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The "sound" of Caribou Ranch...
Old 31st January 2009
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
The "sound" of Caribou Ranch...

I have become so obsessed with the records that were made at the legendary but now defunct Caribou Ranch, that I wanted to add a post about it to contribute to my side of the argument of TAPE VERSUS DIGITAL recording and how it relates to my views as a engineer, producer, and mastering engineer.

The records made at Caribou to me are the sound of tape and are the golden era of 70's and 80's recording. I just can't get enough of the etherial quality of the records that were made there. Do a search for the albums that were recorded at that studio. Amazing. Then listen to the sound... they all have this great analog magical beautiful quality about them.

Songs like Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me..." or Chicago's "Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry." It's unreal... and IT IS THE SOUND OF TAPE. For me, records like this support the argument for tape. Just listen to the sound of the voices blending. To me personally, it screams vibe and art. Also, the Neve 8028 they used was a huge part of the sound they had up there... if you look at the video closely, you can see it. Once again legendary.

I think people are curious about the "Tape" sound and the "Neve" sound. The music recorded at Caribou is that sound. That's just my two cents as an engineer, producer, and most of all music fan. So for all the new engineers out there that need a bit more of a history lesson, get real and pick up some of the BIG records. Then you will see the light. Brilliant!

Best,

J.A.M
Metroplex Mastering
Dallas, TX
Metroplex Mastering

YouTube - Chicago - Feeling Stronger Every Day
Old 31st January 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by metroplex ➑️
I have become so obsessed with the records that were made at the legendary but now defunct Caribou Ranch, that I wanted to add a post about it to contribute to my side of the argument of TAPE VERSUS DIGITAL recording and how it relates to my views as a engineer, producer, and mastering engineer.

The records made at Caribou to me are the sound of tape and are the golden era of 70's and 80's recording. I just can't get enough of the etherial quality of the records that were made there. Do a search for the albums that were recorded at that studio. Amazing. Then listen to the sound... they all have this great analog magical beautiful quality about them.

Songs like Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me..." or Chicago's "Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry." It's unreal... and IT IS THE SOUND OF TAPE. For me, records like this support the argument for tape. Just listen to the sound of the voices blending. To me personally, it screams vibe and art. Also, the Neve 8028 they used was a huge part of the sound they had up there... if you look at the video closely, you can see it. Once again legendary.

I think people are curious about the "Tape" sound and the "Neve" sound. The music recorded at Caribou is that sound. That's just my two cents as an engineer, producer, and most of all music fan. So for all the new engineers out there that need a bit more of a history lesson, get real and pick up some of the BIG records. Then you will see the light. Brilliant!

Best,

J.A.M
Metroplex Mastering
Dallas, TX
Metroplex Mastering

YouTube - Chicago - Feeling Stronger Every Day
I do agree with you....even though I use a DAW..back when I was a kid my dad finally let me use his 12 track tascam 1/2"..and I still have some of those tunes on a little dat tape and it sounds so different than the daw sound!!!!
Old 31st January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Many people used to book Caribou Ranch's studio because they could sing easier in the 10K foot altitude!
You do get light headed if you are not used to though!
Not as many oxygen molecules per volume of air is good and bad.
It definitely makes hitting the high notes easier, but there is a trade off in the low end on stuff like drums.
At 10K feet the sound of a kick drum is pretty wimpy!

Even a p.a. rig sounds wimpier at 5K feet in places like Denver compared to at 34 ft in places on the coast.
I have experienced it many times!
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️
It definitely makes hitting the high notes easier, but there is a trade off in the low end on stuff like drums.
At 10K feet the sound of a kick drum is pretty wimpy!
Quite true. Of course, back in the '70s, nobody worried too much about papery-sounding drums. Standards have definitely changed.
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gearaddict ➑️
..back when I was a kid my dad finally let me use his 12 track tascam 1/2"
Now there's a machine that I have no memory of. Please elaborate.
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
carlheinz's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Was" don't let the sun go down on me" mixed there?What did they use for those huge reverbs?EMT's?Or...did they mix it back at Trident studios..??I guess I'll check wiki...
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
DeepSpace's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by carlheinz ➑️
Was" don't let the sun go down on me" mixed there?What did they use for those huge reverbs?EMT's?Or...did they mix it back at Trident studios..??I guess I'll check wiki...
According to the original (vinyl) album liner notes:

Recorded at Caribou Ranch, Colorado
Engineer - Clive Franks

Remixed at Trident Studios London.
Engineer - Dave Hentschel
Assistant Engineer - Peter Kelsey

Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
NYMo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by gearaddict
..back when I was a kid my dad finally let me use his 12 track tascam 1/2"
Now there's a machine that I have no memory of. Please elaborate.
Hi there,

In 12 track either Akai MG 1212 or 14 d(rack version) or Akai Adam !

Maybe he meant 8 track...Tascam 38,48,58,80-8.

Cheers
N
Y
M
O
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Vintage King sold their 8028 a month or so ago..


