Production Sound & Video

Fall 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 40 of 43

41 As the move to location shooting became more prevalent, sound mixers started looking for alternatives to the bulky production boards typically used for stage work. However, there were some alternatives for those who wanted to take a bit different approach, which in many cases involved doing a bit of customizing. Notable among these were the following: • The Sennheiser M101 mixer, a four-input, mono-output mixer with built-in battery supply and T power, which was first introduced in 1969, but took a little time to catch on in the US market. Some enterprising individuals would also customize these boards into a six-input configuration. • The Stellavox AMI mixer, a five-input, two-output mixer introduced in 1971. Designed by former Nagra engineer Georges Quellet, this was intended as a companion piece to the Stellavox SP7 recorder. • The Audio Developments AD031 "Pico" mixer, which could be supplied in a few different configurations, and utilized a 24-volt power supply. • The Neve 5422 "suitcase mixer" brought to market in 1977, and intended primarily for use in location music recording and broadcast. • The Studer 169/269 series mixers, introduced circa 1978, and which could be ordered in a variety of configurations. Intended primarily as a location broadcast console for the European market, this console could be either AC- or battery-powered. While prized for its sonics by music engineers, it was only used by a handful of production mixers in the States (due in no small part to its size and weight). As amplifier technology evolved and components became smaller, it allowed designers the luxury of adding more features, including three-band equalization, better high-pass filters, better mic preamps, and more sophisticated signal routing. It also marked the move away from the traditional four-input mixer, which had dominated production sound recording for nearly four decades. Still, production sound equipment had to be portable, which limited the sort of features that would be found standard on even fairly rudimentary re-recording consoles of the period. A (very few) ambitious sound mixers also took it upon themselves to build or commission mixers to their liking from scratch or perform significant modifications to mixers that were designed for other purposes. The 1970's also saw an extensive adoption of straight-line faders, which had moved from wire-wound designs to carbon composition resistive elements. While early straight-line faders were prone to problems when used under unfavorable conditions, the new faders were both smaller and more reliable. In addition, sound mixers who began their careers in music recording or post production were more receptive to using them for production work. By the end of the decade, nobody except Sela were manufacturing location mixers with rotary faders. THE 1980's Despite the fact that the seventies saw a host of developments in film sound recording, it didn't translate into very many changes in the sound mixing techniques and equipment used for production work. Most of the advances made in the previous decade were in the area of re-recording, as well as the advent of Dolby Stereo on optical tracks (Stereo Variable Area), which allowed studios to release titles in L/C/ R/S stereo without the need for four-track magnetic release prints. Since the optical tracks could be printed and processed on standard laboratory equipment, it greatly reduced the costs associated with making a stereo release. As such (with the notable exception of Robert Altman), most production sound packages still consisted of a four- or six-input mixer, perhaps mated with a Nagra stereo recorder with Dolby noise reduction, and four channels of wireless. And for most productions, this was sufficient. Even with the introduction of the Sony PCM-F1 in 1981 and DAT in 1987 (both being two-channel formats), there was no compelling reason to change the basic approach used for production recording. While some sound mixers (including this author) opted to use somewhat larger consoles intended for broadcast and remote music recording, there weren't really many options available to the industry until the introduction of the Sonosax SX-S in 1983, and the Cooper CS-106 mixer in 1989. Like most equipment destined for the highly specialized film market, these mixers were designed by 4. The Audio Developments AD031 mixer was one of the first prod- ucts introduced by this venerable British firm. Available in a variety of input configurations, it became very popular in the UK. 5. The Neve 5422 "suitcase mixer." This mixer was the first entry that Rupert Neve made into the "portable" market. Featuring classic Rupert Neve mic preamps and EQ, it was prized by many music and production mixers for its sound. 4 6. A custom fifteen-input eight-buss mixer conceived by Jim Webb, and built by Jack Cashin. Designed specifically for eight-track recording on Robert Altman films. Note the individual VU meters for the iso outputs. Photo courtesy James Webb 6 5

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Production Sound & Video - Fall 2018