Studio Picture Book

Glebe Studios
STUDIO A

This was one of the oldest recording studios in Sydney.  In the past it was also known as ATA studios and Studio 96.

This studio evolved over a long period of time.  The original studio had a special reverb chamber built under the control room with a speaker and microphone mounted on tracks to adjust the delay.  They built their own mixing console.  They also built Australia's first 16 track recorder out of an old Univac computer deck.  The tape had to be wound with the oxide facing out to work with this machine.  An assistant had to stand next to the machine and help turn the spools when it got close to the end of the reel!  Many hit records were recorded on this machine, including Kevin Johnston's "Rock and Roll I Gave You The Best Years of My Life".


Glebe Studio A control room, 1985
Glebe Studio A control room.  This picture featuring the one and only Col Joye was taken around 1985.

In 1990 this studio was equipped with:
MCI JH-636 console manufactured in 1979 and fitted with 36 I/O modules with 3 band parametric EQ and integral tape-based automation system.  This console was one of an initial run of six JH-600's which were shipped to Australia at a very good price.  Another one of these consoles went to Alberts Studio 4, King Street Sydney.  Initially this console was shipped with only 28 modules and the remainder were fitted later.  Apparently, this one had a lot of problems when first delivered.  The automation system initially had problems.  The original modules had board layout problems which caused crosstalk.  These were replaced with new revised modules at no charge by MCI.  The original modules were fitted with tantalum decoupling capacitors.  The newer modules had high quality bipolar coupling capacitors double the size of most other consoles and standard electrolytic decoupling capacitors.  One feature of all MCI products was that each audio stage was individually decoupled with its own pair of isolating resistors designed to burn out safely in the event of a short circuit - a technique which other audio manufacturers would do well to take note of.  This tranformerless electronically balanced console was capable very high quality sonic performance.
MCI JH-24 1982 vintage 2" 24 track tape machine running Ampex 456 tape at 30ips, 320nWb/m with no noise reduction.  MCI had been making JH-24's for several years and this was a mature machine with high quality coupling capacitors similar to those used in the JH-600.  (Earlier JH-24's used standard electrolytic coupling capacitors and tantalum decoupling capacitors.)  However, this machine was one of a bad batch which used a new type of IC socket in the audio electronics cards.  Rinoceros Studios also had a JH-24 of this vintage with similar problems.  Eventually after replacing ALL the IC sockets, this machine became extremely reliable.  At 30ips, you could get a frequency response from 35Hz - 20KHz ±1dB, with a ruler flat response in the midrange.  At 15ips, you could get down to around 25Hz.  The low frequency response on JH-24's was flatter than most other machines, including the Studer A-800.  With its separate FET bias and erase amps, its bias drift was very low.  It could hold those specs for up to six months of heavy use.  At that time, Ampex 456 was used exclusively and was very consistent - I never saw that kind of stability on this or any other machine once Ampex 499 and its counterparts appeared on the scene.
24 track wiring on multipins ready for a noise reduction rack (which never was purchased but occasionally one was hired in).
TASCAM 58 ½" 8 track tape machine.
TASCAM MS-16 1" 16 track tape machine.  As well as enabling the studio to run up to 48 tracks, the 8 track and 16 track machines allowed the studio to accept tapes from other studios in virtually any format.
MCI JH-110B 1981 vintage ¼" 2 track mastering machine fitted with Dolby M361 units with Dolby A and Dolby SR cards.  This machine had similar audio electronics to the JH-24 machine.
MCI JH-110 1976 vintage ¼" 2 track mastering machine.  This old timer was a very reliable machine, although not quite up to the sonic performance of JH-110B.
Sony PCM 2500A DAT machine.
Panasonic SV-3700 DAT machine.
Sony 5850 U-matic video machine.
Audio Kinetics Cue-Lock for synchronising up to three machines.  Included interfaces for Sony 5850, MCI JH-24, MCI JH-110, Tascam 58 and Tascam MS-16.
Studio wired for 3 stereo cue sends although most of the time only 2 cue amps were set up.
Bi-amped JBL bi-radials driven by two Pereaux 3150 amplifiers, pumping out an awesome 1400W!  I had always been sceptical of electronic crossovers, but the JBL crossover improved these monitors dramatically, almost eliminating that dreadful bark that the "bums" were famous for.  With the amplifier grunt behind them, these monitors could produce gut - wrenching levels.
A speaker switching system custom built by John Mulligan provided for 3 nearfield monitors, plus a fourth set of outlets at the front of the room for additional monitors!  This system was powered by a Perreaux 1850 amplifier (180W per channel into 8 ohms).  The nearfield monitors were Electrovoice Sentry 100A, JBL Control 1 and the obligatory Yamaha NS-10M.
Reverbs and delays included an EMT140 plate with remote control, Lexicon 480L fitted with memory options, AMS DMX fitted with 6.5 seconds of stereo sampling options, Eventide SP2016, 2x Yamaha REV 7, 4x Yamaha SPX90, 3x TC Electronics TC2290 (two fitted with 1.5 second sampling options), Lexicon Prime Time, Lexicon PCM51, the old Eventide flanger, and an Eventide H949 harmoniser.
Compressors included the Drawmer 1960 2 channel "valve" compressor (I say "valve" because it actually had a solid state VCA with a couple of valves thrown in to make people think it was cool), Drawmer DL221 2 channel limiter, BSS DPR402 2 channel compressor limiter de-esser, DBX 166, DBX 163, 3x DBX 160, 4x Urie 1176, Eventide Omnipressor, Allison Gain Brain I, Allison Gain Brain II, 2x Dynamite and an Orban 3 channel de-esser.
Noise Gates and filters included BSS DPR504 4 channel noise gate (this thing got very hot), 2x Drawmer DS201 2 channel frequency selective noise gates, 2x Allison Kepex I, 2x Allison Keypex II, and 2x EMT 258 noise gate/filter/expanders (which were truly unique and amazing devices)
Microphones included Neuman U87, U47 FET, U47 Valve, TLM 170, AKG 414, 451, C12, C28C valve with CK1 head, Sennheiser MD441, MD421, Electrovoice RE-20, Shure SM57, SM58 and 2x RCA ribbon mics.

Glebe Studio A control room, 1990
Glebe Studio A control room around 1990.  From left to right is the studio manager and resident producer/engineer John Frolich, assistant Helen Bradley and Colin Abrahams.

Glebe Studio A main recording room
Glebe Studio A main recording room around 1990.

Studio A was closed down in 1993 and is now a popular Glebe bottle shop...