Studios - My Story
the Recording Engineer/Producer April 1978 article reprint
Note: my comments
are in this purple font. The article, reprinted below,
is in black.
It was a dark
and stormy night. It was Boston, in the winter of
1976-77. I stood on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Newbury St.
at the entrance to the Mass Turnpike and, facing
due west, I watched the sunset. I decided I was going to get
on that turnpike, drive west, and not stop until I got wet,
which must mean I had reached the Pacific ocean at the Santa
The next May,
I went to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in
LA. The running joke was all my buddies chipped in and bought
me a one way ticket to LA... but it was much more serious than
that... I found an LA yellow pages and began visiting studios
in alphabetical order. Joe Chiccarelli had previously visited
LA and came back with the famous line: "In Boston, we have
five studios... in LA they have five studios ON EVERY BLOCK!"
So I was determined, after reading about all these studios in
the trade journals to see for myself. I was able to visit over
40 studios and I gave my resume to everyone I could. Subsequently
I got 35 job offers! So I moved to LA, started at Cherokee Studios,
and then managed to get a few evening and weekend gigs in other
studios doing maintenance, wiring, fixing equipment...
...and I got
a few gigs doing recording, and nearly every time I'd go into
a studio to record there would be a noisy fader, a crackling
switch, a bent pin on a VU meter (!!!) something with a tape
machine that needed aligning or fixing... so seemingly every
three hour recording session turned into a six hour marathon
of fixing things first, (it was called maintenance in
those days...) then recording after everything was tweaked.
So I made a business card which said "Mixing and Fixing",
and it served well.
STUDIOS, 1014 N. VINE ST., HOLLYWOOD, CA
A few weeks went
by and I got a call from Crystal Studios (almost next alphabetically
from Cherokee, you might notice; Conway was actually next in
line) and I went to meet Andrew Berliner. He interviewed me
for eight hours. First he questioned me, thinking I was a spy
for some other studio. Then he grilled me about all sorts of
electronic trivia. Then he more or less took me into his confidence
and told me the overall story of the studio and the history
of the equipment. He had various partners and associates and
staff and friends, all of whom contributed their part to the
His effort may
have started as a hippie studio fantasy but soon turned
into an electronic design laboratory right on the cutting edge
of what anyone in the industry was doing. From Doctor
My Eyes by Jackson Browne in 1972 to an enormous string
of hit albums by Stevie Wonder, Crystal was on the map as one
of the hot LA studios. A further appeal was that is was a one-stop
shop: you could record, and mix and master your
album all in one building, and the main recording room was also
big enough to hold an orchestra.
In the mid 70's
Andrew's ideas and eventual implementation actually far surpassed
the cutting edge; for their day, all three consoles he built
had many industry firsts and absolutely unique circuitry. He
and various engineers and techs at the studio also highly modified
the industry standard Studer tape recorders and the Neumann
disc cutting lathe, and the clean, tight punchy sound you could
get from this studio was fast becoming an industry legend.
I went to dinner
after the interview. Then Andrew called me up and asked if I
would come over again. Sure! So after a full day's interview
he started in again and then he showed me what he called "the
holy file cabinet" in what was to become my office and
There was an
engineer who, sadly, I never met, who had recently passed away.
He worked at Crystal for a number of years, and as the campfire
story goes, was one of those white-pocket-protector-nerd-pak
engineer types. If you are an electronics engineer or tech this
is a very high compliment. So this fellow, Dean, had apparently
kept a written technical diary on yellow pads of everything
he did or thought about. It was written in a multiple person
view, sometimes in the first person, sometimes not; and all
the math was longhand, out to an unnecessarily large number
of decimal places(!) All the yellow pads were stored chronologically
in one of those massive fireproof file cabinets usually reserved
for sci-fi movies of secret government installations. The diary
rambled on like this:
Tuesday morning, 10:30
Hmmm... what shall I do today? Think I'll build an equalizer...
OK, Well, should I
take apart everyone else's and see what they are up to?
