The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Abbey Road Control Room Just A Box?!?
Old 8th October 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Empty Planet's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Abbey Road Control Room Just A Box?!?

Am reading Recording the Beatles and am a little bit stumped about something. The control room of Studio 2 at Abbey Road measures 20x18, with 10-foot ceilings. There were vinyl tiles on the floor, the ceiling was some kind of "grooved, paper-fibre material," and a few "absorbent panels were affixed to the walls in an attempt to control the acoustics." But perfectly rectilinear, squared off walls and ceilings.

I'm just curious. Do this mean that throughout most of the Beatles existence, critical tracking and mix decisions were made in what amounts to a box?!? One that's more or less the dimensions of, say....err....your average bedroom?!?



What am I missing here?


Cheers.

Old 8th October 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
absrec's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm sure there was more to it. But then again, maybe there was a lot of math involved in the original planning phases of construction. Who knows?

-Aaron
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Of course there was more to it than that... probably the biggest thing being the fact that the most famous group of musicians on this planet were standing on the other side of the glass. Im sure plenty of studios followed similar lines of treatment. Studio acoustics have evolved over the years just as much as any other technical aspect of this industry.

Don't discount the fact that it was a completely different era of audio engineering than what is going on today. Sure audio perfection was still one of the ultimate goals, but it was audio perfection within the physical abilities of the musicians that were playing. They weren't trying to squash 40 tracks across the stereo image.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
max cooper's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
They were mostly listening for performance.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Addict
 
RUSCO's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
What am I missing here?
The Beatles were in there. It could've been a bath tub , it doesn't matter.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Empty Planet's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well, ok. Let's acknowledge their fabness. But unless their fabness included a special dispensation that the sounds they created had the ability to circumvent the laws of physics -- which, I have to say, I rather doubt -- we're still talking about standing waves and other sonic peculiarities related to waves bouncing around in such a space.

Some piece of the puzzle is missing, it seems like. I'm sure there are those here who could tell you where in the frequency spectrum a room of those dimensions would create problems. How were those flaws -- and even nice rooms (which this seems to have not been) have them -- compensated for? Or were they?

Just strikes me as a little mysterious, is all.


Cheers.

Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
PhilE's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I don't think it's all that much better now tbh.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Empty Planet ➑️
Well, ok. Let's acknowledge their fabness. But unless their fabness included a special dispensation that the sounds they created had the ability to circumvent the laws of physics -- which, I have to say, I rather doubt -- we're still talking about standing waves and other sonic peculiarities related to waves bouncing around in such a space.

Some piece of the puzzle is missing, it seems like. I'm sure there are those here who could tell you where in the frequency spectrum a room of those dimensions would create problems. How were those flaws -- and even nice rooms (which this seems to have not been) have them -- compensated for? Or were they?

Just strikes me as a little mysterious, is all.


Cheers.

The sounds were all being created in the live room which was quite a treat as far as I understand when it comes to acoustics. Get a good sound on tape and everything pretty much mixes itself.

I don't know whats confusing you, beatles records were great because the beatles are great... its that simple. Recording them was just a means of capturing it on tape, they weren't trying to reinvent the wheel like engineers seem to attempt to do today.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Mike Tholen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've wroked in that room and the control room didn't knock me over (though it certanly sounded fine) but the live room was knocking me over ALL the time.

The live room is where the magic was and still is today, they haven't changed it over the years.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
They were mostly listening for performance.
Yeah I j got the book and that aspect resonates throughout. It seems that they were all to willing to sacrifice techincal aspects of the recording in favor of an enviroment that promoted great performance.

Regarding the control room - it wasn't perfect, but the gear was tuned for that room so that translation was no problem. Read the section of when they played their Trident recordings at Abbey Road (in the section "other studios") - they had to re-tweak the Trident Recordings at Abbey Rd specifically because Abbey Rd monitoring did not flatter the music like other studios did. It showed it for what it was.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
idylldon's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
They knew that room and how the music would translate outside of that room. I imagine every control room has its quirks that need to be addressed during mix time. Also, they all spent a LOT of time in that room, so I'd imagine overcoming whatever limitations the space might have became second nature pretty quickly, especially considering George Martin was there from the beginning.

