Even in an industry packed to the brim with ingenious makers, there are few that have had the lasting impact of Universal Audio's M.T. "Bill" Putnam Sr. Since finding his place in the studio as an engineer in his early years, Putnam transformed the way many listen, look and think during the recording process.
As the oft-said line goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention," and it may have never rang more true than for Universal Audio's founder. As he worked sessions for Count Basie and Duke Ellington at his own Universal Recording (one of the earliest independent studios in America), the limitations of existing audio equipment became apparent. The period to follow would become one of major importance to recording and pro audio history.
Forming three distinct brands, Universal Audio, Studio Electronics and UREI, Putnam developed his legacy by creating studio gear that remains unparalleled today. From the creation of the 610 tube recording console to the LA-2a, Time Align Monitor and 1176LN, the designer brought to light innovations that would create reverb, EQ and even an early version of multi-track recording.
Despite Putnam selling off and discontinuing his brands before his death in 1989, his sons, James and Bill Putnam Jr., sought to revive the legendary Universal Audio name. Reforming the company in 1999, the Putnams have continued to develop their father's repertoire of gear while also venturing into the world of digital audio.
In an effort to get a better understanding of Universal Audio's past, present and future, we visited the company's headquarters in Scotts Valley, California. Check out our video below to get an exclusive look at life inside Universal Audio and meet some of the 80 employees who work to create the company's legendary gear.