Outboard Gear

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Fairchild 660 Limiting Amplifier

By 1956, Rein Narma was working for the Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation, and one of his first tasks was to design a new limiting amplifier (Joel, 2002). The Fairchild 660 was introduced later that year and would go down in history as one of the most important and iconic pieces of gear to shape the sound of recorded music. A decade after it was introduced, The Beatles would unearth its power to make sounds punchier and more aggressive on their records (Bieger, 2002). Van Gelder was first in line for the 660, purchasing serial number 1 (Joel, 2002; Jenrick, 2005).

Pultec EQP-1 Parametric Equalizer

Van Gelder also added the Pultec EQP-1 parametric equalizer to his rig in 1956, seen behind him in the photo below.

EMT 140 Plate Reverb

In early 1957, the field of artificial reverb advanced light years overnight with the introduction of the EMT Model 140 plate reverb. Created by Walter Kuhl in the Black Forest of Germany, Van Gelder acquired serial number 44 immediately, and his mixes instantly improved leaps and bounds.

In Hackensack, Van Gelder kept the plate in the bedroom adjacent to the control room (Sickler et al., 2011). Then in 1962, after his move to Englewood Cliffs, Van Gelder added a second EMT 140 plate, serial number 410. Both plates were originally mono and have since been modified for stereo.

Correspondence between Van Gelder and EMT founder Wilhelm Franz dated April 9, 1962 indicates that Van Gelder’s first plate, serial number 44, has a very special sound. In the exchange, Van Gelder asked if it would be possible for EMT to duplicate the sound of his first plate by either modifying his new plate or replacing it. Franz then confirmed that unfortunately, EMT would be unable to fulfill Van Gelder’s request, which makes his original plate number 44 very special indeed.

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