Bob D'Orleans

Soulful Detroit Forum: Open Forum: Bob D'Orleans
Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (61.222.95.58 - 61.222.95.58) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 04:05 am:

Hello Bob,
I didn't want to invade Mike McLeans' thread so here's a question for you.
I know that Golden World had a cutting lathe and think that only GW and Motown had this facility. I'd like you to briefly explain the advantages of having this in the studio. I'm not a techie!
Many thanks, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By BOB BABBITT (64.12.103.44 - 64.12.103.44) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 04:58 pm:

BOB............GOOD TO READ YOU ARE ON THE FORUM!!!!!!!!!
THE ONE THING THAT STANDS OUT IN MY MIND IS THE GREAT SOUND THAT YOU GOT AT GOLDEN WORLD STUDIO.........THE BASS SOUND STOOD UP THERE RIGHT NEXT TO THE HITSVILLE BASS SOUND AND IT PROBABLY MADE BARRY NERVOUS............
BEFORE YOU KNEW IT ..........THE STUDIO WAS PURCHASED BY MOTOWN.....................
YEAH....NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.......IT WAS ALL YOUR FAULT.......
WHEN I RECORDED IN NEW YORK FOR HARRY BALK AT BELL SOUND (DEL SHANNON, ROYALTONES AND OTHERS) WERE YOU THE ENGINEER?????????????????
SORRY WE NEVER HOOKED UP WHEN I MOVED TO NEW YORK, BUT HOPE TO SEE YOU AT THE PREMIER OF THE FUNK BROTHERS FILM IN DETROIT OR NEW YORK,

BOB BABBITT

Top of pageBottom of page   By BobDorleans (24.120.26.32 - 24.120.26.32) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 07:47 pm:

Graham

Thanks for asking. To me the advantages of having a cutting lathe in a studio was after all the work of recording and mixing, if it was sent somewhere to have the master cut, who knows what may happen. Even if you got a test pressing and it wasn't the sound that you had on tape, if the cutting studio was in town, maybe you could go over and try to get them to cut the master the way you wanted it to sound, if not, then it became a mess to try and get it right. Even in the "old Bell Sound" we had an old cutting lathe. We would cut a demo disk and then go on from there. At Golden World, the lathe would allow me, I knew that end also, from Bell sound, to cut the master the way we wanted it, and then send it of to RCA pressing plant. In those days, excuse me Mike, the hotter the disc the better and I got a few remarks from RCA, that I gave them the hottest masters they had. Actually, I didn't want it that way, but that was the way it was then, especially competing against the monster Motown. But anyway, the more control you have over your product, the better.
Hope that answers you question.

Top of pageBottom of page   By BobDorleans (24.120.26.32 - 24.120.26.32) on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 07:52 pm:

Bob B

Thanks for the compliment. Boy, you sure bring back memories of GW. I do remember you sitting in the first time for Jamerson, and nothing was missing. You were then, and are now, one hell of bassist. And easy to record, which makes it nice for us non musicians.
Thank you many good memories.

Bob D

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.78.28.80 - 211.78.28.80) on Friday, May 24, 2002 - 12:20 am:

That's a great reply Bob, thanks very much.
Can you remember where/who the Detroit Cutting studios were? Did United Sound have one of these lathes too? I guess they're not cheap. I know a guy in Detroit who has one and it's his prize possession. Did the "needle" on the lathe have a heater element to improve the cut - like a hot knife cuts through butter?
Can you remember how long you stayed at Golden World? Weeks, months or years?
Thanks again, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By DeAnne (24.234.119.126 - 24.234.119.126) on Friday, May 24, 2002 - 12:45 am:

Got your message. We will talk tomorrow. Thanks for the call.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson (68.32.99.213 - 68.32.99.213) on Friday, May 24, 2002 - 05:00 pm:

Every recording studio and radio station needed a lathe in the '30s -'50s.

To the best of my knowledge the first major-label grade lathe in Detroit was owned by Motown and the second was at Golden World. The third was at GM and number four was at HDH. GM may have had the first stereo, I don't really know. We converted the Golden World system to stereo with a Neumann SX-68 cutter. Ed and Ken would know a lot more about GM as I never saw it.

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech (209.245.70.183 - 209.245.70.183) on Friday, May 24, 2002 - 05:55 pm:

Graham,

The use of a heated cutting stylus was standard operating procedure. This practice came about in the late 40's and was the inovation that made the LP record practical.

