Welcome to the Radiophonic Museum of BBC Audio Engineering and Design
This blog is a living celebration of just some of the innovative contributions that the BBC has made to the history of sound reproduction; and consequently the broadcast and music recording industries as we now know them. Representing just the tip of the invention iceberg as far as the BBC is concerned, this collection of ‘vintage’ audio equipment from a bygone age has been rescued and restored to working use for recording, mixing and mastering today; primarily because it sounds so good, exceptional even, and was of course, built to last.
Some of the exhibits described here date as far back as World War II, but still remain at the pinnacle of British audio engineering achievement in terms of character and sonic quality (though this was born out of practical necessity in the field and on the wireless rather than the application of some subjective aesthetic or dark art).
My fascination with BBC audio engineering arose from an interest in the Radiophonic Workshop at BBC Maida Vale studios in London, whose inventive and innovative approach to sound design included the experimental use and abuse of BBC technology of the day.
Some exhibits relate to the practice of the Workshop even though they were not designed or built by the BBC, whilst others are Corporation through and through. Of course in these times much of what those early Workshop pioneers achieved can theoretically be recreated in the timeless and spaceless vacuum of the virtual world, however I can’t help feeling that something visceral is lost in translation.
Such an obscure collection of artefacts wouldn’t have been possible without the help and enthusiasm of a number of dedicated people whom I have been privileged to meet along life’s way. Many have worked as engineers for the Corporation at some time or another; all share a passion for sound, its reproduction, re-codification and preservation. I would like to thank the following (and apologise to any whom I may have forgotten to mention)
Peter Posthumus, David Hurlock, Phil Macbean, Alistair Biggar, John Phillips, Steve Ridley, Chris Chambers, Jim Gregory, Phil Barwell, Paul Gass, Pete Bulley, Adrian Wisbey, Colin Pearson, Chris Tomley, Bob Jolly, Nick Sheridan, Tim Tierney, Charles Commander, John Turner, Chris Bates, John Egan, John Bower, Stephen Guy, Peter Forrest, Ian Reid, Robin Spicer, Chris Owen, Martin Ellen, Justin Bennett and the family of EVE.
Martin King 2017 Stockport