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Sound of JA recording studios (form Blood&Fire discu

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Joined: 12 Aug 2001
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 1:33 pm    Post subject: Sound of JA recording studios (form Blood&Fire discu Reply with quote

saw an interesting thread on the blood and fire discussion board.... copied some of the info below:

i find that most of the distinctive studio sounds (excepting studio one / black ark) derive from their use of reverb, like you can usually tell harry j`s, channel one and joe gibbs by the sound of their reverb, particularly on instruments like drums and guitar / piano chops... channel one also seems to have a particular piano sound, and gibbs a particular drum sound...randy`s can be relatively distinctive, given some close listening....
i think also with most of those studio`s it was due to the particular engineer and how they mixed the sound of each tune...can`t say i could determine federal or dynamics.

(russ d)

Like Russ D says there's certain 'signature' elements you can hear to identify many of the old time JA studios eg the J Gibbs 'verb, Channel One piano & drum sounds, Tubby's studio etc.

In the past (40's/50's/60's) studios generally had more of a unique (to the studio) sound due to the recording space, equipment (especially when studios had to get their stuff customs made) etc ...then through the 70's that all started to change with various design & build practices put into place in new studios and also with everyone being able to buy the same kind of equipment.

Nowadays studios are very homoginised - you could walk into a top studio in JA or NYC or Tokyo and see all the same equipment, layout, build, acoustics and in fact not even know where you where geographically until you went outside..

I'd say that the main JA studios generally had their own unique sound up until the 80's when the same changes affecting everywhere else came into play.

Aside from obvious things like engineers & musicians 2 big factors in a studio sound are the acoustics of the recording space, the mixing desk preamps and how that 'colours' the sound.

A quick summary:

Randy's : 'old school' sound with a large room, lots of 'space' to sounds but dry, not washy. Sounds like lots of leakage from each instrument and minimal mics on the drums - maybe 2 or 3 mics. Some photos show a Helios desk - famous UK desk for killer sound. Some early photos show some kind of custom or homebrew radio broadcast console. Big and Round

Harry J: Good sound but not that big open 'room' sound like Randy's, stuff like 'Natty Dread', 'Blackheart Man' (?), some Spear..Supposedly a Helios console.

Channel One: Killer drum sounds, sounds like lots of close mic drums, but yet some mic spillage so there's space in the sound. API console very famous for 'punchy' killer sounds. Ampex MM series tape machine famous for 'phat' sound. IN your face midrange

King Tubby: only voicing & mixing here, somehow the material from other studios come out of KT just sounding more up front and heavier, but more 'compressed' with less dynamic range. Probably because of successive tape generations & tape 'compression'...probably KT added EQ to spice up the whole mix etc..Custom 60's MCI console - precursor to the MCI 416 (famous for fat 'muscle shoals' early R&B sound.). Easy studio to identify due to the 'sound' and reverb. Big bass, ultra highs

Studio One: Classic style with big room , minimal mics, maybe 1 or 2 mics on drums, lots of instrument spillage. Photo I've seen of classic old US desk famous for killer sound - forerunner to Quad Eight, I forget the name at the mo'

Dynamics: big recording space, sound of
Stones Goat Head Soup, Grounation etc

Lee Perry: nuff said, recording space probably modelled on Randy's

Joe Gibbs: close miced drum sound, lots of seperation. The clincher is the JG reverb sound.

Tuff Gong (Mach I / Hope Rd.): 'Professional' sounding but quite thin, everything seperated, the dry hyper-controlled 70's studio sound that was the rage at the time...MCI 500 series (?) desk. Think albums like Survival, Uprising,

(chocolate soldier)
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Dub Attack Force

Joined: 24 Nov 2007
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent observations. Interesting thing about drums recorded at Randy's too... unique 70s tappy shuffly in-a-box sort of sound.. never guessed it could be because they used a minimum number of microphones..
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Joined: 25 Jan 2002
Posts: 259
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crucial !

Need to make a resume on the ODF wiki !

Many thanks,

KoCha, reggae-dub producer

Almighty Dub Records - Independent Reggae Dub Production
Open Dub Foundation - The WorldWide Dub Meeting
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