When cutting a groove in laquer (SP?) with a cold stylus, large burnishing facets ("dubs") were needed to polish the groove walls so as to obtain a quiet cut. These dubs caused a very serious loss at short wavelenghts (high frequencies).

William S. Bachmann wrote the paper "The Columbia Hot-Stylus Recording Technique" published in "Audio Engineering" magazine sometime around 1950. They discovered that by heating the stylus, a much smaller dub could be used while still obtaining a quiet cut.

Recording on wax was another matter. They used a "feather edge" (no dubs) stylus for wax.

DMM (direct metal mastering) was another matter as well. I don't know for sure, but I don't think they used a heated stylus to cut metal.

Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.78.28.73 - 211.78.28.73) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 05:15 am:

I'm slowly getting to grips with the technical aspects of making a record. Thanks Mike, and Bob, for helping to explain this to me.
Bob D'Oleans mentions (May 23) that the hotter the disc the better. Does this refer to the actual disc, or to the needle? I know the term "hot wax" but wonder just what it really means.
Thanks again,
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech (63.210.115.181 - 63.210.115.181) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 05:39 am:

Graham,

Bob meant the higher the volume level recorded onto the disc, the better. The louder the record the better.

"Hot Wax" was an HDH (Holland Dosier Holland) record lable. It means records that have very superior music that will "sell like hot cakes." Wax means a disc record product. Hot means that it has great sales potential.

I may as well explain in advance that I am not referring to the vinyl "biscuit" that they place in a record press (the raw material for the record) when I spoke above of "hot cakes."

Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.78.28.73 - 211.78.28.73) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 06:14 am:

Thanks Mike, I'm further indebted to you. I'm familiar with HDH's record label but thought that the "Hot Wax" name might have been derived from some technical process, rather than sales jargon.
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (61.222.95.58 - 61.222.95.58) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 10:55 am:

Good morning Bob,
I'm mentally going through the process of making a 45, trying ensure that I fully understand the process together with any potential probelms.
So, after the musicians and the engineer had finished doing their thing, and you had the tape - at G W you cut a disc on the in-house lathe.
If a recording studio didn't have a lathe, such as United Sound, you would take the tape to a cutting studio. Would a recording studio, like some ofthe smaller ones in Detroit, ever send the master tape to the pressing plant?
Some Detroit 45s were pressed at the Columbia plant and bear a ZTSC matrix number. Others were pressed at RCA's plant. Others at plants in Nashvile, Owasso and Chicago etc. There was Archer's in Detroit from c.1966. It's possible that these plants could produce a 45 that sounded different from the sound that you thought you had, or wanted. But if you presented a pressing plant with a cut disc you were effectively handing them a finished product. They couldn't really mess it up.
Is that about right?
Thanks ,Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By David Flynn (213.122.196.251 - 213.122.196.251) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 01:19 pm:

Now this is a long shot - I have a 7" Bell acetate with a glorious uptempo version of "I only have eyes for you" on it, both sides (takes 3 & 6). It's probably from '65/'66 and is a male (probably white) singer with a full chorus backing him - BUT - there is no artist or production credits on it. The backing track has full brass, vibes kitchen sink etc and is reminiscent of say a Dynovoice label kinda sound. Any thoughts to who it may be??? :-)

Flynny

Top of pageBottom of page   By BobDorleans (24.120.26.32 - 24.120.26.32) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 05:13 pm:

Graham

Any record can get messed up, with all the steps it goes through. But basically, if you did not have a cutting lathe, you sent it to a studio that did. There might do some thing that they felt necessary in cutting the disk, such as chopping a little off the extreme high or low end of the spectrum, because of the overcutting of the grooves into or too close to another groove, which would make the record skip. But if the studio was in the same area where you were you could take the tape there and work with the cutting engineer. But in any case, when the master lacquer is sent to the pressing plant, it goes a few steps also, first the lacquer is electroplated, usually with nickel, then there is the mother, which is ther reverse of master, grooves where land was, and land where grooves were. The mother is used to make the pressing. A vinyl compound is injected into the press and the mothers are there like a waffle iron and when heat and pressure is applied, voila, a vinyl recording. At this point, what is normally done, a test pressing is made first and sent to the client, he listens and if everything is OK, he tells them to continue pressing, or makes whatever decision. Most of the time, if you think that a number records have to be produced at least two master lacquers will be sent to pressing plant. Mothers do wear out.

Anyhow I hope this answers some of questions of how the physical records is made.

