pros didn't touch anything except coffee cups. The interns were better engineers than many people making records today.

Its easy to see why so many old timers are so cranky about what passes for record making today. Pretty much everything they had to bust chops for back then is now a plug in. And the cumulative effect of everything sounding not quite as good, is that a lot of really mediocre records get out.

And let me get my standard rant in: song writing and melody. The vast majority of songs you hear today are tracks with someone singing over them.

"Back in the day" a hit song had a unique and identifiable melody and a unique hook. the melody was usually written first, to the chords followed it, leading to both better melody, and more interesting chords.

A frightening number os songs on the radio today are variations of Am - G- F, or a couple of others. Different keys. The vocalist more sings along than has a real melody, lick licks over the chords. I listened to radio and at times heard 5 or 6 songs in a row with similar structure. They change the beat, the production, but it can't hide that there is often little differentiation in the underling musical structure.

Check it out....you'll see.
Old 28th December 2010
  #20
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steffmo View Post
The real component....was the budget. And how it was spent.

I remember Mike Chapman sessions where the goal of the day was to record ONE guitar part. One. they would get the main, and then play the guitarist two bar section to double perfectly. Then the next two bars until they had three tracks. Then they would bounce it from the slave machine back to the master in mono. Then it was time for dinner.

Vocals....you can imagine. You sang it right for the song. It it took three evenings....so be it. Comping to tape was an arduous project. Some guys had specialized "comp boxes" that controlled the fades between the 4 or 5 tracks being comped from. I can remember having to pull a word, or syllable out of a track to comp in. I can't say I miss that......

An typical budget was 250k. All spent on studio, players, some food and accomodations. Today...what, 75?. Non pros didn't touch anything except coffee cups. The interns were better engineers than many people making records today.

Its easy to see why so many old timers are so cranky about what passes for record making today. Pretty much everything they had to bust chops for back then is now a plug in. And the cumulative effect of everything sounding not quite as good, is that a lot of really mediocre records get out.

And let me get my standard rant in: song writing and melody. The vast majority of songs you hear today are tracks with someone singing over them.

"Back in the day" a hit song had a unique and identifiable melody and a unique hook. the melody was usually written first, to the chords followed it, leading to both better melody, and more interesting chords.

A frightening number os songs on the radio today are variations of Am - G- F, or a couple of others. Different keys. The vocalist more sings along than has a real melody, lick licks over the chords. I listened to radio and at times heard 5 or 6 songs in a row with similar structure. They change the beat, the production, but it can't hide that there is often little differentiation in the underling musical structure.

Check it out....you'll see.
+1000....also the fact that today its like unheard of playing a song on the radio that exceeds 4 mins...gone are the days of those 8min+ masterpieces...there's not a market for it anymore :(
Old 28th December 2010
  #21
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JoaT's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by andychamp View Post
On the less expensive end of the spectrum:
Alesis Midiverb tabletop.
Black and orange Behringer compressors (still made in Germany)
Rockman & PowerSoak

Standards:
Yamaha SPX90
DBX 160 and 166
Bel delays & FX
TC 2290
Behringer was established in 1989. Midi was introduced in 1983. Alesis Midiverb was introduced in 1986, the company established in 1984. Yamaha SPX90 was introduced in 1985. TC 2290 was released in 1985.

70's and early eighties was pretty much the time without such "budget" devices. They helped to create a home / project studio explosion at the end of the 80's / nineties. Their predecessors were notoriously expensive and they are that way still.
Old 28th December 2010
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson89 View Post
gone are the days of those 8min+ masterpieces...there's not a market for it anymore :(
Maybe not on the radio, but there's still a market for it.
Old 28th December 2010
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

A higher standard of musicianship, definitely.
Ambitious songwriting: strong melodies, interesting chord progressions, sophisticated arrangements, slick production.Not everything was great of course, but when it was good it was very very good.
A lot of today's pop and rock music is essentially beat-oriented, with little harmonic depth.
78-82: Kraftwerk, Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Kate Bush, Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Alan Parsons Project, Devo, Giorgio Moroder.
Enough said
Old 28th December 2010
  #24
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamsilent View Post
Maybe not on the radio, but there's still a market for it.
Yeh i meant not a market for commercial radio...i'm sure most gearslutz will appreciate them though heh
Old 28th December 2010
  #25
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DrFrankencopter's Avatar
Seems to me the OP is looking for late 70's gear, rather than the mid 80's gear that's been identified in this thread.

