Iowa-based Chandler Limited has established an incredible relationship with EMI/Abbey Road Studios that allows them to develop faithful gear recreations from throughout the studio's storied history. The brand's latest piece of gear is the TG Microphone Cassette, a full-featured mixing console channel strip based on the famous TG12345 console, which was used on The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and more.
The TG Microphone Cassette begins shipping this week and to celebrate its release, we talked with Wade Goeke and Adam Fiori of Chandler Limited about the development process of taking EMI masterpieces and turning them into gear for the modern studio. Continue reading to discover more about the TG Microphone Cassette and how it can make an impact in your studio today.
Talk a little bit about the connection between Chandler Limited and EMI/Abbey Road. What's it like working with their team across the pond?
Adam Fiori: Chandler Limited’s been working with Abbey Road Studios and EMI since 2004. In 2014, we signed a new 10-year contract that included many new product ideas that Wade, Chandler Limited’s founder and chief designer, wanted to work on and also left room to make a number of others.
Wade Goeke: It’s definitely cool to send a proto over and have a reply come back that they used it on “cello for such and such movie” or “I had it on Sting’s vocal” and… Of course I can’t ever tell anyone. HAHA.
When a new Abbey Road/EMI reproduction is slated for creation, what's the process like for developing the product and bringing it to fruition?
AF: Typically, development begins with Wade offering product ideas and prototypes to Mirek Stiles, Head of Audio Products at Abbey Road. Abbey Road will spend time with the prototypes and we will discuss any ideas they have and any further ideas Wade had in mind for the piece.
You've recreated many Abbey Road/EMI classics, what made you finally decide to bring so many of them together in the TG Microphone Cassette?
WG: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve experimented with different versions for several years going back to prototype consoles I’ve done. To me, it seems very easy to miss the mark with a channel strip when you combine user expectations with the cost of building a truly quality product. I wanted to give it time to grow as an idea and to let cost and performance balance each other out through using the products here at our studio.
The TG1 Opto Limiter is new with the release of the TG Microphone Cassette. Can you elaborate a little more on that element of the channel strip?
WG: Since the Zener Limiter and TG1 have been out for quite some time, I wanted to try something a bit different. There were a number of reasons why I went Opto, however the idea came from envisioning what a TG Opto would sound like and getting excited about the possibilities. I was hoping it would give greater control over the knee and aggressiveness of the compression, as well as being able to go into more subtle but still colored compression.
Once I had a theory on how to do it, I decided that I was only going to do it using actual vintage EMI circuits so that it was still completely authentic. In the end, I was able to adapt several circuits from the TG12410 Mastering Desk and my new concept worked perfectly! In addition to re-creating vintage Abbey Road units, it has always been a priority of mine to expand upon what they had started years ago. Another example of this is our Curve Bender EQ, and there will be others that continue this approach.
AF: One other fun note in this implementation of the TG1, is the "HOLD" control (no connection to the function on the RS124 Compressor.) The TG12413 compressor on the TG12345 desks had a "HOLD" control, which was used to set the amount of compression. The engineers were instructed to (prior to the take) adjust the control while observing the gain reduction meter, setting the needle for the desired amount compression.
The TG12345 was such a significant piece of recording history, what kind of impact can the new Chandler channel strip version have in the modern studio setting?
AF: The Chandler Limited TG1, TG2, and Curve Bender EQ on their own have had an enormous impact on a great many records since their release. Having these tools combined in a complete channel strip and delivering the legendary TG12345 sound with flexibility will extend the legacy.
WG: The biggest part for us was offering versions of those units in a price range that more users can reach and to do it without sacrificing any of the sound or quality. Like all our products, the Cassette is hand made in the US and we have not substituted any cheap parts to do it. It was about working smartly with the circuits that were there and putting them together in a way that was optimal for both the customer and manufacturing.
AF: Users will find having the option to patch the TG1 Opto Limiter separately from the TG2 Preamp/EQ section valuable, as a single TG Microphone Cassette can be used on multiple sources simultaneously. The ability to the link two units also sets up a wonderful TG12345 mix-bus scenario.
Chandler fans will be familiar with several elements of the TG Microphone Cassette since they are prior reproductions from CL, but what's something special they might not think to do with the unit?
AF: Wade included the "Rumble Filter" from the REDD.47 Mic Amplifier. The "Rumble Filter" is more than a low-cut filter, and acts as a tone control, affecting the full range of the source. Users will find this an invaluable sculpting tool when used in conjunction with the Curve Bender EQ section.
The TG2 Pre-amp gain controls are implemented like they were on the original TG12345 recording console, featuring a stepped "Coarse Gain" and a separate variable "Fine Gain." Adjusting the "Fine Gain" allows users to drive the TG2 pre-amp for more coloration; being variable, it allows more freedom to hit the sweet spot!
WG: A big thing for me is the versatility of the TG1 Opto section. It can hit as hard as the original TG Limiter but in Rounded Knee mode, it can be as gentle and nicely colored as any classic Opto circuit out there.