Born in Mona Vale, Sydney, Australia in 1953, I was fascinated by tape recorders, music and things that moved from a young age. I took up electronics as a hobby and started building radios and amplifiers. I cut my teeth on valves. I used to catch the train with a friend after school to a disposal store on the other side of town, where we purchased military surplus valves, old telephone equipment and other junk for our projects. I grew up with the evolution of germanium transistors, silicon transistors and integrated circuits.
After completing the Higher School Certificate at Chatswood High School in Sydney, I commenced an electronics engineering degree course at the NSW Institute of Technology. During this time, I worked part time in the AWA Public Address Hiring Division, gaining invaluable experience in all aspects of sound reenforcement including conferences, sports carnivals, large outdoor systems such as Randwick Racecourse and jazz concerts at the Sydney Town Hall. I later worked for John Burnett of Leonard guitar amp fame, where I gained experience in designing and building audio equipment. I also did live sound mixing for bands and various shows during this time.
At the age of 20, I got a job at a film production house, APA Leisuretime International, in the sound department. I worked there full time for about four years. APA was a complete facility, with a huge sound stage, rear projection facilities and the ability to record orchestras synchronised to a projector. During this time, I rewired one of their mixing theatres and designed and built relay-based automatic sound dubber control systems for two of their mixing theatres. I also installed an optical mastering suite, one of the best of its kind in the country.
I gained experience in all aspects of film sound including recording, sound effects and mixing during this period. We used to stay back after hours, stringing together mono film dubbers, three track film recorders and a 35mm six track recorder to do multitrack music recording. This was a really tedious process, since these machines could only rewind at single speed!
The APA film dubbers which worked on a "Selsyn" motor synchronisation system were beginning to show their age. The US-based company Magnatech had just released their latest electronic pulse code synchronised range of machines, but the cost of replacing the entire plant with these machines was prohibitive. The company decided to embark on a research project to design and build their own electronically synchronised machines. I became involved with this project and came up with the concept of a film dubber which would be more like a conventional tape recorder fitted with a pseudo SMPTE time code generator driven by a sprocket wheel in place of the normal counter roller so that it could still use conventional film stock. Supported by the technical head of APA, Julian Nathan (who had actually designed and constructed many of the existing APA film dubbers) and outside electronics and mechanical engineers, we were given the go-ahead to develop such a machine. Unfortunately the project never saw the light of day and the company eventually closed down somewhere around 1979. It was another five years before I read with frustration that some German engineers had developed a machine based on a modified MCI JH-110 deck, working on a similar principle...
For several years I was a co-owner of a small four track music recording studio at Avalon in Sydney's northern beaches. This studio had previously been the rehearsal studio for the band Guiness, who evolved into The Farris Brothers, who later went on to be known as INXS. For a while, I did the sound for them at Avalon RSL on Sunday nights.
I was asked to do the sound for a live rock and roll musical written by Rod Lee and Calvin DeGray called "That's The Way It Is!" to go on in Christmas, 1977. They had been experiencing problems with the sound system. The show turned out to be a huge success and at the end of the first season I was approached by the father of the lead female singer who said to me "Son, if you ever want a job in the music industry, give me a call". This man, who turned out to be Rocky Thomas, the head of M7 records, put me in touch with Bruce Brown at Albert Studios and before I knew it, I had a job there.
From 1978 to 1982, I worked for Albert Studios in King Street, Sydney as both a technician and a sound engineer. My first job there was the installation of their brand new MCI JH-500 console, Australia's first automated console, in Studio 2. This was an amazing period to work in recording studios. These studios worked around the clock, seven days a week. At one point I was doing technical work all day, a live show in the evening, then back to the studio to do midnight to dawn recording sessions. The word "sleep" wasn't part of my vocabulary! I was involved with a large number of albums and artists that recorded there. Often I was asked to create special effects and sometimes even design and construct special devices for recording projects such as a drum triggering device to control a sequencer for the "Space Invaders" album. Album credits include Billy Field's "Bad Habits", The Reels "Quasimodo's Dream" and Ray Arnott's "Rude Dudes".
I consider it a privilege to have been able to work with some of the top musicians and producers in the world at these studios. I received hands on training from Bruce Brown, the Studio manager and engineer/producer, who also had a technical background, having constructed Australia's first 16 track multitrack recorder for ATA Studios. This, in conjunction with my previous PA and film experience, provided me with an invaluable knowledge of sound recording and production. It's the type of training that newcomers to the industry have little hope of obtaining when undertaking so-called audio engineering courses.
In 1982 I founded my own business, STUDIO CONNECTIONS. Over the years, STUDIO CONNECTIONS has been involved with hundreds of clients, ranging from small private studios to multi studio complexes. Most of these were music recording studios but also included radio, film and video production suites. Work has included numerous studio installations, design and construction of custom equipment, servicing the full range of MCI products, TASCAM products as well as general consoles, tape machines and outboard gear. I have also had extensive experience in console automation systems, DAT machines, DTRS machines and digital audio technology in general.
Since 1989 I have been heavily involved with computers. In 1990 I began developing a database management application in the dBASE language for my business, which I still use today, despite its now archaic platform. It's my accounting system, personal information manager, telephone dialer, ordering and invoicing system. Using the some of the core components from this system, I also created a special application for designing, documenting and costing studio installations. I have extensive knowledge and experience in PC operating systems ranging from DOS to Windows XP and networking. Since 1996 I have been designing websites at code level. I use and am familiar with most music and sound creation software.
Special thanks to Jemma Abrahams, Martin Abrahams, Phil Allison, Paul Baker, John Bee, John Ertler, John Frolich, Leon Hart, Juliet Jordan, Herman Kovak, Rod Lee, Chris Neal and Nick Soldatos for their contributions and assistance in designing this web site.
Web site designed, constructed and maintained by Colin Abrahams for Studio Connections.
It is important to us that all of our visitors can view this site without problems. If you experience any problems viewing this web site please let us know.
If you have any requests, comments or suggestions regarding this web site please let us know.
This web site first uploaded February, 1998. Current design version: 3B - June, 2003. Based on the STUDIO CONNECTIONS SC-5 template version 1.0 template - June, 2003.
|© 2005 Colin Abrahams, Studio Connections, Sydney, Australia|