Cheers,
--
Don
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Nut
 
verbular's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
the traditional abbey road rooms are very square! in fact, it may look like an empty gymnasium to some. sounds amazing though. remember, it was originally a mansion/house to an extent. st. john's wood, where there studio is, has always been a posh residential area.

i have been inside the control room at 2, but many years ago. i remember it being square and small. control room for studio 1 was not big also, but i think they changed it now. studio 3 had the most modern control room when i was there. had a nice sounding calrec desk with automation that wasn't as nice as the sound.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
softwareguy's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I may be all wet here, but my impression after reading Geoff Emerick's book was that they were not listening at high volumes. Additionally, I haven't checked my new and cherished book as to what monitors they were using, but I would bet that they were using them as essentially near to mid fields. Finally, it is very clear that by the time anyone at Abbey Road had the opportunity to touch a fader on those consoles, they not only knew how each of the control rooms sounded, they had cut many masters from those studios using yet another set of monitors, and knew precisely what was going on with the whole recording chain. The Abbey Road apprenticeship system may have been the most powerful factor of all in insuring that the acoustics did not create problems.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
And nobody can get a sound as nice as Revolver in any room today. Thats sad and funny at the same time.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
the remix rooms are boxes as well...
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
doorknocker's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
You also got to consider that the EQ on the consoles they used were very 'primitive' by today's standard with little flexibility due to the fixed EQ points.

This and the fact that due to the track bouncing final mix decisions had to be made pretty early in the production process probably gave they engineers enough headaches before they started to worry about the control room layout.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Tholen ➑️
I've wroked in that room and the control room didn't knock me over (though it certanly sounded fine) but the live room was knocking me over ALL the time.

The live room is where the magic was and still is today, they haven't changed it over the years.
I agree with Mike. As long as I can get the sound into the microphones, I can mix it pretty much anywhere on anything - given enought time to adapt to the mixing system. Lots of people use crappy speakers that many would find unuseable, but they have adapted to the sound and know how to translate into a useable mix. Abbey Road's live rooms are where the magic happened IMO.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Addict
 
peeceebee's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by idylldon ➑️
They knew that room and how the music would translate outside of that room. I imagine every control room has its quirks that need to be addressed during mix time. Also, they all spent a LOT of time in that room, so I'd imagine overcoming whatever limitations the space might have became second nature pretty quickly, especially considering George Martin was there from the beginning.

Cheers,
--
Don
Agreed. It's ALL about knowing your room- applies to ANY room, in my experience.
Perhaps as they were working in mono, the phase incoherence that stereo monitors would have generated, and the room problems multiplied, were less of a factor(?)...
Old 8th October 2006
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
[
What am I missing here?




you are ONLY missing some very good songs! As simple as that!!!
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
r0ck1r0ck2's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
then why oh why all the trouble with making accurate control rooms today?

these replies seem way too flippant with the question.

look at the attempts they made at making the control room more accurate over the years..

i would really like to know what the authors thought about this question..

surely there was something said about the inaccuracies of these rooms....

actually if memory serves..it was mentioned in the beginning of the book..

ala "we're not making records for anechoic chambers!"

but still..

did they percieve any problems?
what steps were taken to deal with the inaccuracies?
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Also depending on how thick and soundproof the walls / ceiling were.

If sound was able to penetrate the walls / ceiling easily there wouldn't be a as much of a standing wave problem at the lower frequencies.

Mabe......




Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
7 Hz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A box shaped room isn't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to acoustics. It is much easier to predict where the problem areas will be with these type of spaces, and as long as the dimensions are different (preferably 'golden ratio') your resonant frequencies will be spread throughout the range. With irregular shaped rooms, it is much more difficult to predict where the standing waves will be.

