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Author Topic: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?  (Read 27016 times)

Charlie Zureki

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2012, 10:09:09 am »

If you miss building equipment... build more of it, you will get it out of your system soon enough..  And these days get good magnifying glasses...

JR

  +1  ;D

   Hammer
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2012, 10:40:51 am »

If you miss building equipment... build more of it, you will get it out of your system soon enough..  And these days get good magnifying glasses...

JR
Back when I was doing this a lot-my eyesigt was fine.  Now I need glasses-even to read the numbers on the IC's

It's not like I miss it a whole lot-more that I enjoy doing it every now and then.

You know-have an idea-work through the possible issues-then build it and test it.  It is great when it works the first time-but I do enjoy the challenge (sometimes) of it not working right off-and then the troubleshooting part of it.

I still enjoy having a problem and then finding out the answer.  It's when you can't find the answer that it gets frustrating.
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Ivan Beaver
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duane massey

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2012, 11:06:51 am »

+++1 on eyesight. I'm trying to scrape together enough $$ for cataract surgery, and even then I'm still gonna need reading glasses.

I enjoy solving problems, but sometimes even seeing the problem is a challenge. I would say "At least I still have my hearing", but the continuous ringing in both ears would make me a liar as well. Getting old sucks, but it's better than the alternative.
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Duane Massey
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2012, 11:32:39 am »

I used to fill up notebooks with design ideas, but finally stopped because it is unpleasant to be reminded of so many wasted ideas. As a wise man once said it's all mental masturbation if you don't reduce it to practice.

We are in a golden age of technology that makes a lot of these "I wish I could make this" possible (think cheap microprocessors). I still don't do many side projects, while I agree developing new stuff is the fun part of this business (any business). Sometimes I apply my nonlinear thought process to non-audio matters. I've added a ground effects package to my lawnmower (reinforced rubber sheeting) so I can get good suction and mulching with a higher deck height, and recently plumbed the bypass water from my RO filter, to get free flush water for my bathroom toilet (yes I'm single).  8)

JR

PS: Duane  good luck with the getting old thing... you are not alone. Getting old is not for wimps.
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Art Welter

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2012, 11:46:06 am »

Back in the early days a lot of the mixers that were in use were one-of-a-kind or handbuilt by the "sound company". I know we built some strange creatures, and I used a few built by others.

What were some of your strangest encounters, either your own or from others?
Around Minneapolis there were several console builders in the 1970s.
My first "real" console, circa 1976, was an 18 channel Straight Up Systems board designed by Mark Wingo. I built the exterior from Honduras Mahogany, it featured a drink rack the width of the console beneath the rotary volume faders.
It had a 5 channel drum sub-master section, 4 auxes, and stereo main outputs.
The drum sub had it’s own pan controls, so for drum solos one could rotate the two seperately and get some weird pan positions for all the drums with just two knobs.
All Bourns potentiometers, that board is still in occasional use last I checked.

In 1978-9 Mill City Systems built a monitor console to my specifications, kind of a cross between a Yamaha PM1000 and a Stevensen Interface monitor console.
Stevensen was to my knowledge, the first USA company making dedicated monitor consoles with 8 aux sends.
Jim Giesler lost most of his remaining hair figuring out how to make the Mill City monitor board's features conform to my ergonomic requests.
It had an 8 position input pad, Jensen input transformers, 3 way tone with  8 switchable mid frequencies and 8 mixes. It was as strong as a Midas, 24 all steel individual channels. We had incorporated all the best features of the desks (other than parametric EQ, more difficult and knob intensive) current at that time.

As many board of the time, It was a one of a kind unit, stolen in 1985 with a complete system including a used Midas console that had just made it across the pond. We had just installed multi connectors for inserts and effects on the back of the Midas, I never got to mix on it in the week before it went on tour.
The Mill City Monitor console channels circuit boards each were imprinted with "custom made for Art Welter", that board probably never could have been fenced.
I recovered much of the speaker system and the splitter snake in 1994, I still wonder about the fate of those two desks.

The most interesting looking consoles of that erra were a pair of "Captain Nemo" desks built for Anicom (After Now Communications) in the late 1970's.
Like Clair's flip top console of that era, the Captain Nemo desk had parametric EQ, a rarity at the time.
The outstanding feature which led to it's  nickname was triangular shaped channels allowing the bottom to be just little over the Penny & Giles fader width, while wider at the top allowing all the many knobs to have room to grab.

The pair of desks were 40 channels when linked, but the 40 channel and 10 sub and main faders only took up about 38 inches in width, while the upper portion of the console arced out in a semi circle. The board could be split so Anicom could do two 20 channel shows simultaniously. 16 channel boards were plenty for most groups back then.
Picture a pizza pie cut in half,  a small semi-circle cut out of the flat side, then sliced into 50 slices and you have the visual. The semicircular Captain Nemo board had a steep up angle reminiscent of a Greek ampitherater.

The triangular channel feature should have caught on, all the 800 or so knobs and faders were within easy arm’s reach without having to move from the sweet spot at the helm of the Captain Nemo desk.

As was typical of many consoles of that era, grounding and connector problems were rife, the Captain Nemo boards were hard to keep functional and frequently buzzy, clients would request "anything that works" over what was viewed at the time as kind of a science fiction nightmare.

