For The Digital Musicians/Mixers

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by David Harrison, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Just wanted anyone who uses DAW software (Garageband, Ableton etc.) to know that the audio plugin company Soundtoys is doing something great for charity this year:

    Each week they will be offering a different one of the "little" versions of their plugins for any amount of money you want to pay. All of the money you pay will go to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station charity. The "little" plugins are usually $79. Anyone who knows about digital audio knows that Soundtoys are considered as being at the top of the industry in terms of quality.

    This week is their mini version of the Eventide H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer hardware unit, that thickened up many famous vocal parts through the late 80's and the 90's. I paid the price of a lifejacket for mine, and it does sound really good.

    I have nothing to do with the company, but I thought it was such a cool idea that I wanted to spread the word. It's got me thinking about similar ways in which I could sell 3D content online for charity, and hopefully it might inspire others. It just shows that you can always find ways to make a difference.
  2. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Ah - cool, very good. I'd heard of Soundtoys - they came out with something called Radiation - or something to that effect a couple of years back. It was said to digitally duplicate the Altec Tube Mixer sound.

    I was strongly interested in it at the time as it was definitely an economical and convenient way of getting that pro sound without the ungodly amount of rack mount equipment. I'd enough old Frankensteinian boat anchors and it was beginning to take its toll.

    Ha - the last piece of vintage era, analog sound equipment (aside from valve amps) that I'd tinkered with. Took forever to find the tech manual for it. Still have it (the manual that is).

    Warn't just vocal parts. Jimmy Page used one in the late seventies, in the studio as well as on Tour - the opening guitar riff for "Nobody's Fault" is a good example.

    I'll definitely have to look at this!
  3. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Ah, yes, Radiator. You're in luck then, because they have the Little Radiator, which is a digital modelling of the Altec 1566A preamp. That should be in the same deal in the weeks to come.

    One note: Soundtoys plugins require you to install the free iLok licensing software, but you do not need the iLok USB dongle. It's a painless procedure, as far as I'm concerned, but DRM does put some people off.

    That must have been an earlier Eventide unit. And yes, it works great on tons of stuff, but the H3000 was most famous for vocals. It's a similar deal to the unison setting on synths; double a signal, detune them and add a touch of modulation.

    PS. Tell me about some of your old boat anchors! Were they just for guitar, or did you do some recording?
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  4. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    You were right. Warn't the H3000 - which I'd be unfamiliar with. I'd forgotten after so many years - but I kept the manual as it was harder to get (at the time) than the actual unit! I don't think the units are easier to come by any longer.


    Lol, some geezer wrote on the top of the first two manual pages "$25 if you loose it" It must of been an in-house copy. Wanna bet a small firm going over it tooth and comb, trying to nick any idea they can? Vultures. Luckily, one of the main principals at Eventide was a NY Patent Atty, so I hope the vultures got busted.

    You see, these things contained, if I'm not mistaken, some of the earliest, working, commercial examples of RAM. It was also one of the first digital units - though, from what I remember, it was mostly analogue.

    This will be so freaking elementary to you but it lets you see the genius of what they were doing.

    The CPU was there ( yeah, all 16 BITS of it! ) to generate the analogue signals, the RAM IC's were for storing the digital data - remember! This was before the advent of commercial signal converters, so they had to come up with their own, proprietary way of ...

    Anyroads ... Sorry, David. I'm droning on and on about this stuff - like you wanna hear essentially a musical version of Thomas Edison inventing the light-bulb all over again.

    I also just remembered that I didn't have a 949. I had a "Hot water 9" an H910 ! LoL...that was even OLDER than the 949.

    Yeah, that's why I have the manual and not the unit. Normally, after refurbishing something, I'd send the manual as well as the unit. And that's why I remember I didnt do anything with it before I let it go as I didn't have the proper specs on some items. Somehow ended up with the wrong manual.

    BTW, it wasn't Eventide. It was Eventide Clock Works. I'm sure, of course, it the same company, But their Clock Work logo is on the early delay units, at least.
  5. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Wow, Bell, you had the the first model! The first ever commercially available pitch shifter! Apparently there were only 1000 ever made!

    Don't apologise for geeking out, I love this stuff. I think it was all digital, apart from the AD/DA converters, wasn't it? I guess there might have been a few analogue circuits in there too...

    I know that later units were used as an early form of autotune, although not auto... manual... you'd have to twist the **** on the offending fluffed note as you mixed down to tape.