There is also something 'natural' about a square room acoustic, because most of us live in square rooms of some sort. With a reasonable attempt at some acoustic treatment, most square rooms sound great for recording.
Old 8th October 2006 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
You also got to consider that the EQ on the consoles they used were very 'primitive' by today's standard with little flexibility due to the fixed EQ points.
50's and 60's passive EQs are superior soundwise.
Old 9th October 2006
  #24
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Empty Planet ➑️
Am reading Recording the Beatles and am a little bit stumped about something. The control room of Studio 2 at Abbey Road measures 20x18, with 10-foot ceilings. There were vinyl tiles on the floor, the ceiling was some kind of "grooved, paper-fibre material," and a few "absorbent panels were affixed to the walls in an attempt to control the acoustics." But perfectly rectilinear, squared off walls and ceilings.

I'm just curious. Do this mean that throughout most of the Beatles existence, critical tracking and mix decisions were made in what amounts to a box?!? One that's more or less the dimensions of, say....err....your average bedroom?!?



What am I missing here?


Cheers.

So basically... the beatles achieved success by "mixing in the box"!?heh
Old 9th October 2006
  #25
Gear Nut
 
Robert O's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Empty Planet ➑️
Am reading Recording the Beatles and am a little bit stumped about something. The control room of Studio 2 at Abbey Road measures 20x18, with 10-foot ceilings. There were vinyl tiles on the floor, the ceiling was some kind of "grooved, paper-fibre material," and a few "absorbent panels were affixed to the walls in an attempt to control the acoustics." But perfectly rectilinear, squared off walls and ceilings.
I've been in Sun, Chess and Stax ( or what's left of them at any rate) and the control rooms were also basically boxes with very little treatment. Sun and Chess live rooms were also more or less rectangular (though Stax was a weird shape as it was half a cinema).

Those records stiil sound good to me....
Old 10th October 2006 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Empty Planet's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hey guys, thanks for all the input. Really interesting.




Cheers all.

Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
paterno's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➑️
And nobody can get a sound as nice as Revolver in any room today. Thats sad and funny at the same time.
Which was done, for the most part in #3, and does not exist as it did when the Beatles made that record...

JP
Old 11th October 2006 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Mike Tholen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by paterno ➑️
Which was done, for the most part in #3, and does not exist as it did when the Beatles made that record...

JP
True!!!

BUT studio 2 is unchanged since the boys disbanded...and even before that the room went through VERY minimal non-permanent modifications.

and it becomes quite obvious as you first push your faders up to have an initial listen while getting levels, a truely AMAZING SOUNDING ROOM!!!!
Old 25th February 2010
  #29
Gear Addict
 
ajv205's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Empty Planet ➑️

What am I missing here?


Cheers.

Youre not missing anything.

Firstly, after a few hours you can get used to how any room sounds, as long as the monitors are something you are used to already.

Secondly, it is proof that you don't need an absurd amount of acoustical "solutions" to solve theoretical acoustic "problems" in a room. Sure you need some things, but not the craziness I sometimes see with baffles, clouds, diffusers and traps covering every inch of a control room.

This ain't rocket science. People that don't get art resort to science to explain what they cannot through artistic intuition. I.E. "how did these incredible albums that sound so awesome get done in such a basic setting?"

Obviously you don't want to mix in a parking garage, but this just goes to show you so much of what people in this business think as technical necessities are nothing more than over-hyped blasphemies.
Old 25th February 2010 | Show parent
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
pascalm's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajv205 ➑️
Youre not missing anything.

Firstly, after a few hours you can get used to how any room sounds, as long as the monitors are something you are used to already.

Secondly, it is proof that you don't need an absurd amount of acoustical "solutions" to solve theoretical acoustic "problems" in a room. Sure you need some things, but not the craziness I sometimes see with baffles, clouds, diffusers and traps covering every inch of a control room.

This ain't rocket science. People that don't get art resort to science to explain what they cannot through artistic intuition. I.E. "how did these incredible albums that sound so awesome get done in such a basic setting?"

Obviously you don't want to mix in a parking garage, but this just goes to show you so much of what people in this business think as technical necessities are nothing more than over-hyped blasphemies.
very true.

although it is important to have a good sounding rooms, people get way to worked up over the science.

like mentioned above as long as you are used to how your monitors sound in your room then you can probably make pretty good mixes with experience and skill.
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 464 views: 63939
Avatar for shoepedals
shoepedals 14th October 2018
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump