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Recording Equipment of Friar Park Studios, Henley-on-Thames (F.P.S.H.O.T.)

Updated: Apr 3

**Before I say anything else, I want to say this: F.P.S.H.O.T is located at a private residence. Please respect their privacy. Don't attempt to go there.**

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Recording Gear


AKG C414 Condenser Microphone

We can see an AKG C414 in this guitar room photo from the late '80s/early '90s. Unfortunately the image doesn't show us much detail other than that the mic had a black finish and silver grill. There were two black versions of the C414 released in the time frame with a silver grill, the C 414 EB-P48 (1980), and the C 414 B-ULS 1986).


The first two versions of the 414, the C 414 Combo and the C 414 EB were descents of the popular AKG C12 and C12A and shared its famous brass CK-12 capsule. By the time the EB-P48 came around in 1980 the capsule was replaced with a new Teflon CK-12 which was also later used in the ULS. The EB-P48 and ULS were considerably darker sounding when compared to the earlier 414s and the C12s. They were definitely different microphones than the earlier C414s. Some preferred the brighter sound of old C414sm while others found the darker tone of the EB-P48 and B-ULS useful.


A lot of nice info on the various versions of the C414 can be found on Sonic Scoop.

AKG C414 in the guitar room - Photo: unknown
Allison Research Gain Brain 700 Compressor/Limiter (5)

On the right side of the console is what looks like a custom rack housing five Alison Research Gain Brain compressors (on the right) and five Allison Research Kepex gates (on the left). Gain Brains came in a proprietary card format that fit into a 16 slot rack called the RM160, or individual console-mount boxes called CM001s. My guess is that the rack on George's console might be custom rack or chopped RM160 designed by studio designer Veal Associates.


Released in 1971, the Gain Brain is FET compressor/limiter with the unique feature of a completely variable Peak/RMS detection control. This variable detection control makes the Gain Brain especially useful as it is able to track tricky program material in a way that other compressors. They have controls for input, output, release time, and the Peak/RMS detection control. They were wildly popular in the 1970s and remain well-regarded today. Along with the KEPEX (see below), the Gain Brain is considered by many to be the "sound of the '70s" especially when it comes to drum recordings.

Gain Brain 700s in custom rack - Photo: Arnold Newman/Getty Images
Allison Research KEPEX 500 Expander/Gate (5)

On the right side of the console is what looks like a custom rack housing five Alison Research Gain Brain compressors (on the right) and five Allison Research Kepex gates (on the left). KEPEXs came in a proprietary card format that fit into a 16 slot rack called the RM160, or individual console-mount boxes called CM001s. My guess is that the rack on George's console might be custom rack or chopped RM160 designed by studio designer Veal Associates.


The KEPEX (Keyable Program Expander) is a expander/noise gate first introduced by Allison Research in 1970. The inclusion of the key input gave engineers practically limitless control and envelope shaping ability. The controls on a KEPEX are Threshold, Release, Range, and a button to switch in the external key input. Along with the Gain Brain, the KEPEX is considered by many to be the "sound of the '70s" especially when it comes to drum recordings.

KEPEX 700s in custom rack - Photo: Arnold Newman/Getty Images
Altec 604E Custom Main Monitors

To create monitoring similar to Abbey Road, which George was obviously used to, Eddie Veale designed main monitors based around Altec 604E speakers (Abbey Road used Altec 605s). As the studio was set up for Quad mixing, there were 2 front and 2 rear pairs. Incidentally, Veale also used 604Es in the design of John Lennon's studio Ascot Sound a year earlier.


George had this to say about the Alec monitors in 1987: "In terms of the monitoring system, after all those years in the Abbey Road EMI Studios, I put in Altec speakers. My experience in Abbey Road was that whenever the Beatles worked there and we thought we had a great sound, we’d play it back on the Altecs and it sounded terrible — ordinary. So they’re very boring in a way — and this must sound strange — but they’re also accurate!


"See, the Altecs don’t flatter the sound; it’s not easy to get good bass and drum sounds with them. But when I built my studio I didn’t want hype. I wanted what I’m hearing to be what it is. That way, when you play it back anyplace else it sounds fantastic!" (Musician Magazine, November 1987)


Though Quad was a short lived format, several of George's albums from F.P.S.H.O.T. were mixed in Quad; Living In The Material World, Dark Horse, Extra Texture (Read All About It), and Somewhere In England all have Quad versions.


Photos of the control room from 1989 show that the rear Altecs are no longer in the room, so presumably sometime between 1981 when Somewhere In England was mixed and 1989 they were removed. The front Altecs remain over the console to this day.


AMS DMX 15‑80S Stereo Digital Delay

Photos show an AMS DMX 15‑80S Digital Delay in the rack. An interview with engineer Richard Dodd mentions using an "AMS DDL" on the Cloud Nine sessions (source) . The DMX was released by AMS in 1978 and quickly became a studio staple.


