On the bench: Symetrix 501

This pair of Symetric 501 compressors has just arrived from the USA. They will be tested, switched to 220 VAC and recapped before being listed in the shop

These are great-sounding VCA compressors with a big reputation. They have a switchable sidechain, switchable auto attack/release, stereo link switch and a separate limiter

The 501 came in a couple of versions: early models used the TA-101 VCA – designed by Paul Buff of Valley People fame – whilst later models used a dbx 2181 VCA. I have one of each in stock

On the bench: TC Electronic 1220 Stereo Equaliser / Preamplifier

I’ve just finished recapping & testing this TC equaliser / preamp. It’s a useful, musical-sounding eq with a decent amount (20 dB) of gain in hand. Each channel has two bands of EQ, ±20 dB gain control & bypass switch

This 1220 is in nice condition and still has all the original knobs & switches. It’s in the shop now

TC Electronic 1220

This has the usual TC Electronic upside-down PCB

TC Electronic 1220

Simple EQ section with no electrolytic capacitors

TC Electronic 1220

Power supply and input / output on one board, recapped with Panasonic caps, bipolar for the audio section. PSU bypass caps are on the other side of the board

On the bench: McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

This McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor came from a radio station in the USA and dates back to the 1970s. The limiter is based on a diode bridge, like the Neve 2254, and the compressor is switchable. Both sections sound awesome when crushing drum tracks – sound samples to follow

I’ve recapped the unit & will replace the power transformer so it can be used on 220 Volts. The attack & release pots are inaccessible so I’ll move them to the front panel & source some suitable knobs

Note the lovely horizontal meter – proper meters like these are an endangered species now and have become diabolically expensive

The LR1004C will be in the shop when ready

Under the hood

McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

Guts shot

McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

70s orange plastic compressor in/out rocker switch

McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

Matching power switch

McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

Neve-style horizontal meter shows GR or output level

McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

Compressor board and line output board

McMartin LR1004C Limiter / Compressor

Lots of space for attack & release pots to be added

Audio test files

Drum room test audio file processed through Alesis Micro Limiter and a modified Alesis Micro Limiter

This test is anything but definitive: levels have not been matched and it’s extremely hard to match settings on these units

Original file

File through modified Alesis Microlimiter

File through unmodified Alesis Microlimiter

Misc SR-JV80 links & info

A growing collection of miscellaneous info about Roland SR-JV80 synths such as the JV-1080


Expansion boards for sale



List of expansion boards



Compatibility Guide for expansion boards



Roland main SR-JV80 page



Don Solaris



Gearslutz Favourite SR-JV80 expansion boards poll



Nathan Sheldon patches



Soundprogramming.net page




Dolby Noise Reduction

Professional Dolby Noise Reduction

Dolby A noise reduction (NR) was used on millions of 16- and 24-track 2″ multitracks and 2-track masters. It’s a 4-band compander which boosts levels on recording, and compensates on playback, thereby reducing noise

Dolby SR, the successor to Dolby A, offered around 10 dB more noise reduction. Tapes encoded with SR require an SR card for decoding

Domestic Dolby Noise Reduction

Dolby B was a domestic NR commonly used on cassette recorders. In many ways a simplified version of Dolby A, B was s single-band NR system, boosting high frequencies on record and reducing them on playback. As with Dolby A, B required accurate level & frequency response matching for best results. It had the happy by-product of making B-encoded tapes sound brighter on non Dolby-equipped playback systems

Dolby C and Dolby S were later domestic systems

Professional Dolby hardware

Dolby hardware separates the host and NR card. The host typically provides audio input / outputs (via transformers on the 361), power supplies and remote switching whilst the NR card performs audio functions only

Dolby produced hundreds of card types for audio, film, broadcast & etc. In single- and dual-channel models these fell into two main categories, first- & second-generation models.The noise reduction specification (A, SR, etc) remained constant across hardware generations but cards & hosts are not interchangeable between generations as Dolby changed connector standards

