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The "sound" of Caribou Ranch...
Old 24th January 2012 | Show parent
  #61
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg ➡️
You don't suppose your favorite Chicago and Elton John Caribou tracks had anything to do with the fact they were recorded by two of the hottest gigging bands on the planet, with top-flight musicians who'd been in those groups for years? The Elton John band in particular at that time was just a crack touring outfit that also happened to be great in the studio. I don't want to rain on your obsession, but do you really think Caribou was the only place "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me?" would have been an immortal track? Don't get me wrong, I love Rock Of The Westies too, but "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" is one of the best songs ever written. It's even an immortal song when George Michaels sings it. I also think Gus Dudgeon would have been up to an equally fabulous production anywhere it was recorded. So you can convince yourself it was all that particular Neve and the house Fairchild or whatever, but you may be tripping. . .
Well. I'm a sound engineer and a DJ, and I came acoross this thread, just why I asked myself where was recorded the "Open your eyes" LP of Earth Wind and Fire, just why I think it is, beetween the thousand LPs I own (almost of black music and jazz), the better sounding record I've ever listen. Ok, I never listen to Elton John or Supertramp records, but I can ensure you that that record has a kind of "magic" that the others don't have, may be 'cose the altitude... :D
Old 3rd October 2012 | Show parent
  #62
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GYMusic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yes, the 8016 is at Prime.

Vintage King Restores Caribou Ranch Neve 8016 mixing desk

Guercio is busy with RangeWorks, LLC.
Old 3rd October 2012
  #63
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🎧 15 years
Not to take away the fact that this is Gearslutz..... but I've always considered that the sound of stuff tracked at Caribou is not a function of the gear but rather, the small, dead room and all that carpet. That's really the key for what was going on there for tracking and the resulting sound. imo.

Go out and get an 18 x 18 WhisperRoom and throw in some shag carpet, and you'll be in the general neighborhood. Forget the gear and altitude.

So...any pics of these supposid Caribou girls? Other than the ones in the Chicago videos?
Old 3rd October 2012 | Show parent
  #64
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brill bedroom's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
There's a great little studio in Connecticut called Dirt Floor and the owner, a really groovy guy named Eric Lichter, is a major Caribou obsessive. If anybody ever wants to get really deep into a Caribou conversation, this is your guy:

Dirt Floor Recording Studio,Chester,CT. | Facebook
Old 6th October 2012 | Show parent
  #65
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analogtodd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Having just been in the Caribou tracking room a couple months ago, I can tell you its not small... Its not the largest room I've ever been in, but its a decent sized tracking room.

It DOES HOWEVER sound like all the records, the second you walk into it, no hangtime. That room is absolutely a huge part of "the sound"

Much more than Dolby A or any such magic box.


Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle ➡️
Not to take away the fact that this is Gearslutz..... but I've always considered that the sound of stuff tracked at Caribou is not a function of the gear but rather, the small, dead room and all that carpet. That's really the key for what was going on there for tracking and the resulting sound. imo.

Go out and get an 18 x 18 WhisperRoom and throw in some shag carpet, and you'll be in the general neighborhood. Forget the gear and altitude.

So...any pics of these supposid Caribou girls? Other than the ones in the Chicago videos?
Old 6th October 2012
  #66
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I always envisioned it to be 25x25 or maybe 30x30 in size.
Old 10th September 2014
  #67
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
How about recording at 8,000 feet? I am sure the air, climate, less oxygen for singers, had a lot to do with it all so.