The DMX 15-80 was the "first microprocessor-controlled" digital delay. In addition to delay, it could do pitch shifting, flanging, phasing and other time based modulation effects. An argument can be made that the 15-80 has never really fallen out of favor in professional studios since it's introduction, it is still highly sought after today.

AMS DMX 15‑80S in the early '90s - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com/
Auratone 5C Super Sound Cube Speakers

Photos from the '70s show Auratone 5C speakers on the console. Auratones were (and still are) a ubiquitous studio monitor designed to be a "real world" reference. The 5Cs look to be the only monitors other than the Altec mains in the '70s. There are no amplifiers visible in any photos I've been able to find of F.P.S.H.O.T., but studio designer Eddie Veale used Crown/Amcron DC300's in both John Lennon's Ascot Sound Studios and Ringo Starr's Startling Studios, so its a good bet they could be found at F.P.S.H.O.T. as well.

Auratone 5Cs on the console - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
Beyerdynamic M88 Dynamic Microphone

The below picture show a silver M88 dynamic hyper-cardioid microphone on a stand. It is possible it is a Beyerdynamic M69 or even M66. The more rounded grill also leads me to believe that this is not a M69, and as far as I can tell silver M69's and M66's are pretty rare compared to the more common m88.

The Beyerdynamic M88 is a versatile and reliable microphone admired for its exceptional sound quality and robust design. It has a pronounced low-end, detailed midrange, and crisp highs, making it ideal for capturing both subtle nuances and powerful sound sources like kick drum and guitar amps.

Beyerdynamic M88 at F.P.S.H.O.T. - Photo: via George Harison Facebook

Custom console designed by Eddie Veale with CADAC modules

“We started designing at the end of 1971 and installed October 1972,” Veale continues. “George wanted to have the use of the mix section and leave the recording to the preserve of the engineer. I designed the console as a split 48-channel—24 record inputs and 24 mix inputs—plus auxiliaries. The 24 mic inputs, on the right-hand section, were switchable to two line inputs for a second machine for 48-track mixing. The center section was the 24-track mix section, switchable between three line inputs to cater for different machine combinations. Most of the console modules were built for me by CADAC, and I selected from their range of amplifiers, equalizers, et cetera, for inclusion. I used the top end of their range with some adaptation to the EQ to make it George-friendly." -Eddie Veale (Mix Magazine, 2011)


The console in it's design and building stage:


From what I can gather based on the drawings posted by Eddie Veale/Veale Associates, interviews, and photos, the console functions as follows:


-Split console with the master section on the left, the mix section in the center, and the record section on the right. There are two large patchbays built into the frame on either side of the console (they look like B-Gauge jacks to me).

-The left section starts with the master section for the 3 echo and 3 foldback sends followed by the 4 master channels.


-The center section is 24 line input channels with both stereo and quad mixdown capabilities. Each channel is switchable between three different line input sources. Channels on this section have joysticks for Quad placement and pan pots for stereo panning. Center section features 16 compressors on channels 1-12 and 17-20.  I'm not sure if these compressors are strapped to those specific channels or if they are switchable between different channels as needed. From the one picture I've seen of the compressors, they seem to have these features: a switch to choose between three key inputs, a meter with selectable ballistics between "pk", "norm", and "av", Ratio control selectable between limit, 5:1, 3:1, and 2:1, and a release control that selects between 3, 1.5, 1.2, 1, .8, .5, .4, .3, .2, and .1 seconds. There is not another knob for attack but I assume there is some kind of attack control as well, but that can't be made out in the photos.


-The right section is 24 microphone/recording channels with 16 selectable sends to recorder. These channels are also switchable to line input for a total of 48 mixdown channels across the entire console. The microphone preamps feature 70dB of gain. Each channel also has a high pass filter with selectable frequencies of 40Hz, 80Hz, 120Hz, 160Hz, and 320Hz (I believe these were only on the record channels, but they may be on the mix channels as well).


-Channels on the entire console (both mix and record) feature:

-3 band EQ: HF switchable between bell and shelf @ 5.6kHz, 6.8kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, 12kHz.

+/- 2dB, 6dB, 10dB, 14dB

MF @ 200Hz, 1.4kHz, 2kHz, 2.8kHz, 3.4kHz, 3.8kHz, 5.6kHz, 6.6kHz.

+/- 2dB, 6dB, 10dB, 14dB

LF @ switchable between bell and shelf 60Hz, 80Hz, 120Hz, 160Hz, 240Hz, 350Hz.

