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RE/P Files: An Interview With George Martin At A.I.R. Studio London
From the archives of the late, great Recording Engineer/Producer (RE/P) magazine, this feature is an in depth look back at the career of a legendary engineer. This article dates back to the January/February 1971 issue.
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George Martin at A.I.R. Studio London

bw: What do the letters “A. I. R.” stand for?

gm: Associated Independent Recordings.

bw: Has A.I.R. done any independent production locating the talent, etc. as yet?

gm: Yes, but not much. We left our respective companies just over five years ago—three of us left EMI and one left Decca—and we had to do a deal with EMI which lasted five years in fact; it ended about a month ago.

This was basically an independent deal but it also covered the servicing of artists that were contracted to the company anyway.

Obviously the Beatles came under that, and other artists that we handled—there were quite a few. So we had to maintain those artists and so our time for finding other artists was obviously limited.

But at the same time, as the years went by it became more and more difficult to get new artists not because they weren’t there but because the deal that we had with EMI was limited to an overall royalty which gradually became-well, in fact, very quickly became out of date.

So that by the time the contract ended we couldn’t possibly hope to secure any artists because we couldn’t offer them any money. We were bound by that and we couldn’t do anything about it.

Now that we’re free we can really look around—sniff the air—which is what we intend to do. But we decided, in fact, before we did that, to build a studio.

bw: Several of the studios I’ve visited in England are equipped, as is A.I.R., to handle visual material as well as audio. Do you feel that there is a potential in integrating the pop music field with visual technology ?

gm: Actually there aren’t all that many studios here that also do visuals. There are far more —fewer sound ones. But the tendency is, of course, to open up the visual side—mainly because, I think, this is inevitably the future. You’re bound to have video recordings they’re on our doorstep.

bw: What are your feelings about four channel sound?

gm: We haven’t built it into our boards mainly because it’s a very new development and most people in this country don’t know anything about it.

We know about it because we go to your country. I honestly don’t believe it’s a very important development. It’s quite nice; it’s pleasant; it’s a very nice gimmick, but I can not imagine the average person going to the elaboration of fixing up four speakers in their room so that they can hear the ambiance of the concert hall behind them . . .

You could have circular sound, of course, but when I was introduced to quadrasonic sound my comment was that if you’re using four speakers the ideal is not one in each corner of the room, but it is three in an equilateral triangle below you and one above you so that you’re in the center of a tetrahedron.

Then you’ve really got all around sound, in all manners—you’ve got up and down as well. But this is being idealistic and I really don’t think it’s for the average man. It’s very nice, but I can’t imagine Mrs. Jones of Wiggum or in your case Mrs. Bloomfield of Connecticut taking the trouble of fixing up her drawing room or . . . whatever you call it . . . the lounge with four speakers.

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