First-generation hardware (supports Cat 22 (A) and Cat 280 (SR) cards)

  • 360 – single-channel interface in 1U
  • 361 – single-channel, updated version of the 360
  • 362 – dual-channel in 1U, electronically balanced, front-panel trims
  • 365 – dual channel in 2U, electronically balanced, front-panel trims

Second-generation hardware (supports Cat 350 (SR), Cat 450 (A) and Cat 300 (SR / A) cards

  • 363 – dual-channel in 1U, supports SR & A

For multitrack systems Dolby produced the ubiquitous M16 (16-channel) rack and the later 8-channel expansion. The M16 used standard Cat 22 cards with separate Cat 44H i/o interface cards. The M16 was superceded by the 24-channel XP24 SR rack


More info from Sound on Sound


Reverbs & Effects for sale are here

Page under construction

Before there were digital reverbs there were reverb plates, springs, mechanical reverbs  and – of course – reverb chambers

A reverb chamber is a simple idea – take an empty room, fit a speaker and a pair of microphones and create natural reverb. It’s simple in theory, and hard to do in practice, but there were (and are) some great chambers in larger studios

The plate reverbs was invented by EMT in 1957 and used a suspended steel plate with a transducer and a pickup (later, two pickups for “stereo”). The transducer energised the plate and reverberation was created by the sound waves travelling around the plate. Plate reverbs are still in use, and in production, 61 years later

In the late 1970s EMT began research into digital processes to quantify & generate reverberation. This led to the 1976 EMT 250, still one of the most feted reverbs in the world

The other pioneering reverb company at that time was Lexicon in Waltham, Mass. Lexicon and EMT had one thing in common – Dr Barry Blesser, a founder of Lexicon and designer of the 250 for EMT.

EMT had a background in broadcast and high-end audio products whereas Lexicon was a typical high-tech company which grew in the shadow of MIT


Reverb Top Ten

  1. Lexicon 480L
  2. Lexicon 224XL
  3. EMT 240
  4. Lexicon 224
  5. EMT 250
  6. AMS RMX16
  7. Lexicon PCM70
  8. EMT 244
  9. Quantec QRS/L

Modifications, Upgrades & Recapping


We do a number of modifications including a high-pass filter mod for the Cloud CX335. Email workshop@bn1studio.co.uk for details


We can source output transformers for dbx compressors. We can supply dbx 160X or dbx 160XT compressors with the transformer fitted or retrofit a transformer to your dbx. Email workshop@bn1studio.co.uk for details


We can recap most pieces of gear. Equipment we’ve recapped to date includes:


In Preparation

We have quite a list of gear in prep. When it’s complete it will be for sale in the shop. Till then you can fin it on our In Prep page


Equalisers for sale are listed here

In theory, equalisation is one of the simplest audio tasks. That doesn’t stop there being thousands of EQs to choose from, using hundreds of different approaches to a couple of of basic topologies

The earliest equalisers were used to flatten the frequency response of fixed telephone lines. They were typically LC (Inductor / Capacitor) equalisers followed by a valve gain make-up stage. They were designed for permanent equalisation and would have a fixed HF boost matched to the line

The advent of equalisation in sound recording and cinema audio playback led to variable equalisers like the legendary Pultec EQP-1A. The development of transistors led to equalisers with more frequency bands and greater flexibility

Cost is a big factor. Cheap EQs can work well but are likely to be limited in flexibility and precision. They are also unlikely to be easy & enjoyable to work with

At the other end of the scale, high-end equalisers like the GML 8200 and Massive Passive offer great flexibility, accuracy & repeatability – at a price

The middle ground is where the price / performance ratio works best. Great affordable, usable EQs include


Equaliser Top Ten

  1. GML 8200
  2. Pultec EQP-1A
  3. Massive Passive
  4. Neve 8108 console EQ
  5. Klein & Hummel UE400

Honourable mentions



Shop Update January 2018

Here’s to a successful New Year!

