Gear History

The MCI consoleVintage equipment and selection based on sonic preference

Also, some of our gear has a background history. While this is not important in itself, sometimes that story somehow plays a part in our careful sonic selection. Though you will find a lot of vintage stuff in our studio, we’d like to clarify that we would never though choose to incorporate a device merely on the basis that it is ”classic” or ”vintage”.

MCI console

When the studio was shifting into serious business, we realized we needed a real console. The trend was going towards smaller setups sometimes with the addition of summing racks. But we had not forgotten about the total sound and creative experience of a great console. One of our favorite sounds came from Elton John’s ”Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album, and also albums/songs like ”Hotel California” (The Eagles), ”CSN” (Crosby, Stills & Nash), ”Communiqué” (Dire Straits), ”Saturday Night Fever” (Bee Gees), ”Survival” (Bob Marley), ”461 Ocean Boulevard” (Eric Clapton), ”The Idiot” (Iggy Pop) and even ”Ghostbusters” had impressed with their direct yet smooth and punchy sound. A bunch of other albums from Queen, Roy Orbison, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Led Zeppelin can be added to that list. And what did all these have in common? MCI console, mainly 400-series! So the choice was made, it was going to be a 400-series MCI-console. We we were lucky to find one quite soon. We acquired a MCI JH-440 about half a year later from studio Tonteknik in Umeå/Sweden, where it had recently recorded artists like ”In Flames” and ”Doktor Kosmos”. This very console was custom made 1976 for Pink Floyd’s own studio Britannia Row in London, where it also recorded their album ”Animals” plus Joy Division’s ”Closer” and some songs with Kate Bush. When ordering the desk from MCI, Roger Waters specified a custom EQ for this desk which is very useful indeed and one of a kind. Thanks Roger!. In this article, Ted Rothstein mentions how he modified our console to add 15dB of headroom back in 1979. Thanks Ted! The sound of the console is just stunning, with it’s original 2001 op-amps, hundreds of transformers and killer EQ, we could not ask for more.

List of albums recorded on MCI 400-series consoles here. More information on Chateau d’Heronville (or ”Honkey Chataeu” as it was called) is available on Wikipedia and here.

Scully 8-track

One of the magic things about recording to tape is the way the transients land on the media. Some recordings just want to pop out of the speakers and hit you down, one of those is the ”Electric Ladyland” album by Jimi Hendrix. A part of that sound is the Scully tape machine. Great amps and also killer mic preamps. Our Scully 280B 1″ 8-track is a tool we would not want to do without.

Tape machines and Pultecs

Tape machines and Pultecs

MCI 2-track

Our MCI JH-110 1″ 2-track master recorder was rescued from the closed down ”ABBA” Polar studio in Stockholm. While there are many ideas about what tape does to a recording, we find that this machine does make it sound like ”a record”. It ties is down and holds it together like glue without loosing air and space. Choose 15 or 30 inches per second and hit ‘REC’, and the mix is printed.

EMT-140

There is something smooth about the real plate reverbs of the 60s. And most of them were the EMT-140. Our unit came from Europa Studios in Stockholm where Jan Johansson recorded ”Jazz på svenska” and has a stereo tube amp.

Lexicon 224X

Early 80s reverb. Lush, endless and seemlessly blendable due to it’s unreal depth. Have you heard ”The Power of Love” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood?