K-Chuck Radio: The WABC Sonic Experience!

Can I let you in on a secret?  That oldies radio station you enjoy so much?  It’s not playing your records the way the music producers in the 1960’s intended those songs to be heard.

And no, I don’t mean that they’re in a digital format now.

See, back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was not unusual for record players and radios to be powered with vacuum tubes.  RCA Victor’s 45 players from the 1950’s, for example, garnered their audio from vacuum tubes.  And most records from the 1960’s were mixed specifically to sound awesome through AM car radios.  That thumping “Motown sound” will capture your attention that way, for sure.

That being said, one of my Facebook friends, R.F. Burns, has essentially recreated the sound of vintage radio – complete with proper equalization and limiting and everything else.

So here’s a quote from the YouTube page:

When listening to 1955-71 music today, you don’t hear it the same way people heard it when it was originally on the radio. We have recreated WABC, New York’s mid 60s audio chain and all the music on this page has been run through vintage equalization, vintage plate reverb and vintage compression and limiting. Vintage audio processing has a richer, denser, warmer sound than anything you would hear on radio today. We can take any piece of audio and make it sound superior with our custom, vintage, WABC, New York, mid 60s audio chain. Listen to any song or other piece of audio on this page and listen to the same song uploaded by someone else on youtube or anywhere and you’ll hear a huge difference for yourself.

So let’s test this out, shall we?  Just imagine that you’re behind the wheel of your Pontiac GTO “The Judge” and you’re pushing the buttons to pick up your favorite Capital District 1960’s radio station – WPTR or WTRY or WSNY – and your favorite songs come on…

And they sound like this.

THE CRYAN’ SHAMES
It Could Be We’re In Love

The Cryan’ Shames were an amazing Top 40 band from Chicago that did get some play here locally, and just imagine how it sound when it’s processed to sound like a classic car radio sound.  Wow…

THE MAMA’S AND THE PAPA’S
California Dreamin’

On the digital copies of this song, you can hear five voices at the beginning of the track; the song was originally recorded by Barry McGuire, and you can still hear a hint of his voice on the track today.  Not on this version, where the proper balance and sound enhancement essentially makes McGuire’s voice disappear.

MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS
Heat Wave

This is a classic example of what a Motown track would sound like if it was coming out of the dashboard of your car.  Berry Gordy completely understood the concept of an equal-loudness contour acoustic, didn’t he?

THE MONKEES
Valleri

The weird thing about “Valleri” is that it’s really a song with 1 1/2 lyrics and was patched together from a fragment of a song from the Monkees’ early episodes – yet it became a Top 10 hit two years later, when the producers needed to keep the Monkees music machine going.

THE RASPBERRIES
I Wanna Be With You

This is probably the most processed song of the rock era; I don’t think Eric Carmen could have packed in one more note or instrument or guitar fuzz in this track.

THE ROLLING STONES
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Speaking of guitar fuzz… damn that Keith Richards riff just pumps through in this version, don’t it?

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL
The Sounds of Silence

I don’t know how this would have sounded if the original “Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” acoustic version was pumped through this process, but the hit version (with the electrified background artists) sure sounds swank here.

RICHARD AND THE YOUNG LIONS
Open Up Your Door

This song was a Top 10 hit all over the United States.  Yeah, maybe if it had been a Top 10 hit AT THE SAME TIME all over the United States, it would get more airplay on oldies stations.  Still… great song and great rocker.

THE STUDENTS
I’m So Young

I thought I recognized this song – the version I remember was recorded by Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes way back in the early 1960’s… but damn doo-wop sounds amazing in this format, doesn’t it?

THE FLIRTATIONS
Nothing But A Heartache

Oh my Lord this Northern Soul stomper sounds freakin’ awesome!  Crank up the speakers!! Blast it so loud that your co-workers either tell you to turn it down or they start singing along!!!

So let me say this.  What R.F. Burns has done with this audio process is pretty amazing.  And you should contact him through his YouTube page and just listen to how much richer your favorite oldies sound… Definitely impressive.

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4 thoughts on “K-Chuck Radio: The WABC Sonic Experience!”

  1. a great example of how good a radio station sounded in the 1960’s, with a good processing system is KRLA in Pasadena and KEWB in Oakland. those stations sounded “HUGE” and the music jumped out, in front of the speakers., Joe Collins

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  2. Not a fair comparison. Songs we heard on any of the stations during that time period were all the much hotter/more compressed mono mixes – the stereo mixes are much more wide open spacially and not nearly as impactful, no matter how much of the processing you [ut on them. Yes, there is an impact with the processing compared to the unprocessed stereo mixes, but if you want the real deal, you have to begin with the real sources – the original mono mixes.

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    1. Some of the songs on the page are from the original mono mixes. This is true of a majority of the 50s material and some of the 60s material such as Cream-Sunshine Of Your Love. In either case, the person who did this is an audio genius. He recognized on the stereo mixes that it’s possible to get the best of both worlds and processed them to get the warmth and density of 60s AM radio, but with FM quality, high fidelity frequency response. That makes the songs sound even better than they did originally on 60s AM radio. He did the same thing with the original mono mixes. In either case, all the music that was processed on this page sounds better than it ever did on oldies radio or any other place on the internet. Smart record labels, musicians and music producers should send this person their current digital masters to have them processed the same way. Current digital recordings sound thin, boring and have no punch. Imagine the overall improvement to current digital recordings if they were processed this way.

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