Posts tagged ‘recording studio’
February 11, 2015
Here is a quick rundown of the equipment in the Grain Bin Studio. The speakers are Acoustic Research AR3a. The tape recorder is a four track Teac using quarter inch magnetic tape. To the right of the recorder is a hundred watt lunchbox amplifier designed by Stan Kriz. To the left is the meter head/power supply/headphone amplifier for the board. I built the mixing board by hand out of Aluminum stock. The electronics which is all rack mountable includes compressors, Stan’s 90db version of a dolby unit, reverbs, and matrixes. The center section originally held the board at the left and then later held the Teac board. the red back board is from a Three Rivers Computer booth. The tall rack holds the WRCT green machines that provided late night music. Originally it was a data logger from the Pittsburgh airport. The small rack is the six track recorder, Ampex deck and electronics. The poster is a Maxfield Parrish that hung in the original CMU studio.
February 10, 2015
The CMU Fine Arts recording studio primarily recorded recitals in Exhibition Hall and made audition tapes for the music students. But when the musicians played at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Music Hall or the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland, we also recorded there. One night, we were asked to record a harp recital for Marcella Kosikova and she asked if we could carry her harp on and off stage between pieces so she could retune it. Since we had friends that did silk screening, we created the Ace Harp Movers shirt with the logo “You pluck it, We truck it”. Marcella received one of the shirts and was very pleased and I understand shirts with the logo were seen around the Carnegie Mellon campus for many years after our initial run.
February 8, 2015
Nancy and I were married in 1979 and soon after we moved the CMU Fine Arts Studio to the basement of our house two blocks from CMU. We divided the basement into two rooms connected by a double glass window. We added a Teac board and a Roland piano. This was the last iteration of the studio before it moved to the grain bin at the Emlenton Mill. My friends Brian Rosen and Stan Kriz from the studio and I started Three Rivers Computer Company and soon we were all too busy with the company and children to play in the studio any longer.
February 5, 2015
By 1973, the CMU Fine Arts recording studio was recording 100 recitals a year as well as producing records for CMU’s amateur theatrical group Scotch and Soda known for the debut of the musical Pippin. Some of our best memories were recording a CMU Kiltie Band concert at Carnegie Music hall in New York and being part of the sound crew for part of the 1969 Rolling Stones Tour. For Scotch and Soda we designed a home made six track recorder using three sets of quarter inch stereo heads (nine heads in all) and half inch tape on an Ampex data deck. In its original incarnation for the musical Something Personal we only had two channels of record electronics which we would manually replug to switch between heads. Also pictured is a Revox two track recorder and a Teac four track recorder. We used Advent dolby units and Stan Kriz designed a special system that could encode 90db of audio on standard Scotch quarter inch tape and also control the speed of the recorder using a huge tube amplifier for pitch adjustment.
February 4, 2015
The Transicap condenser microphone was designed in the early 1970s by John Hain and Stan Kriz, engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University and members of the campus radio station WRCT. The mechanics were hand lathed by my father in his shop in Baltimore, Maryland. The diaphragm was made of vacuum spattered mylar stretched over a brass backplate mounted in an epoxy resin body. The backplate was threaded into the epoxy body so that it could be adjusted to the correct capacitive gap. The bodies were made of silver anodized aluminum. We developed special tooling for stretching the mylar and adjusting the capacitive gap. Two special black anodized Transicaps were built and subsequently dissapeared from Exhibition Hall at CMU. The core of the electronics was a small metal bodied nuvistor tube which required an external high voltage power supply. For this reason, the microphones used a four pin cannon connector between the microphone and the power supply. A standard three pin cannon connector was used between the power supply and the mixing board. We recorded Stephen Schwartz’s (Wicked) New York audition tape at CMU using Transicap microphones and a hand made mixer. My favorite story from the session was Stephen putting thumb tacks in a CMU upright rehearsal piano to make it sound like a harpsichord.
February 1, 2015
My son, David, suggested that I write a blog about the Emlenton Mill and since this is February I thought I would start by writing about sound and recording, which I love. February, you see, is the month of FAWM (February Album Writing Month). For more information check out http://www.fawm.org. I figure that writing a blog every day is a little like writing a song every other day, except much easier. So, welcome to the Emlenton Mill blog. I’ll try to work in the Mill along with my love of recording.
The Emlenton Mill, built in 1875, houses a mill museum, an ice cream shop, a bunkhouse hostel, an Emporium that sells antiques, crafts and books and a number of secrets. One of these secrets is a recording studio in a gain bin.
Hidden away in a converted grain bin, on the third floor of the Mill, is a recording studio control room from the 1970s. It was originally located on the music practice floor of the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. It was built by myself and some friends from the campus radio station WRCT. But more about that another day. The Mill has a large number of grain bins which were used to store the different grains that were processed at the Mill. They vary in size from the size of a closet to the size of a railroad box car. The grain bin we chose for the studio is a small room located just off the main area of the third floor and required very little alteration. Most grain bins are built with sloped floors so the grain would gravity feed to the center of the bin where the output chute was located. This grain bin only required a new floor to support the studio.