Looked amazing..
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton ➑️
Now there's a machine that I have no memory of. Please elaborate.
It may have been a 8 track....It has been 20 years...I do remember you had to run it through 2 dbx NR boxes....I was just learning back then so I cant remember the exact model...but I do remember those pain in the ass dbx boxes...After that he bought a fostex 16 track reel to reel at a place called "Midi to Go"...Wow the memories.....If you know the modle tascam Im talking about..please let me know...I would like to see a pic. of it....
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
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...?
Old 1st February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Colonel Blues's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by gearaddict ➑️
I would like to see a pic. of it....


Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Player1's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Player1

Don't you guys know there's less air up here at 9000 to 10,000 feet. That makes for less oxygen and more sound to penetrate the oxide on the tape. That's why you get more tape sound at Caribou! Sorry I couldn't resist!
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
Todd Loomis's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
After the demise of Caribou, apparently, one of the consoles there was moved down to the University of Colorado at Denver. I was fortunate enough to record through the console a few times while I was a student... (I majored in music engineering there). A few months ago, I saw the same console on Vintageking - apparently, it has since been sold. I still have a couple recordings I did through that console... they were not "mixed" on it - just recorded through it to DA-88 tapes. We mixed on a different console... I think maybe it was a Euphonix, but I can't remember (it's been so long). Here's the link to the photo of the console we had at the University that was recently for sale via vintage king:

Neve 8016 Console | VintageKing.com
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Could you post some sound clips? How did the board sound compared to what you thought it would sound like?
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Blues ➑️


WOW...Thats it.....thanks for the pic...It has been a long time since I have seen that...I kinda miss it!!!
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Wasnt the main console there a fantastic Trident A-Range??????
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry McInturff ➑️
Wasnt the main console there a fantastic Trident A-Range??????
Neve 8016 Console | VintageKing.com
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
analogtodd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Nope, no Trident stuff at Caribou...
Bunch of shag carpet though!
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
This article says that "Rocky Mountain Way" and the Chicago VI album were recorded on the Olive:

http://www.pmerecords.com/Olive.cfm

I'd guess it's safe to assume that "Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry" was not a Caribou recording since the band had already been through their painful split with Guercio by then.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
analogtodd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Heres an incomplete list of artists/producers that recorded at Caribou

America "Hideaway" George Martin
Aviary "Aviary" Gary Lyons
Beach Boys "L.A. Light" James William Guercio/Bruce Johnston
Jeff Beck "Wired" George Martin
David Cassidy "Home is Where The Heart Is" David Cassidy/Bruce Johnston
Chick Corea "Music Magic" Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke
Rick Derringer "All American Boy" Bill Szymczyk/Rick Derringer
Earth, Wind & Fire "Thats The Way of the World" Maurice White
"Open Our Eyes"
Fonda Feingold "Fonda Feingold" Hank Medress/Dave Appell
Dan Fogelberg "Souvenirs" Dan Fogelberg
"Captured Angel" Dan Fogelberg
"Netherlands" Dan Fogelberg/Norbert Putnam
Waylon Jennings "Ive Alway Been Crazy" Righie Albright/Waylon Jennings
Billy Joel "Turnstiles" Billy Joel
Elton John "Philadelphia Freedom" Gus Dudgeon
"Caribou" Gus Dudgeon
"Rock of the Westies" Gus Dedgeon
Elton John "Pinball Wizard" Gus Dudgeon

Jerry Goodman/Jan Hammer "Like Children" Jerry Goodman/Jan Hammer

LA Express "Shadow Play" LA Express
Robert Lamm "Skinny Boy" Robert Lamm
Madura "Madura II" James William Guercio
Lake "Lake II" Detlef Petersen
"Lake III" Detlef Petersen
Jac Murphy "A Childs Gift" Jac Murphy/Michael Leary
Michael Murphey "Blue Sky, Night Thunder" Bob Johnston
"Swans Against the Sun" Bob Johnston
"Flowing Free Forever" Michael Murphey
"Lone Wolf" John Boylan
Navarro "Listen" Norman Kinney
Ozark Mountain Daredevils "Men From Earth" David Anderle
"Don't Look Down" David Kerschenbaum
David Sancious "Transformation" Bruce Botnick/David Sancious
Sons Of Champlin "Loving is Why" Chris Bond
Souther, Hillman, Furay "Souther, Hillman, Furay Band" Richie Podolor

