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Neve A4792 Air Montserrat Console
Old 4th October 2013
  #1
Gear Maniac
 
wineredno1's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Neve A4792 Air Montserrat Console

Is this console still in what was Allaire Studios or has it moved on to somewhere else?

I know that A7971 with its Focusrite sidecar is probably in better condition due to the fact that it's still in use at Air Lyndhurst and maintained by their technicians. But, the Montserrat Console fascinates me.
Old 4th October 2013
  #2
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Hello wineredno1,

I can't answer for the Montserrat console. However the third and largest of the three 'Air' consoles, is at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver. 58 inputs / 24 busses / 32 monitor. Bryan Adams bought this from the closing Atlantic Studios in 1991. I was the technical director at the studio and with some great assistants, spent about a year putting this console back into working condition. It's still happily making records at 'The Warehouse Studio'. See their client list for artist details.

The remote MicPre amps were put in roll around racks. A pre EQ insert point was added. Patchbay completely redone. All cap's and OP amps replaced. Many switches replaced. VU meter bridge rearranged to a more modern layout. Cut and Solo switches updated to SSL style. Added fully by-passable SSL comp on the monitor panel ouput.

Rupert Neve visited in 2002 and signed the console for us. I was a very happy tech that day.
Attached Thumbnails
Neve A4792 Air Montserrat Console-neve-repair.jpg   Neve A4792 Air Montserrat Console-rupert_neve_at_ws.jpg  
Old 27th October 2013 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Obvious ➑️
Hello wineredno1,

I can't answer for the Montserrat console. However the third and largest of the three 'Air' consoles, is at The Warehouse Studio in Vancouver. 58 inputs / 24 busses / 32 monitor. Bryan Adams bought this from the closing Atlantic Studios in 1991. I was the technical director at the studio and with some great assistants, spent about a year putting this console back into working condition. It's still happily making records at 'The Warehouse Studio'. See their client list for artist details.

The remote MicPre amps were put in roll around racks. A pre EQ insert point was added. Patchbay completely redone. All cap's and OP amps replaced. Many switches replaced. VU meter bridge rearranged to a more modern layout. Cut and Solo switches updated to SSL style. Added fully by-passable SSL comp on the monitor panel ouput.

Rupert Neve visited in 2002 and signed the console for us. I was a very happy tech that day.
Very cool. Does BA ever use this thing anymore? I think he did his last two albums on the road - I wonder what his mobile recording rig is, any thoughts?

Just saw him last weekend in LA and he was fantastic.
Old 25th May 2015
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
yeah whatever happened to this board?
Old 25th May 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Silvertone's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
It was bought by a guy who owns one of the largest toy manufacturing companies in Canada. As far as I know it is still in storage and he has not put it into operation yet.

A shame really as Ken McKim spent over a year tearing that console down to the frame and rebuilding it up from scratch. Volcanic ash is never a good thing to have in the console.
Old 25th May 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I have heard otherwise, I believe it is in fact in service in a private studio in a basement in the Annex in Toronto. Haven't seen it myself but have a friend who did some recording on it.
Old 25th May 2015
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
It is in operation AFAIK.
Old 25th May 2015
  #8
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
What are the modules in this board, or the one in Bryan Adams' board?
Old 26th May 2015
  #9
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shortstory's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Those pictures are beautiful. My God what I would give to work on that desk daily.

unbelievable really.
Old 26th May 2015 | Show parent
  #10
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LobCity ➑️
What are the modules in this board, or the one in Bryan Adams' board?
Hi

The modules are unique to this small series of consoles of which only three were built. They used +/-17.5 vpower rails, were based around the TDA1034 (NE5534) IC, and used custom toroidal input and output transformers. They also used remote control mic pre amps with the gain controlled at the console and sent stepped dc down the interconnecting cable to switch FETs that controlled the gain in the remote mic pres.

I saw the console back in the 1970's when it was built, in the 1980's, post Montserrat, in Malcolm Jacksons studio in Rickmansworth before it was sold to A & M studios in Hollywood where I saw it again.

The recent owner originally asked me how much I would charge to commission it some time ago as I am aware of several modifications that could improve the noise floor of the mix busses. While not exceptionally high for the level of Neve experience he would have obtained, he chose a young tech to do the work who promptly phoned me for advice on what work was needed. You can imagine my response...

I was speaking to the guys that tested these consoles back in the mid 1970's where they were alleged to have a response extending to 200KHz. There were major issues with instability, partly due to the system of bussing I referred to, that could only be fixed by rolling off the response. So while they do have good HF response, it's only marginally better than a traditional Neve console.


Last edited by Geoff_T; 26th May 2015 at 07:56 PM..
Old 26th May 2015 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff_T ➑️
Hi

You can imagine my response...
"So instead of paying me for the work, he wants me to tell you how to do the work for free? What credit card shall my consulting fee be charged to?"
Old 26th May 2015 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff_T ➑️
Hi

The modules are unique to this small series of consoles of which only three were built. They used +/-17.5 vpower rails, were based around the TDA1034 (NE5534) IC, and used custom toroidal input and output transformers. They also used remote control mic pre amps with the gain controlled at the console and sent stepped dc down the interconnecting cable to switch FETs that controlled the gain in the remote mic pres.