Incoming 2018:

* Empirical Labs Distressor EL8X (pair)
* Empirical Labs Fatso EL7X (stereo)
* MXR Dual Limiter (stereo)
* dbx 160XT (pair) with sequential serial numbers, mint
* dbx 160A (pair) with sequential serial numbers, excellent
* dbx 160X (pair) with output transformers, excellent
* dbx 163X (pair) modified, recapped, rebuilt power supply
* NTP 179-500 Limiters (pair) in NTP 1U rack
* Aphex Dominator cards (pair) for dbx rack, NOS (New Old Stock)
* Valley People Dynamite (stereo) original version in 1U rack, recapped, rebuilt PSU
* SPL Transient Designer (2-channel)
* SPL Transient Designer (4-channel) with XLRs

* UREI 546 Stereo Parametric Equaliser
* UREI 530 Stereo Graphic Equaliser, rebuilt, new slider pots
* UREI 535 Stereo Graphic Equaliser, rebuilt, new slider pots
* White 4100A Stereo 10-Band Equaliser, inductor EQ
* White 4000 Stereo 10-Band Equaliser, inductor EQ



Rhythm Roulette


My latest obsession: Rhythm Roulette. DJs & Producers take three records – or CDs – and chop them to make a beat. The level of talent is amazing – here 9th Wonder shows us how it’s done

Boss Micro Rack Effects

Boss Micro Rack – 12-Bit effects from the 1980s:

Boss RDD-10 Digital delay
Boss RDD-20 Digital delay
Boss RSD-10 Sampling delay
Boss RPS-10 Pitch shifter / delay
Boss RPD-10 Panning Delay
Boss RCE-10 Chorus
Boss ROD-10 Distortion / Overdrive
Boss RPQ-10 Preamp / Parametric EQ
Boss RBF-10 Flanger
Boss RRV-10 Reverb
Boss RGE-10 graphic eq
Boss RCL-10 compressor / limiter
Boss RPW-7 Power supply unit

Roland Boutique SE-02

Roland has partnered with Studio Electronics to produce an analogue synth with all the facilities of a modern digital synth. It sounds great in this clip

Shop Update June 2017


On sale now:

In the workshop:

Shop Update May 2017

New arrivals tested, modified, packed & ready to ship:

In the workshop:

Long-term projects

Shop Update March 2017

New arrivals tested, modified, packed & ready to ship:

In the workshop:

Long-term projects

Leon Theremin

Robert Moog, Roger Linn, Dave Smith, Don Buchla, Tom Oberheim, John Chowning, Leon Theremin, Olga Theremin

Robert Moog, Roger Linn, Dave Smith, Don Buchla, Tom Oberheim, John Chowning, Leon Theremin & Olga Theremin at Stanford University’s centennial celebration, September 1991

Leon Theremin was born on 15th August 1896. In this photo Theremin is surrounded by the most influential synthesiser designers & inventors of the last hundred years


Photo © Bob Moog Foundation Archive

OSCAR – Open Source Console for Analogue Recording

A recent idea inspired by the success of the 500-Series format and the continuing popularity of analogue consoles. OSCAR is a an open platform for building analogue consoles, based on buckets of eight channels with simple metalwork and – as far as possible – standard parts

One possible path is to size the bucket so that 500-Series modules can slot right in. They’re 1.5″ wide as standard. Other options include modules 2″ wide (actually 50.8 mm). This fits in with the Eurocard standard

Both 500-Series and Eurocard have a standard 3U (5.25″) module height, but Eurocard also allows for a 6U (10.5″) standard which is a far more usable size for a channel strip

I don’t see 500 modules as the perfect solution. A taller channel strip would allow greater flexibility and reduce cost and allow the format a wider appeal

Metalwork represents a sizeable proportion of the total cost of a console but it’s possibly the most difficult thing for DIY builders to create. Constructing a console out of standard parts, each built to close tolerances and with a good finish, would leave the DIY builder free to concentrate on electronics

There’s a thread running about the idea over on the Group DIY Forum



First sketch of OSCAR


First sketch of metalwork ideas









What has Roland ever done for us?

