A Crystal Sound Story

It was Boston, in the winter of 1976-77. I stood on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Newbury St. — at the entrance to the Mass Turnpike — and, facing due west, I watched the sunset. I decided I was going to get on that turnpike, drive west, and not stop until I got wet, which must mean I had reached the Pacific Ocean at the Santa Monica Pier.

A legendary vintage Trident A-Range console at Cherokee Studios.

The next May, I went to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in LA. The running joke was all my buddies chipped in and bought me a one way ticket to LA… but it was much more serious than that… I found an LA yellow pages and began visiting studios in alphabetical order. Joe Chiccarelli had previously visited LA and came back with the famous line: “In Boston, we have five studios… in LA they have five studios ON EVERY BLOCK!” So I was determined, after reading about all these studios in the trade journals, to see for myself. I was able to visit over 40 studios, and I gave my resume to everyone I could. Subsequently, I got 35 job offers! So I moved to LA, started at Cherokee Studios, and then managed to get a few evening and weekend gigs in other studios doing maintenance, wiring, fixing equipment…

…and I got a few gigs doing recording, and nearly every time I’d go into a studio to record there would be a noisy fader, a crackling switch, a bent pin on a VU meter (!!!) something with a tape machine that needed aligning or fixing… so seemingly every three-hour recording session turned into a six-hour marathon of fixing things first, (it was called maintenance in those days…) then recording after everything was tweaked. So I made a business card which said “Mixing and Fixing”, and it served well.

Crystal Industries Recording Studio at 1014 N. Vine Street in Hollywood.

A few weeks went by, and I got a call from Crystal Sound (almost next alphabetically from Cherokee, you might notice; Conway was actually next in line) and I went to meet Andrew Berliner. He interviewed me for eight hours. First, he questioned me, thinking I was a spy for some other studio. Then he grilled me about all sorts of electronic trivia. Then he more or less took me into his confidence and told me the overall story of the studio and the history of the equipment. He had various partners and associates and staff and friends, all of whom contributed their part to the overall effort.

His effort may have started as a hippie studio fantasy, but soon turned into an electronic design laboratory right on the cutting edge of what anyone in the industry was doing. From Doctor My Eyes by Jackson Browne in 1972 to an enormous string of hit albums by Stevie Wonder, Crystal was on the map as one of the hot LA studios. A further appeal was that it was a one-stop shop: you could record, and mix and master your album all in one building, and the main recording room was also big enough to hold an orchestra… read more >

Crystal Sound 1967 Vintage Men’s T-Shirt

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