Motown Direct Amplifier-inspired Preamp?

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jacomart

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I should jump in here. For 8 track, the guitars were feeding an Altec mixer where they were mixed to track 5. The bass was split out to a compressor and fed to track 8. The whole room was hearing the guitars and bass from the Altec studio monitor under the mixer. The musicians were creating the balance. The direct sound of guitarists and bass players listening to a monitor rather than an amp makes a greater difference than one would expect. Typically, only the drummers and the organ player in the iso room wore headphones.
you can jump whenever you want Bob, it will always be a pleasure for us!

Cheers
JM
 

jacomart

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How strange? Isn't it the de facto standard? 9 times out of 10, musicians have a headphone mix and the SE has a monitor mix.
I’m sorry, obviously I have no experience in certain things, I thought that everyone listened to the same mix, both on headphones and monitors.

edit: Now I understand why many guitarists want to play in the control room! 😁

Cheers
JM
 
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olhsson

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Our goal in the control room was to match the balance that had been created acoustically in the studio. The musicians got a playback out in the studio after each take. If anybody heard a problem, they'd raise their hand, and a decision was made by the producer about running it again or not.
 

AW

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I am a bass player, and would love to build one of these,
 

olhsson

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I moved to Nashville after 30 years of rock and roll in San Francisco because Bob Babbitt was living here. One of the first things Bob asked me was "How did you guys get THAT bass sound?" I had him bring his P-bass over and plugged it into a direct box I'd made from a reversed UTC input transformer. I think it just fed an M-Audio preamp but there was THAT sound coming out of my Duntech mastering monitors. The "secret" was mostly that he was not listening to an amp, and I wasn't doing anything to the signal, so we were recording exactly what he was hearing. As far as I understood, all of our directs at Motown used the UTC A-series transformers.

We actually avoided Mike's excessively bright 12AX7 preamps like the plague except on drums! The six Langevins in the old console were used for all serious overdubbing followed by the Ampex or Altec mixers whenever we needed more microphones.
 

aaquilato

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I had him bring his P-bass over and plugged it into a direct box I'd made from a reversed UTC input transformer.
Hi Bob. Would you happen to remember what UTC transformer you used? I have many DIs here in my room... also in Nashville, and I’ve recently went back to using an old Sescom DI that has a Jensen transformer in it. For tracking bass it does a better job than most modern DIs. For me at least.... "Apologies for taking this thread off topic but I'm very curious about the transformers... Triad, UTC... the iron is part of the sound IMHO".
 
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ruffrecords

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I should jump in here. For 8 track, the guitars were feeding an Altec mixer where they were mixed to track 5. The bass was split out to a compressor and fed to track 8. The whole room was hearing the guitars and bass from the Altec studio monitor under the mixer.
Hi Bob, I am old and easily confused. Which room are you talking about - the control room or the studio? When you say 'The Altec studio monitor under the mixer' are we talking about the Mixer in the control room or the one the DI box?
The musicians were creating the balance. The direct sound of guitarists and bass players listening to a monitor rather than an amp makes a greater difference than one would expect. Typically, only the drummers and the organ player in the iso room wore headphones.
Are you saying the guitarists and the DI/amp were in the control room and only the drums and organ player were in the studio??

Cheers

ian
 

untune

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Are you saying the guitarists and the DI/amp were in the control room and only the drums and organ player were in the studio?
Hi Ian, I won't muddy the waters and Bob will explain things much better I'm sure, but I can confirm that the direct box was in the actual studio, not the control room (it can be seen in the bg of the attached)
 

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abbey road d enfer

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Are you saying the guitarists and the DI/amp were in the control room and only the drums and organ player were in the studio??
I wan't there for sure :) but I think what Bob means by "guitarists and bass players listening to a monitor rather than an amp" is in reference to the fact the McIntosh amp was connected to an Altec studio monitor speaker, not a guitar cab.

And a big mystery remains, how did the guitar players hear the drums and organ if they were in an iso booth?
 
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jacomart

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At this point I really think, from the height of my infinite ignorance, that I really need a rough block diagram that will put everyone in agreement on the signal flows through the Motown studio. Different relative levels between studio and control room signals put me in crisis, how is it possible that musicians can interact with engineers if they listen to different things? I give up, let me know when you start talking about transformers and valves again!

Cheers
JM
 

PermO

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Do monitors, on a big venue...

You'll be on the side, in the dark, doing ten different mixes of the same thing, and all comminication is by looks, nods, and the occasional handgesture.
Oh yeah... there's a loud blasting PA system right next to you.
 

abbey road d enfer

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At this point I really think, from the height of my infinite ignorance, that I really need a rough block diagram that will put everyone in agreement on the signal flows through the Motown studio.
Not really different than most studios.
There is a monitor mix in the control room, that is a work in progress of the final mix.
And musician mix(es), that are whatever the musicians feel like, typically "more me".
At Motown, the "more me" would have been a consensual agreement between the guitar players and the bass player, since they heard themselves via a common loudpseaker.
Different relative levels between studio and control room signals put me in crisis, how is it possible that musicians can interact with engineers if they listen to different things?
Musicians don't interact with SE's, at least not in real-time. They wait for playback to sugget/complain about what tehy hear.
 

cyrano

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I should jump in here. For 8 track, the guitars were feeding an Altec mixer where they were mixed to track 5. The bass was split out to a compressor and fed to track 8. The whole room was hearing the guitars and bass from the Altec studio monitor under the mixer. The musicians were creating the balance. The direct sound of guitarists and bass players listening to a monitor rather than an amp makes a greater difference than one would expect. Typically, only the drummers and the organ player in the iso room wore headphones.

That's a setup that behaves like a human compressor, IIUC, Bob. :giggle:
 

olhsson

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The organist was the only person isolated. We'd tried more isolation, but the performance always suffered. (Still does, quiet as that's kept...) We wanted to use a single guitar and bass amp simply because of not having enough space for three guitar amps and a bass amp. The musicians loved not needing to bring their amps. The old Altec monitor speaker and Mac 30 were just sitting around unused, so they were set up in the studio under the control room window. I guess it isn't obvious in the pictures that everything was sitting on a speaker cabinet. An unintended consequence was that the players' dynamics and blend were incredibly good. Studio playback was a single Altec A-7. All monitoring was in mono. Stereo was treated like Dolby Atmos is today.

In the mid '60s, most overdubs were done to speakers. PA systems typically had just a vocal mike or two. Headphones (not to mention stage monitors) only became common in the late '60s. When I visited EMI/Abbey Road in the summer of 1969, they were showing off their newly installed studio headphone system and console with a headphone mixer.

It was great watching that transition and being able to cherry-pick the best of each workflow. Every modern recording technique began as a solution to a particular problem. Too many people have copied what we and others did to the point harming performance quality.
 

StevieG

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So the control room and the musicians

So the guys in the control room and the musicians were listening two different mixes? May be... even if it sound strange to me.
That’s certainly how it’s done now. This is 8 track recording rather than direct to stereo so there’s still a final vocal overdub and mixing stage to follow.
 

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