    I love this from the wiki page:

    "The first H910 customer was New York City's Channel 5, utilizing it to downward pitch shift I Love Lucy reruns that were sped up to create room to run more commercials. Speeding up the reruns had increased the pitch of the audio, and the H910 was able to shift that pitch back to where it originally had been."


    Here's a DSP guy (he makes excellent digital reverb plugins, by the way, and sells them for a fraction of the price of comparable competitors) talking about it, and there's a couple of famous examples in songs too:

    And another potted history:

    "The H910 was the first commercially available digital pitchshifter and, like all vintage gear, is possessed of a sound all its own. Later models provided a 'de-glitch' circuit to sweep away digital artifacts, but - wouldn't you know it? - those very artifacts are now seen as an essential, desirable part of the H910's character."

    Right, gimme your next boat anchor! :D
  6. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Alright...mind you at the outset, this is going to involve probably multiple topic components as I'm working off memory - at least a 10 year gap or better between the time I had the unit and now -, a few notes I wrote when I'd discussed issues with techs and people I managed to contact who knew about the unit and its operations, and any photo's I may have taken. I always took photos of units for sales advert purposes and sometimes took photos of work's-in-progess so that I could keep up with changes as often as not, I didn't have proper service manuals (info on this kind of stuff wasn't as widely available on the net as now), and often I'd have to "retrace my steps" when things didn't work out.

    The Eventide unit that I had was 1) The last of the vintage effects/processors/devices that I would obtain 2) My first unit that wasn't completely analogue - all of the vintage equipment I obtained were damaged in some way, some greater, some less or were in some sort of non-working/intermittently working state - usually not a dealbreaker when it comes to completely analogue equipment 3)One that I'd spent the least time with (more on that as I go) 3) One that I lacked any reliable documentation on - the manual for the 949 (I was originally looking for a 949) was not applicable nor very helpful with the 910 when it came to specifics that I needed. The 949 was a radically different machine ( your comment regarding your belief that the 910 was primarily a digital unit actually fits the description of the 949 - I'll explain why as I go along )

    If you get bored with any of this ( your education/knowledge of digital electronics is without question going to be many, many levels higher than anything I'd managed to pick up - so please keep that in mind also ) just say so, I won't take offense :p

    Your sharing time with wifey and bairns so if posts come to an abrupt halt, I'll pick up where I left off, when I can.

    Really good and interesting links you posted! There were things that I'd forgotten or didn't know and nice poses of mint units.

    But here's a few things that aren't talked about - the 910, despite what it may seem from the front-end, is not a "user-friendly" unit from a musician's POV; from an engineer's perspective, yes, but not something one simply plugs a cable into an input jack and bob's your uncle - no.

    The 910 was designed to be an inline processor - inline in the old-school meaning - that is EVERYTHING has to be hard-wired - the input and the output and everything in between. - No - not just simply cutting and splicing cables to the terminals - more on that.

    There were a lot of "optionals" with this, as I found out. One was a keyboard unit that Eventide made (seems there could have been two of these, one being a polyphonic, the other a mono)

    The keyboard's purpose was for remote programming! I didn't have the keyboard and when I first got the unit, didn't know about its existence.

    All the pictures of these things you see are with the digital - readout (this digital readout needs a story of its own, first of its kind, etc) - the digital readouts were actually an option that had to be specified upon ordering the unit - you see, you didn't just buy one off the shelf, you called Eventide Clockworks and your people were to tell their people what this thing needed to have - kinda like ordering a Lamborghini - there isn't a place where one walks into the showroom and drives off with it.

    Units without the digital readout had a coverplate where the readout would be.

    I know there were more "options" but I just can't recall what they were.

    You mentioned something about 1000 units - I've no idea how many. I do know that they were typically used in pairs, and when you combine that with the customisable options ... maybe they meant 1000 "complete" units with all the options - so maybe there were "drive off the dealer lot" units, afterall.

    Don't know. I could be wrong. Anyroad, I picked up the 910 for under $400 US, that I remember. It was the 949, interestingly enough, that could cost big money.

    Now, when I got the thing, I didnt know anything about any of this. I was also unaware of the signal requirements!! The type, condition, spectral purity and a few others.

    That's where I'll pick up next, if you care - really, I don't know anyone that would be interested in any of this stuff - you're undoubtedly long asleep by now :p
  7. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    No way. I'll never get bored of this stuff! I'm a frustrated mix engineer at heart :)

    Don't neglect the bairns because of it though!