Hmmm... well maybe I'll look up circuits in cookbooks
and see how I can improve on them. No wait, I'll do it
all from scratch. But maybe that won't work when it comes
to people actually operating it, because they might be
used to a more or less standard layout, and if I don't
look at everyone else's that's therefore not a good idea...
So now, Dean, you should
choose the frequencies. Let's decide if you should use
even numbers like 1k or maybe use musically based numbers
like 440 and 880 and so on, do you think anyone would
understand that? Should they be in easy mathematical steps
that can be remembered, or should they be in musical steps,
perghaps 1/6 octave apart, which would mean that every
click detent on the knob would be based on musical notes
that were two whole steps apart? Hmmm...
And so on. Clearly the
fellow loved ellipses, and went on like that for literally hundreds
of yellow pads. His partially-finished prototypes and circuits
were laid out all over the room, and Andrew wanted to know if
I thought I was up to it -- me finishing building up the breadboards,
and taking over from where this previous genius left off. I
looked him right in the eye and said, "Yes, I would like
that very much."
Andrew had built a magnificent
and very straightforward recording/mixing board in studio A,
and these newer designs were to be used in the studio B board.
Then the circuitry was to be expanded upon, (for example the
equalizer was made to be 6 sections instead of 5 sections) microphone
preamps of a completely new design added, a MUCH larger patchbay
implemented, and this brand new board was to be the retrofit
in studio A.
So I started to put in
long hours working with Andrew finishing up the Studio B console
and also on the refinements for the NEXT studio A board. It
was so fascinating and intense that I just threw myself into
the project, sometimes working 16+ hours at a stretch, going
home, crashing for 9 hours, then coming back into the cave-like
building (there were no windows) until I lost all track of time.
All in all, whatever stresses it imposed, I had a wonderful
Andrew decided to do a
preliminary article for Recording Engineer/Producer magazine.
He really wanted to do a series of articles, each about a particular
section of the recording/mixing board, with an eye to possibly
generating sales and therefore building multiple consoles, some
outboard equipment, and really ramping up a production facility.
The studio itself was called Crystal-Sound, and the "laboratory"
R&D part was called Crystalab, which you might notice are
Andrew Berliner's initials added. You also might notice that
partially in honor of Andrew, I have used the same font for
my Soundoctor logo.
here in its entirety is a reprint of the RE/P article of April
1978. Little did we know that the magazine was about to fold
a month later... as a typographer I partially attribute it to
the fact that the entire magazine was printed in Souvenir font.
There are only precious few worse fonts in the world
for example hobo and comic sans1
and NO ONE will take anything seriously that is presented
in these fonts. There is probably much more to it than that,
but hey, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it...
So Andrew and I worked
on the story, he wanting to write a large book and the editor
explaining just about how many column-inches we had to work
with. I did a block diagram (that you will see below) in real
Leroy technical pen and ink on matte mylar that was nearly four
feet wide. It took almost two weeks! I wish I had the drawing
to frame on the wall now! So Andrew kept writing and I would
tweak and polish, and eventually, with Andrew pacing back and
forth and back and forth in the parking lot smoking a cigarette,
(anyone that knows him knows he would do this whenever he was
really stressed...) the article was finished. You kind of had
to be there. We were actually very proud of each other and this
mini-masterpiece we had just finished.
and DIGITAL LOGIC CONTROL SYSTEM
|by Andrew Berliner,
Crystal Sound Recording Studios
As high quality audio
systems increase in complexity, super-human demands are being
made on the operators of these systems. It is natural for the
designer of large recording systems to employ computer techniques
to aid the operator in his quest for control as well as to provide
more flexibility in operation.
The Crystalab system currently
under development and in use at Crystal Sound Recording Studios
has combined a 40 input channel, 4 output channel mixer with
a digital logic system and a 300 megabyte disc storage memory
into a high performance, super reliable creative tool.