I saw the console back in the 1970's when it was built, in the 1980's, post Montserrat, in Malcolm Jacksons studio in Rickmansworth before it was sold to A & M studios in Hollywood where I saw it again.

The recent owner originally asked me how much I would charge to commission it some time ago as I am aware of several modifications that could improve the noise floor of the mix busses. While not exceptionally high for the level of Neve experience he would have obtained, he chose a young tech to do the work who promptly phoned me for advice on what work was needed. You can imagine my response...

I was speaking to the guys that tested these consoles back in the mid 1970's where they were alleged to have a response extending to 200KHz. There were major issues with instability, partly due to the system of bussing I referred to, that could only be fixed by rolling off the response. So while they do have good HF response, it's only marginally better than a traditional Neve console.

What was the reason for the toroidal transformer, new voltage scheme, and new design of these modules? I assume this was intended as an improvement over earlier modules?
Old 26th May 2015 | Show parent
  #13
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LobCity ➑️
What was the reason for the toroidal transformer, new voltage scheme, and new design of these modules? I assume this was intended as an improvement over earlier modules?
Hi

Years ago I discussed this with David Rees and he could see no particular advantage with using toroidal audio transformers over conventional EI core as fitted to most audio devices. Power transformers are a different matter.

It's an IC based console and the 35v total power rail will swing more than 24v so you will have a bit more headroom. Academic as the converters today can only handle so much anyway.

A matter of personal taste whether a console configured this way sounds better than something traditional like an 8048. The 8108 ran on +/- 18v and used IC's and toroidal output transformers....

Old 17th October 2015
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Hi - I designed the remote mic amp system for AIR Monserrat after I had left Neve as a designer and was doing a postgrad degree at Cranfield. Geoff ( watts ) and Rupert asked me to see if it could be done, and after a bit of hacking designed the system you now see. The problem was that long microphone leads ( and there are miles of them in a big studio ) degraded the signal. Some time before I'd worked on a console for CBS, and they had figured out that , since the impedance of twinscreen was about 150 ohms, it would be best to source and sink the line with that impedance. You lose 6dB, but gain is cheap. Sound thinking which I reproduced in the AIR design. The mike gain is split between 2 tda1034's ( the best available at the time) with a FET switched resistive ladder for gain control. The output stage ( 2 more TDA1034's ) has one as a straight DC coupled invertor, so that any DC offset in the amp averaged out to no more than about 4mV - should be OK. In practise it was much less. A current source at the console drove a dc amplifier to a set of comparators, ( LM324's?) which switched the fets.

Rupert designed the torroidal transformers,which, being much more magnetically efficient needed far fewer turns of wire, and so were of lower resistance than previous E-I types, and hence gave better noise performance.

Glad the old girls are still going!

Allan.
Old 19th October 2015
  #15
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks, Allan and Geoff for these cool details!



Best,

Chris
Old 27th October 2015
  #16
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
more air monserrat stuff

To respond to TurboT's questions...

In the early-mid 70's Neve had changed from their class A designs to class A/B . These were of better noise and distortion performance, though had their problems - the BA338 and BA340 were designed by Dave Gidding. In some designs they used a seperate feedback winding on the output transformers to try and reduce the distortion. Some clever output transformers used a mixture of permalloy ( very high permeability, but easily saturated) and silicon iron ( to take over at higher power levels) .These were much more expensive.

... Does anybody remember the fun we had with the SABC consoles? I spent ages tweaking the sidechain for the best compromise between frequency response and overshoot on a squarewave. A toroid would be a better bet if you're really fussy as it's more closely coupled.

In the mid 70's opamps such as the TDA1034 were better in every measurable parameter than our discrete designs - after all , they could use as many transistors as they liked. Precision current sources and mirrors, using many active transistors, were cheap on a chip, but prohibitively space consuming in
( pre surface mount) discrete designs. And excellently thermally matched. The use of differential pairs in their input stages made DC precision easy - but they needed +/- power supplies. I think you could make pretty good go of a discrete design today - but I'm out of the game, so don't know of modern professional designs.

Everybody was at that time was obsessed with crossover distortion in A/B amps - which of course, in a bad design is significant. The story I heard was this.

A certain unnamable studio, when they heard of our intention to use opamps in a new equaliser, screamed and yelled, so 3 samples were made. One used the (then) current BA338/340s , one had the TDA1034's
( which measured significantly better) and one with uA741's, which had ghastly crossover distortion and limited HF response. We called them A,B and C, and didn't tell them which was which. The golden ears played with them for ages on all sorts of music, and unanimously declared the 741 unit the best. We didn't dare supply them, and they got the TDA1034's.