+/- 2dB, 6dB, 10dB, 14dB

-3 echo sends each with a toggle switch to select between an "A" or "B" send and "off"

-3 foldback sends each with a toggle switch to select between an "A" or "B" send and "off"


Perhaps the console's most distinctive feature is it's 58 Quadrant faders. Quadrant faders were of course most famous for being the faders used in the EMI REDD & TG consoles that were used at EMI (Abbey Road) Studios. It would make complete sense that George would be comfortable with the Quadrant faders and ask for them to be included in his console. The Quadrant faders used by EMI were made by the Painton company in the UK, but from what I can tell Quadrant faders were also made by Elcom as well. I'm not sure if the ones in George's console were branded Painton or Elcom.


By the late '70s, the original 16 track Studer A80 was supplanted by a 24 track A80, and I think the console would have to have been modified to get 24 outputs to tape. George seems to hint as much in this quote: "I’ve since [the studio opened] made F.P.S.H.O.T. into a 24-track board...I’m going to get a few different choice modules made soon, but I don’t really want to go for a brand new SSL board and all that. Automation is nice in some respects, but I got my first skills at Abbey Road, so I prefer the old components, and spending a friendly weekend getting the manual mix you want. Just as I much prefer my ancient Fender Strat.’" -Musician, November 1987


As we can see in the below modern photo of the record side of the board, they didn't add any routing switches to the original sixteen, and there doesn't seem to be any noticeable visual changes to the board in the late '70s. Based on those factors I think its possible they may have achieved expanding the board to 24 outputs by normaling the recording channels to the patchbay. Instead of using the routing switches to route the recording channels on the board to the tape machine the engineer would use the patchbay. This certainly would have been a little clunkier than the routing switches, but would have saved them from having to spend weeks or months completely tearing the console apart. Of course, this is all conjecture on my part.

The 16 original routing switches on the record side of the console - Photo: Dhani Harison Instagram

In 1992, after twenty years of service, the console was re-capped. George had some modules encased in Acrylic and gave them to friends as gifts like the below module which was gifted to Ringo:


The console is still in use by George's son Dahni at F.P.S.H.O.T.:


Drawmer DS201 Dual Noise Gate

Photos from the late 1980s and 1990s show a rack at the back of the control room containing several pieces of outboard gear. About half way down looks to be a Drawmer DS201 Dual Gate. The DS201 is a two-channel noise gate with just about every feature you could expect on an analog gate which made them a true "industry standard."

Drawmer DS201 in the control room - Photo: via George Harrison Facebook
EMT 156 Stereo PDM Compressor / Limiter / Expander

An EMT 156 Stereo PDM Compressor / Limiter / Expander can be seen in the rack next to the console in the '70s and was eventually moved to the rear rack in the late '70s or '80s when the side rack was removed from the control room. It looks at though it was removed from the control room altogether at some point in the '90s. The 156 seems to be a pretty rare bird. From what I can find online, they could be great sounding units but were maintenance nightmares and hard to keep functioning properly.

EMT 156 in the side rack - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
Eventide DDL 1745M Digital Delay

An Eventide DDL 1745M Digital Delay can be seen at the bottom of the rack behind George in this photo from the Traveling Wilburys sessions in the late 80s. Released by Eventide in 1975, the 1745M was a greatly updated version of the 1745A which had came out in 1973. The 1745M used RAM to store data and create the delays which gave it 100X finer resolution than shift registers used by the 1745A and similar digital delays. The stock version came with two independent delay output cards installed, but could be expanded up to five total cards. With five cards, the 1745M could create a host of delay-based effects. In 1976 Eventide introduced an optional pitch change module that users could install in their 1745M.


Eventide has a really great website. If you're interested in reading more about the 1745M, check out this link: https://www.eventideaudio.com/50th-flashback-2-3-the-ddl-1745m-delay.

Eventide DDL 1745M in the control room - Photo: via travelingwilburys.com
Fairchild 660 Compressor/Limiter (2)

The photo below from (I believe) the early '70s shows two Farchild 660 compressor/limiters in a rack to the right of the console. The Mix magazine article about Cloud Nine notes that the Fairchild's were still at F.P.S.H.O.T as of the recording of that album in 1987 (source), and photos show that they were around through the '90s.


The 660 is a tube compressor/limiter that has become one of the most sought-after and expensive pieces of recording gear in the world. That status is in no small part due to their use on Beatles recordings at EMI/Abbey Road, so its no surprise that George would include a pair in his own studio.

Fairchild 660s in the side rack - Photos: via https://va-studiodesign.com
GML 8200 Parametric Equalizer

Photos from the late '80s and '90s show a rack at the back of the control room containing several pieces of outboard gear. The distinct multicolored knobs of the GML 8200 parametric EQ can clearly be seen.


The 8200 is a two channel EQ, widely considered to be one of the greatest sounding EQs of all time. It is especially popular on mix bus applications. GML's website describes the 8200 as the "archetype Stereo Parametric Equalizer" which is probably a pretty fair description.