CONSOLE IN CRYSTAL"B"
FOR A MUCH LARGER PICTURE! (opens into a new tab)
Modern electronic attenuators
are primarily of the voltage control type, i.e., attenuation
is a function of control voltage. Such attenuators, using pulse
width modulation or analog transconductance methods, are well
known, as are their limitations, namely noise, slew related
distortion and temperature instability.
The cornerstone of the
Crystalab approach is the development of the Programmable Parametric
have been with us as long as electronics. A simple potentiometer
is a parametric attenuator; the attenuation being a function
of shaft rotation; the ratio of the resistances between the
series and shunt legs: essentially an "L" Pad.
The Crystalab Parametric
Attenuator incorporates and expands this basic concept. Twelve
separate "L" pads are connected in series and isolated
by an input buffer amplifier and an output driver amplifier.
Each pad section contains two switches which insert it or bypass
it into the audio signal flow. The values (dB attenuation) of
each pad section are chosen in a sequential binary and Grey
coded progression. After considerable experimentation, the chosen
1/16 dB, 1/8 dB, 1/4 dB, 1/2 dB, 1dB, 2 dB, 4 dB, 7 dB, 12 dB,
20 dB, 33 dB, and OFF.
An electronic attenuator
when full on can be considered a unity gain device. The change
is gain is expressed as "dB attenuation". Careful
circuit design insures the accuracy of each pad section individually
as well as additive combinations of any and all sections. Each
of the twelve pad sections are addressed by one bit in a twelve
bit word. 1,280 different combinations of the twelve bit word
provice a gain range from unity to 79.9 dB before off in exact
1/16 dB steps. Pad trimpots mean "step size error"
can be made arbitrarily small.
Field effect transistors
(FETs) were an obvious choice for the switching elements. Their
advantages of high speed, linearity and low "on" resistance,
are, however, offset by the charge coupled noise as it changes
state (on to off and off to on).
A major design effort
was directed toward designing a floating FET switch with minimal
gate/channel capacitance effect and high signal level handling
capability. In 1975, after almost three years of research and
development, a patent, describing a circuit, embodying isolated
gate pullup and constant current pinch off techniques was issued
to Crystal Industries, Inc.
Singularly the most important
ingredient in making this attenuator work, the Crystel-FET Driver,
switches signal levels up to ± 12 volts from DC to 100kHz
in 2 microseconds. Charge coupled noise is ≤ 90 dBV (relative
to input) while linearity is primarily dependent on the FET,
0.01% in "on" mode is average.
Each new version of the
attenuator solved some problems and created others. For example,
in spite of the care taken to provide minimum charge on the
gate, the finite noise generated increases with switching speed.
When the attenuator slews, (the operator has moved a fader knob...)
the least significant bit (1/16 dB) has the highest switching
speed. Organizing the pad values such that the highest switching
rate occurs at the front of the pad chain allows the noise,
so generated, to be attenuated by an amount equal to the total
dB attenuation of the subsequent pad sections.
Zipper noise is produced
by a discrete step size change in amplitude and is exaggerated
by the finite time discrepancies of one pad energizing and another
de-energizing. It is completely undetectible on complex waveforms
such as program material, however, on sine waves, well... so
by incorporating a zero-crossing detector to limit the switching
of pad sections in to or out of the audio path, only
to the time when the amplitude of the waveform approaches 0
volts, all zipper noise vanished.
The Programmable Parametric
Attenuator as the variable gain element in a professional recording/mixing
console offers many unique advantages. In its static mode, at
any attenuation (or no attenuation) the audio signal passes
through no non-linear or noisy elements. Fifty or more attenuators
will track within 1/16 dB over the entire 80 dB range. There
is no drift. Slew rates of 125 dB/second with a 1 kHz signal
to 2,500 dB/second with a 20 kHz signal are inherent in the
Another intriguing application
of the Programmable Parametric Attenuator is as the control
element of a program-controlled gain circuit (limiter / compressor
/ expander). Such a circuit could peak limit, maintain a constant
average level, or expand the dynamic range of an input signal,
or any combination. Since 80 dB of control range is not needed,
resolution of 1/32 dB or 1/64 dB may be more desirable.