By then I'd quit the industry and never went back.Having worked for Cambridge Audio previously , designing to a spec, and then reading ridiculous reviews of our ( and other peoples perfectly sound designs) based on listening trials, I now realize that an audio electronics designer is on a hiding to nothing.

I give up. And did.

Allan

PS how much distortion can you hear? On a pure sine wave at 1kHz less than 0.1%. - that's 60dB down. Interesting. I found this out designing a test oscillator for the SABC suitcase mixers using a novel biquad idea. It worked OK. And nicked an idea from 1947 invented by hewlett-packard, whose first ever product was a low distortion audio oscillator using a light bulb(?!) as a variable resistance element to stabilise the amplitude of a wein-bridge oscillator. I think the Radford LDO's we used in the test department used the same trick. I used a low thermal mass thermistor. They're cheap and tough.

Last edited by allan hurst; 9th December 2015 at 12:45 AM.. Reason: errors.
Old 27th October 2015 | Show parent
  #17
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Geoff_T's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by allan hurst ➑️
... Does anybody remember the fun we had with the SABC consoles? I spent ages tweaking the sidechain for the best compromise between frequency response and overshoot on a squarewave. A toroid would be a better bet if you're really fussy as it's more closely coupled.
Hi Allan

Great memory recall! I recall the automated routed SABC consoles that, like the later 8108 had central routing control with the switching inside the routing units by relays and indication of busses selected by LEDs on the front panel.

At the time I had to hire a sub-contract PCB cadding guy and he produced the motherboard layout for those routing units with all the logic chips and relays and the final circuit board was sent up, along with all the other parts, to Kelso for them to assemble the modules.

The consoles were fully wired and the first moved into test department to await the modules that would come down on the next van exchange. They were duly unloaded from the van, taken out of the boxes and the first dropped into the console....

The problem was the modules stuck up out of the console surface by three inches... a major communication error (I'll blame the project engineer vs R & D vs drawing office) as the modules were designed 10" deep while the console location was 7" deep.

I had to break the news to the sub contractor that he had to redesign the motherboard again much narrower. This was decades before cadding and was done with various thickness of black adhesive cloth tape... very much by hand.

Amazingly he was able to do it superfast and the modules re rebuilt the proper size.

Memories!
Old 9th December 2015
  #18
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Geoff - it wasn't me who specc'ed those units!

honest

Allan
Old 15th April 2020
  #19
Gear Head
 
blacky123's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
a Neve 1081 rack of 8 units

Hi I'm very curious here, here I will post a photo of me and you can see behind me a Neve 1081 rack of 8 units, we used that for recording the album Nothingface of Voivod in 1989, recorded in Montreal RCA Victor studio, we track drum, guitar and bass and vocal with those, it was rented out to a guy in Toronto, apparently this was part of the Montserrat console, but I have so doubt that was true. I don't have much more info on this, but I remember having see a list of gear that the guy from Toronto was renting out. Always wondering who was that guy and where those modules came from. One thing for sure, it came with a spare module that I opened to see what was inside and of course everything was hand made, transistor and most of the part had no serial numbers, etc. Also every now and then we had to shut it down cause there was so low noise coming out of the modules, I assume it was a problem with the power supply perhaps. In any case those modules sounded amazing, almost liquid warm sound.
Old 16th April 2020
  #20
Here for the gear
 
Pianotek's Avatar
 
Here's an old photo of mine. Frank Fillipetti at the AIR Neve console in Montserrat.
Attached Thumbnails
Neve A4792 Air Montserrat Console-frank-fillipetti-005.jpg  
Old 13th February 2021 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Tungsten's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The Mic Pre amps in the Montserrat are remote - not inside the channel EQ...so they wouldn't be rented out. Those are 1091's or 1093's, not 1081's...doubt they would have anything to do with the AIR console.
Old 13th February 2021
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Krubbadoo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
@ blacky123 the guy from Toronto renting those Neve modules could have been David Moyles. He used to be API's dealer in Canada (Coast to Coast Audio) and was involved in a lot of vintage Neve consoles and Modules sales during the 90's. I've chat with him a few times on the phone, he's been nice to me.
Old 13th February 2021 | Show parent
  #23
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iangomes's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teej ➑️
I have heard otherwise, I believe it is in fact in service in a private studio in a basement in the Annex in Toronto. Haven't seen it myself but have a friend who did some recording on it.
Well it's definitely up and running nowadays.
Old 14th February 2021
  #24
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
So you have the one at AIR lyndhurst, Bryan Adam’s one at the warehouse and where is the third missing one? Seems to be some conjecture on who or where this missing one is?

Wiggy
Old 14th February 2021 | Show parent
  #25
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iangomes's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
It is 100% in a high end, mostly private, studio in Toronto. There is a news article about it but it’s behind a paywall.
I think it’s ok to post the Facebook group since it’s public:
https://www.facebook.com/subterraneansound/
Old 14th February 2021
  #26
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks Ian!

Great to see it’s legacy live on!

Wiggy
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Nut
 
A rather good article on this very thing:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts...a91cZ_rsbWjeLk
πŸ“ Reply

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