Ask Eddie: It's Clean-Up Time

Jul 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Eddie Ciletti

HOW ONE AUDIO QUESTION GOES TANGENTIAL

Polls


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I sometimes help people solve problems by remote control. When it’s stuff I don’t know intimately, my clients and I learn together. From there it seems a natural progression to bring this private interaction into the light of a public forum—my new blog at mixonline.com—the essence of which will be distilled into this new monthly column, “Ask Eddie.”

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This inaugural article is a composite of several related email questions and is typical of the many “tangential threads” that a single question can generate. Be sure to check in at mixonline.com for the blog and watch for regular answers in your MixLine e-newsletter. As they say in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, “We’re mass communicatin!” Let’s start the show.

The Electrodyne 711 module includes a discrete transistor amplifier, input transformer, 2-band-selectable EQ, one aux/FX send (three routing options) and “Gliss” wire-wound glass fader.

The Electrodyne 711 module includes a discrete transistor amplifier, input transformer, 2-band-selectable EQ, one aux/FX send (three routing options) and “Gliss” wire-wound glass fader.

Q: I just got a ’70s (or ’80s or ’90s-era) analog recording console. What’s the best way to prioritize the resurrection process?
A:
The simple answer is to have a trusted tech advisor onsite to determine the condition and then discuss the challenges. Trust the tech to differentiate the essential repairs from the wish-list upgrades. Be sure to get a price breakdown so that everyone knows the limitations of the budget. Be sure to factor in the “unseen costs” by your multiplier of choice. When passion drives the purchase, you need to be extra cautious; you need to know what’s under the hood. Pull a module and look for signs of damage and sloppy repairs. Once powered up, a few custom cables may have to be fabricated to get signal in and out of each module.

Consider the common user-interface components—faders, pots and switches—as they are most likely to require service or replacement. If you hear “scratchiness,” then the “Device Under Scrutiny” has audio going through it. Faders that provide a control voltage to a VCA will not sound scratchy because the control voltage is filtered. If a fader sounds okay but feels funky, take it apart. A switch that controls a relay doesn’t have to be super-clean, just reliable, so go through an entire module’s worth of switches to be sure you didn’t pick the one switch that works.

AMPLIFIERS: That certain pieces of recording gear have their own unique sonic character implies that amplifier design is a key player, along with the equalizer type, frequency options and dynamics processors. Nowhere is that more true than the early ’70s classics. Each manufacturer’s design was unique back when each amplifier was built from discrete transistors sandwiched in between an input and an output transformer.

Each technological development improved specs, but many would lament that the reduced distortion sometimes robbed recording electronics of its desirable and unique sonic character options. There are times when we need our audio signal to be transparent-clean from start to finish, and times when it’s okay to “distress” it!






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