On Board at Studio B

When RCA Studio B opened, in November 1957, the console would have been a modified RCA broadcast console similar to the one pictured above. These were tabletop units with big knobs, and they were used with mono tape recorders.

The board pictured above was installed in 1958, and is now on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The console has 12 inputs and 4 outputs. This was a big expansion in capability, compared to the table-top units. The twelve-input console was used with Ampex mono tape machines, stereo tape machines, and with an Ampex three-track tape machine—also installed in 1958—that enhanced stereo recording. The mono and stereo tape machines used quarter-inch tape, while the three-track machine used half-inch tape. In this era, the tape machines and consoles used vacuum tubes.

The board shown here served until 1971, when another custom console arrived. This was another RCA model, but it was built using API components. This was the first solid-state (non-tube) board used in the Studio B control room. It had twenty-four input channels and was used with two-inch, sixteen-track Master Maker 1000 tape machine. This new technology drastically changed how music was recorded. Having twenty-four channels allowed producers to use more microphones and add more complex sonic textures to the recorded performance. Even more instruments or voices could be overdubbed after the initial session took place. This board was used in the early days of Studio B tours, which began not long after RCA closed studio in 1977.

After that board, there wasn’t another significant console in the room until Belmont University, then using the studio as a learning lab, moved in a twenty-four-channel API in 2003. The latter board is now being used in the recently remodeled Columbia Studio A, on Seventeenth Avenue South. In 2014 a new API board, the model known as "The Box,” was brought into Studio B. The control room's patch bay is also being rebuilt. A Neve console donated by performer Zac Brown and Southern Ground Studio is being worked into the control room.