    The Eventide's were interesting; like a digital version of tape ADT.

    Did you mainly pair and sell this stuff, or did you use it in your guitar rig, or for recording?
  8. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Yeah, I had been frustrated with solid state devices since I was a kid - they all sounded the same regardless - I happened upon a VOX AC30 at an old ladies yard sale (car boot sale) for $15 US but it was in very bad condition - needed a new speaker, the cabinet was coming apart, the grill was torn, needed new valves. So I learnt to repair amplifiers, stomp boxes and later went on to the old tape delay effects. Then it became restoration - which was another level altogether.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  9. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Never did recording - well, except to learn how certain components worked - I had an old reel-to-reel 4 track that I used to try and layer guitar parts - found out how delicate those things were. Replacing the capacitors and pots was one thing but repairing tape guides, replacing cork brake pads, realignment and re-calibration of just about everything - too much!

    But I learn't enough from it to be able to work on the old tape effects units.
  10. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Cool, I picked up an old 4 track reel-to-reel cheap a few years ago. Not used it much though because the motor is a bit dodgy - it can vary over 5bpm (I presume that's not normal).

    I've also got a really nice old Selmer "Treble n' Bass" head which has needed fixing for years now. I even got a new cabinet (one of those 2X10 Hartke aluminium cone jobbies) that I've never used to go with it. Really should get that done...
  11. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    :confused: Speeds are measured in inches/sec - maybe you to mean 5 fpm, then?

    inch per this consistently in one direction? I.e. is the playback always faster than record, slower or could go either way? Is it additive, that is if you record for 3 minutes the playback is 3 seconds faster/slower or does it remain relatively constant regardless of the record length?

    How old is your recorder? Its not unusual to find that (and many other things needing servicing, as well) One can find a good number of cosmetically pristine-conditioned recorders for not too much. The R2Rs that are in mint performance condition as far as function goes are quite rare and costly, if you find one.

    Not too many know how to work on them anymore.

    But have to say, as far as audio fidelity goes, having a reel-to-reel that functions correctly is second to none.

    Do you happen to have a service manual for it?

    EDIT: You need to have the specs to set correct takeup/supply tension and a number of things that could, and probably would be, out of kilter on an old machine
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  12. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Nope, I mean bpm, as in beats per minute. A completely arbitrary and subjective measurement, I know :p

    I mean, if I output a recording into my computer and look at it on a perfect grid, it plays slow by about 5%, and waivers in speed by about another +/- 5-8%.

    I don't actually have it with me in the place I'm at now. I've got the instruction manual, which is pretty good considering I bought it in Hereford Butter Market for £30 :)

    It's a Sony... I think a TC-377. It's got 3 heads, so you can do slap echo on it :)

    Attached Files:

  13. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Spoken like a true musician! I should've known. I thought meself clever for seeing your "typo" and went and had a party with an empty wine-bottle, I did. :rolleyes:

    If you are putting tracks from a Digital Audio Workstation onto the Sony recorder and then back, you are going to find a speed difference. I'd wager if you'd bought this thing perfectly brand new, you'd still see this.

    That is the problem with trying to synch up digital to analogue and back. Your tape deck is a higher-end retail consumer device but it won't have the capstan motor that can be linked to an external speed control source. Only the commercial big-league recorders of the era (I believe yours 1970's) would have had that.

    There are a number of things you can do to make it better (starting with proper tension of the takeup and supply reels, changing the drive belt, possibly changing a trim potentiometre, etc) but there is going to be some drift. The R2R is probably internally synced to the 60 Hz (50 Hz in the UK) AC mains hum or something. It has an internal reference.

    Hope some of this, at least, makes sense.


    Edit: Just realised that you said 5 beats per minute drift. That is not bad a'tall, given the age of your recorder. You did well getting it, if that's all the drift you're having on it. The question is: How does it sound?
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  14. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    I'd like to say that I haven't got the foggiest idea what any of you are talking about, but it's fascinating to see someone nerd-out about their specialist subject. Kinda makes me want to synch my potentiometer drive belt with an analogue DAW.
  15. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    I did't say "DAW", I said Digital Audio Workstation - You lie!!! You do know what we're talking about!!! :p

    Besides, I can't be a geek.

    I'm big and strong :D
  16. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    You must be a secret audio nerd, or you couldn't have made that oxymoronic nerd joke! :D
  17. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    He could be the Anti-Nerd; sent to lend us ashtray :jester:

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