GML 8200 in the back rack - Photo: via George Harrison Facebook page
GML 8304 (Series 1) Microphone Preamp

This photo from the '90s show a 4-channel GML 8304 microphone preamp in the rack. Engineer Richard Dodd makes specific mention of the GML preamps being available during the recording of Cloud Nine in this Mix Magazine article.

The 8304 is a no-frills 4-channel preamp designed by audio legend George Massenburg in the '80s and is based on the preamps from the GML Master Recording Console. The front panel features four stepped knobs for each preamp's gain - from 15dB to 70dB of gain - an overload light for each channel, and a power LED. Phantom power is only able to be switched on with toggle switches on the back of the unit. My guess is that they added the 8304 to add a few channels of super clean, uncolored sound to contrast with the CADAC preamps in the console.

GML 8304 preamps - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
JBL L100 Century Speakers

A first generation pair of JBL L100 speakers can be seen in the live room as playback speakers. At some point they were given to engineer Phil McDonald who worked on every George Harrison record from Living In The Material World through Gone Troppo . He sold them at auction in 2014 on Tracksauction.com. They went for just £700. The below right photo is from that auction.


“I recorded with George Harrison at his studio at Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames for fourteen years from the mid 70’s to the late 80’s. The JBL speakers were given to me by George Harrison and also the posters “Somewhere in England” and “Gone Troppe”, which were two of the albums I recorded with George, as his engineer. Other Beatles memorabilia was collected while I worked at EMI studios, known as Abbey Road, as a recording engineer from 1964 -1970. I was awarded a grammy in 1969 for the recording of the Beatles, Abbey Road. I also recorded “All Things Must Pass” which was produced by Phil Spector, among many other albums.”


Lexicon 224xl Digital Reverb

In photos from the late '80s on, a Lexicon LARC (Lexicon Alphanumeric Remote Console) can be seen sitting on the console. Though the Lexicon 480L used essentially the same LARC as the 224xl, Engineer Richard Dodd makes of the Lexicon in the Mix Magazine article on the recording of Cloud Nine (source). Cloud Nine was released in 1987, and the 480L wasn't released until 1988. By process of elimination, I believe that would have to make the reverb at 224xl.


A Lexicon remote is one of the most ubiquitous sights in studios for the past 40+ years and F.P.S.H.O.T. was no different. The 224xl itself was actually a 4-space rack mounted "brain" with very few controls on it. The rack unit only has level calibration pots, stereo analog inputs and outputs, and on/off and reset buttons on it. I've never seen the rack unit in photos of F.P.S.H.O.T., but I'm guessing it may have lived behind the console somewhere. All the other features on the 224xl were controlled on the LARC which typically sat on the console. The 224 is probably the most popular hardware digital/algorithmic reverb of all time. Even though the it hasn't been manufactured in many years, it remains extremely sought-after to this day.

Lexicon 224xl remote on the console - Photo: screenshot from "My Sweet Lord (2000) EPK
Neuman KM84s Condenser Microphone

The Mix Magazine article on the recording of Cloud Nine mentions that Engineer Richard Dodd used Neuman KM84s on snare and toms on the album (source). My guess is that the KM84's were around from the earliest days of F.P.S.H.O.T.


The KM84 is a FET small-diaphragm condenser with a fixed cardioid capsule, the world's first phantom powered microphone. It's small size and excellent sound quality made it instantly popular with engineers the world over. The KM84 was first released by Neumann in 1966 and manufactured until 1992 when it was succeeded by the KM184. Most consider the 184 to be sonically inferior to the 84, consequently the 84 has subsequently become especially sought-after and valuable.

KM84s on Ringo's snare and toms for "When We Was Fab" - Photo: Cloud Nine booklet
Neumann U 47 FET Condenser Microphone

In the below photo from 1985, we can see a Neumann U 47 FET in the control room. George liked to record vocals in the control room so its possible it was being used for that purpose at some point.


The U 47 FET was originally introduced in 1972 (Neumann's website says 1972, many other sources say 1969) more affordable alternative to the U 47. As the name suggests, the U 47 used field-effect transistor (FET) electronics in place of the valve electronics in the original U 47. Though the U 47 FET wasn't intertangle sonically with the U 47, it eventually became a legendary microphone in it's own right. The U 47 FET is especially loved for its reproduction of low frequency sources. It's most common use probably as an outside kick drum mic, but it it is also frequently used on vocals, bass amplifiers, upright bass, and horns.

U47 FET in the control room - Photo: unknown
Neumann U 67 Condenser Microphone

Photos from various eras at F.P.S.H.O.T. show Neumann U 67s with IC4 swivel mounts. The Mix Magazine article on the recording of Cloud Nine mentions that Engineer Richard Dodd used a Neuman U 67 on kick for that album (source). Photos show a U 67 or U 87 setup in the control room for vocals pretty consistently.


