Phil Driscoll has generously sent me the following information:-
If my memory serves me correctly, the Studer’s at the back of the room (in the 1980s) were two or three A80s for recording, and two B62s which were used for editing (usually while the next recording was taking place).
The editing was done on closed Pioneer headphones - were they SE 305’s? ( yes, Pioneers - I R ) in the presence of extremely high sound levels from the JBL monitors (powered by H&H V1000 mosfet amplifiers in bridged mono mode if I remember correctly.
It was a point of honour to have all edits done by the time the band were dismissed.
We usually got to have a proper listen back to the edits on speakers at the end of the session !
The walls around the tape-op position were daubed with graffiti, all word-play on 'Hulme'. The only ones I can remember are 'Sir Alec dug this Hulme' and 'There's no place like Hulme'.
In the unused room which used to be the old control room, right up until the Playhouse closed, there was a DK 1/5 linking console, which I guess must have been used for the RD 4/4 tape machines which presumably were in service before the Studers.
In respect of Ron's photo showing the A80 8 track, it might be worth pointing out that this was not normally used for recording the orchestra, recordings were usually (if not always) straight to stereo on W spools.
Outboard FX gear was minimal. I think I remember that there was a reverb plate in the building, ( An EMT ?) and in the early 80s there always seemed to be an Eventide Harmoniser and an AMS DMX 1580s stereo delay lying around.
Later there was also an AMS RMS 16 reverb unit, however it may be that some or all the above were booked out of stores.
DFW sometimes used a microphone in the gent's toilets up in the gods for reverb, but not on orchestra sessions, in my experience.
Our eyes were always trained on the closed circuit TV monitor fed from the camera in the front door looking at the car park, which always seemed to be littered with broken glass from car break-ins.
Obviously worth a mention in the technical section are “Brenda's sausage sandwiches” which cured many a musician's hangover, and helped us all to become the size we are today. (Brenda is still around - Cheadle, I think - IR)
The Wurlitzer at the Playhouse came from the Empress Ballroom at the Blackpool Winter Gardens where it was installed in 1934. Prior to that, the organ had been in the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, but was heavily modified before installation in the Empress. I think it was moved to the Playhouse in about 1970.
In the mid 1980s Johnny Roadhouse did a Radio 2 session along with Nigel Ogden on the Wurlitzer.” - Happily this still exists on Cassette, but is well worth re-issuing on CD, such is the quality of the playing by both musicians (IR)_
Ken Gregory told me about his experiences on the new stereo desk :-
Ken had one of the first Band sessions following the stereo installation,and was surprised to find a high level of hum on the desk’s output.
This was eventually traced to some unscreened power cables, and as a temporary solution 2 x 24 volt truck batteries were commandeered from Transport, and the desk used in 48 volt battery mode !
The current drain was so high, that the session was completed by using batteries for the quiet numbers, and mains power for the loud ones !