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Vintage Concert Audio Show Shines at Prolight+Sound

Photos & Text by David Scheirman • FeaturesMay 2019 • May 8, 2019

Event co-organizer Jurgen Desch speaks before a listening session for 1990s speaker stacks, with FOH driven by a Midas XL4. Original system designers Kenton Forsythe (EAW) and Tony Andrews (Turbosound) made appearances.

For me, one of the highlights of this year’s Musikmesse/Prolight+Sound was not on the exhibit floor, but in a display area that spotlighted P.A. gear from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Known as the “Vintage Concert Audio Show” (VCAS) this special expo included not only 200 items from the formative days of sound reinforcement, but also featured panel discussions with audio engineers including Kenton Forsythe (EAW) and Tony Andrews (Turbosound) and live demonstrations of products from those periods.

The event was organized by the ISDV e.V. (Association of Freelance Service Providers in the Event Business) and the VCA e.V. (Vintage Concert Audio Show), an association of fans of legendary audio systems from the past. Over the course of four days (April 2-5, 2019), VCAS proved to be a popular attraction, was well attended and plans are already underway to present the exposition at next year’s PL+S, and possibly other industry tradeshows. Here are a few photo highlights from the Vintage Concert Audio Show…

This German-made Echolette Model 200 tape echo unit from late-1960s (cold war era) is appropriately housed in a James Bond-type attaché style case.

 

Soundcraft’s Series One (1975) was a 16×2 design and featured fixed 4-band EQ. It was built into an aluminum road case from the factory.

 

This circa-1967 Marshall Master P.A. analog tube head with column-type speaker offered four unbalanced ¼” mic inputs (each with tone control), bass/mid/treble controls on the master out and front-panel fuse caps. It’s flanked by a 1966 Marquis P.A. column at left and a 1968 Vox P.A. column at right.

 

Martin Audio stack with 115 Expo bass horns, MM 212 “philly-shave” mid-bass modules and MK-II horn/tweeter unit. This 1970s concert sound standard was used by bands such as Pink Floyd and Supertramp.

 

WEM AudioMaster mixers from the mid-1960’s, as designed by Charlie Watkins (of the Watkins Electric Music company) were used for The Who, Fleetwood Mac and many others, including at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 for Jimi Hendrix. With five inputs, it was the first “mixing desk” with onboard stage monitor outputs. These could be slaved together to create more input capacity.

 

A stack of Bose Model 800 speakers, which debuted in 1972. They were used for Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run tour in 1975. They featured eight 4.5-inch drivers per enclosure and required using a Bose active EQ unit for LF and HF boost.

 

Designed for either FOH or stage monitor mixing, TAC’s 1982 SR9000 Superconsole offered 32/16/2 with 16 auxiliary outs, eight mute groups and eight VCA groups.

 

Circa 1973, this Stramp MP16 16×2 mixer offered three aux sends and an accompanying stage input patch box with multi-core connectors. The company was founded by Peter Strüven (Strueven Amplification, or “Stramp”).

 

Stramp 2-way stage monitor wedge, circa 1972 – an early example of a coaxial driver with XLR connectors to loop units. Pairs coupled together for transport.

 

Early P.A. heads from the 1960’s: Kustom 100 and Kustom 200 with four inputs (both with the famed “tuck and roll” upholstered finish), Shure Vocal Master and Orange “Voice of the World,” both with six inputs.

 

Pro concert touring systems from the 1980’s included (left to right) Meyer MSL3 with 650 R2 subwoofer, Turbosound TMS3 with 118 subwoofers and Clair S4 Series II stack (original S4 developed in 1974). S4’s have in active service for more than 35 years. At right, an early d&b audiotechnik system (F2 with B1 subwoofer) from 1981.

 

Sound equipment from the 1970s, grouped together with one of the earliest (circa 1972) Midas mixing consoles.

Bring on the 1990s! Pro concert systems of the era included (left to right) German KS Audio self-powered system, JBL HLA (Horn Loaded Array), EAW KF850-EF with SB-850 subwoofer and the first modern line array — the original L-Acoustics V-DOSC system (1992).

 

Shure Pro Master Power Console with main-output graphic equalizers and Bose A800 rack-mount stereo power amplifier (circa 1976).

 

Clair Brothers console with innovative folding design for one-person setup/takedown. The design is attributed to Ron Borthwick and Bruce Jackson. It featured 32 inputs, six subgroups, the first fully parametric EQ section for input modules and 100-bar plasma metering.

Veteran FOH engineer Jozsef Palfi (Budapest, Hungary) operating a Midas XL-4 console for the 1980s loudspeaker systems listening session.*

 

Vintage mixing console display area, (1970s-2000) including Soundcraft Series Two (1976), UK-built Zoot Horn 24/2 (1978), Midas PRO40A 32/8/2 (1975), Harrison HM5 (1980), Clair console (1977), Soundcraft Series 500, Midas XL200 (1994), TAC SR9000 (1982), and Yamaha PM1D (2000); the latter being the first large-scale digital console for portable sound reinforcement.

 

Turbosound TMS3 with cable access bay open, revealing JBL 16-ohm 2445J HF driver

 

Vintage FOH rack with outboard gear and playback equipment from Yamaha, Roland, Sony, TASCAM, LA Audio, Dynacord and EAW loudspeaker control units

 

Power amp rack with Meyer M3A Control Electronic Units, as configured for use with Meyer Sound MSL3 and 650-RS2 subwoofers and Crest 6001 and 4801 power amplifiers

 

*A previous version of this posting has been updated with corrected info.

 

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