The Programmable Parametric
Attenuator is the ideal tool for radio and TV broadcast applications.
The revolutionary significance of the Programmable Parametric
Attenuator is that it provides the missing link between analog
and digital. It is the catalyst that integrates the vast resources
of applied digital technology into the creative analog musical
systems of modern recording studios.
This is a data acquisition
and management system. In contrast to current automated or "automation-ready"
consoles, the "computer" is an integral part of the
system. Technically it's "dumb" because the program
is hard wired, but its internal 14.2 MHz clock and command time
of 70 ns mean the performance and sophistication of a lunar
Its operation is easily
understood by examining the function of its four main sub-systems:
Input, Processing and Control, Storage, and Output.
The Input system
translates the commands of the operator into its internal language.
In Processing and Control the words of this language
are then organized and processed.
When memory is used, groups of words can be stored and
recalled on demand
The Output system routes these processed words to a specific
location where they perform their specific function.
The block diagram of the
digital system components and the flow of data between them
illustrates the entire system concept: The simultaneous
control of volume of 44 audio signal channels in time increments
of 1 ms.
A PLAY-BY-PLAY DESCRIPTION OF ONE SCAN
OF THE CONSOLE
The twelve-bit analog
to digital converter using high speed multiplexing techniques,
samples and digitizes the control voltage of each of the six
submaster faders, 40 input faders, and four line control faders
in order. The sequential sampling produces a flow of words.
A word is the digitized representation for the number of dB
attenuation from unity gain for one time period.
First the six words representing
the value (dB attenuation) of the six submasters are stored
in the six submaster memories.
Then, the Channel #1 fader
word is entered into the adder. If any of the six submaster
selector switches are selected, the values of those submasters
are recalled from memory, and also entered into the adder. A
word representing the sum of the channel fader and all of the
selected submasters results. Each channel is sequentially processed
so that one console scan results in the flow of 44 data words
from the adder.
The flow is then processed
by the exponential memory. Here, on a plug-in circuit board
the 12 ROM's scale the fader taper. The ability to adjust the
dB per inch of travel of all faders while a fringe benefit of
digital processing is a unique feature of the Crystalab system.
The function of the Data
Multiplexer circuitry is the heart of this high-speed data management
system. It is the power of the Read/Write switch. The Data Multiplexer
has two data inputs: one from the console faders and the other
the "from disc" buffer. The 44 word scans are synchronized
such that the Read/Write switch on each channel selects between
the two "word 1's". two "word 2's", two
"word 3's", and so on until one of all 44 pairs of
words have been selected. This composite data is directed to
the output circuitry and to the input of the "to disc"
The output circuitry takes
the flow of composite data and directs the 44 words to the 44
Programmable Parametric Attenuators as well to the LED dB attenuation
readout displays of the fader.
The update power of this
system effectively allows the operator to alter any of the 44
channels for a period as short as one thousandth of a second
without affecting or changing any other channels. The selective
Read/Write of each channel on each scan provides a powerful
The buffer memory consists
of two 11,000 word Randon Access memories. Each RAM has 250
locations of 44 words. The "to disc" RAM receives
data from the output of the data multiplexer. At the start of
a time zone, say, T200, (note:
which is the "T200 time:" referenced in the cartoon
the 44 words of each console scan
are sequentially stored, in order, at each location. Each successive
console scan addresses the next location. Each time zone is
250 msec. At the end of the 250th console scan the "to
disc" RAM is full and all information is shifted to disc
in lump and stored in the time zone related block, in this case
T200. When T201 starts, the "to disc" RAM is empty
and again begins to fill up.
This sequence is repeated
for each 250 msec time zone. In this way data is entered into
RAM in real time but shifted to disc as one block. Meanwhile,
just before the start of T200, the block of data at disc location
T200 is shifted to the "from disc" RAM as a chunk.