Whilst writing the description of a Roland delay line, I thought about the various devices they’ve produced down the years. It’s a long list, littered with products almost every musician knows: TR-808 – is there anyone in the world who hasn’t heard one? RE-201 Space Echo – one of the hottest vintage items around. SH-101, JX-8P, D50 – the list is long & glorious

So, here’s my abridged list of “What has Roland ever done for us?”

RE-201 Space Echo

JC-120 Amplifier
Boss CE-1 Chorus

Roland System 100 synthesiser
Roland System 700 synthesiser

Roland GR-500 Guitar synthesiser
Roland MC-8 Microcomposer Sequencer

Roland CR-78 Drum Machine
Roland Jupiter-4 synthesiser

Roland Dimension D
Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus
Roland System 100M modular synthesiser

Roland TR-808

Roland Jupiter-8
Roland MC-4
Roland SDE-2000 (first digital effects unit)
Roland TB-303
Roland TR-606

Roland SH-101
Roland Juno-6
Roland Juno-60

Roland TR-909

Roland MKS30 rack synth (version of the JX-3P)
Roland MKS-80 rack synth “Super Jupiter”
Roland JX-8P
Roland TR-707
Roland TR-727
Roland MPU-401 PC Midi interface

Roland MKS7 rack synth
Roland Alpha Juno
Roland Octapad

Roland MKS-70 rack synth (version of the JX-10)
Roland MKS-50 rack synth (version of a Juno)

Roland D50
Roland D550 rack synth (version of the D50)
Roland MT32 synth module


Roland JV880 rack synth (version of a JV-80)
SR-JV Expansion Boards

Roland JV-1080 rack synth “Super JV”

Roland JV-2080 rack synth

DIY Audio Electronics


Hand-built Neumann W492 Stereo Equaliser clone

DIY Audio Electronics

There’s lots of interest in DIY projects at the moment. Many pieces of vintage gear have been recreated and schematics, circuit boards, bills of material (BOMs) and build logs abound

I have a number of projects underway – probably too many – and locating components is a major part of the build process. Below is a list of links to some of the better known resources

In a later blog post I’ll detail some of the more popular DIY projects


GroupDIY Forum
A friendly forum with some real experts on hand

diyAudio Forum
Rather more esoteric forum with a wider purview


Audio Maintenance Ltd
UK-based parts supplier, also high-quality kits. AMEK specialist. Authorised Penny & Giles sales & service

Hairball Audio
US-based kit & parts supplier

Prolific designer, DIY creator, forum contributor

Jacob Erland’s boutique pro-audio manufacturer, also has DIY project info

Schaeffer AG
German enclosure & front panel manufacturer

German case manufacturer, specifically for DIY projects

Italian case & enclosure manufacturer

Front Panel Designer
Software to design front panels, suitable for printing & engraving

Component Suppliers

Rapid Electronics
RS Components
Don Audio

Herbie Hancock & Quincy Jones, Fairlight CMI

Quincy Jones hanging out with Herbie Hancock as he’s jamming with the Fairlight II. The Fairlight was an 8-Bit sampler with twin 8″ floppy drives. No mouse, just a light pen to use with the green screen. Vintage gear watchers will spot the Fender Rhodes, JBL monitors and what looks like a Commodore computer, probably for an editing program. Circa 1985

Roland SR-JV80 Compatibility Guide

List of synths & modules compatible with SR-JV80 Expansion Boards. A list of all expansion boards for sale is here

The boards plug into the synth modules & keyboards listed below.  They are easy to fit – a screwdriver is the only tool required

Compatible Synth Modules
Compatible Synths
Fantom FA76