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Advanced Member
Username: jzstephan

Post Number: 223
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Friday, February 07, 2014 - 5:22 pm:   Edit Post

Senior Member
Username: sonicus

Post Number: 3205
Registered: 5-2009
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2014 - 2:45 am:   Edit Post

Cool article .
Intermediate Member
Username: mtjam

Post Number: 136
Registered: 11-2011
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2014 - 4:57 am:   Edit Post

Thanks for sharing that article. Very interesting. I'm undoubtedly an Alembic owner because of my lifelong love of The Grateful Dead. The first time I ever heard of Alembic was from the inside of the Live/Dead album when I was 12!

Even people who don't like the Dead's music have to admit that they pushed the boundaries of sound technology through their experiments with visionaries such as our beloved Wickershams.

Bobby and Phil certainly continue this tradition with TRI and Terrapin Crossroads. I think it's amazing that I can stream a live show taking place in California in my own home. The sound and video quality are excellent! What a great thing for people like myself who don't get out to live shows as much these days.
Advanced Member
Username: jzstephan

Post Number: 224
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2014 - 8:13 am:   Edit Post

50 years ago the Beatles changed the world, and then these visionaries made it sound good.
Advanced Member
Username: jzstephan

Post Number: 225
Registered: 1-2012
Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2014 - 11:57 am:   Edit Post

Can you imagine what these Beatles shows would have been like with the Wall of Sound? Here’s the skinny on the sound system used for the Beatles 1965 show in Atlanta (based on a conversation with Duke Mewborn).

Atlanta Stadium opened in April of 1965. Duke Mewborn’s company, Baker Audio, was the contractor that installed the original sound system into the stadium. Baker Audio is still in business. They are not primarily in the business of live sound but, rather, are a contracting company that does installations in airports, theaters, stadiums, churches, etc.

When the Beatles booked the show there, Baker was recommended to them to run the sound. This is apparently how it worked - the Beatles would contact the stadium and they would recommend someone to run sound. Since Baker had done the installation, they were the natural choice.

The stadium had a high-quality sound system for its time. It had a control room outfitted with an Altec 250SU console. This was a 10-channel mixer that could accommodate any combination of line or mike inputs. One drawback was that the control room was behind glass. This meant that someone would have to sit in the open air and relay information to the board operator via telephone.

The stadium was also outfitted with “field amplifiers” for occasions when loudspeakers were needed on the field, such as a concert. Also, the installed speakers were for voice only - they were not full-range speakers - so they would have been inappropriate for music. The field amplifiers were Altec 1570s.

For the Beatles show, the stadium was set over second base, the geometric center of the circular stadium. Seats were only sold for 180 degrees of the stadium, so the sound crew did not have to worry about projecting sound behind the stage. (About 30,000 people attended.)

The installed speakers were not used at all. The mains, rather, were two clusters of Altec A7s. Mewborn recalls that 12 were used, set up to the left and right of the stage, and fairly tight to it.

The monitor speakers were set up in a line array in front of the stage, set low so as not to obstruct anyone’s view. I did not get the make and model of these.

All of these speakers were driven by the field amplifiers. Mewborn recalls that four were in use that night, linked together to achieve a total of 700 watts of power. (Mewborn says that nowadays large concerts use upwards of 100,000 watts.)

Mewborn used three microphones and does not recall the exact make and model. He is certain that they were dynamic cardioid mikes (comparable today to a Shure SM58) and were likely Altec, EV, or Shure. One mike was set over the drums and two were set out front for the three singers. As was customary for Beatles concerts, the guitar amps were not close-miked.

Stage monitors were of course unusual at that time, but Mewborn had a lot of experience running sound in large stadiums and often found that “slap-back” was a problem. It seems that the monitors were set up for this reason - so that the performers would not hear the music returning to the stage at a delayed interval.

Mewborn never met the Beatles, Mal Evans, Brian Epstein, or anyone else traveling with them. They did no sound check - they were just driven to the stage by limo at around 9:30, played their 30-minute set, and were gone. He did, however, receive a letter from Epstein. In this letter, Epstein praised the sound in Atlanta and asked Mewborn if he would travel with the band to help with sound. He declined, saying that he had a business to run. The Beatles never played in Atlanta again and did not contact him at any point before or during their 1966 US tour.

If you haven’t heard the bootleg from the Atlanta show, I highly recommend it. Especially in context with the bootleg of Shea, it’s striking how the Beatles react to being able to hear themselves. On “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” it sounds as if Harrison ALMOST improvises a guitar solo.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 11290
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 11:17 am:   Edit Post

Nice article; I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Username: dead_head

Post Number: 30
Registered: 12-2013
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 8:17 pm:   Edit Post

+1. Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing that. Always interested in Grateful Dead information.


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