When T200 starts, each location is sequentially emptied exactly
as it had been entered. The first location that had been filled
is also the first to empty. The 44 words of each scan are directed
to the "from disc" buffer input of the Data Multiplexer.
At any given instant both
RAMs are processing the same time zone. The "from disc"
is emptying into the Data Multiplexer input while the "to
disc" RAM is filling up from the Data Multiplexer output.
The Crystalab proprietary
Time Code System allows the synchronization of the master audio
tape, console, and disc memory systems.
The time code signal generated
in the encoder is recorded on the audio tape. As the tape is
replayed, each time code reading is interpreted by the time
code reader and is translated into a four digit number. The
four digit numbers are successively incremental such that 0000
is followed by 0001, 0002, and so on. There are four time zones
each second; 2400 time zones for a 10 minute period.
The time code signal itself
is a modulated 20kHz sine wave recorded at a level as much as
35 dB below reference. One of the problems of existing time
code systems is the interference between it and the audio information
on adjacent tracks. The unique feature of the Crystalab Time
Code System is that it does not require a separate track. It's
supersonic frequency and low recorded level make it inconspicuous
on the bass or bass drum track. The time code readings are insensitive
to dropouts, spurious pops or clicks, and tape speed variations.
Overall, the gap between
sophisticated electronics and user ease of operation has been
narrowed. No longer is "state-of-the-art" a synonym
for complicated and difficult to use because the digital control
of audio offers the creative engineer a chance to control the
equipment and not be controlled by it; it is the mixer's musical
instrument which is easily played with understanding and feeling.
Designed as an integral
element of a complete 24 track mixing studio, Crystalab's new
and unique circuits, fabricated with only military grade components
and gold contacts on all switches and connectors, underscore
the handcrafted quality. Machined aluminum framework and engraved
panels, as well as burl woodwork, add strength and beauty to
a system where high performance and super-reliability are the
first design specifications.
The purpose of Crystalab
is to enhance the artistry and technology of music recording
The tremendous design
effort invested in this project is representative of the creativity
that is the essence of the music business.
MAIN BLOCK DIAGRAM OF THE ENTIRE CONSOLE.
FOR A LARGER VIEW (opens into a new tab)
FAMOUS CRYSTALAB COMIC. CLICK HERE
FOR A LARGER VIEW (opens into a new tab)
CRYSTALAB LOGO #3 - ANDREW'S FAVORITE
I never really found out
who the incredible artist was who did the Crystalab artwork
and comics. If you're out there I'd love to know!
There are MANY more stories
associated with the building of the console(s) and the rooms
they were in and that's just for the 5+ years or so that
I was there.
Here's an example. Studio
B was built by Bugs Pemberton, who, as far as I know, was a
drummer doing a session, when he lent a hand putting up some
wood shelves. Andrew noticed that he had a special talent for
woodwork, (one of the understatements of the century) and asked
him to build the studio. So he did an incredible job - notice
in the picture (which also opens in a larger view to another
page) the brown velvet-looking flat sections framed by the quarter-rounds:
the velvet sections are wrapped fiberglas sections and the curved
parts are cut sonotube pieces, with veneer glued to them. Every
screw head has been flush plugged with a contrasting plug. The
burl veneer affixed to the machined aluminum top and back of
the console has many layers of a clear acrylic, all hand rubbed,
and of course ALL the markings line up perfectly. And the amazing
picture on the back wall, was placed there in honor of Stevie
Wonder. The scene is composed of thousands of inlaid
veneer pieces, all flush cut with an exacto knife it's
about 7 feet wide. The different parts of the inlaid flowers
are scented with essential oils, in honor of Stevie's album,
Secret Life of Plants.
Also notice the EMT-250,
one of Stevie Wonder's. When there were 2 units in the room,
we would patch them in a sort of quad feedback loop, adjusting
the digital attenuators 1/8 dB at a time, until myriad feedback
loops would be produced, in an infinity of 3- dimensional psychedelic
electronic music involvement! The bongos as a flower pot were
a special touch of the era.