The Neve that was lost in the fire was an 8078. The 8016 was on line for only 3 years from 1973 to 1976. That was it for that console, it only had a 16 channel monitor section.
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #68
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Sacalait's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
enjoyed reading this thread. I was living in Denver back in the early '70's and hearing all about Caribou Ranch. I never went up there but man what a legendary jernt that was!
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #69
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound ➡️
I grew up on those early Chicago records and they do have a sound to them. If you pay attention to Chicago II you can hear some sort of equipment change and/or massive tape machine bouncing. The sound of "The Ballet for the girl in Buchannan" (which contains Make me Smile and Colour my World) sounds drastically different from the rest of the record. I guess possible the move from 8 to 16 tracks? By the 3rd record you hear more things spread out more and seemingly more overdubs. Possibly the move to 24 tracks...?
You're not kidding, "ballet for a girl in buchanan" sounds awful, it's as of the tape machine was out of alignment. I'm surprised they released it, even by 1970 standards.
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #70
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chess999 ➡️
All I know is Chicago VI and VII have some of the coolest sounding recordings I have ever heard. Rich tape mojo, full of punch and life. If you don't know what I'm talking about then listen to the songs "Call on Me" and "Just you and Me". Hell just the opening hi-hat of the latter breathes like no digital recording or ITB mix I've ever heard before. Funny thing is, from the console history and dates posted above it seems those albums would have been recorded on the Olive console--not the illustrious Neve as these albums were released prior to 1975. Anyway, seriously listen to these 2 recordings in particular from the original wave format on your monitors or even your car stereo--truly amazing analog juiciness.
I know those albums well, i grew up on them. They sound good, but you're using faulty logic by crediting the sound of those records to the fact they were recorded on tape - ALL records made back then were recorded on tape, and many of them sounded bad. You're ignoring all the bad sounding records and crediting the good ones with the fact they were recorded on tape.

This makes no sense at all - think about it, if tape were the factor, then all records made on tape should sound wonderful. They don't. They don't because it isn't about tape.

Those records sound great because of a multiplicity of factors: great songs, bands that were by then, in their prime - Elton and Chicago were touring bands that had become quite polished and experienced, engineers that had settled on certain practices and had great experience recording the same artists multiple times. The sound of Caribou was also the generally accepted sound of pop records by the mid to late 70's, made everywhere. Personally, i prefer the rougher edge of Chicago's earlier albums, particularly V (recorded at Columbia in NYC) which sounds less technically good than VI or VII, but has loads more character - oh, and it too was recorded on tape.

"Rich tape mojo, full of punch and life" are colorful terms that don't mean much, unfortunately - there's nothing magical about those records, they were just very well done, well crafted pop records at the peak of a certain sound - which would all change b the late 70's when the punk and newer wave raw sounding bands came on the scene - all recorded on tape, as well, but sounding completely different.
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #71
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
I know those albums well, i grew up on them. They sound good, but you're using faulty logic by crediting the sound of those records to the fact they were recorded on tape - ALL records made back then were recorded on tape, and many of them sounded bad. You're ignoring all the bad sounding records and crediting the good ones with the fact they were recorded on tape.
Excellent points.

And in any case, people can wax nostalgic about things like tape, but it is not coming back in a broad way, any more than vinyl is. Oh, there will always be a few folks who claim inspiration by rolling back the time machine, and if that works for them, that's great. But it's a digital world, and countless gorgeous recordings have been engineered since the industry moved beyond tape.

Regardless, having grown up listening to a lot of the albums recorded there, it was fun to read about Caribou. (As a huge Elton fan, though, back in the day, I never cared for the sound of his album named for the studio.)
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #72
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
You're not kidding, "ballet for a girl in buchanan" sounds awful, it's as of the tape machine was out of alignment. I'm surprised they released it, even by 1970 standards.
It's weird, right? It's still freaking amazing, but just doesn't sound as good as the rest of the record. Though, I realized, after posting that, those first few records aren't from Caribou, but Columbia in NYC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
I know those albums well, i grew up on them. They sound good, but you're using faulty logic by crediting the sound of those records to the fact they were recorded on tape - ALL records made back then were recorded on tape, and many of them sounded bad. You're ignoring all the bad sounding records and crediting the good ones with the fact they were recorded on tape.

This makes no sense at all - think about it, if tape were the factor, then all records made on tape should sound wonderful. They don't. They don't because it isn't about tape.