BobD

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli-Eli (205.188.199.186 - 205.188.199.186) on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 10:10 pm:

For those that are unaware, for the most part when a gold or platinum award is given, the record is from a coated master laquer which could be from anywhere. The aware manufacturers get them after their time has come and gone. The bands seldom match the actual embodiment of said recording. I have seen certain artists awards in pawn shops in Philly!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Millie (64.152.154.62 - 64.152.154.62) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 04:19 pm:

Hi Bob!
Guess I'll come clean...after Tom Shannon introduced us, I told you I wanted to be a singer, and you set me up with an audition with non other than Popcorn Wiley! Well, to make a long story short, I had absolutely no talent, the audition lasted less than 10 minutes and I left Golden World in tears. I was embarrassed, I hated facing you and Tommy again so I went home (I was 18 and lived with my parents), and ate worms! I told this story to Dennis Coffey and George Katsakis last night, and we all had a good laugh! I don't remember if I every told you outcome of the audition, however, I'm sure Popcorn did! Soooo...37 years later, I'm apologizing to you! Do you remember who I am now?????!!! lol

Top of pageBottom of page   By BobDorleans (24.120.26.32 - 24.120.26.32) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 05:52 pm:

Millie

Now that you have told me the story, I remember, because I remember asking Popcorn later, "how'd it go with the audition. Can we do something with her?".
And I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like " No way, man. Nice girl, but doesn't have it"

But no matter, you have a friend in Tom, and now I hope me.
What are you up to now?
BobD

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Lester (213.122.200.159 - 213.122.200.159) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 07:15 pm:

Millie

My mum used to tell me I sung like a bird....pity it was a penguin! LOL

So I took up accountancy instead!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Millie (63.212.149.94 - 63.212.149.94) on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 08:20 pm:

Bob of course we're friends!!! I always sang in the bathroom, in the mirror with my hairbrush, just knowing someday I'd be a star!! Oh well, I stayed behind the scenes in the music business and have never had a better time!! I got into record promotion in the 70's working for Polydor, Warner Bros, and Arista, and before that I worked in sales/promotion at Motown! In the Blue Bldg. on Woodward...I look at that time as some of the best years of my life! What an opportunity to have worked for Motown!!! I now work in sales in radio, and have been for about 18 years. Tommy is back in Buffalo doing afternoon drive! I know he'd love to hear from you so e-mail me your telephone number and I'll pass it on to him. I'll also give you his number as well. What are you doing in Las Vegas? I took my daughter there in March for her 21st birthday. Saw DeAnne and Kelly and had a great time. Hope all is well with you and that you're healthy and happy!

Millie

Top of pageBottom of page   By BobDorleans (24.120.26.32 - 24.120.26.32) on Monday, May 27, 2002 - 12:30 am:

Millie

I haven't done any sound work for a few years, ever since it became rap and hip-hop. I ask rap people, "Could you hum or whistle the melody?"
It just wasn't the same. I'm into computers and I help out at the Community College and doing things for Joanne and Ed. Check out ip address above this message it will have my email and I will give you my phone number and address and would be great to to hear from "Shannon the Man".

Email OK
BobD

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.214.28 - 165.121.214.28) on Monday, May 27, 2002 - 01:07 am:

Hello All,

Let's first set the record straight. United Sound had the FIRST COMMERCIAL LATHE in Detroit. It was custom build by Jimmy Siracuse in the 1930's. This lathe was still in use with numerous mechanical and electrical iterations until the late 70's. The Lathe Room at United had 2 lathes, one this custom built lathe and another commercial "Fairchild Lathe" I believe, but I could be having a "senior moment" and it was some other manufacturer, both with Grampion Feedback Mono cutter heads at that time, driven by wonderfully designed and built Tube Power amps by Les Cooley.

In the middle through the late 70's Jimmy and I started a project and rebuilt a direct drive Scully lathe that he had earlier purchased and "stored" (for over 20 years) in the basement shop. This lathe was originally used in Hollywood for "sync film" recording!!! It was wonderfully made and then Jimmy beautifully designed and modified it with a custom built leadscrew system, which was designed to be driven by a war surplus servo motor, which itself was a work of art. I designed a DC servo drive and a multi-filter advance head sensor for automatic variable pitch.

Jimmy built a very clever head damping system to support a Westrex 3C cutterhead. I then designed and built a high power (200 watt) "opamp" cutterhead driver with what I thought, at the time, was a clever feedback design. Jimmy and I tested this system and it worked wonderfully. We actually cut some discs, other than audio testing on it and I still have those laquers, just before he sold United to Don Davis. The discs sounded great and we were very proud of it. We also wondered how we were going to get the lathe upstairs to the disc lathe room on the second floor!!! I don't know if the stereo cutting system ever got moved and put in use.