The monitor speaker cabinet
was also a series of experiments; the sections are separate
and we did some tests of what you might call a "mechanical
time and phase alignment system" the tweeter could
be moved in and out of the cabinet a little bit while white
noise was playing, and the imaging would snap to focus. This
was one of the earlier tests of my white noise alignment system,
a more recent version of which is presented in my "White
The mixing board described
here was the first to use 5534 opamps (and 530's
as well) in an audio product. We received special foundry samples
color coded with dots and hand serial numbered of various test
engineering samples most likely from Signetics. They sometimes
came with a secret sheet of paper with matching colored dots
which had pencilled-in explanations of the various characteristics
of the sample IC's. Almost all the IC's were in ceramic DIP
packages with gold mil leads. Similarly, the fets used in the
attenuator were some special samples obtained by Carl Todd,
one of the other developmental engineers, and a true genius
in his own right. I can safely say that in many instances, it
was the summation of all our energy that got us through the
fine points of the intense R&D associated with this project.
For example, this was
the first audio board to have both analog and digital clocking
circuitry running around inside. We used to do extreme tests
to determine (and make sure) that the digital switching current
noise did not get into the analog portion. It was discovered
that when the segmented LED's used in the numerical display
of the dB attenuation would switch, they would introduce noise.
So we removed that section of circuit board, and Andrew and
I developed a current mirror circuit and a slightly differing
bypass scheme; once that was retrofit, you could literally open
the gain up full on ALL the channels including the submasters
and main faders and then hear absolutely no noise as
the displays toggled.
One day Andrew had an
idea to try a new bypassing scheme. We hopped in his car and
went off to one of the magic surplus stores. Some of these stores
knew us quite well, and we'd literally take a shopping cart
around the back isles filling up small brown paper bags with
all sorts of electronic part goodies. Try doing that today!
So we returned with a bag of 10 mF tantalums. In those days,
as well as today, sometimes the manufacturer marks the + side
and sometimes they mark the - side. Andrew spent half the night
laying on his back on the floor soldering in well over 100 caps.
I came in and then he said "Let's try it!" So he turned
on the power and one by one, just like a sci-fi effect in a
movie, every cap exploded they were all soldered in backwards
! That was a very welcome moment in what had been a technically
very tense couple of months!
According to my experiments
and exhaustive tests, one of the reasons the mic preamps were
so incredibly quiet, and the crosstalk so incredibly low, is
a methodology I developed which to my knowledge no one else
has bothered to do. The trick essentially is the mic preamps
are inverting. Positive pressure on the diaphragm of a mic gives
a + voltage on pin 2. The mic preamp has up to 70dB of gain.
It is inverting. Then ALL the subsequent circuits are noninverting.
That essentially means that any instantaneous current draw into
the mic preamp section from the rails is matched and opposite
as you go through the rest of the chain. Therefore the current
modulation noise on the rails is nullified. However at the "end"
you come out with the correct absolute polarity, since all the
internal circuitry is unbalanced. It's a unique trick. That's
one reason why the noise floor of the entire console was about
-90 dBv and the clipping level at +32: that's a 122 dB dynamic
range, with ALL the channels set at unity gain, far superior
to anything else. It's also worth mentioning that the 0 reference
level internally was -6 therefore between "0 VU" and
clipping the headroom was 38dB. I am reminded that during one
session in Studio B, Roy Thomas Baker was extremely annoyed
he couldn't get the equalizers to clip, even when he patched
two channels in series! So much for one of his favorite British
Nowadays the digital attenuator
could be built as a substrate, an ASIC, as a LSI, etc. In those
days it was on a rather large (11 inches!) PC board, all laid
out visually so it could initially be experimented upon. Fortunately
most of the breadboarding was "finished" and therefore
not too many REV's of the final PC board were necessary. Each
section of the resistive ladder described above has a fet around
each resistor. There is also an extremely clever part to the
circuit which Carl Todd suggested, then we all put our two cents
in... when the signal goes through each section of resistive
attenuation, that means the FET is off, so the audio is going
through the resistor part. When the fet "shorts" the
resistor, the audio is going through the fet, therefore there
"might" be some distortion. So Carl and Andrew developed
a secondary opamp section with an identical FET (in fact the
two FETs are on one substrate for thermal tracking) and the
second FET is in the feedback loop such that its distortion
cancels out any possible distortion caused by the first switching
fet. On paper this seems subtle. On the layout board it was
a lot of work, but with 12 of these sections in series, every
distortion-lowering effort was worthwhile. When we measured
circuitry like this, Andrew loathed THD measurements as much
as I did. THD measurements are essentially useless, since they
do not tell you whether the distortion is even order or odd
order harmonic distortion, and they sound completely different.
