I bought my first house in 1979, to celebrate the end of the KISS Dynasty tour, and my getting a real job. I lived in that house for over 16 years through several changes of career, acquisition of a wife, creation of a kid, and all manner of ups and downs.
When I got divorced and moved, I left many things behind, thinking I’d go back and get them one day. My ex-wife remained in the house; she’s still there now. Time passed and “one day” never came for all the other stuff I left behind. This weekend, thanks to Cubby, it arrived. I found myself unexpectedly cleaning up the basement and I found these gems from my past:
You are looking at the two amps that were the heart of Pink Floyd’s concert sound system in the late 1970s. When the Floyd was not on tour (which was most of the time) the sound equipment was rented out by their in-house sound company, Brittania Row Audio. I was the American side's engineer back in those days.
The Quad 303 was a very clean 40-watt amplifier, small by today’s standards but average back then. The quads drove the Gauss radial horns, with one Quad to each horn. A typical system might use 16-24 on each side of the stage. These Quads were very smooth, clean amps for horn use.
The Pink Floyd Mk III’s were brutes, real workhorses. They were based upon highly modified Phase Linear 700s. I fitted beefier power supplies, more rugged output stages, and internal limiting which upped the power 50% over their civilian counterparts while retaining the sweet sound. I made over several truckloads of these beasts in Britro’s Long Island City workshop. These Mk IIIs had a peak power of about 500 watts per channel, and they were racked four channels to a case, making them some of the most powerful PA amps in existence in the late 1970s. We used these amps to drive our low and midrange cone speakers.
These amps, with the Gauss speakers, my crossovers and limiters, and Midas consoles, made a sweet sounding system that could do anything - we could do Black Sabbath one night and Melissa Manchester the next without missing a beat. Even today, they’d do a fine job in most any venue in the world. I can still remember the feeling, standing backstage, watching the LED meters on those amps as the band played. I could feel my system run, standing back there in the dark, and I always knew just how much it could take. We never had breakdowns when I was there. I may not have played an instrument, but I knew how to make my sound system sing.
Back in the 70s most of the big English bands toured this equipment. When we brought the system to America it spent a number of years doing all kinds of music from heavy metal to new wave to blues, jazz and even disco.
It’s nice to rediscover them again, after almost 30 years in the basement. I think there's more stuff down there, hidden and awaiting rediscovery. I'll go look tomorrow.
Causes John Robison Supports
I support Asperger and autism advocacy groups. I also support the University of Massachusetts