But to set the record straight, United was both the first independent studio in the U.S. and had the first lathe in Detroit. In fact Jimmy was "shaving wax" in the 1920's.

United was truly a historic place to work. I was a very lucky man to be able to learn from Jimmy Siracuse.

P.S. Bob DeOrleans...You can get my number at:
www.audiographicservices.com

Peace to All,

Ed

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (61.222.95.58 - 61.222.95.58) on Monday, May 27, 2002 - 03:08 am:

Hi Ed, Am I right in saying that United was the biggest (in square feet) studio in the states - outside New York?
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.214.28 - 165.121.214.28) on Monday, May 27, 2002 - 07:56 pm:

Hello Graham:

I don't think that would be true. The L.A. scoring stages were bigger. Columbia's 30th St. was a bit bigger, not much. I guess if you laid United out flat it would be pretty big, but I think perhaps A & M and the big L.A. stages woud be bigger. United was the biggest studio in Detroit, and perhaps the midwest and was a full service studio, doing production for radio, film, disc, and music recording plus an occasional, for hire, engineering project as well. We designed and built alot of A/V projects for Jam Handy and Meritz Communications.

Boy times have changed.

Pax,
Ed

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.72.121.66 - 211.72.121.66) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 12:04 pm:

Hi Bob,
I heard that Tom also had a hand in setting up the GW studio. Did he sell Ed Wingate some equipment?
What was the building on Davison like when you first saw it?
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.72.121.66 - 211.72.121.66) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 12:09 pm:

Thanks for the clarificaton Ed.
I wonder just how significant United was in terms of music, particularly 1960s soul: it's got to be one of the most.
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson (68.32.101.228 - 68.32.101.228) on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 03:39 pm:

I think it's pretty safe to say that the majority of recording before the mid 1950s was done in record company-owned studios located in New York with the exception of taking portable equipment into the field or using a local radio station. There were also some early labels based in the Chicago/Indianapolis area because almost all record manufacturing was located there due to proximity to the raw materials for shellac 78s.

Independent recording studios came about with the first extensive use of tape recorders during the late 1940s. Their principal clients were radio producers and advertising agencies which were principally located in New York, Chicago and Detroit. United was built as a film studio and soundstage intended for advertising.

Ken, do you know exactly when United Sound first opened?

The first independent studios I'm aware of that were used extensively by the major labels for records were Radio Recorders in Hollywood and Universal Recording in Chicago. The majors began building their own regional studios in Hollywood, Chicago and Nashville during the mid and late '50s but by that time there was a thriving independent label business to keep studios busy although their bread and butter remained advertising.

I don't know much about the very first independent studios in New York. I think National Recording was one of them where Motown's Joe Atkinson began working in the late 1940s. By the mid '50s there were quite a few independent studios in New York, the leading one for pop music probably being Bell Sound.

Terra Shirma was probably the first independent studio in Detroit built specifically to serve record labels rather than advertising agencies.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.214.28 - 165.121.214.28) on Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - 01:14 am:

United Sound first opened in 1928 but it was located in an upstairs flat on Cass Ave. Jimmy then bought the building on 2nd. Artie Field tells me he recorded at United on Cass Ave. with a High School band that both he and Al Rice (of Gail and Rice fame) played in. Artie says that that was on a home brew lathe that Jimmy had built.

United WAS the first independent studio in the U.S., before both Universal in Chicago and any of the L.A. studios. As Bob says earlier in the thread, the other studios were label owned and were in N.Y. According to Jimmy, he convinced Bill Putnam, whom he knew well to go to Chicago as at the time, there were no studios in Chicago.

Jimmy was trained in Italy as a machinist but was a very good violin and harp player and played in the society bands in th 1920's, when Detroit was a very, very big music and publishing town. (This was related to me by both Jimmy and Artie Field.) The area around the the Old Detroit Times BLdg. (I think that was 1st St.) was full of music publishing houses and piano roll manufactures as Artie Field tells it. Jimmy was simply cashing in on this. Jimmy gave me some Violin Rosin labeled from the "Siracuse Music House" at one time and I still have it. The studio was just an outgrowth of that, set up to serve the Detroit Music Community from the "Siracusr Music House." No commercial recording gear was being made other than the broadcast gear from Western Electric and RCA, and they were closed shops. Jimmy just simply built his own.

