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
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
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.
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.
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