Studio Picture Book


Albert Studio 1 King Street Sydney

Alberts Studio 1 Control Room 1973
Studio 1 Control Room around 1973.  At this time, the multitrack was an Australian made 16 track Optro machine.

From 1973 through to 1986, Albert Studio 1 was one of the major recording studios in Australia.  Originally known as Studio 139, Studio 1 was "the" rock and roll recording studio in Sydney, with the likes of AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, John Paul Young and many other famous Alberts artists recording there.  The first job done in this studio was the mixing of The Ted Mulry Gang's album "Here We Are" featuring the hit single "Jump in My Car".  In addition to being used for in-house Albert artists, this sought after studio was used by outside rock and roll bands such as Cold Chisel and for country music albums and jingles.  Initially Bruce Brown, studio manager and producer, also worked in this studio.  As time went by and Alberts built more studios, this studio became used almost exclusively for in-house work only.  It was the home of Vanda and Young, who in addition to producing most of the in-house artists that recorded there, recorded their own legendary Flash and the Pan albums in this studio.

The walls and ceiling of the control room were black.  The recording area was a large relatively live room with moveable curtains.  Mirror tiles on the walls near the drum area made for a bright drum sound.  One wall of this room was covered in the graffiti of many famous artists who recorded there.  A second smaller room housed a Yamaha grand piano.

Alberts Studio 1 Control Room 1980
Studio 1 control room around 1980, during a Flash and the Pan session.
That's the back of an Arp Omni keyboard on the right hand side.

Around 1980 the studio was equipped with:

Neve 24 channel 8 group console.  This console had no stereo mix bus.  It was a pig of a thing to use, because you had to do a major reconfiguration to go from recording mode to mixdown mode.  Then someone would want to do a last minute overdub when you were half way through the mix...  (It always amused me how Tascam blindly copied this approach on their early mixers.)  The original console had monitoring for 16 channels only and was modified by Bruce Brown for 24 channel monitoring.  The additional 8 track monitor panel is located to the right of the master faders.  The audio electronics ran on a single 24 volt supply delivering in the order of 15A.  It featured discrete class A amplifiers and everything including the insert points was transformer balanced.  You could break every grounding rule in the book with this console and it was still hard to get hum or cross-talk!  It was beautifully made and very solid.  The compressor/limiters in this console were so popular that they were sometimes taken out and installed in mobile racks so that they could be shared with the other studios.  If there was ever a "Neve sound", this console had it!  Due to the number of transformers involved, there was an audible difference in sound from input to output.  If you clipped the mic preamps with a transient, it would send the DC stability of the class A amplifiers into a frenzy, producing that fluttery modulated sound on cymbals and hi-hats that rock and roll music of this era was famous for!  This console included four joystick quad panners, although I never saw them used.  There was little or no interest in this country in quad sound, even though some studios including this one were wired for it.
MCI JH-100 24 track 2" recorder with an Autolocator II.  This machine was an earlier version of the JH-16 series.  It had servo controlled AC spooling motors as opposed to the later more powerful DC motors.  Consequently, it could only handle 10" reels.  It included an additional flutter roller and flywheel mechanism with a solenoid operated clutch.  The audio electronics were the same as the JH-16 machines.  This machine was slightly slower than the JH-16 machines, but it was incredibly reliable.  At this time, all recording was done at 15ips on Ampex 456 tape with Dolby A noise reduction.  Machines tended to get moved around between studios, so in the photograph above the machine is a JH-16.
Dolby A MH series 24 track noise reduction.
MCI JH-110 4 track ½" recorder with remote control.  In the earlier days, this was used to overlap final mixes when assembling albums.  For example, the "If you want Blood" album and some of the Flash and the Pan albums were mixed this way.  Once again, since machines got moved around, the above photograph shows two 2 track machines.
MCI JH-110 2 track ¼" recorder.  This was the standard mastering machine.  All mastering was done at 15ips on AMPEX 456 tape with Dolby A noise reduction.
6x Dolby A M361 noise reduction modules.  These were used for the 2 track and 4 track.
EMT 140 full size reverb plate.  This was suspended on springs in its own room two floors below the studio.  A remote control unit was built into the Neve console.
Cooper Time Cube.  This was some weird kind of acoustic delay which was used as a second reverb unit.
There was relatively little outboard gear in those days, particularly reverb and delay devices.  There were some parametric equalisers, compressors etc. which were mounted in mobile boxes and shared between the studios.  Equipment included the Orban three channel De-esser, the Vocal Stresser (a compressor and limiter with built in equaliser and gate), the Marshall Time Modulator (a bucket brigade delay unit capable of producing killer flanging and phasing effects), the Lexicon Prime Time 12 bit digital delay unit, Pentanger Parametric Equaliser (at this time, none of the consoles had fully parametric EQ built in), the Urie Filter Set (which had parametric EQ with variable HPF and LPF), Urie 1178 compressors and an early EMT digital reverb system.
A suitably massive collection of microphones which were shared between studios.  These included Sennheiser, AKG, Electrovoice and Beyer mics of all shapes and sizes, Neumann U47, U87, U89 and KM84 mics.  The KM84 was often used for close micing snares and hi-hats as they were the only condenser microphone small enough, tough enough and able to handle the high transient levels.  Shure SM57 and SM58 microphones were often used to close mic toms.  The Sennheiser MD441 mic was also used a lot for close micing drums because the hyper-cardiod pickup pattern allowed these mics to pull in sounds with minimum spill.  In earlier days the AKG D12 with its woolly sound was used on the kick.  This gave way to the Electrovoice RE-20 as people started to mix with a brighter kick sound.  Vocals were often recorded with U47s or U87s, depending on the voice.  U87s were popular as drum overhead and ambience mics.
The main control room monitors were initially Tannoy HPD 15" but were replaced by Altec 604e speakers due to their higher power handling.  Over the years these evolved to Urie's.  These were driven by an Ampzilla 350W per channel amplifier.
Nearfield monitors were exclusively Auratone cube speakers.  These speakers had a single 4" driver with a massive magnet almost as big as the speaker.  The overall frequency response of these speakers was limited, but the midrange frequency response was very flat, with a smooth rolloff above and below.  The stereo imaging was excellent and although inefficient, they could handle continuous power levels of 30W RMS.  Alberts used to buy these things by the carton.  In Studio 1, these were driven by a Crown D-60 amplifier.  The Neve console also had a small mono speaker built in to the meter bridge.  This was used a lot by Vanda and Young during mixdowns to check how their mixes would sound on a transistor radio.
Two independent stereo headphone systems plus a studio speaker system.  These were driven by Crown D-60 amplifiers.

The Albert Studio complex was located in the heart of Sydney, between the MLC Centre and Centrepoint tower.  Studios 1 and 2 were on the fifth floor.  This was the view from the Studio 1 coffee room. Alberts Studio 1 coffee room 1973

In 1983, the Neve was replaced with an SSL console - the first of its kind in the country.  In 1986 the studio was relocated to the 2UW building at Cremorne and the King Street building demolished.