Those records sound great because of a multiplicity of factors: great songs, bands that were by then, in their prime - Elton and Chicago were touring bands that had become quite polished and experienced, engineers that had settled on certain practices and had great experience recording the same artists multiple times. The sound of Caribou was also the generally accepted sound of pop records by the mid to late 70's, made everywhere. Personally, i prefer the rougher edge of Chicago's earlier albums, particularly V (recorded at Columbia in NYC) which sounds less technically good than VI or VII, but has loads more character - oh, and it too was recorded on tape.

"Rich tape mojo, full of punch and life" are colorful terms that don't mean much, unfortunately - there's nothing magical about those records, they were just very well done, well crafted pop records at the peak of a certain sound - which would all change b the late 70's when the punk and newer wave raw sounding bands came on the scene - all recorded on tape, as well, but sounding completely different.
When did Chicago go from working in NYC to Caribou?
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #73
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
You're not kidding, "ballet for a girl in buchanan" sounds awful, it's as of the tape machine was out of alignment. I'm surprised they released it, even by 1970 standards.
It's weird, right? It's still freaking amazing, but just doesn't sound as good as the rest of the record. Though, I realized, after posting that, those first few records aren't from Caribou, but Columbia in NYC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
I know those albums well, i grew up on them. They sound good, but you're using faulty logic by crediting the sound of those records to the fact they were recorded on tape - ALL records made back then were recorded on tape, and many of them sounded bad. You're ignoring all the bad sounding records and crediting the good ones with the fact they were recorded on tape.

This makes no sense at all - think about it, if tape were the factor, then all records made on tape should sound wonderful. They don't. They don't because it isn't about tape.

Those records sound great because of a multiplicity of factors: great songs, bands that were by then, in their prime - Elton and Chicago were touring bands that had become quite polished and experienced, engineers that had settled on certain practices and had great experience recording the same artists multiple times. The sound of Caribou was also the generally accepted sound of pop records by the mid to late 70's, made everywhere. Personally, i prefer the rougher edge of Chicago's earlier albums, particularly V (recorded at Columbia in NYC) which sounds less technically good than VI or VII, but has loads more character - oh, and it too was recorded on tape.

"Rich tape mojo, full of punch and life" are colorful terms that don't mean much, unfortunately - there's nothing magical about those records, they were just very well done, well crafted pop records at the peak of a certain sound - which would all change b the late 70's when the punk and newer wave raw sounding bands came on the scene - all recorded on tape, as well, but sounding completely different.
When did Chicago go from working in NYC to Caribou?
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #74
Lives for gear
 
Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by keybdwizrd ➡️

Regardless, having grown up listening to a lot of the albums recorded there, it was fun to read about Caribou. (As a huge Elton fan, though, back in the day, I never cared for the sound of his album named for the studio.)
I agree, I think the albums Elton did at Caribou never sounded as good as his european recordings - there's a harshness to them I never cared for - "Caribou" was the worst offender, but "Captain Fantastic's" not far behind.

Great tunes, though.
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #75
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound ➡️
It's weird, right? It's still freaking amazing, but just doesn't sound as good as the rest of the record. Though, I realized, after posting that, those first few records aren't from Caribou, but Columbia in NYC.


When did Chicago go from working in NYC to Caribou?
1973, I think, with Chicago VI ???
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #76
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
1973, I think, with Chicago VI ???
"old days" is that neve, "Just You 'n' Me" is definitely neve. when those horns come in it has Neve major thickness
the album with the chocolate bar is caribou too


Dio last in line was done on that Neve as was Rocky mountain way by Barnstorm
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #77
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Sharp11's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chainrule ➡️
"old days" is that neve, "Just You 'n' Me" is definitely neve. when those horns come in it has Neve major thickness
the album with the chocolate bar is caribou too


