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Day 181 - Nov 20 - Abbey Road Studios

Maybe most recognizable thing about this place is the crosswalk out front where four amazing musicians created history by walking across the street and putting the photo on their album cover. A less known fact, that may interest you, is that there was another band that walked across that same street and also used it for their album cover but this other band did it many years earlier and was fully clothed rather than just wearing socks on their cocks and was known as the Beatles.

I am not sure whether I am thrilled or bored. On one hand I am sitting inside the legendary Abbey Road studios where so many timeless recordings were created that I wont even begin to mention them. On the other hand, I am having a clear deja-vu of why I took up live sound rather than the recording world and the slow motion tedium of watching molasses drip would be a bump up from sitting here in a recording studio. I am just a crazy live audio guy, like a fish out of water, sitting in one of the earth's most legendary studios surrounded by a bunch of amazing recording humans with the some of the best toys on the planet.

Hey, lets go take a wander but first let me warn you, some of what you are about to see may cause anxiety in and is the equivalent of hard core pornography to audiophiles. The first thing that jumps out as unusual is either roadie Manny has taken the small pill and shrunk to Alice in Wonderland size or that is one huge Plasma TV. It says something about 103" inches on the back.

And turing to our left is a pile of what looks to be speakers pushed off to the side. I believe they are Bowers & Wilkins 800 series. Did he said they were only $ 20,000 or so a pair including the power amp?. Notice the little fluffy white ears on the speaker on the left that someone has stuffed in to stop it from rattling.

As we keep heading around the studio I carefully circumvent a hazardous rubbish pile of mics. For you microphone buffs, they are just a heap of AKG C12's, some U49's U89's, U87's and pile of other assorted near perfect condition original release "valve" mics. I figure another $ 100,000 in hardware is just laying around.

The studio's control room has another piece of historic audio in the form of a tiny Neve console. I guesstimate that it is about 72 channels wide and I will bet it costs many many tens of dollars.

**** Highlight of the Day ****

Lampi Scott and I persuaded a personal tour of the Abbey Road mic collection from Lester who has been there since 1970! What we got to see made the utility mics in the studio look a bit boring. Wow! For you shoe loving ladies out there, this was the equivalent of touring an archive of the footwear worn by every legendary Hollywood actress over the past 60 years. "And these were the shoes that Marilyn Monroe wore when she met President Kennedy and over here the shoes Lana Turner wore when her daughter allegedly murdered Johnny Stompanato, see the blood spot." Each mic is a work of art as these are the best of the best ever created and hundreds and hundreds of them. I was pulling them off of shelves, each had a history and story, amazing! Plus Scott video taped the whole adventure and I even attempted a few Ali G style stabs at humor by repeatedly asking which of the mics were best for recording underwater. Thank you Lester!

But that was earlier and this is now and now I sit on a comfy couch two naps into the day. Andrew Scheps is the man who heads this world up from the recording side while roadie Daniel and Manny have their hands full with a complete monitor setup. I get the privilege of getting to sit and watch what to me is the equivalent eight hours of moving the rhododendrons around the house after redecorating. My presence is that of "just in case" and a a bit of consulting-ish words that never materialize.

**** End Highlight of the Day ****

**** Begin Sound Nerd Speak ****

Gating Drums - Tip of the Day

If you have the spare inputs available, "Y" the drums that you want to gate into two channels each. Then insert gates on one set and not on the other. Assign one VCA to the gated drum channels and another VCA to the non-gated channels. Now you have full control over whether your drums are fully gated, non-gated or anywhere in between with the slide of the VCA's.

This is handy thing if your band plays soft songs that don't fire all the gates but you want tight gates for the loud songs. Also, by setting a 50/50 mix of gated and non-gated, it acts like and expander with soft hits extra soft and loud hits that jump out.

On a side note, do you remember way back on Day 125/126 when I got distracted into rock show thermodynamics? Well, soon afterwards I polished those thoughts up a bit and sent them into a magazine for a column I write called "Rat Tales" and they just published it in the November issue.

**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****

For the final adventure of the studio day, Peter takes Scott and I for a quick look at Studio 2, the room that the Beatles actually recorded in, for a listen to the acoustics and a cool memory.

Everyone there was wonderful to meet and watch work. What I will remember most is the way that there was a certain awe and appreciation that radiated from the sound people employed there. There workplace is a museum of infinite audio significance, and they know it and love it.

The still missing the excitement and heart pounding thrill of a live show,

Dave Rat