Released in 1960, the U 67 was Neumann's direct attempt at replacing the U 47 with another valve design. In the mid 1950s Telefunken stopped making the VF14 tube that the U 47 was designed around and Neumann had to move on from the design. The U 67 was completely new design that used a newly deigned capsule, the K67, and an EF86 tube. The U 67's reputation grew throughout the 1960s and by the 1970s, it was a bonified studio staple.

u67 in the control room - Photo: via George Harrison Facebook
Neumann U 87 Condenser Microphone

Photos from various eras at F.P.S.H.O.T. show numerous Neumann U 87's with IC4 swivel mounts. Pictures frequently show a U 87 in the control room where George was known to like recording vocals. The Mix Magazine article on the recording of Cloud Nine mentions that Engineer Richard Dodd using U 87s as drum overheads and on vocals on that that album (source).


Just as Neumann followed the U 47 with the U 47 FET, they followed the U 67 with the transistorized U 87 in 1967. Though perhaps not it's most famous microphone, the U 87 was probably Neumann's most popular microphone. The U 87 can be used on nearly any source and became a bona fide studio standard by the 1970s.

u87 in the control room - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
Panasonic SV-3700 DAT Recorder/Player

Photos show a Panasonic SV-3700 DAT recorder in the rack in the '90s and '00s. Probably used at F.P.S.H.O.T. for rough mixes and maybe even some final mixes.


The SV-3700 was a professional rack-mountable deck with just about every bell and whistle a DAT deck could have. Its reliability, good sound (relatively speaking), and numerous features made the SV-3700 a true industry standard DAT deck that was found in numerous studios the world over in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Panasonic SV-3700 - Photo: via George Harrison Facebook
Scotch 250 tape

Engineer Richard Dodd who recorded Cloud Nine, noted in the Mix Magazine article that they used only used Scotch 250 on that record. “George hated the smell of Ampex tape,” Dodd says, “so everything was done to Scotch 250 unless circumstances dictated otherwise.” (source)


3M/Scotch 250 was a formulation first introduced by 3M in 1972 and was highly regarded as a quality tape.


Sennheiser MD 421 Dynamic Microphone

A Sennheiser MD 421 can be seen in photos from the live room at F.P.S.H.O.T.


The MD 421 has been one of the most ubiquitous dynamic microphones found in studios since its release in 1960. The 421's rugged construction and bright, clear sound have led it to be a favorite of many engineers on guitar cabinets and drums, particularly toms.

421 in the live room - Photo: via George Harrison Facebook
Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone

We can see a Shure SM57 in the foreground of this image of George recording vocals at F.P.S.H.O.T. in the '90s. I haven't seen any other photos of a SM57 at F.P.S.H.O.T., but I'm sure they had several just like most every recording studio on the face of the planet.

SM57 in the live room at F.P.S.H.O.T. in November 2000 - Photo: Screenshot My Sweet Lord 2000 promo video
Studer A80 Analog Tape Machines

Over the years, F.P.S.H.O.T. had at least six Studer A80 analog tape recorders of various formats. The A80 was first released by Studer in 1970 as their flagship model and was manufactured through 1988. A80s are great sounding decks, are extremely flexible, and are built like tanks.


1/4" 2-track

Photos show a 2-track Studer A80 tape machine in the control room at F.P.S.H.O.T. from the early '70s until the late '80s when it was replaced with a pair of Studer A820s. Based on photos I'm fairly sure that this was a 1/4" deck and not a 1/2". This half track 2-track probably would have been the main stereo mixdown deck for the entire time period between the studios opening and the late '80s.


This A80 had a built-in Dolby M16 rack fitted with 2 x Cat44 I/O modules and (likely) 2 x Cat22 cards. Though we can't see the Cat22 cards in photos, we know for sure that the M16's in the 8 and 24 track A80's were loaded with Cat22 cards. The system was almost surely uniform across all of the A80s. As far as I can tell, the frames on all of the A80's at F.P.S.H.O.T. received the same custom deep green paint job including this one. It has a circular Dark Horse records sticker on the front just under the transport and a large square yellow sticker under the electronics. I think this deck was likely retained by George even after the A820s became the main mixdown decks.

2-track A80 - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
4-track

Photos show this 4-track Studer A80 tape machine in the control room at F.P.S.H.O.T. It seems to have appeared some time in the '80s. This deck has some very curious features. If you look at the below left photo of Jeff Lynne editing tape on this deck, it sure looks like 1/4" tape to me. 4-track A80s only came in 1/2" and 1" formats. It could conceivably have been a custom set up for 1/4-track stereo, but that is extremely unlikely in a professional recording studio. Another possibility is that they replaced the transport and headstack with 1/4" components and using it as a second 1/2-track stereo mixdown deck.


