The Studio Project, Part Three

We’ve arrived in Los Angeles and unloaded a van full of vintage studio gear into our shop … now it’s time to get down to business! This is a major project: rebuilding a Soundcraft TS-24 that has been in many pieces for years and had just been driven across the country in a van … from unpacking all the bubble-wrapped components to the first signal through the desk!

The console reassembly represents the biggest project, but there’s also the JUPITER-6 and JUNO-106, and the Kurzweil, among other pieces of fine old gear that haven’t been powered up in well over a decade. What’s going to happen?

Soundcraft TS-24

This is a classic piece of analog studio gear from the early ’80s. Built like a tank (it feels like it weighs about as much as one, too). Eager to get some signal through it to confirm that it survived the trip (not to mention years of storage), we set ourselves to assembling all the pieces …


Time to clean out the Kurzweil: opened it up to vacuum out dust and spider webs. Why does this keyboard have such great piano action, and why is it so fucking heavy? Real wooden hammers on each key, that’s why.

Firing up the JUNO and the JUPITER; expectations were not high, especially for the latter. But much to our delight, both synths are working fine (except for the backup batteries, but that’s to be expected)!

It was a long process, but in the end … yes, we have signal all the way through the system … success!

There’s actually quite a bit more work to be done, at this point. A few channels are still a bit funky, and not all the meter elements are working (though least they’re not smoking – see below) – in any case the signal path all the way from mic preamps through the mix bus is clean and that’s the important thing.

The next step is to finish the cosmetic work (including the wood and leather trim, like a proper swank ’80s studio!) and move the desk from the shop to the new control room … then we’ll patch everything in and work all the remaining bugs out of the system …

“The Meter Bridge is On Fire”

Well, it wasn’t exactly on fire … but it could have been. It was definitely smoking. It was around 3AM, and I (Peter) was working on some of the final connections between the desk and the bridge, checking audio through each channel … and the meters weren’t working, moreover there was indeed smoke coming out of the meter bridge, accompanied by the smell of burning electronics. “Oh, shit. And it was going so well, up to this point,” I thought. I immediately killed the power supply and started hunting for the source of the potential conflagration. At around this time (perfect timing), Amy came walking through the shop and said “Hey, how’s it going? I smell smoke.” “No problem,” I replied. “Everything’s under control,” I said not-quite-completely-honestly. Shortly (get it? shortly?) thereafter I found that a few meter modules were not correctly aligned in their connector slots, causing the main meter bridge power line to start burning off the ancient (early ’80s vintage) ribbon cable insulation (it looked kinda like what happens to film when it jams in an old 35mm projector) … ok, reinstalled the meter modules, repaired the cables and put it all back together … whew, functional meter bridge! Now it’s time for bed.

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