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Music Hardware Technology

Hanging Out at Sun Studio, Where Rock and Roll Was Born (Video) 102

Posted by timothy
from the five-for-the-money-six-for-the-show dept.
Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and other greats recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. It's still there (after a spotty history, including resale and re-opening in the late '80s) -- and it's still analog. Mostly analog, at least; a Pro Tools system is there for people who don't want to pay for an all-analog production. Thousands of tourists (I met a family from Norway who'd come to visit Graceland and Sun) descend on the old building each year just to see the place, and others come to record in the legendary space and what has become a boutique recording studio. I got to chat for a while with Sun recording engineer Matt Ross-Spang about working with the studio's lovingly gathered and restored recording gear, some of it nearly three times as old as he is. (An unexpected bonus: hanging out for a few hours in the Sun control room is a good way to bump into Fluke Holland, former drummer for Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, who stopped in just after we stopped shooting.) Be warned: there are some bursts of rock-and-roll to listen through.

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Hanging Out at Sun Studio, Where Rock and Roll Was Born (Video)

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  • Transcript (Score:4, Informative)

    by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday April 13, 2012 @11:03AM (#39673651)

    Title: Sub Studio: Where Rock and Roll Was Born
    Description: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and other greats recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. It's still there and still analog. Timothy lord talked with sun recording engineer Matt Ross-Spang...

    00:00 - <TITLE>
    The SlashdotTV logo bar with "Sun Studio in Memphis, TN... where Rock and Roll was born" appears over a shot of a red "SUN STUDIO" neon sign in a window.

    00:02 - <TITLE>
    A shot of Timothy Lord with the Sun Studio building behind him appears.

    00:02 - Timothy>
    Studio engineer Matt Ross-Spang wasn't even born when most of Sun's most famous records were cut.
    Nonetheless, he's thought a lot about what makes them sound the way they do.
    He's gonna talk us through some of the tech.

    00:11 - <TITLE>
    Various shots of audio equipment appear; a Scully 280 reel to reel tape machine and a mixing panel.
    (1), is played in the background.

    00:18 - <TITLE>
    The interviewee, Matt Ross-Spang, is shown sitting in Sun Studio control room, with the SlashdotTV logo bar reading "Studio Engineer Matt Ross-Spang"

    00:18 - Matt>
    Around 30's, 40's, is prolly, you know, when they start making decent recording stuff that you can still use besides, like, a wax recorder or something.
    So I've got that.. a bunch of microphones are from the 40's and 50's.. 60's - I've got pretty much every decade down.
    Of course Ampexes are from the 50's, those mono tape machines that I use, and the Scully is from the 50's and 60's.
    The newest tape machine would be the Studer a80 ... -

    00:43 - <TITLE>
    The view zooms in on the tape machine discussed before zooming back out.

    00:43 - Matt> ... - which is kind of like the Cadillac of tape machines - they made the best ones and they were the last makers of the best tape machines.

    00:50 - <TITLE>
    "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis is played in the background.

    00:50 - Matt>
    Really high quality tape machines.
    You'll find them in all the major studios running tape.
    Some people like 'm, some people don't - they're not.. as far as tape machine goes, they don't have that crazy tape characteristic as much as the Scully, because a Scully is a bunch of lead, and this one is like, you know, trying to make it as clean as possible.
    But they sound, really cool.
    So that's probably the most modern tape machine I have for sure.

    01:20 - Matt>
    And then you got the outboard gear.
    That's the same thing, 50's ... -

    01:23 - <TITLE>
    The camera pans up slightly to show the gear being discussed before panning back down.

    01:23 - Matt> ... - there's some stuff from, you know, few years ago, up there.
    It's stuff that I like, really unique stuff.

    01:28 - Timothy>
    Does anything stick out from the older, from the 50's and 60's, that is, you know, outboard gear that you're really happy to use?

    01;34 - Matt>
    Well, I think, if you're talking about effects or outboard.. 50's, I mean, in the 50's they used - besides a real room - for reverb they used a plate in the 60's.
    Plate reverb is something digital will never be able to emulate, ... -

    01:49 - <TITLE>
    "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins is played in the background.

    01:49 - Matt> ... - and tape echo.
    They've got plenty of plugins that do tape echo, but you gotta hear the tape echo, you've gotta smell the tape to get tape echo, and it's.. especially for Sun, if I don't use tape echo then I need to f... get a new job. *laughs*

    02:06 - Timothy>
    Is your job pretty safe?
    As an analog specializing engineer?

    02:11 - Matt>
    Yeah - I mean, you know, I do freelancing stuff.. other places, and I, you know, I'm not saying Pro Tools sucks.
    I'm not saying I have to cut the tape and I can only use 50's gear.
    I've gone to studios

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