I can remember tales of Albert L. of Audio Analysts in search of sonic purity spending untold thousands of dollars and hours trying to eliminate transformers from from the audio chain.
Although it would work in the shop, in the field  one off tolerance resister  or capacitor out of thousands in a pair of Soundcraft desks could still make the entire system buzz.
The rest of us were resigned to buying expensive high quality input and splitter transformers and lift pin 1 on all the monitor inputs to avoid radio noise and ground loop hums and buzz.

It still amazes me that a pair of commonslob cheap & cheerful consoles costing less in today’s inflated money than the price of a 1975 era set of transformers can now be linked with simple “Y” cord connection and not make any noise.


Art Welter
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2012, 12:14:50 pm »

I can remember tales of Albert L. of Audio Analysts in search of sonic purity spending untold thousands of dollars and hours trying to eliminate transformers from from the audio chain.
Although it would work in the shop, in the field  one off tolerance resister  or capacitor out of thousands in a pair of Soundcraft desks could still make the entire system buzz.
The rest of us were resigned to buying expensive high quality input and splitter transformers and lift pin 1 on all the monitor inputs to avoid radio noise and ground loop hums and buzz.

It still amazes me that a pair of commonslob cheap & cheerful consoles costing less in today’s inflated money than the price of a 1975 era set of transformers can now be linked with simple “Y” cord connection and not make any noise.


Art Welter
The young guys getting into the field today-have no idea how hard it was to produce decent audio back then.

It often took quite a bit of work to get the noise down to an "acceptable" level.  I remember many battles myself.

Anybody who has ever tried to hook a passive White eq up without teminating it-was in for an "interesting" experience in trying to eq a system.

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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2012, 12:28:25 pm »

I came from more of a studio background than live sound. Building custom gear for studios was very common. I knew at least two working studios in CT using DIY home brew consoles as their primary audio path. I rented a house for a while with a roommate who rolled his own recording console (without any help from me).

I was designing production recording consoles by the late '70s but the first company I worked with (LOFT) went belly up before delivering many finished units. They had orders but couldn't manage the business side of running a company adequately (I was just the circuit design guy).

Live sound (IMO) has often followed more of a MASH surgery strategy, of doing whatever it takes to get passable sound from a given location and situation. Studio operation was more about investing time to ring out a room to get noise levels down, while the technology made dramatic leaps forward in the '70's and '80s. Some would argue that recent improvements have been more refinements on technology, while the sound quality available to live sound has improved quite a lot, since then. The sound quality of the good old days was not as good as the memories.   

JR
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Art Welter

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2012, 02:44:31 pm »

The young guys getting into the field today-have no idea how hard it was to produce decent audio back then.

It often took quite a bit of work to get the noise down to an "acceptable" level.  I remember many battles myself.

Anybody who has ever tried to hook a passive White eq up without teminating it-was in for an "interesting" experience in trying to eq a system.
Properly terminated, White EQs sound great, the underrated USA equivalent of Klark Technic.
I remember the rotary knob 1970s Whites that had 1/6 octave centers for the bottom octave (or two?) we don't need no stinkin' parametrics.
Later, I owned several of the dual 27 band White 4700 analog audio circuit, digital control units, they seemed to sound as good as the older Whites, and other than the crappy Alesis analog single space dual 1/3 octave EQ from that early 80's period, they were the only single space dual 1/3 octave unit on the market.
Started using Klark Technic EQs  on subgroup inserts back in the '70s, when I tried doing the same with the White 4700's, no matter what termination scheme I tried, the noise floor was just plain bad.
They were dead clean driving amps and crossovers, but after days of trying everything in the book, including transformers, finally gave up on them for use in inserts.
I hung on to the Whites and Klark Technic DN 27s until purchasing the Alesis DEQ 830, eight good sounding 1/3 octave digital EQs in a single rack space.

The density available with digital devices is amazing.

Another interesting console from our younger days was the Paragon, each channel had a built in compressor/limiter and noise gate. The console was huge, wider than a standard truck width (90 inches back then) and weighed literally a half ton in a road case. Though the built in dynamic processing was decent, most users still required a rack full of insert gear for their "pet sounds".
The Paragon drew so much current that it required at least a 6/4 AC cable to prevent "brown out" at the console if you were going 250 feet, the standard USA "big boy" snake length.
The snake and AC weighed almost as much as the console.

The Paragon was an example of one of the many consoles that nearly required a full time tech and some spare channels and power supply to insure all the channels and their features actually worked from show to show.

Now the new Midas designed Behringer X32 can do far more than a Paragon, arguably sounds better, costs about as much as a single Paragon spare channel did, and I could carry a pair of X32 under my arms.

Art
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 02:52:09 pm by Art Welter »
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Doug Fowler

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2012, 02:53:31 pm »



Another interesting console from our younger days was the Paragon, each channel had a built in compressor/limiter and noise gate. <snip>

The Paragon was an example of one of the many consoles that nearly required a full time tech and some spare channels and power supply to insure all the channels and their features actually worked from show to show.



(Bad) dream rig for system techs would be a fully loaded Paragon and 20 amp racks full of CyberLogic.
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Bizarre or goofy consoles from the old days?
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2012, 04:13:20 pm »

I, and probably many others, would love to see some pictures of these home grown beauties, if you guys have any.  I'm just old enough to have seen a few, but anyone younger than, say forty, might have a bit of time wrapping their mind around some of these creations.  Thanks!
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