repost: following studio (and LeFora avatar) rebrand
I've recently consolidated my two studio businesses (Serif Sound and Dingbat Lacquer Sound Disk) into one (AHM - for Andrew Hamilton Mastering). As mentioned, previously, as Dingbat LSD, I'm doing all-analog, tape transfer to stereo groove, here, in Cincinnati, Ohio, using the MCI JH-110/M advance repro deck and an L. J. Scully lathe, with all-Ortofon drive package (that was recently serviced in Copenhagen by former Ortofon tech, Torben Rønne, whose initials were already on the "checked by" stickers on the circuit boards, dated 1978).
I can't use a stock Studer "pre-listen" deck, since my lathe needs a full revolution of advance repro for its feed and depth expansion calculations. THE LATHE's automation is based on the last disk computer by Capps. It's pretty conservative with land, being cognizant of absolute polarity (for tight groove-nestling - even "spooning" persistent, identical modulation, such as a long-held organ note).
I have a second LS-76, which I acquired from Swiss-based, lathe guru, Flo. It's presently being used for auditioning LP stamper "mothers" on its 16" platter (using a DJ cart). #660 was originally owned by Eva-Tone, who mastered their Soundsheets on it. It's nice to have a spare set of circuit boards, too, since I only need the tt servo drive board in the cage for playing records - the rest are stored in a 100-year old, Mosler wall safe. (However, without the other boards in the cage, I had to delete the silicon diode that is normally attached to the ground pin of the 7805 regulator in the power supply, so that it won't make the beefed up logic supply of +5.6 V that the cage normally requires in order for all 70+ TTL gates to see +5.0 V! I did put crowbar protection circuits in both lathe's power supplies, since they were otherwise only protected by a 4 amp slo-blow.)
My main LS-76, #656, was purchased n 2011, from Fred Vreman, of Varsseveld. However, it had only been in Europe for a couple of years. The person who used it for its first, 33 years of service is Mike Fuller. I put #656 in the studio landlord's old cutting room, Control C. After looking at documentation that came with it, I noticed that its original owner was Criteria Studios, in Miami, and that Mike Fuller had used it to cut the Tom Dowd mixes for Rod Stewart's LP, Blondes Have More Fun...Or Do They?, and also, Kenny Loggins' LP, This Is It!. So, I told my studio landlord (operator of GGR Electroforming) that the lathe I just put in Control C had belonged to Grammy-winning M. E., Mike Fuller. The landlord said, "You've got to be kidding me." I asked why, and he explained that his father, the original owner of the studios, had hired Mike Fuller to cut sides in Control C on their Neumann AM32-B, when Mike was still in high school, and living across the river in Northern Kentucky. I hadn't heard of Mike previously, but, when he came to town in 2015 to visit his old studio, I gave him a tour of Control C and showed him his old lathe. He gave me some helpful pointers, and now we're "LinkedIn."
I got the MCI deck from the studio landlord, who used it with a Neumann VMS70, running with a Zuma that was programmed for 1/2-revolution preview. (The MCI JH-110/M has two threading paths for each tape speed: one, for full-rev advance repro; and one, for 1/2-rev..). Mr. French polished the 1/2" heads and replaced the 1/4" ones. The 1/4-track ones were pristine, not surprisingly. 0; Steve Sadler rebuilt the audio elelctronics. The tape needs to travel for 54 inches between the advance computing repro head and the cutter modulation repro head in order for program, running at 30 ips, to cause a 1.8-second delay between the two playback points (or 39 inches, for the 1.3-second revs of 45 rpm).
I had to clone some of the disk computer's DATEL 6- and 8-bit A/D converters, since working models are usually made of Unobtainium. The depotting, scanning, and manufacturing process is discussed over at my blog, Disco Lathe, in the posts, "2668-B PC" and "Board Cloning." (Steve Espinola messaged that he likes my site, which is obviously inspired by his SSoLT site.)
Although I cut all-analog, I presently only do compatibility EQ and acceleration limiting during cutting, using one of Paul Gold's 4-channel elliptical equalizers (with a Burr-Brown op amp mod) and Dangerous Music Bax EQs (for program and advance), and an Ortofon STL-732 "stereo treble limiter," using the cutting amps' control signals for the side chain inputs. For all-analog parametric eq, compression, limiting, and other aesthetic processes, I use the tape dubbing room, studio B, down the hall, where I master either high-res .wav files or 30 ips, 1/2", 2-track dubs on the ATR-102. Studio B has 13.5' ceiings and is an LEDE sound recording room which I turned into a Golden Rectangle mastering room. Lathes make a loud hissing noise and create acoustical reflections that aren't randomly dispersive enough for ideal monitoring. anyway. Always compromises...