In the March issue of Sound on Sound, a leading magazine on music recording technology, Hugh Robjohns reviews Howard Massey’s authoritative The Great British Recording Studios. Read a snippet of the review below, and let us know your thoughts in the comment section!
Anyone with a keen interest in the hey-day of the British music recording industry, from, say, the late 1950s through to the mid 1970s will probably already be familiar with some of Howard Massey’s books, such as Behind The Glass volumes I and II, and Here, There, And Everywhere (a Geoff Emerick biography). Those worthy tomes focus on some of the people involved, but his latest offering, The Great British Recording Studios (Hal Leonard, ISBN 978-1458421975), focuses mainly on the places — it’s a fascinating and commendably detailed book, which provides a wonderful overview of the significant recording studios in London in the ’60s and ’70s, as well as a few noteworthy facilities elsewhere in the UK. Most of these facilities are now long-gone, of course, but Massey has tracked down (with the cooperation of the APRS) many of the managers, maintenance engineers, and recording engineers who built and worked in them, to get their first-hand histories, recollections, stories and trivia.
The introductory chapter discusses the nature of the ‘British sound’ and some of the possible reasons for the distinct character attributed to recordings made in the UK’s leading studios, in comparison with those of the USA. Not surprisingly, the first major studio to be examined in the book is EMI’s Abbey Road, with the text, illustrations and period photographs covering the basic layout and dimensions of the three studios, their acoustic environments and treatments, and the available facilities including echo chambers, mixing consoles, monitors, tape machines, microphones, outboard equipment, and so on. There are also sections on the key personnel involved, as well as a brief discography of some of the major recordings created at the studios, and any significant industry innovations — for this was a time of countless ground-breaking developments in the recording industry. For example, did you know the DI-box concept was invented at Abbey Road?
Check out this awesome review of Electronics Concepts, Labs, and Projects from Sound on Sound, written by Hugh Robjohns!
This book provides a great introduction to audio electronics
Back when I first became interested in the world of audio, most people built much of their own equipment. Commercial recording equipment was quite rare back then, and what there was wasn’t affordable to hobbyists, so there was little option for most: we had to build our own mixers, compressors and other equipment.
Thankfully, the audio electronic technology of the day – valves, discrete transistors and, later, the early chip op amps – was relatively understandable and quite practical for home enthusiasts to embrace, and there were plenty of monthly electronics magazines back then providing countless DIY projects and guidance. In the ’70s and ’80s I built a great many guitar effects pedals, mic preamps, power amplifiers, compressors, spring reverbs, and even an entire stereo mixer. I also rebuilt a few tape recorders and guitar amps, as well as a valve-based electronic organ (the last of those tried to kill me several times!).
Today, there’s so much commercial studio equipment available at such extraordinarily low prices that only hardcore electronics enthusiasts entertain the idea of making things themselves, which I think is a great shame. Having some understanding and practical experience of electronics is a massive asset for anyone working with audio. Knowing your way around a soldering iron makes it easy to build and repair all manner of cables, saving a small fortune and solving non-standard connection issues with ease. A grasp of electronics allows basic equipment fault-finding and simple repairs, while building your own equipment (or modifying commercial products) can be hugely rewarding, and is an important skill for anyone seeking a career in the engineering side of the music industry.
If my arguments are whetting your appetite but you’re unsure where to start, then Alden Hackmann’s new book, Electronic Concepts, Labs and Projects (ISBN 9781480342439) could be just the inspiration you need. This is a book for absolute raw beginners, with no assumed prior knowledge or understanding, and it explains and illustrates the key theoretical concepts with very practical hands-on projects. To that end, the book’s introduction provides various lists of recommended tools and the components required for the many practical exercises, experiments and projects included in the book, all with Digi-Key (a well-known international supplier of electronics components) part code numbers to make it as easy as possible to get started.
To read the rest of the review, click here!