R2D2? Space Heater? Digital Reverb?

This odd space heater-sized box is actually a digital reverb and quite a rare one at that. EMT (Elektro-Mess-Technik) was a turntable manufacturer in Germany, but they also had a keen eye for the development of artificial reverberation. Their Model 140 plate reverb changed the trajectory of music mixing back in the late 1950s. The 140 has remained a standard for analog studio reverb to this day, we even have one going into our recording studio. Over time, technology advanced and brought the flexibility of digital to the table.

Originally released in 1976 (and again recently, as a digital plugin), the EMT 250 broke new ground with its stunning depth and flexibility. To this day, it is considered by many to be one of the world’s best sounding digital reverbs, we certainly agree.

IMG-5974

A reverb like this is beneficial in the creating of space ‘around’ a sound, it can add textural early reflections that broaden the soundstage and depth of a mix. This EMT 250 will be a perfect compliment to our even older EMT 140 stereo plate reverb.

IMG-6082

The 250 is surprisingly well though out of and offers features that were innovative, it could even be configured as a multi-effect unit. It even has two sets of inputs and four discreet outputs. In addition to straight-ahead reverb, it has chorus, phase and delay effects. These units have become quite rare, as EMT only made 250 before releasing the 251 in 1979

Our EMT 250 digital reverb came from Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland. Over the years, our unit provided stunning and shimmering reverb on dozens of critically acclaimed albums from bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, AC/DC and a heap of records by the band Queen, who owned the studio for much of its life.

Written by Drew Raison, photography by EMEAPP

A Crusty, Old, Awesome Tape Echo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA big part of the inventive sound of the band YES, was their use of echo and delay on vocals and guitar. As the guitarist for the band, Steve Howe brought fresh sounds and a unique playing style. Singer, John Anderson, did the same with his upper-range, etherial vocal style.

Why is this particular rusty tape echo unit of importance to EMEAPP? Because it helped make musical history, both on stage and in the studio. It is a vintage Maestro EM-1 Groupmaster analog tape delay that has been ridden hard by years of touring with YES.

Many people ask us how we authenticate historically significant artifacts. Sometimes it can be quite difficult, as we search through the interwebs machine looking for an ancient photo of a performer on stage or in the studio with the item in question.

Here’s a shot of the Echoplex in question, sitting right behind Steve on stage with Yes back in the early 1970s. Is this proof that ours is the band’s original unit? Probably not, but it certainly indicates that he was using a Groupmaster back in the day.

Howe Groupmaster

Here’s the kind of proof that we appreciate, a snap of Steve with his arm on the actual delay, along with a certificate of authenticity.  Now, go put on “Fragile” and crank it up like you should. 🙂

STEVE HOW ECHOPLEX

Written by Drew Raison, photos by EMEAPP and Tom Cox

A Partial History of the String Machine

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve been having some fun with ‘string machines’ here at EMEAPP. We recently received a pair of vintage Eminent organs that sparked a conversation about the origin of keyboards that focus on string ensemble-type sounds.

Our Eminent 310U Unique and its big sister, the Eminent 310T Theater were the leaders of the pack. They include a ‘Strings Ensemble’ section that spawned the creation of the ubiquitous stand-alone string keyboard. In addition to a believable string ensemble sound, these Eminent organs have a brilliant bucket-brigade chorus effect that has become a sonic flavor that most will recognize. In fact, the Eminent 310 Unique contained the first polyphonic string synthesizer on the market.

In 1972, Eminent organs brought the Unique to the public. It sold well to the home market, but they also spurred interest in the music production and studio world.  This unique string sound was noticed by composer/producer Jean-Michel Jarre, who used his 310s all over two of his critical releases, Oxygène and Équinoxe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpon realizing the potential of a stand-alone string synth, Eminent repackaged the string portion of the 310U into a single four-octave unit. They released this unit under their “Solina” brand name, and called it the “String Ensemble“.

In 1974, American synth maker, ARP, licensed the Solina and rebranded it under their badge. We have a unit with ARP stickers right over the Solina logo!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Eminent string sound was innovative, as were the electronics behind it. Its sound has become embedded in our musical souls and has graced huge hits in the disco, rock, jazz and prog world.

Keep your eyes open for an upcoming article that covers the ‘string machine’ derivatives from brands like Freeman, Roland, Crumar, Elka and many, many more.

Written by Drew Raison, photography by EMEAPP

What do Steve Howe, Bo Diddley and Bernie Worrell have in common?

They all used a Roland Jazz Chorus JC120 2×12″ solid-state guitar amplifier. These musicians were quite different genre-wise, but they all loved the sound that the legendary JC 120. Loud and clean, and a chorus effect that is totally worth the price of admission.

The sound of early The Police is a great example of this amp’s sound. Andy Summers’ clean and shimmery tone is proof that this amp is a real player. King Crimson’s stellar album, Discipline, has the Jazz Chorus all over it. Its clarity and presence are pretty much unmatched.

P1130098

The unit on left was an amp that guitarist Steve Howe used with his bands Yes and Asia. The center amp was owned and used by legendary blues artist, Bo Diddley. His tone typically had chorus and tremolo, both sound great on this amp.  Lastly, the purple Jazz Chorus with the grille cloth removed was owned and used by Bernie Worrell, keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic, Talking Heads and Bootsy Collins.

P1130097

The venerable Roland Jazz Chorus, or JC 120, has become a prime example of a clean, powerful and luscious guitar amplifier. First released in 1975, the JC 120 quickly rose into favor because of its reliability and reasonable cost, but also due to the stunning chorus effect built within. This ‘Dimensional Space Chorus’ effect was output in true stereo, giving a wide and open sound field. Throwing that magical chorus switch makes the amp sound six feet wide, it is quite an open and 3D sound.

P1130118

Interestingly, the heavy metal community embraced the Jazz Chorus to provide its clean yet powerful tones. Since the JC 120 is solid-state, it doesn’t overdrive the signal as a tube amplifier might. This makes it a great candidate for a crystalline, strong amplifier for on-stage use. James Hetfield from the band Metallica is a Jazz Chorus user, as well as many others in the metal community.

Roland still manufactures the Jazz Chorus series, which shows its viability, especially after four decades of manufacture. If you get a chance, fire up one of these bad boys and take it for a spin, you’ll be impressed!

Written by Drew Raison, photography by EMEAPP