THE GODFATHER UNDER FIRE
I have enjoyed your series on Bill Putnam, “The Art ofEngineering,” by author Jim Cogan. The quote from Bruce Swedien(page 48 in the November issue) that “Bill Putnam was the fatherof modern recording as we know it today” is one that I am intotal agreement with. In 1960, the concept of combining a mic/linepreamplifier, low- and high-frequency equalizer, and an echo send intoone small module that used only one connector was revolutionary. Beforethe creation of the 610 modular amplifier, audio consoles were allcustom-designed and built out of discrete parts, such as switches,attenuators and transformers that were all wired to one large panel.This panel would then be connected through a patchbay to a microphone,line and program amplifiers, equalizers and echo sends. This did notmake for either easy maintenance or efficient manufacturing methods,unlike the modular 610.
In the interest of historical and technical accuracy, I would liketo correct a few errors I noticed on page 50, under “Putnam'sTechnology Legacy.”
The equalizer Cogan discusses is model 508A or later a 508B, not a50BA. Also, the patent rights for the LA-2A were acquired fromTeletronix Engineering Company, not Studio Electronics Corporation.(Jim Lawrence Jr., the inventor of the LA-2A, wrote an excellentarticle describing the development of the LA-2A, which appeared in theAugust 1964 SMPTE Journal, for those who wish to know more aboutit.) Also, the LA-3A and LA-4A are both solid-state designs and do notuse vacuum tubes.
Bill Putnam was inspired to develop what eventually became the 813monitor system by Ed Long's 1976 AES Journal article about timealignment. The author states, “These were the standard forlarge-scale studios from the late ‘60s to the ‘80s,”which, of course, is impossible for a product that wasn't availableuntil 1979.
The 1108 solid-state, Class-A FET line amplifier is what is used inthe most highly regarded versions of the 1176 limiter and in thecurrent version made by Bill Putnam Jr. The author states, “UREIalso introduced the 1108 FET Preamp and some innovations, such as theCooper Time Cube and the Electrostatic Reverberator…that are bestnot known.” The 1108 FET Preamp is a superb design by anystandard that is still being produced to rave reviews. It is not fairto lump it in with the two other items that are definitely bestforgotten.
Keep up the good work.
CILETTI'S SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS
Thanks for hitting the nail on the head [“Tech's Files,”November 2003]. Even if young engineers don't do the school thing,there's still the concept of internships, apprenticeships, etc. Guideddiscovery and the school of experience is a good thing. Hell, they canjust read the bloody books and manuals themselves.
OPEN MIND: BETTER MIX
Yes, technical knowledge creates better recordings, and some of usunderstand this better than others. I have been guilty in the past oferroneous ideas, but that has never stopped my being creative or beingwilling to accept ignorance as part of the learning process.
In fact, by making mistakes and testing weird theories, we arebetter able to understand why things do and don't work on a record. Isuspect a lot of the world around us exists because people have beenwilling to try out their ideas, however mistaken they may be.
I'm always amazed at the audacity of some claims in this business.To wit, quoth Robert Margouleff [in the Isley Brothers “ClassicTracks” article, November 2003]:
"The thing is, the reason we became so indigenous in the business isthe fact that we worked with everybody, whereas most of the othersynthesizer players, like [Morton] Subotnick and [Wendy] Carlos andBeaver & Krause mostly worked for themselves. We put ourselves in amajor recording studio and worked for everyone who wanted to comethrough the doors; we made ourselves a ubiquitous comestible."
Horseshit! It's a bloody wonder he didn't claim that he invented thesynthesizer, too. How does this self-promoting, solipsistic,historical-revisionist blathering idiot explain the work Paul Beaverand I did on a synthesizer with the following artists, sometimesworking on multiple projects with them? For instance: Beach Boys, TheByrds, Elmer Bernstein, Jimmy Cliff, The Doors, George Harrison, MickJagger, George Martin, John Mayall, Van Morrison, Gerry Mulligan, RandyNewman, Jack Nitzsche, Prince, Carly Simon, the Rolling Stones, Simonand Garfunkel, Phil Spector, The Tubes and Neil Young, to name just afew. Or on numerous films, from Apocalypse Now to Cool HandLuke to The Graduate. In all, I believe we worked on morethan 250 albums for others, aside from the five we did for ourselves,at least 135 major feature films and several dozen TV shows. While Ibelieve [Margouleff and Cecil's] Tonto's Expanding Headband wasone of the most brilliant albums of the time, that momentary stroke ofgenius does not warrant a claim to even a small chunk of theuniverse.
Wild Sanctuary Inc.
FROM FLORIDA, A FOND FAREWELL
To all my friends,
I just wanted to take a moment to say farewell, as I have decided tomove on. I spent the past 12 years at 441 W. 53rd St. in New York City,[known] most of the time as the Power Station, the rest as AvatarStudios, serving both as technician and chief technician. I also hadstays at a few other facilities, as most of you know, but Power Stationwas my home.
Basically, it was time to move on. My wife and I decided to sell thehouse, pack up the kids and move to a beautiful town outside of Tampa,right on the Gulf, where I am currently pursuing other musicalventures. I would like to say “thank you” and “seeyou later” (never goodbye, as I hope our paths cross again) to afew people I considered friends and with whom it was a pleasure towork: Zoe and Pat Thrall, Al Schmitt, Elliot Scheiner, David Baker, JimAnderson, Joe Ferla, Jay Newland, James Farber, Neil Dorfsman, JasonCorsaro, Kevin Shirley, Vince Caro, Kirk Imamura, Ed Evans, Vinny Sofia(the greatest studio carpenter), Tony Bongiovi (who built the greateststudio in the world. Let's face it: If there were no Tony, there wouldbe no Power Station.) and many others I simply don't have room tolist.
Good health and continued success to all of you.
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