Dio last in line was done on that Neve as was Rocky mountain way by Barnstorm
"Old Days" is a pretty thin sounding recording, overall - imo, i hear no thickness, Neve or otherwise.
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #78
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carlheinz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The caribou sound is the skill and craftsmanship of the people involved in making the those records. The tape machine and console have very little to do with it.If the Foofighters somehow could time travel and record at caribou they would have ended up with the same"wasting light album"recorded to tape via console in a house in Reseda ca.
Old 10th September 2014 | Show parent
  #79
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Ephi82's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle ➡️
As I remember, this is a live mix against a basic track. Anyway, you get a feel for the room and a look around

YouTube - 25 or 6 to 4 - reloaded- Chicago - 1974
Thank you, that was a terrific flashback. That's what it looked like to be so cool back in those days. Wow, what musicians!
Old 11th September 2014
  #80
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
Caribou Ranch Studio Pictures

Check out my "Album" with pictures from Caribou Ranch Studio
Old 11th September 2014 | Show parent
  #81
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Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Pretty cool pictures. Did you work there? I've seen those control room pics, but not the live room. Thanks for sharing.
Old 11th September 2014
  #82
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
I got my Elton John "Caribou" album out today for a listen. One of the first things I noticed, I guess it was the first track, was that the toms sounded pretty deep to me. Some guys were saying the low-end was lacking in Caribou recordings, but it sounded pretty solid to me. Got to hear "Ticking" again, one of my favorite Elton songs ever.
Old 12th September 2014 | Show parent
  #83
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
"Old Days" is a pretty thin sounding recording, overall - imo, i hear no thickness, Neve or otherwise.

for a mid 70s recording it has some good bottom. Nothing back then had huge bottom by today's standards. It was mixed and mastered for vinyl.
Old 19th January 2017
  #84
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
The studio was built in a renovated gambrel roof style barn with two floors : ground floor which had a few rooms for gear storage and tech repair plus a small lounge etc. The 2nd floor is where the studio was. Along with stairs there was a small platform lift used to bring gear up and people up.
A loft was above the control room which held a pool table etc.
The 'live' or tracking room was actually very dead as Clarkster can attest. JG retained Tom Hidley to design this studio during a time when when dead rooms were what was wanted. Look at the amount of absorption baffles and treatments in some of Clark's pics and in the You Tube Chicago videos : "Chicago in the Rockies" and "Back at the Ranch". These were two ABC/Dick Clark prod. Chicago specials taped up there and broadcast on ABC tv.
Set in a beautiful high mountain valley you could throw a rock at the Continental divide. The ranch has a long history apart from the studio, its been around for over 120 yrs. At one time it was an Arabian horse operation, one of the first in the USA to breed and raise them. The Lazy V V ranch as it was called back then had rodeos up there with big cookouts that many locals and out of state visitors would attend.
A remake of Stagecoach was partially filmed on the ranch. It also had some cattle at one time. In the 1800s there were several mining operations just west up the mountain. Some of those old cabins still stand along with some ancient mining equip etc. truly the wild west. High peak summers are beautiful but winter can last for 8 months up there, it can snow at any time of year.

The studio 'complex' has several late 1800s early 1900s cabins and a lodge with dining 'mess hall' attached to the lodge via a huge deck. The barn is probably the newest building there being now over 80 yrs old.
Guercio had it and some of the cabins totally renovated and updated to 1970s standards when he bought the ranch. Barn renovation to studio took a solid year's time with a short delay in between (while Jim Guercio was filming Electra Glide in Blue) to fully complete the studio. This is when he called in one of the best studio designer/engineers ever : Tom Hidley. He concentrated mainly on the control room and made recommendations for the live room.

It was the monitor system that took Elton & co. gettin used to in 1974 and they had to bring in a different set at one point prior to recording there.
The unique thing about Caribou was the fireplace on every floor, including the control room. One could say that the stone mantle would be a bitch to figure out per room acoustics and reflections but Hidley made it work even though he kept a tight lip about what he really wanted to do with it ! Ck out Clarksters pics Note the recessed monitors in the front wall . A Classic Hidley design there.