So we used the wonderful HP 3580 and later the 3582 spectrum
analyzers for the "cleanest" measurements possible
in those days; the only good thing we could do with the THD
measuring devices was to use them as a plain ol' AC voltmeter
OF THE INPUT/OUTPUT BACKPLANE OF THE STUDIO "A"
It should also be pointed
out that none of these circuits in the console were "cookbook"
circuits. Everything was in depth original development by Andrew,
Dean, Carl, myself, and some other people who came and went...
and there were plenty of instances where we were each surprised
at some clever fine point that someone else would think of.
There was going to be
a microphone level input section where mic tie lines would come
in to a multiway connector, then a matching receptacle, then
those wires (individual 2-conductor shielded pairs) would go
to a connector on each mic preamp... so I suggested that we
really didn't need that; why didn't we simply solder the mic
tie lines directly from the studio to the input of the preamp?
After 3 days of experiments we did just that - Andrew loved
it, and he also loved the ease of working with the multipair
Mogami wire. A pair of 24-pair cables were stripped back and
laced into position. That means that at the far end there was
about a foot of extra cable to dress trim, and at the near end
there was about 18 feet extra cable to eventually cut off and
I should point out that
every metal to metal point in the console was gold on gold.
Every connector had redundant Elco/Edac hermaphroditic pins.
Some of the power and ground connections had 2 redundant pins
each and some had as many as six.
Many of the PC boards
I did by hand, at 1:1 on my kitchen table. Some were even two,
three, and four layer boards. I set up a pair of 75 watt floods
and a pair of dimmers (real autoformers, i.e. Staco) above and
below a 1/4" thick piece of matte glass; by carefully varying
the ratio of the top and bottom bulbs I could see the tape lines.
As soon as I find the Monitor Section of the PC board I will
scan and post it. The backplane and larger PC board parts, were
done on a very early CAD system by Allen Witters. Allen had
one of the very first Computervision CADDS 4 systems on the
west coast (if not the first one) and we worked on this
design together. Notice in the scan of part of the actual backplane
PC board above, we sign our work!
The attenuator / fader
panel is shown at left. In an age when most equipment was silk-screened
graphics on flat painted or stamped aluminum plates, Andrew
wanted to simply be better. The entire board visible
panels and the undercarriage were all machined T6 Aluminum.
Andrew liked to say "My board is made of the same material
airplanes and rockets are made of!" The user panels were
laser engraved and the engravings filled in with epoxy catalyzed
paint. There is simply no way for the markings to come off!
Notice even the window bezel cutout for the the "dB
ATTENUATION" display LED has a smooth chamfer.
After I left Crystal I
did not really keep up with the goings-on of the studio, either
technically or politically. I know that the studio experienced
complicated hard times, and Andrew eventually moved to the Berkshires
in Massachusetts. He visited Los Angeles in 2000 and we spent
a good day together. Andrew passed away on August 30, 2002.
I regard the time I spent at Crystal to be the most rewarding
personally and technically of any major project I have ever
been involved in.
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October 23, 2019