Allaire Studios in Shokan, N.Y., has acquired the world-renowned Neve ‘Air Montserrat’ console, one of only three ever made and the only one available in the United States. The 58-input console, which has been used to record artists such as The Police, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton, is now situated in Allaire’s Great Hall control room and available for use.
Designed by Rupert Neve, the desk was created with input from famed Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and producer Sir George Martin. It is one of only three desks specified by Martin for Air Studios, each of which have the distinction of being the last to be created by Neve for the Neve Company. The other two consoles in existence currently reside at The Warehouse in Vancouver, British Columbia, and at Air Lyndhurst in London, England.
Though similar in appearance to Neve’s classic 8078 console, the Air Montserrat desk is a departure from earlier designs in that it incorporates remote-controlled microphone preamps and toroidal transformers, coupled with integrated circuits that allow frequency response to almost 100 kHz before significant roll-off.
While at Air Montserrat Studios in the Caribbean, the desk was used to record classic albums such as The Police’s Synchronicity and Ghost In the Machine (in the video for “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” Andy Summers is seen dancing on the console), and Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits.
The console was subsequently acquired by A Records in 1987 for use in its Los Angeles recording complex by artists such as U2, Don Henley, Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones and Patti Smith. The console was later stored in a warehouse for several years before being restored and beginning its third tour of duty at Allaire Studios.
“It is a great privilege for us to usher this console into a new era in the Great Hall,” says Allaire studio manager Mark McKenna, who also manned the console for Don Henley’s classic The End of the Innocence. “In an era where digital workstations are an integral part of every music recording scenario, the magic still happens in an inspiring room with classic analog equipment. This desk has a signature sound, like a Telefunken tube mic or a 1958 Les Paul might have; it is the cornerstone of our control room.”
Since arriving in October 2007, the Air Montserrat console has been painstakingly restored by Ken McKim, Allaire Studios’ veteran chief technical engineer.