Digital really came into its own in the mid 80's, getting into synths & MIDI, affordable reverbs & delays, and sampling. Oh, and digital recording tape (open reel) too. Pop music really changed as a result...

I wasn't recording back in the late 70's & early 80's, but my guess would be that the gear you hear is your studio standards: Mics: 87/47/57/421 & the AKG stuff, Console pre's/eqs, 1176 & LA series compressors, plate verbs, tape delays, minimal digital gear (maybe an EMT 251).

That's my guess....

Cheers

Kris
Old 28th December 2010
  #26
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nelson89 View Post
Ummm, i think the fact that they were limited to some degree with how many tracks they had helped a bit...what i mean by this is stuff like it was more common to be using say less microphones on a drumkit...because they were recording to tape, the guitarist couldn't have a billion takes at one thing...so musicians also had to be better to record.
The track count wasn't "limited" per se - but you had to make decision [yes, actual decisions!!] and live with them. As someone else mentioned, it was not unusual to spend a day on a guitar part, and maybe have 2 or three tracks going when building that part - then pick the best "sections" and build a compilation track of the best "moments" from the other 3 tracks -- as in making decisions [mixing] as you go. The final "track" was indeed on one track, with only one layer, and was "done"... all decisions were made and were final.

Vocals could take a couple of days. I worked with one artist who would lay down 4 tracks - we'd build a compilation then he's lay down another 4 tracks and we found what ever bits were better and popped them in - lather, rinse, repeat... 12-15 hours later you'd come out with a hell of a vocal... then give the singer a day or two off to recover from the process while you spent more time on instruments -- and do it again.

This is how you could end up spending 2-3 months [or more] doing a record -- but those were the days of real budgets, real studios [you could smoke in them too!!!], artist development, and people buying records that were worthy of their money - as opposed to downloading the "singles" from iTunes [Steven Tyler a judge on American Idol? - just shoot me now] or background tripe off a "share" site...

"Neev" stuff was just another tool [or console] not a religion, a U-47 was a tool also sans religious fervor, rooms were designed and built by people who knew what they were doing [acoustic "treatment" didn't come out of a box], ceilings were 4 meters or higher... and yes, for the most part people who ended up working in studios were trained better than a 10 week class at some trade school [but hey - whaddaya need training for if you can "fix" everything with plugins].

SSL consoles were all the rage... and if you needed a desk that sounded great with pretty much the same automation power, there was GML or Flying Faders. As the 80's gave way to the 90's Neev caught up with the "V Series" that had the "N word" - but without the same power of an SSL [and during the Siemens era of Neve - an incredible lease package with a Mitsubishi X-850 digital machine that included no payments for the first year!!! -- whoo hoo!!! - lots of studios opened (and closed about 12 months later) on that deal!!].

Then sometime around the mid-80's SONY purchased MCI and started to produce "affordable" recording packages that began to allow more and more of the "riff raff" in - maintenance budgets took a dive with the introduction of the full on "rate war" crap [that has pretty much bottomed out at $15/hr. these days] -- but that is all a story for another day.

Peace.
Old 28th December 2010
  #27
Here for the gear
 
Studer's Avatar
 

Thanks a lot for your answers ! It's very interesting.