In addition to the strange 1/4"/4-track configuration, it also appears that this deck is in a cabinet which includes some kind of built-in processing. I circled them in the below right photo. It looks possibly like a 19" rack processor on the left and something smaller - a Dorrough meter perhaps? - on the right.


We can clearly see that it had a built-in Dolby M16 rack fitted with 4 x Cat44 I/O modules and (likely) 4 x Cat22 cards. Though we can't see the Cat22 cards in photos, we know for sure that the M16's in the 8 and 24 track A80's were loaded with Cat22 cards. The system was almost surely uniform across all of the A80s. As far as I can tell, the frames on all of the A80's at F.P.S.H.O.T. received the same custom deep green paint job including this one. It has what look to be small rectangular stickers on each of the four electronics modules. I wonder if these were Hare Krishna stickers/stamps like the one George put on Eric Clapton's Gibson 335.



4-track (in 8-channel frame)

Photos show this 4-track Studer A80 tape machine in the control room at F.P.S.H.O.T. in the '70s. Its hard to tell from the photos but I believe this would have been either a 1/2" or 1" (it looks like 1/2" to me). This deck would most likely been used for Quad mixes. Though Quad was a short lived format, several of George's albums from F.P.S.H.O.T. were mixed in Quad: Living In The Material World, Dark Horse, Extra Texture (Read All About It), and Somewhere In England all have Quad versions.


Even though the deck only had 4 channels of electronics, it was still loaded with 8 channels of Dolby. We can see that it had a built-in Dolby M16 rack fitted with 8 x Cat44 I/O modules and (likely) 8 x Cat22 cards. Though we can't see the Cat22 cards in photos, we know for sure that the M16's in the 8 and 24 track A80's were loaded with Cat22 cards. The system was almost surely uniform across all of the A80s. As far as I can tell, the frames on all of the A80's at F.P.S.H.O.T. received the same custom deep green paint job including this one. It has what look to be eight small rectangular stickers on the electronics/blanks. I wonder if these were Hare Krishna stickers/stamps like the one George put on Eric Clapton's Gibson 335. It also has 2 circular Dark Horse Records stickers on the electronics blank panels.

4-track A80 - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
1" 8-track (Mark I)

Serial Number 327. A 1" 8-track A80 is visible in the control room in the early '70s. I believe it was removed from the control room in the late '70s when the 24-track A80 was purchased. When the studio first opened they had this deck and the 16-track A80, and by the late '70s they had purchased the 24-track A80. My guess is that this deck saw very little recording use at F.P.S.H.O.T.


This deck featured a built-in Dolby M16 rack fitted with 8 x Cat44 I/O modules and 8 x Cat22 cards. It was likely sold off by George at some point and was recently auctioned off by Bonhams in 2018. You can see the auction listing here.

Georges 8-track A80 - Photo: via https://www.bonhams.com

Interestingly, I was recently watching a video filmed at Nigel Godrich's (Radiohead, McCartney, Beck etc... producer/engineer) studio, and something caught my eye. It seems that Godrich now owns this deck!

8-track A80 at Godrich's studio - Photo: screenshot via The Smile social media

2" 16-track

F.P.S.H.O.T. was originally designed as a 16 -track studio in 1971 with this 2" 16-track A80 being the main multitrack deck. Its time as the main multitrack was short-lived, however, as it was replaced by a 24-track A80 in the mid to late '70s. This deck and the 8-track A80 are seemingly the only A80s to be completely removed from F.P.S.H.O.T. Even after the A820 and A827 showed up, the 2-channel, 4-channel, and 24-channel A80s can all still be seen in the control room at various points in the '80s and '90s.


The 16-track A80 had a built-in Dolby M16 rack fitted with 16 x Cat44 I/O modules and (likely) 16 x Cat22 cards. Though we can't see the Cat22 cards in photos, we know for sure that the M16's in the 8 and 24 track A80's were loaded with Cat22 cards. The system was almost surely uniform across all of the A80s. As far as I can tell, the frames on all of the A80's at F.P.S.H.O.T. received the same custom deep green paint job including this one.  It has a circular Dark Horse records sticker on the front just under the transport and possibly a large sticker or photo under the electronics. It has what look to be small rectangular stickers on each of the 16 electronics modules. I wonder if these were Hare Krishna stickers/stamps like the one George put on Eric Clapton's Gibson 335.

16-track A80 - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
2" 24-track (Mark II)

Serial Number 10754. As mentioned above, F.P.S.H.O.T. was originally designed as a 16-track studio in 1971, but in the mid to late '70s the studio was upgraded to 24-track recording. This 2" 24-track replaced the studio's original 16-track A80 and the console was modified to accommodate eight extra outputs (see the Custom Console section for more information).


