1973 Helios Type 69 Console
Founded and constructed by Olympic studios technical director Dick Swettenham, Helios consoles are considered to be some of the finest (and rarest) consoles to have been developed in the world during the late 1960’s. Originally built for Olympic Studios, the console was eventually dispatched to Arctic Studio in Norway then moved to Germany before landing in the USA as the centerpiece of Heart’s studio. One of 13 remaining Helios consoles in the world, this model stands as one of the last and best remaining examples of classic British designs (along with Neve and EMI TG consoles). It now resides in the famed studio A where the classic sounds of British rock converge with the room that defined the sound of American rock and roll.
“Type 69” consoles recorded many classic albums by artists such as: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, 10 C.C., The Who, Eric Clapton, Eagles, Queen, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, Frank Zappa, Traffic, Deep Purple, Donovan, Santana, Rod Stewart & The Faces, Bad Company, Iron Maiden, Ten Years After, B.B. King, Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Brian Eno, Judas Priest, King Crimson, Lou Reed, The Ramones, Dire Straits, Patti Smith, Motorhead, Peter Gabriel, Roxy Music, Joni Mitchell, AC/DC, Iggy Pop, Cat Stevens, Mike Oldfield, Elton John, Tangerine Dream, and the list goes on...
The Sound City Echo Chamber
One of the last and best kept secrets of Sound City, the echo chamber. Measuring in at roughly 15’ x 18’ x 16’, it is by far the largest piece of “equipment” in the studio and certainly one of the most impressive. Echo chambers are the earliest and most organic form of ambience that can be generated in a recording environment. Abbey Road famously had one chamber designed for each of their three studios, chamber 2 being the most recognizable due to its extensive use on Beatles recordings (among others). Sound City’s echo chamber has a character all its own and generates an average reverb decay of about 5 seconds. It excels in most applications, but particularly stands out on vocals, strings, piano, and drums.
Neumann U48 Condenser Microphone
The Neumann U47/48 is arguably the most sonically and visually distinctive valve microphones to have ever been made. The U48 made its first appearance in 1956 as a variation to the classic design, whose omni-directional pattern was replaced with a more useful bi-directional one and, shortly thereafter, many of the major recording studios of the era sent their U47’s back to Neumann in order to undergo the conversion. From Sinatra to the Beatles, Beach Boys, and just about every other record produced in a major recording studio since the late 1950’s, the U47/U48 has proven itself a pinnacle of recording technology.