EXPLORING THE HISTORY OF BROADCAST AND RECORDED SOUND

2020-05-17 6 By David Taylor

Examining the techniques from the ’50s to the ’90s in sound broadcasting and recording.

Mixing a programme in Limehouse Studio A at Wembley in 1990.

The aim of this blog is to hopefully show some of the changes in professional sound that took place during the years that I worked in the industry. I joined the Anglia Television Sound Department in the summer of 1966 and I closed my ‘Postfade Sound’ television post-production suite in 2012.

In 1966 my colleagues were still mixing on valve mixing desks, with the first germanium transistor consoles having just appeared. There was no sound dubbing of videotaped programmes in television and all TV sound was mono, mixed live or ‘as live’ and radio mics were not yet in use.

As I said, I began at Anglia TV and then moved to Thames for a very short spell before London Weekend Television, first at Wembley Studios, diverting via a period at LWT’s ‘spin off’ Intersound Recording Studio and then joining Capital Radio before hopping back to LWT; but now at the new South Bank studios.
The LWT times were wonderful years in which ‘sound’ developed in leaps and bounds, and in which also I got to be a TV Sound Supervisor.
The demands of my private life made me leave London for a quick stint at a Welsh facility Barcud, before joining another ITV company, TVS at Maidstone and then on to the beautiful newly converted Limehouse TV Studios at Canary Wharf, making shows for the new Channel 4. The TV facilities business was an unreliable employer and the first time Limehouse ‘crashed’, I had an ‘enforced’ spell freelancing and then a return to Limehouse; this time it was my job to help with the move into the same Wembley Studios I had left 15 years earlier.

Despite the enormous payout to the new Limehouse owners from ‘Canary Wharf’, the money-men eat it up and Limehouse ‘crashed’ again so finally, I had an even longer return back into the freelance world … just as many of the staff at the BBC and ITV also ‘went freelance’… and then I needed another change, so started my own sound post-production suite within a video editing facility; firstly in North London at Ace Editing and finally at Pinewood at OutPost Facilities. I enjoyed post-production mixing enormously but I was no businessman and Pinewood was an expensive place to be, so wrapped it up in 2012.

Wow…didn’t I move around! Some of it ‘itchy feet’ I guess, but also because TV did become such an ‘unstable’ business through the years, with certainly no jobs ‘for life’ anymore.

Coming from a TV background, with some recording studio and even radio time as well, and ending up in sound post-production has helped inform and broaden my interests, so I think I can write about a very wide range of professional sound areas with a good level of understanding.

I will be going back through my years in sound and point out those changes and the transformations in technology that have occurred so that new practitioners can understand more easily ‘where we’ve come from’, and even help those who had lived through it, remember what it actually was like!

I believe that using examples from actual programmes and recordings is the best way to illustrate these changes, so there will be lots of video and sound clips ’embedded’ in the posts.

I’m really also hoping I can get contributions from other ‘sound people’ to help me, as there were some really great mixers I met, and so many others that I wish I’d met, on the way.
So please if you have something to recall about any aspect of broadcast or recording studio sound … perhaps from your own past or experiences …. do send them to me to include, as it would make this a much better ‘document’ of the changes in sound through the years to hear from others in these pages.

(And photographs are so important too…they really do help bring back the memories.)

I love undertaking the amount of research that the Pye and Neve articles have required but I’d love you to get in touch when you think you can help me, via the comments or an email. The ‘comments’ form at the bottom is harmless, I think it just asks for your email address, so that I can start a ‘direct conversation’ that way.

TO E-MAIL ME: david@postfade co.uk.

A rather bizarre 300 degree shot of Postfade Sound, Pinewood Studios, and its 24-fader Fairlight Constellation XT in 2007

Dave Taylor

Dorset UK 2020

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