This A80 is fitted with what I believe is Dolby M16H and Dolby M8HX Noise Reduction Units housed in in one coinvent package to provide 24 Channels of Dolby A NR. I don't believe that Dolby made a M24H unit, strictly speaking, so I believe this was a custom unit that was likely built or at least conceived by studio designer Eddie Veale. Further evidence to the custom nature of this NR unit is the "om" symbol on the face plate next to "Dolby".


As far as I can tell, the frames on all of the A80's at F.P.S.H.O.T. received the same custom deep green paint job including this one. This 24-Track A80 was the main multitrack recorder through the late 1980s when it was replaced with a Studer A820 and then a Studer A827. It did however remain in the control room through at least the early '90s. It was likely sold off by George at some point and was recently auctioned off by Bonhams in 2018. You can see the auction listing here.

Georges 24-track A80 - Photo: via https://www.bonhams.com
Studer A820 1/4" 2-track Analog Tape Machine

Around the early to mid '90s, photos show two Studer A820 2-channel machines in the control room. This one is set up for 1/4" tape while the other is set up for 1/2". These machines would have replaced the 1/2 track A80s as mixdown decks which were probably a bit tired after 20 years of service.


Released in 1984, A820s are the decedents of A80s and built upon their stellar reputation. It was a state-of-the-art machine in its time and is still revered to this day for its performance and sound quality. The A820s remained in the control room at F.P.S.H.O.T. through the 2000s.

2-track A820 - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
Studer A820 1/2" 2-track Analog Tape Machine

Around the early to mid '90s, photos show two Studer A820 2-channel machines in the control room. This one is set up for 1/2" tape while the other is set up for 1/4". Interestingly, I believe this might have been the first 1/2" mixdown deck F.P.S.H.O.T. had. These machines would have replaced the 1/2 track A80s as mix decks which were probably a bit tired after 20 years of service.


Released in 1984, A820s are the decedents of A80s and built upon their stellar reputation. It was a state-of-the-art machine in its time and is still revered to this day for its performance and sound quality. The A820s remained in the control room at F.P.S.H.O.T. through the 2000s.

2-track A820 - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
Studer A820 MCH 24 Analog Tape Machine

Video from the Traveling Wilburys overdub sessions at F.P.S.H.O.T. in the summer 1988 shows a Studer A820 MCH 24 2" being used as the multitrack deck. The A820's time at F.P.S.H.O.T. was short lived though. This Mix Magazine article about the recording of "Got My Mind Set On You" specifically mentions the studio's 24-track A80 being used for those sessions just the year before in 1987. Photos from the '90s show an A827 in the control room, so it would seem that the A820 was only used for the Traveling Wilburys sessions in 1988/89. I thought they possibly bought it in because that was the deck they were using for the earlier Wilburys sessions in Los Angeles, but video shows they were using in fact using an Otari MTR-90 in LA.


A special feature of the A820 was the ability to install noise reduction cards right into the deck. As every other recording deck at F.P.S.H.O.T. was retrofitted with a Dolby system, I think that its highly likely that the A820 contained Cat. 22 Dolby A cards.


Studer A827 2" 24-track Analog Tape Machine

In the early 1990s a Studer A827 2" 24-track became the only multitrack in the control room at F.P.S.H.O.T. Like the A80s before it, the 827's electronics are house in a chassis with a Dolby M24H Noise Reduction Unit. I don't believe that the integrated Dolby electronics were an off the shelf configuration (someone please fact check me either way on this) and was thus likely another custom job by Veale Associates. I think the Dolby M24H unit was almost surely stocked with  Cat. 22 Dolby A cards like the A80s at F.P.S.H.O.T. before it had been.


The Studer A827 is in many ways the pinnacle of engineering when it comes to analog tape recorders. Released by Studer in 1989, the A827 was the culmination of everything Studer had learned in the past 25 years of manufacturing multi-track tape machines. With its robust construction, transport, and precise electronics, the A827 offers unparalleled performance for capturing and reproducing audio with extremely high fidelity.

Studer A827 - Photo: via https://va-studiodesign.com
Summit Audio DCL-200 Compressor/Limiter

In video from circa 2000, a Summit Audio DCL-200 Dual Tube Compressor/Limiter can be seen sitting right on top of the meter bridge of the console. I believe George was working on "My Sweet Lord 2000" around this time and probably what became Brainwashed as well. Based on its placement on the console and not in the rack I think its possible that they may have had it strapped on the outputs on the console as a bus compressor.


The DCL-200 is a hybrid valve/solid state 2-channel compressor that I believe was released some time in the '90s. The 12AX7 valves handles the signal amplification while the solid state circuitry handles the side chain circuitry and the input and output stages. Summit was attempting to capture the best of the valve and solid stage worlds with this design, which they seemed to have succeed at. They DCL-200 is generally regarded very highly with its biggest weakness being it's price (around £3700 pounds as of 2024).