Starwood "Starwood" Bruce Botnick/Terry Powell
Rod Stewart "Night on the Town" Tom Dowd
Stephen Stills "Stills" Stephen Stills
"Stills Live" Stephen Stills
"Down the Road" Stephen Stills
"Illegal Stills" Stephen Stills
Superstramp "Even in the Quietest Moments" Supertramp
James Vincent "Space Traveler" Bruce Botnick
"Waitin' for the" James Vincent
War "Deliver the Work" Jerry Goldstein
Tony Williams "Million Dollar Legs" Bruce Botnick
Frank Zappa "One Size Fits All" Frank Zappa
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band "Stars & Stripes Forever" William E. McEuen
The Dirt Band "An American Dream" Jeffrey Hanna/Bob Edwards
Joe Walsh "Barnstorm" Bill Szymczyk
"The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get" Joe Walsh/Bill Szymczyk
Tony Orlando "I've Got Rhythm" Hank Medress/Dave Appell
Sam the Band "Play It Again" Hank Medress/Dave Appell
Chicago "Chicago VI" James William Guercio
"Chicago VII" James William Guercio
"Chicago VIII" James WIlliam Guercio
"Chicago Greatest Hits" James William Guercio
"Chicago X" James William Guercio
"Chicago XI" James William Guercio
Matthew Moore "The Sport of Guessing" Robert Appere
Bruce Roberts "Cool Fool" David Malloy
Sumner "Sumner" Jack Nitschze
Lake "Ouch" James William Guercio
Eddie Rabbitt "Horizon" David Malloy
Sailor "Dressing for Drowning" James William Guercio
Kris Kristofferson "To The Bone" Norbert PUtnam
Ali Thomson "Deception is an Art" Ali Thompson
Carl Wilson "Carl Wilson" James William Guercio
Eddie Ragbitt "Step By Step" David Malloy
Sheena Easton " Chris Neil
Jerry Lee Lewis "" Eddie Kilroy
Dan Fogelberg "Innocent Age" Dan Fogelberg
Amy Grant "" Brown Bannister

The Boys Band "" Peter Granet
Michael Brewer "" Dan Fogelberg
Shooting Star "" Kevin Elson
Carl Wilson "" Jeffrey Baxter
Chuck Rainey "" Dave Ackerman
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
analogtodd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by OKden ➑️
This article says that "Rocky Mountain Way" and the Chicago VI album were recorded on the Olive:

PME Records - The Olive 2000 Console

I'd guess it's safe to assume that "Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry" was not a Caribou recording since the band had already been through their painful split with Guercio by then.
Bill Szymczyk had stated that he put an MCI up at Caribou for the recording of Rocky Mountain Way, until someone actually says different, I'd go with that.

Also, the first Neve got installed in 73 I believe so not much (if anything) was recorded on the Olive.
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry McInturff ➑️
Wasnt the main console there a fantastic Trident A-Range??????
It's my understanding that most of Chicago 17 was done on a Trident TSM (#38, I think) that was until recently located in Charlotte. I don't think that was done at Caribou, though.

Someone on here had some Olive EQs for sale last week.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️
Many people used to book Caribou Ranch's studio because they could sing easier in the 10K foot altitude!
You do get light headed if you are not used to though!
Not as many oxygen molecules per volume of air is good and bad.
It definitely makes hitting the high notes easier, but there is a trade off in the low end on stuff like drums.
At 10K feet the sound of a kick drum is pretty wimpy!

Listen to Lenny White's toms on Return To Forever's Romantic Warrior album and then try to say they couldn't record low end on drums at Caribou!
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
I had thought the MCI was used for the Barnstorm and Rick Derringer record. Either way, I like learning about this stuff.

More links...

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/new...h/?partner=RSS

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov0...s/szymczyk.htm
Old 2nd February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️
It definitely makes hitting the high notes easier, but there is a trade off in the low end on stuff like drums.
At 10K feet the sound of a kick drum is pretty wimpy!
I played drums and sang with one of the groups on the list from the Caribou Ranch days. We did two albums up there, mixed one at Sunset Sound in LA LA land and the other at Air Studios on Oxford Circus, both back in the 70's on that wonder old tape format.

I can agree with the (lack of bottom end) on recording made up at that altitude. On the first album that we mixed at Sunset, we found that we had a low end deficiency on the recordings. So the next time we went up to Caribou we made a conscious effort to beef up the bass and kick and the low end in general. It still entailed a bit of guesswork.

But that sure was a heavenly place to send a month or so. Jim and the whole crew up there were wonderful host. Great food and wine along with horse rides, fishing, hiking. And then there were the β€œCaribou Girls”. I don’t know how we ever found time to get one note recorded.

Aah, the good old days of unlimited budgets...
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
I've always heard, Caribou always insisted on recording on nothing, but virgin tape. They went through a lot of tape.

Apparently there was a guy named "Pappy" there, I used to catch a lot of crap from guys that had worked under him ... "that's not the way "Pappy" did it." I can still hear it .. this brings back a chuckle !!


Russ
Nashville
"In Order To Predict The Future ... Create It"
Old 5th February 2009
  #28
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Nederland

I grew up off Caribou Rd just down the road (dirt) from the Ranch. Nederland is quite a town, very quirky IE Frozen dead guy days. There is a film titled "Sweet Lunacy" that talks about the Boulder music scene and Caribou is mentioned a number of times.

A History of Boulder, Colorado's Music Scene | Gather
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
caribou stories

my good friend who engineers for me was an assistant there for his first gig out of college in the 70's and later went on to do big things on his own as well. but the stories the tells about that place are pretty phenomenal with such talent coming through all the time must've been nice...i'm too young to know haha
Old 5th February 2009 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
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
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