Unitrack Model Uni-16 Tape Machine

Message Board - Unitrack Uni-16 Tape Machine - General Discussion

It was the end of the 1960’s British pop music topped the charts all around the world. The number and size of UK studios was expanding exponentially. Multi-track recording was set to become the de facto way to record popular music.

John Alcock Robin Bransbury and Tommy Thomas set out to build the one of most advanced multi-track machines of its day. A serious contender for world multi-track market

Unlike many of its competitors who had evolved their designs from smaller formats, the Uni-16 was designed from the ground up to handle 2” tape.

The designers experimented with various designs and deck-plate layouts prior to settling on the final one and had built and tested a prototype fabricated deck plate.

All the production machines had a 4” deep cast aluminium deck plate. Which was mounted by a tube on each side that allowed the deck plate to swing around its middle for servicing.

The machine had dual capstans to maintain and isolate the tape tension across the heads. A servo motor drive the right capstan directly with the left one coupled by a mylar belt.

The tape tension was sensed on both supply and take-up sides in a servo loop control. Its straight tape path, devoid of stationary guides, gave it the fastest possible rewind speeds.

The tape counter/timer was all electronic with digital display; working from the left hand tension roller it was designed to be accurate to <0.1% (4 seconds in an hour)

Each of the sixteen channels had it own plug in electronics module , with easy to adjust front mounted trim controls and separate plug-in boards for line, sync and replay amps.

Early adopters

A pre-production 16 track machine was tested at Abbey road in 1969. However, it would be another couple of years before EMI would buy their first 16 track machine. The first production machines were sold in mid 1970s.

A rather spectacular 24 track machine, the first 24 track made in Europe was produced for Morgan Studios and featured in the July Issue of Studio Sound (the most widely read trade magazine at the time)

The Rolling Stones ordered a special shallow 16 track machine for their mobile recording studio. This machine had the transport controls shifted up to a box mounted below the meter bridge. This enabled the machine’s depth to be reduced for the rather cramped BMC mounted control room. Contrary to some reports, in was used in France. Orders were in the bag for Ronnie lane and Chalk Farm

Quiver Studios in Shaftsbury Avenue were keen to equip all their studios with the new machine.

Foundational text and pictures courtesy of Bill Todd.

Unitrack Uni-16 Tape Machine

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