Summit Audio DCL-200 on the console - Photo: screenshot "My Sweet Lord (2000) EPK
Tannoy SRM12B monitors

From photos, it seems that the Altec 604E remained the main monitors throughout the '70s and '80s, with the occasional addition of the Auratone 5Cs. Sometime in the '80s or early '90s, a pair of Tannoy SRM12B were added to the control room and placed right on the meter bridge of the console.


Also known as Tannoy Super Red Monitors, the SRM12Bs are still regarded as a quality studio monitor by many engineers. SRM12B's use 12" dual concentric drivers, which can be a controversial design amongst some, but George seemed to like them as the stuck around though the entire '90s.

Tannoy SRM12Bs - Photo: via via https://va-studiodesign.com
Tascam 122-B cassette deck (2)

Starting in the '80s, two Tascam 122 cassette decks can be seen in the rear rack. These were likely used for making rough mixes and demo recordings.


Originally released by Tascam in 1981, these decks are what later became known as "Mark I" 122's after the "Mark II" version was released in 1986. It seems extremely likely that these were "B" versions, which stood for "balanced", meaning that they had added balanced inputs and outputs. It's improbable that they would have unbalanced connections in a professional recording environment.

Tascam 122-Bs - Photo: via via https://va-studiodesign.com
UREI 1176 Peak Limiter (2)

From the earliest days until the end, two "blackface" UREI 1176's can be seen at F.P.S.H.O.T. The 1176's started in the side rack in the '70s, and were moved to the rear rack when the side rack was removed. They remained in the rack


First released in 1967, 1176's are an early example - if not the earliest - of a completely solid-state peak limiter. 1176's are renowned for their extremely fast attack and release times and just general unique, aggressive tone. Several different revisions released by the mid-'70s share the same "blackface" aesthetic. Those include revisions C, D, E, F, and G. The difference between revisions C, D, and E were all fairly small. Similarly revisions F, and G were both fairly similar. C/D/F's are considered by many to be the classic sound of the 1176 while G/H's were considered slightly cleaner version. From the photos we have of F.P.S.H.O.T. its impossible to tell which exact revision George's 1176's were. Detailed information on the various 1176 revisions can be found on Universal Audio's website here.


UREI LA-3A Leveling Amplifier (2)

From the earliest days, until the end two UREI LA-3A Leveling Amplifiers can be seen in F.P.S.H.O.T. They started in the side rack in the '70s, and were moved to the rear rack by the '80s.


First released in 1969, the LA-3A is the solid state version of UREI's LA-2A Leveling Amplifier. The LA-3A uses a TB4 optical cell to achieve compression and was especially prized for its smooth sound on mid-range sources such as guitars and vocals.

LA3As - Photo: via via https://va-studiodesign.com
Yamaha NS10M Monitors

Seen in photos along side the Tannoy SRM12B monitors, F.P.S.H.O.T. added NS10Ms (with grill cloths on) in the '80s or early '90s as well. These were the original vertical NS10M version which were released in 1978, not the later NS10M Studios.


NS10M's were originally intended to be a consumer bookshelf speakers, but found favor with studio engineers in the 1980s. They don't nessearily sound "good" but NS10s have a way of revealing details and transient response that many other monitors can't. They seem to be equally loved and hated though, but one thing is for sure, they can be found in almost every major studio in the entire world.

Yamaha NS10s - Photo: via via https://va-studiodesign.com
Yamaha SPX90 Multi Effects Processor

In the rack in the early '90s, we can see a Yamaha SPX90 multi effects processor. I don't think that the SPX90 was in the rack during the Cloud Nine sessions or Traveling Wilbury Vol. 1 sessions in the late

80s.

The SPX 90 was released by Yamaha in 1985 and quickly became one of the effects processors that helped define the sound of the '80s and '90s. The SPX90 is digital multi-effects processor, offering a range of effects such as reverb, delay, chorus, and pitch shifting.

Yamaha SPX90 - Photo: via via https://va-studiodesign.com

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Unknown Recording Gear

Unknown Rack Unit

In the back rack in the '90s is a second unit I can't quite identify. Its pretty hard to see any detail in these images. If anyone has information on what this is, please contact me at solobeatlesstudios@gmail.com. Thanks!


Unknown Rack Unit

In the back rack in the '90s is a second unit I can't quite identify. I'm thinking it may be some sort of digital recorder, but I'm not sure. If anyone has information on what this is, please contact me at solobeatlesstudios@gmail.com. Thanks!


Unknown Speakers

In the '70s we can see a pair of playback speakers on the floor in addition to the ones mounted on the wall. Its really hard to tell much detail from this image, but it it looks like they may be in the JBL studio monitor family. F.P.S.H.O.T.'s designer Eddie Veale was a speaker designer as well, so its possible they are some kind of custom job as well. If anyone has information on what these is, please contact me at solobeatlesstudios@gmail.com. Thanks!


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