I started learning/dabbling with keyboard, acoustic guitar
& recording as a hobby and diversion from working 9-to-5
with computers. Being a knobs & switches person at heart and
influenced by the flashing light brigade of Tangerine Dream,
Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, ELP etc., I built up a small
recording setup over the years. Although it was a drain on our
finances, my wife says at least she knew where I was in the
Studio-related gear, such as a DotCom modular synth, EMU samplers, Tascam porta-studio etc. is described separately here. The following is a potted history of the studio itself.
1970/80's: Studio gear was incredibly expensive back then, so first dabblings were with a home-mode 8-track mixer designed using various circuits from the Mullard book 'Transistor Audio And Radio Circuits'. It had submix outputs, EQ on each channel (a basic Treble & Bass circuit), and stereo PPM output meters using a design from Studio Sound magazine. I knew nothing about meter movement ballistics, so just dismantled some old volt meters, painted the scales black, and added numbers with letraset... the patience we had in those days :)
Shift-work provided enough money to pay for a much coveted Revox 2-track tape recorder - the A77 with 15ips, so tracks could be bounced between this and another (unknown) stereo tape deck - more pics of the first ever recording 'session' are here.
1980/90's: A move to a smaller house meant getting rid of the piano and harmonium. The electronics keyboard was superseded by various Yamaha PSR models over the years, and a desktop computer was used for sequencing running Prism by Music Quest - frustration with sequencers spawned the first development of Sequetron.
The desktop PC was later replaced with a very early laptop (to
the left of the chair) - a Toshiba with an 80486 processor and a
fabulous colour screen... but horrendously expensive so needed a
loan to pay for it. Note the old Hi-Fi speakers mounted on the
bookshelves - not the best place acoustically, but spare
bedrooms are never big enough!
A few years later, a problem with one of my ears gave me a reality check so decided to 'get serious' with music before the other ear stopped working, and the gadget spiral really began with a Korg i30 arranger keyboard, Yamaha cassette porta-studio for mixing, a Samson power amp. and a couple of Spirit Absolute 2 monitors... although stereo was a bit of an overkill with only one good ear.
A 2nd hand Cheetah MIDI keyboard was added later...
More gear followed (it's a known illness - look up Gear
Acquisition Syndrome), such as a Supernova synth and an 8-track
hard-disc recorder... which of course justified an 8-track ADAT
for backup purposes. This meant building DIY cabinets to house
Hi-Fi Quad electrostatic speakers as monitors - well, somebody
had to try it!...
As with all hardware, it comes at a price...
The weight of all the cables kept pulling the jack plugs out of their sockets, so these DIY brackets were developed to take the strain. MIDI gear was also routed via the same standard 1/4" patch panels using this DIY mod.
2006: A house move meant yet another layout... started off with two music rooms, so ideal for a control room and music room... but found it impractical dashing between rooms - would be better with an assistant. Eventually traded rooms with 'the other half' so ended up shoe-horning everything into one. This video shows it under construction (skip to 1m54s for the final result), and here's an attempt at an arty-farty version with music & effects.
2018: Another house move, another teardown...
2019: Good news is more floor-space so racks don't have to be so high, but bad news is the asymmetric ceiling... maybe having only one good ear will be an advantage.
Layout in December with wiring almost finished...
2020: Feb: Layout finalised and wired... finally! Video.
The demo recording is only a rough outline of the idea using
my limited musical skills & even more limited vocals, so if
there are any musical/theatrical producers, arrangers, musicians
or vocalists out there, please get in touch. The project has
been shelved many times over the years, but it would be nice to
finish it before the universe actually ends otherwise it may
spoil my version of events.