Me in Studio B

Me in Studio B
If you were googling Undertone Audio and found my blog here, well...welcome! You should visit the official website, undertoneaudio.com, but here you can follow my adventures as the crew and I build these mixing consoles, EQs and other oddities. Some, most or all of my work wouldn't be very interesting to a lot of people, but for recording junkies who get excited about vintage German tube mics, cool, eccentric compressors, studio history and some of the fun ins and outs of studio life, this could be for you. Hey, make it your home page and impress chicks! I can be reached at mw@undertoneaudio.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Greg Wells' Console and Surviving March

Here goes... the first blog post in quite some time. I stayed off of it while we were building Greg Wells' console. Although I posted updates and pictures on the Undertone Audio Facebook page, we didn't put very much information about the console or its progress out there until it left the building. I've been working more or less exclusively on this console since I finished my work on the Capitol install and it's so easy to lose sight day in and day out about taking pictures or writing about progress... it's sort of like practicing something; it can be easier for other people to see how much it has changed when the one practicing is fixated on the details.

March was a particularly difficult month. My health fell apart as I wound up in the hospital for awhile with heart issues and Roger's marriage came to an abrupt end. Ken Miller came all the way from Mammoth to help keep the console on track as Roger and I both came unglued. We're both doing a lot better now, but that was a rough period to get through.

It's a long five hour drive between Mammoth and Los Angeles and Ken made the trip regularly. He discovered that the quietest place in the building for sleeping is the "Slash Box," one of Studio A's isolation booths, big enough for the grand piano. He set up a bed under the piano and when he wasn't in, I ended up sleeping in there half the time... it was some of the best sleep I've had.

Ken did an amazing job from the wood and metalwork to everything else and we are very grateful to have him onboard. He is going to take over the building of all future console power supplies, woodwork and a new product that we will announce soon.

Eric was mixing Slash's record until about mid March, then he spent about two weeks with us on the console, soldering iron in hand. He enjoys being involved in the process and as we hand build these things, Eric and Larry are there seeing it through to the end.

So here are some details on Greg's console:

*It has 24 channels; eight of which show up on channel strips with EQ/filters
*The remaining 16 channels come into balanced inputs, stay at unity gain and quickly sum
*There are two solid state stereo busses with insert points (those 16 channels are selectable to the busses via switches on an internal PCB, 14 in L&R pairs, channels 15 and 16 are mono)
*Those two stereo busses feed into the tube stereo buss with transformer outputs and the tube Control   room circuit
*The 8 channels with EQ can send to those stereo busses and have panning. There is a +-10dB trim on each channel strip, no aux sends and no multitrack sends
*The middle bucket has rackrails (isolated from the console's chassis) for his favorite stereo gear, which is normalled on the Buss A insert points
*The surface of the console is made from the porous bronze, but the best place for the stereo compressor, etc was right in the center, so the reflections are at least balanced... not just on one side
*There is no metering on the channels, just a custom pair on the master section. There is no meter bridge, this allowed for a lower overall height

Roger getting the frame together
Eric and the faceplate stencil jig
Faceplates ready for silkscreening

Ken soldering resistors on the control room level switch
Eric getting the input bucket together
Eric and Roger on the master section
8 custom input channels
Master section in place
Bolster finally on
Onsite at Greg's studio during commissioning
As we wrapped up this console, we have serious inquiries for more. We may start another one or two within the next two weeks or we're starting in on two smaller, 10 channel consoles that are very portable. Whatever the case, we will be at AES in San Francisco this year and we will have rackmount EQs and mic pres with us.

There is a great interview with Eric for Sonicscoop http://www.sonicscoop.com/2012/04/10/eric-valentine-the-best-sounding-console-ever/, be sure to check that out.

More behind the scenes videos documenting the making of Slash's record have been coming out, here are some that focus on the studio:





You can find more on Youtube and on Slash's website.

As for me, I have a lot of inventory to look over and we are going to figure out how much parts ordering we have ahead for more consoles. I've been back over at Capitol working on Jon Brion's live rig, I'm rewiring patchbays for Greg Koller and I may work on another studio install with Art Kelm next week. I've slowed down, been getting rest... I need it. I'm going to start moving parts to the loft upstairs as we will be building the next consoles up there and that's where we built the majority of the first two. We built Greg's console in the Studio A live room and we made quite a mess... I still haven't finished cleaning that up.

I'll be posting more frequently... sorry for the delay and we'll keep everyone posted on the progress of products we have coming out later this year.

Cheers,
MW