For the forum, Jimmy was the father of the Ampex 350 transport...but that is a story in itself, and was confirmed by Ralph Abernathy of Ampex!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.214.28 - 165.121.214.28) on Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - 01:16 am:

United Sound first opened in 1928 but it was located in an upstairs flat on Cass Ave. Jimmy then bought the building on 2nd. Artie Field tells me he recorded at United on Cass Ave. with a High School band that both he and Al Rice (of Gail and Rice fame) played in. Artie says that that was on a home brew lathe that Jimmy had built.

United WAS the first independent studio in the U.S., before both Universal in Chicago and any of the L.A. studios. As Bob says earlier in the thread, the other studios were label owned and were in N.Y. According to Jimmy, he convinced Bill Putnam, whom he knew well to go to Chicago as at the time, there were no studios in Chicago.

Jimmy was trained in Italy as a machinist but was a very good violin and harp player and played in the society bands in th 1920's, when Detroit was a very, very big music and publishing town. (This was related to me by both Jimmy and Artie Field.) The area around the the Old Detroit Times BLdg. (I think that was 1st St.) was full of music publishing houses and piano roll manufactures as Artie Field tells it. Jimmy was simply cashing in on this. Jimmy gave me some Violin Rosin labeled from the "Siracuse Music House" at one time and I still have it. The studio was just an outgrowth of that, set up to serve the Detroit Music Community from the "Siracuse Music House." No commercial recording gear was being made other than the broadcast gear from Western Electric and RCA, and they were closed shops. Jimmy just simply built his own.

For the forum, Jimmy was the father of the Ampex 350 transport...but that is a story in itself, and was confirmed by Ralph Abernathy of Ampex!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.214.28 - 165.121.214.28) on Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - 01:31 am:

Continuing the thread...Bob is correct regarding the sound stage/back studio at United. That was added on in the 50's and was designed by Jimmy and Les Chasey (an acoustician friend of his who designed many of the L.A. sound stages). What was Studio A, the front 1st floor studio (Joe's Room), was the music studio before that time and this is where Joe did all of the famed Muddy Waters, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Mardigan recordings.

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (61.222.95.58 - 61.222.95.58) on Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - 02:45 am:

Thank you so much Ed and Bob for you insightful and detailed replies. If either/both of you are available I'd ike to buy you dinner when I come to Detroit in September.
Thanks agaian, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson (68.32.101.228 - 68.32.101.228) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 12:17 am:

I'm told that Les Chasey was involved in building the electronics at RCA here in Nashville.

Jimmy would have had to build his own gear because RCA and Western Electric held all of the patents and would only lease equipment to record labels and radio stations. This remained how the business worked until the original patents expired in the late 1940s and early '50s.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph (209.240.222.130 - 209.240.222.130) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 12:24 am:

What I need to know here is are we talking about MY Les Chasey here? I've called him and left a message but so far haven't talked to him. If he did have a hand in the construction of these studios, I never had a clue. It doesn't totally surprise me though.

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.72.121.66 - 211.72.121.66) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 10:17 am:

Hello Ed and Bob,
Robert Bateman mentioned to me that in the early 60s he would record on 2 track (at a small studio) and then dub the vocal on at United. Was this quite standard procedure back then? If so, is it because 2 tracks were insufficient and he effectively needed 3?
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson (68.32.101.228 - 68.32.101.228) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 02:49 pm:

The first recorders weren't set up to record one track at a time. Overdubbing originally meant playing back a recording, mixing in a live mike and recording the resulting mix to a second machine.

This was a powerful production technique because you could first edit together the best parts of different backing track takes and then overdub your singer a number of times and edit the vocal performance by cutting between the different vocal takes. While Bing Crosby is credited as being the first big star to use tape editing, the earliest story I've heard of the overdub-editing method concerned the Frank Sinatra albums that Voyle Gilmore produced for Capitol Records at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. Gilmore told me that a major reason Frank left Capitol was that he was furious over finding out that they had been editing between different takes of his vocals and had vowed he would never overdub anything again.

Ampex introduced the ability to listen to tracks off of the record head while recording on another track in the early '60s and it was an optional feature of their most expensive recorders. The use of more than two tracks had been treated as a safety measure at first with the final mix always being made to mono and stereo machines live as the music was being performed. The typical use of a three track was a stereo mix on the outer tracks with the vocal and soloists recorded separately on the third. If the mixer lost a word because a singer did something unexpected, they had the option to go back and create a better, although lower quality, mix from the three track.