I wont go into the consoles since much has already been said about them. But here is a great link about the Olive, Caribou's first console.
The Olive Console and Caribou Ranch

I will agree though that a great engineer and assistant can work good gear to make great tracks and mixes. Caribou definitely had some good people working there. They basically lived there, knew the gear and room inside out. Also Caribou's outboard gear was not shabby by any means.
In the end it remains a legendary place not only for the studio but for what Guercio foresaw in 1971 as a one stop studio where you could live for a few weeks compose /track/ mix/ remix and usually finish your Lp. To release the tensions of studio sessions and also provide inspiration he provided the necessary toys: snowmobiles, skis, horses, dirt bikes, Fishing poles, no holds barred unlimited meals at any time, pampering by staff. A few artists hated being 'cooped up there' but the majority loved it, who wouldnt ?!

As far as the tape vs digital argument well now that tape has come back to find its niche the two formats happily live side by side in many studios today. I wouldn't want it any other way!
Old 19th January 2017
  #85
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Silvertone's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I have all the Langevin and Electrodyne tube preamps from Caribou Ranch. 12 in all. One of the racks say D.B. cooper on them which was Jackson Browns alias name when he was on the road. They can be heard on the drums here...

The sound of 201A tube pre's

I have Polaroid photos of Eddy Offords old Olive console. A friend of mine brokered it in the states.
Old 22nd November 2017
  #86
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Great thread. I wondered why Elton John named his Album Caribou..all clear now.
Old 23rd November 2017
  #87
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razorboy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Elton John did most of the Big Stuff at the Chateau:

""Many other artists recorded there, many of whom were British, beginning with Elton John, who recorded his albums Honky Château (the title inspired by the house), Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (both in 1972) and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) there.""

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%...%C3%A9rouville
Old 17th November 2019
  #88
Gear Nut
 
chess999's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Fascinating thread. I had to revisit after all these years. Thanks to everyone for the education. I've learned so much since my original post. I agree, the sound of albums tracked at Caribou was much more about the people and craftsmanship than any particular piece of gear or technology. I suppose that holds true with anything past or present. Still though, my favorite period of sonic signature and always will be.
Old 17th November 2019 | Show parent
  #89
Gear Nut
 
chess999's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11 ➡️
I know those albums well, i grew up on them. They sound good, but you're using faulty logic by crediting the sound of those records to the fact they were recorded on tape - ALL records made back then were recorded on tape, and many of them sounded bad. You're ignoring all the bad sounding records and crediting the good ones with the fact they were recorded on tape.

This makes no sense at all - think about it, if tape were the factor, then all records made on tape should sound wonderful. They don't. They don't because it isn't about tape.

Those records sound great because of a multiplicity of factors: great songs, bands that were by then, in their prime - Elton and Chicago were touring bands that had become quite polished and experienced, engineers that had settled on certain practices and had great experience recording the same artists multiple times. The sound of Caribou was also the generally accepted sound of pop records by the mid to late 70's, made everywhere. Personally, i prefer the rougher edge of Chicago's earlier albums, particularly V (recorded at Columbia in NYC) which sounds less technically good than VI or VII, but has loads more character - oh, and it too was recorded on tape.

"Rich tape mojo, full of punch and life" are colorful terms that don't mean much, unfortunately - there's nothing magical about those records, they were just very well done, well crafted pop records at the peak of a certain sound - which would all change b the late 70's when the punk and newer wave raw sounding bands came on the scene - all recorded on tape, as well, but sounding completely different.
AGREE completely. Thanks for the insight, I'm embarrassed it took me so long to understand this. Also sorry to everyone for the bump
Old 17th November 2019 | Show parent
  #90
Lives for gear
 
axisdreamer's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Zappa's" One size fits all "
album sounds good to me...I didn't know it was recorded there.. Always liked the sound of that record..
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