When I said 78-82, I wanted to highlight this typical sound of (some examples) :

- Alan Parsons Project
- Ashford & Simpson
- George Duke
- Bobby Caldwell
- Change
- David Bowie
- Elton John
-...and soooooooo many more.

A punchy, somewhat "less" reverberated and medium sound than in the early 70's. But not the sound of 85, 86, 87 when it changed a lot.

Thanks for your time spent. Any additional informations would be very appreciated (how-tos).

I've started to clean up :

- Consoles : API, MCI, Neve, Trident, SSL, Cadac, Helios
- Tape machines : Studer, MCI, Ampex...
- Outboard : Pultecs, DBX 160, LA2A, LA3a, 1176, AMS 1580 and RMX16, Lexicon 224, Ursa Space Station, H910 and 949.
- AMS, Publison, EMT and Lexicon fx, 1176's and Neve compressors
- Microphones : Neumann, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Coles, 87/47/57/421 & the AKG stuff
- Reverbs : Plate (what model ?), EMT-251

Could you help me clean this ? I'd be happy to build a serious list, as it may interest somebody.

neve 8078 , sphere eclipse c , sony 600 series
api 550 a's
some gain brains and keypexs,a few la 4's
2 tube EMt's with marshall tape eliminators on the front end for pre delay
244's, 480's pcm 70's .. ddl's , sub harmonic generator, eventide 910, 949
(Universal Audio ?) 1176 & LA series compressors.

Many thanks !

Bye
Old 28th December 2010
  #28
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paultools's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Studer View Post
Thanks a lot for your answers ! It's very interesting.

When I said 78-82, I wanted to highlight this typical sound of (some examples) :

- Alan Parsons Project
- Ashford & Simpson
- George Duke
- Bobby Caldwell
- Change
- David Bowie
- Elton John
-...and soooooooo many more.

A punchy, somewhat "less" reverberated and medium sound than in the early 70's. But not the sound of 85, 86, 87 when it changed a lot.

Thanks for your time spent. Any additional informations would be very appreciated (how-tos).

I've started to clean up :

- Consoles : API, MCI, Neve, Trident, SSL, Cadac, Helios
- Tape machines : Studer, MCI, Ampex...
- Outboard : Pultecs, DBX 160, LA2A, LA3a, 1176, AMS 1580 and RMX16, Lexicon 224, Ursa Space Station, H910 and 949.
- AMS, Publison, EMT and Lexicon fx, 1176's and Neve compressors
- Microphones : Neumann, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Coles.
- Reverbs : Plate (what model ?), EMT-251

Could you help me clean this ? I'd be happy to build a serious list, as it may interest somebody.

neve 8078 , sphere eclipse c , sony 600 series
api 550 a's
some gain brains and keypexs,a few la 4's
2 tube EMt's with marshall tape eliminators on the front end for pre delay
244's, 480's pcm 70's .. ddl's , sub harmonic generator, eventide 910, 949
Mics: 87/47/57/421 & the AKG stuff, Console pre's/eqs, 1176 & LA series compressors.

Many thanks !

Bye
I'd add thick-pile carpeting to this list. seriously.
Also Altec 604, Urei 813, and JBL 4311.
Old 28th December 2010
  #29
Here for the gear
 
Studer's Avatar
 

Thanks ! Please could you tell me from what category these things are.

Altec 604, Urei 813, and JBL 4311

I regret music schools don't even tell you about old techniques !!!

Thanks again.

Adding to the list and cleaning it.
Old 28th December 2010
  #30
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paultools's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Studer View Post
Thanks ! Please could you tell me from what category these things are.

Altec 604, Urei 813, and JBL 4311

I regret music schools don't even tell you about old techniques !!!

Thanks again.

Adding to the list and cleaning it.
not to be a d1ck, but google really is your friend sometimes.
When I was getting started, I scoured every library and bookstore for any morsel of printed information I could find, and there wasn't much (then Runstein and Worman books, although db and RE/P mags were GREAT!).
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