Motown was among the very first to build up music recordings on a multitrack machine the way motion picture soundtracks are constructed. A major advancement was a modification Mike McLean made to Motown's three track machines that allowed punching the machine into record in the middle of a song without putting a loud electronic pop on the recording. I've never heard of anybody having that capability earlier however Mike or Bob d'Orleans can probably tell us where it really originated. This was really the beginning of modern multitrack production as we know it today and Motown was into it five years ahead of most of the industry.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie (62.254.0.6 - 62.254.0.6) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 03:17 pm:

Bob

Thank you for answering a question I haven't even asked yet! I was listening recently to the stereo CD reissue of the Temptations' first album and was impressed by the stereo separation of the rhythm track. I realised it must have been recorded on three-track - by the time-scale that's already been outlined - but could not work out how such a rich stereo mix could have been achieved from what I took to be three mono sources. Now, I understand the make-up of the rhythm track, but the vocals pose another question. As Eddie (or Paul) is panned dead-centre and the other boys' bvos are panned to the left, that would appear to make four tracks. Four tracks on a three-track tape - or a stereo dub using two machines?

(I just spent the last nine months listening to the early Temptations records in support of an article I was working on, and this question probably vexed me more than any other technical point!)

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.215.136 - 165.121.215.136) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 03:54 pm:

Hello Gang,

According to Artie Field, one of United Sound's major clients until he built his own studio; Harvey Dodge, United's chief engineer had modified United's 3 track 300 (highly modifed already by Jimmy mechanically with direct drive and pushbuttons rather than a joy stick) for selective sync in early 1960's!!! That was one of the reasons Artie worked at United. This seems to confirm Bob Bateman from Grayham's comments earlier.

Also, I stand corrected regarding Les Chasey, Ralph. You are correct, I was thinking of Les Chasey (a senior moment), but Jimmie's friends name was LES POST. Sorry about that. As I gather, Les Post was sort of a fixture out in L.A. Mike might be able to comment on him, but he may have retired before Mike got out there.

From 1962-1965 when I got my commerial radio licence and while in High School and after, I worked in radio at WEXL/WOMC, WXYX, WABX, WHFI and WPON somtimes three at a time. Then at Motown, Golden World, Theme (which I helped build) and then United. I worked with Jimmy before then on technical projects for some of the radio stations, Golden World and Theme and came to United in early 1967, where I was employed or contracted under Audio Graphic Services until about 1977, so information about United before that time came from Jimmy and Joe Siracuse and later after their death from Artie Field.

Artie was one of Jimmie's closest friends and Jimmy often sent me over to Artie's place to do technical work for him. (As you can see this was real competition?)

Detroit was a pretty close recording community, as far as the engineers go. I have pictures of a gang of us out on Mike's boat, the Penelope, I think he called her, on the weekends. I remember Bob comming to United to visit his friend Danny Dallas. (Danny has NEVER RECEIVED THE CREDIT HE DESERVED for the many, many hits he recorded.) Bill Beltz once said that "Danny could cut a HIT on a Wollansac."

Joe's early work with many of the Jazz greats at United can be found in the book "BEFORE MOTOWN", Bjorn, Gallert, 2001, U of M Press.

Additionally, Artie Field was using tight miking techniques and sub-rooms in 1962. He would do strings on the stage of the theatre with horns in his front room rhythm in yet another room so he could make changes. He was, in many cases, ahead of the curve of the rest of us as far as production techniques go. I was recently given a demo disk of his work in the early 60 and it was startling!!! Way ahead of the curve!!!

Yes, there was MAJOR recording work and audio research work in Detroit long before Motown, much of it done at United.

Pax,
Ed Wolfrum

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech (63.210.113.172 - 63.210.113.172) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 05:11 pm:

Dear Bob Olhsson,

Thank you for your posting above of May 30, 2002 - 02:49 PM. I have a couple of "reality checks" to offer:

1. I don't know the exact date of the introduction of "SEL-SYNC" (Selective Synchronization) by Ampex. However, I would say that "…the late fifties…" would be closer then "…the early sixties…" I say this on the basis that when I arrived at Motown in January, 1961, SEL-SYNC was a fully established feature listed in the professional equipment catalogs as if it was "old hat."

The Ampex 350, with the classic transport, but with the metal tube (12SJ7) electronics, came out in late 1953, and replaced the Model 400, which had the two motor transport with the capstan located on the input side of the magnetic head assembly ("pusher capstan"). The Model 351 retained the 350 transport, but with revised electronics with printed circuit boards and miniature tubes (12AX7). I have long been under the impression that the 351 was introduced about late 1957 or early 1958. Further, I have the impression that SEL-SYNC came out at about that same time, or very shortly thereafter.

