The Fairchild 660 Audio Compressor at The Church Studio

Control Room 1

The Church Studio, with its rich history and legendary recordings, has long attracted musicians seeking high-quality sound. To elevate this sacred space even further, we’ve included a vintage piece of analog audio gear, the Fairchild 660 Audio Compressor, known as the “holy grail” of outboard gear.

Originally, a church built in 1915, The Church Studio was transformed into a recording studio in the 1970s by legendary rock musician Leon Russell. Russell’s vision was simple, yet profound: to create a space where artists could explore their creativity freely, and where the music could be elevated to a spiritual experience.

The Church Studio, home of Shelter Records, became linked with some of the most iconic musicians in history including George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Kansas, Bob Marley, and others. The Church’s primary draws are the distinctive analog sound, warm acoustics, and priceless vintage gear.

The Fairchild 660 is an audio compressor that is a legend in its own right and commonly referred to as the “holy grail of outboard gear.” Originally created in the late 1950s by Rei Narma for Les Paul, who collaborated on a customer compressor/limiter on Paul’s dining room table. Narma was hired by Fairchild Recording Equipment Corporation which licensed and manufactured the 660 and other Narma designs.

Front Side of the Fairchild 660

 

Inside the Fairchild 660

Its silky compression and harmonic saturation have graced countless classic records becoming a studio mainstay of the era. 660s were seen in studios like Abby Road and Motown and used in recording sessions for the Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Adele, and many others. The Fairchild 660 has a unique warmth and character that makes it one of the most sought-after pieces of vintage audio gear.

However, as technology advanced, the Fairchild 660 became increasingly rare and expensive, making it elusive for many studios. But for The Church Studio, its acquisition was a mission worth pursuing. As with most of the analog gear, this Fairchild 660 was acquired after a long search from former top-level studio, dtla recording, and multi-Grammy-winning producer Dennis Herring in Los Angeles. Herring has produced The Hives, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, Modest Mouse, Camper Van Beethoven, and Jars of Clay.

Dtla Recording Studio

 

Dtla Recording Studio

 

Here are four reasons why we chose to introduce the Fairchild 660 to The Church Studio Control Room:

  1. Musicality: The Fairchild 660 is praised for its ability to impart a warm, musical coloration to audio signals. It has a unique way of gluing together individual elements of a mix, enhancing the overall cohesiveness and character of the sound.
  2. Dynamic Control: This compressor is renowned for its outstanding dynamic control making it perfect for taming transients and controlling dynamics, which is crucial for achieving a polished and professional sound.
  3. Vintage Magic: The Fairchild 660 captures the allure of analog audio equipment, giving recordings a timeless feel that’s difficult to achieve with modern gear. It brings a hint of nostalgia to any session. 
  4. Versatility: While the Fairchild 660 is most often associated with its use on vocals and bass, it is a versatile tool that can be applied to a wide range of instruments and sources, including drums, guitars, and even the mix bus.

Significant enhancements to The Church Studio’s acoustics by installing the Fairchild 660 are: 

  • Enhanced Warmth: The Fairchild’s characteristic warmth will infuse recordings made at The Church Studio with an added dimension of depth and richness.
  • Greater Sonic Cohesion: The Fairchild’s unique compression characteristics will help bind instruments and vocals together, resulting in a more cohesive and harmonious mix.
  • Timeless Sound: The vintage flavor of the Fairchild 660 will contribute to a timeless quality in the studio’s recordings, ensuring that music created here continues to resonate with listeners for generations to come.

The Fairchild 660 Audio Compressor’s arrival in The Church Studio’s Control Room marks the start of an exciting new era in the studio’s recording story. This highly sought-after piece of equipment will elevate the Studio’s sound, capturing the magic of the past while creating the music of the future. This sacred space will inspire and amaze musicians and engineers as The Church Studio expands and innovates to achieve acoustic perfection.

 

Where the Fairchild 660 Will Live at The Church Studio

 

The Church Studio’s Control Room

 

Nancy Ruth

Nancy Ruth

Meet the woman behind the blog, Nancy Ruth, The Church Studio's PR and Development Director. During the week, she spends most of her time writing press releases and grants with a coffee in hand. She's passionate about music history and on a mission to share untold stories!

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2 Comments

  1. Margie Mashek Davis on October 11, 2023 at 12:57 am

    My friend and I are coming to Tulsa for the first time to see The Church Studio & hear our Texas guitarist Eric Johnson blow the doors off Cain’s Thursday night. I am so glad I came across these articles about the history of not only The Church itself, but of the masterful engineering still being implemented. I’m an old rocker & Leon Russell’s work is like a prayer. It works so beautifully still. His piano runs are #1 on my earworm charts. Can’t help it! I will never forget him in Ft. Worth TX 1973~ me-age 19~and Leon was dressed in a white suit with a white top hat & probably white cowboy boots but he GOT UP ON TOP OF THAT WHITE GRAND PIANO & SANG WHILE STEVE WINWOOD PLAYED THE PIANO. It is etched permanently in my long term memory. Just had to share that. See y’all at the Church on Friday 10/13/’23.

    • Nancy Ruth on October 11, 2023 at 9:17 am

      Thanks so much Margie! We love those Leon stories! See you soon!

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