RECORDING

Historic Consoles in the National Music Centre Recording Studios

By National Music Centre

By National Music Centre

One of the most unique recording environments in the world, National Music Centre's studios boast three vintage consoles for recording today's music.

#1: Rolling Stones Mobile Studio & Helios console

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Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

“The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio is unquestionably the Sistine Chapel of rock ‘n’ roll.”

John Leimseider, late NMC Electronics Technician

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio & Helios console

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Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio & Helios console

Learn More Here

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio & Helios console

Learn More Here

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

Conceived by Rolling Stones tour manager Ian Stewart and built in 1968, the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) was the first ever professional mobile recording studio.

The mobility of the truck and flexibility of its recording equipment allowed the RSM to capture some of the most iconic rock ‘n’ roll records of all time, including:

* Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main StreetThe Rolling Stones
* Zeppelin III and Zeppelin IVLed Zeppelin
* Machine Head, Burn, and Live in EuropeDeep Purple
* Penguin and Mystery to MeFleetwood Mac
* Live!Bob Marley and The Wailers
* Alchemy: Dire Straits LiveDire Straits
* HarvestNeil Young
* Live in ItalyLou Reed

The RSM is even referenced in the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water,” which tells the story of how the mobile studio was almost destroyed by fire when the band recorded in Montreux, Switzerland.

Helios console

The Helios recording console inside the RSM was manufactured by Helios Electronics Ltd. in 1968. The company had been founded that same year by Dick Swettenham, former in-house technical director at Olympic Sound Studios (London) who designed their popular custom recording desks. This console is the second Helios ever made.  Learn More Here

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

Helios console

Helios specialized in making custom consoles for clients, including made-to-measure wrap-around layouts and steeply angled console sections that made controls more ergonomic for the engineers using them.  Learn More Here

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

The RSM was used as a mobile control room giving artists the flexibility to record wherever and whenever they wanted and cutting down on studio costs.

Former Stones bassist Bill Wyman bought the truck in the mid 80s and used it for the Ambition Invention Motivation Success (AIMS) project, providing free recording facilities to emerging artists throughout England.

Rolling Stones Mobile Studio & Helios console

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Rolling Stones Mobile Studio (RSM) & Helios recording console (1968) by Helios Electronics Ltd.National Music Centre

Acquired by the National Music Centre in 2001, the RSM and its Helios console have been restored and are now parked next to the King Eddy stage, a historic live music venue, where they can record and live stream new music directly from the stage or connect to any of National Music Centre's unique live rooms.

#2: Olympic console

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Olympic recording console (1976) by Olympic StudiosNational Music Centre

"Much of the timeless music from the 60s and 70s was recorded at Olympic—some on this very console."

Jesse Moffatt, NMC Director of Collections and Exhibitions

This Olympic recording console is a one-of-a-kind analog console built in-house in 1976 by Olympic Sound Studios in London, England. Designed by Olympic’s chief engineer Keith Grant, the console replaced their original Studio A desk created by Dick Swettenham, who later established Helios Electronics Ltd.

Olympic console

The console is famous for its wrap-around design, making it easier for the engineer to access controls.  Learn More Here

Olympic recording console (1976) by Olympic StudiosNational Music Centre

Olympic console

Olympic Studios also revolutionized the way recording desks worked, superseding vacuum-tubes with solid-state technology.  Learn More Here

Olympic recording console (1976) by Olympic StudiosNational Music Centre

Olympic’s renowned custom recording equipment and sound engineers attracted the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks and David Bowie.

Installed at Olympic Studios in the late 70s, this console recorded artists such as Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello and Barbra Streisand.

Today, fully integrated into National Music Centre's Control Room B recording studio, it is used for large tracking and mixing sessions by new and established artists.

#3: Trident A-Range console

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Trident A-Range recording console (1975) by TRIAD (Trident Audio Developments)National Music Centre

"This console is the fifth of only 13 EVER made."

Jason Tawkin, NMC Studio and Electronics Engineer

Trident Studios began production of their Trident A-Range recording console after failed attempts to get a custom mixing console built for their London studio. Their line of consoles was formally named TRIAD, which stood for Trident Audio Developments, though the consoles were known colloquially as "Trident."

Trident A-Range console

One of their major selling points was their ability to interface with a 24-track tape machine, the first console to do so. The Trident's design was also highly functional and attractive to music producers, with new features such as track light indicators.  Learn More Here

Trident A-Range recording console (1975) by TRIAD (Trident Audio Developments)National Music Centre

Trident A-Range console

This 1975 unit is the fifth of only 13 ever made.  Learn More Here

Trident A-Range recording console (1975) by TRIAD (Trident Audio Developments)National Music Centre

These legendary consoles are responsible for some of the most classic records of all time from artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, Queen, Rush and Metallica.

Today, fully integrated into National Music Centre's Control Room A recording studio, it is used for large tracking and mixing sessions by new and established artists.

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