2. Your last paragraph very strongly implies that we pioneered the use of a "PICKUP RECORDER" at Motown. This is absolutely not true. Let me fill in the background:

There are three basic levels of performance, with respect to the ability to "punch-in," that are found over the history of professional analog magnetic recorders:

A. FIRST GENERATION. This type of machine simply turned on the bias and erase when the record button was pushed. No special effort was made to eliminate an audible pop or thump during this operation. Such a machine could not be used for a "punch-in."

B. REFINED. In this case, a little effort was made to slow down the ramp up of the erase and bias to eliminate the pop or thump. This made it possible to attempt a punch-in, especially on a vocal track where there are moments of silence. However, the lack of any compensation for the time taken for the tape to move from the erase head to the record head (Approx. 0.10 second) resulted in a "dropout" of the modulation for that duration. True seamless punch-in during continuous modulation was still impossible.

C. PICKUP RECORDER. This class of recorder was developed in Hollywood, and is the pride and joy of the motion picture industry. The first pickup recorder was built at Glen Glenn Sound by Roy Swartz and Carlos Rivas about 1965. I have known Roy for 22 years, and he hired me at Hanna-Barbera in 1986. We have spent many hours working together.

In a pickup recorder, the engineering problem of a totally seamless punch-in is solved by a rather complex control system in which the turn on and turn off of the erase and bias currents are individually controlled by means of time delay circuits, and the ramp up and down of the currents are carefully controlled to assure an inaudible "seam" between the old and new modulation. Here is how it works:

a. You push the record button. This is properly called "BIAS ON" in Hollywood. This starts a smooth ramp up of about 0.01 second duration of ONLY THE ERASE current.

b. Approx. 0.1 second later, the tape or film arrives at the record head. At this instant, the record bias is smoothly ramped up, in a similar manner, to start the sound recording at the exact spot on the tape where the old recording has started to be removed by the erase head. When the timing and ramp speed is carefully adjusted, you can punch new pink noise into old pink noise and hear no flaw whatever when listening to a playback.

c. You "punch-out." This is properly called "BIAS OFF." This starts a smooth ramp down of about 0.01 second duration of ONLY THE ERASE current.

d. Approx. 0.1 second later, the tape or film arrives at the record head. At this instant, the record bias is smoothly ramped down, in a similar manner, to end the sound recording at the exact spot on the tape where the old recording starts to no longer be removed by the erase head. When the timing and ramp speed is carefully adjusted, you can punch new pink noise out of old pink noise and hear no flaw whatever when listening to a playback.

I have designed and built electronics assemblies for pickup recorders (around 1985) and I have spent many hours adjusting the timing and ramping pots on Magna-Tech and RCA magnetic film recorders.

Ampex came out with a professional tape recorder around 1980 called the Model ATR-100. It had the bizarre feature that you could have a choice of full "Pickup Recording Capability" (Ampex called it "PURC"), or you could turn this feature off, so that you had a "REFINED" (see B. above) machine. I have never understood why one would want to disable the PURC.

To sum up: I want to make it absolutely clear, for the record, that what we built at Motown was a machine of the "REFINED" type, and NOT a "PICKUP RECORDER."

Thanks Bob, for your many fine efforts to pass along all that you have learned.

Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum (165.121.215.136 - 165.121.215.136) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 01:28 am:

Hello Mike,

Thank you for the historic tutorial on the Motown "Ramp Up" punch in. At United we had Scully 280A 4 tracks and a "Stemco" 8 track machine, which was an AMPEX 440 knockoff. We were always envious of your first generation "Punch in" capability. Later, I think it was in the Scully 280B series machines, they had a ramping bias and "punch in." Ralph Terrana purchased a bunch of those machines from "Uncle Marty" for Tera Shirma, if I remember. Maybe he or Russ can comment on that and how well they worked.

I don't remember if the "Portable" Scully 8 track at Motown could "punch in." I assume that was a 280A series. Brian Dombrowski purchased that machine and continued to use it here in Detroit. I will have to ask him about that the next time I talk to him.

Pax,
Ed

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph (209.240.222.130 - 209.240.222.130) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 02:00 am:

Ed,
I can't speak for Milan or Russ, but to my knowledge those four tracks were just fine.
When you speak to Brian, please say hello for me.

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech (64.236.243.243 - 64.236.243.243) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 02:30 am:

Ed Wolfrum,

I would be astounded if those early Scully electronics had full PURC (pickup recording capability). I very much doubt that they could punch new pink into old pink noise with absolutly no audible defect.

As far as I know, no such recorder existed until Swartz and Rivas built the one at Glen Glenn in 1965. However, since the Scully arrived on the scene somewhat after that time, I suppose that they might have done a crash program to include this new cutting edge capability in the machine.

At any rate, I never developed an awareness of this technology until after I came to Hollywood. I suspect that the Scully might have had it, and we all just took it for granted, without thinking it was a big deal.

It turned out to be a very big deal in film work. They punch in and out hundreds of times a day while dubbing a picture. That timing has to be spot on, or the phone will ring and you have to grab an oscilloscope and tweek it up while the crew goes to lunch or dinner. It was in this atmosphere that I developed all this intellectual focus on the subject.

I would dearly love to look over the circuit schematic diagrams for the first Scully 280. After what I have been through since I lost contact with these machines, I would see the design with an entirely different eye.

Thanks for bringing this up. If you find out more about the Scully, please let me know. I am very curious to see if PURC snuck in the back door of Motown like a stray cat, and I never even realized that it had made itself at home.

Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By acoolcat (61.222.95.58 - 61.222.95.58) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 03:55 am:

Phew!
I didn't realise my "simple" question would elicit such elaborate responses from soulfuldetroit's experts.
I'll have to sit down with a dark coffee and try to digest the above posts; I can't thank you all enough for your wonderful contributions.
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech (63.212.135.104 - 63.212.135.104) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 04:53 am:

Ed Wolfrum,

I just reread your posting above! Uncle Marty!

Wow! Someone remembers Martin Vogt. Thank goodness. I was the fellow who discovered him. He was simply a manufacturer's representitive for electronics firms like "Chassis Track" Etc. when I met him.

I took a big liking to him because he was a lot like my father: low key and easy going. You could say that he was my surrogat father, because he was so much like my own dad. By the way, there was a big overlap (eight years) when they were both alive.

At any rate, I was the fellow who walked him into his position as the big professional audio "Rep." in Detroit by first convincing Stephen F. Temmer of Gotham Audio that he was a great salesman. Next, I convinced Ham Brosious, general manager of Scully, that he was the greatest.

During all of this, I knew little of the background of "Uncle Marty." I was more interested in the fact that I loved the man then I was in the details. (Like my father, he was much older then I was. He must have been born about 1900, fifteen years before my late third wife Helen. God bless her soul!)

At any rate, after I left Motown, I proposed to Martin, and two other mentors: Ray L. Daugherty and George Elwood Dostie, that we make a tape of reminescences. I used a REVOX A-77 that I owned at the time to record a three hour bull session.

Ray was the Chief Engineer of the Chase Company. They made all the bimetal that went into every Honeywell, or other, thermostat that ever hung on a wall to control the furnace in a building. He helped me endlessly when I was a kid, interested in all fine things technical.

El was my original mentor. When I wanted to light up a tube for the first time, at the age of seven, he told me how to connect the wires to pins 2 and 7 of the octal tube to light up a 6L6GT. What a thrill that was!

Martin joined in. I didn't expect much. Before the evening was over, I had discovered that he was the Sales Manager of the Atwater Kent Radio Company during it's golden age. Look this up on google.com. You will find a great web-sight about Atwater Kent. I listened to all the classic radio shows like "The Shadow" on a Model 76, in the late 40's.

Not to mention that he had been the road manager for the youthful Dinah Shore during WW2. One of my greatest regrets is that I never wrote to Ms. Shore before she passed on, and offered to send her a cassete of this tape. She probably was too busy digging Bert Reynolds to remember Uncle Marty.

Uncle Marty brought a bunch of 8 X 10 glossys that night showing Dinah Shore helping him load a prewar Buick so they could take off to the next date.

Thanks Ed, for that fabulous reminder of the past.

You know, perhaps religious folks are not so vulgar as I have always supposed. Look how you have brought me happyness.

Love,

Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli (64.12.106.26 - 64.12.106.26) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 08:51 am:

We actually have an old Scully 4 track at our studio Impact Sound in Philly which is integrated with my hard disk gear. Also, two Ampex 350 mono machines from the monolithic age.(no pun intended)

Top of pageBottom of page   By RALPH (209.240.222.130 - 209.240.222.130) on Friday, May 31, 2002 - 01:54 pm:

TIME TO CLOSE THIS ILLUSTROUS THREAD DOWN GUYS.PLEASE CONTINUE ALL THIS GOOD STUFF ON BOB D'ORLEANS 2.......THIS THREAD IS OFFICIALLY HISTORY....


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