The Sound Of A Memphis Studio's Fairchilds

US Heritage Audio releases Ardent Edition HERCHILD 660 and 670 Vari-Mu compressors      02/04/24

Heritage Audio has introduced its HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition Vari-Mu compressors. A spokesperson told us, "Our ultra-limited-edition units have captured the spirit of hearing records made at Ardent Studios by effectively recreating what made one of the world's most iconic recording studios' original modified vintage Fairchilds sound so unique, ultimately responsible for those records really representing the heart and soul of Memphis."

Here's their press release with the full details...

Lovingly located on Memphis' Madison Avenue since the Thanksgiving weekend of 1971 -- though the notable name dates back to 1959 and much more humble beginnings in a family garage, today Ardent Studios is one of the most iconic recording studios in the world, well known for its creative energy and technological excellence. Indeed, it has been home to a wide range of unique and talented recording artists, producers, and engineers, while witnessing the creation of many timeless recordings that have influenced the direction of modern music and music production.

It is perfectly understandable, therefore, that when Ardent Studios first contacted Heritage Audio to evaluate the possibility of having an 'Ardent Edition' of the European pro audio manufacturer's HERCHILD Vari-Mu compressors -- carefully crafted as modern-day alternatives to the most revered processors in the world and released to widespread critical acclaim in May 2022 as mono (MODEL 660) and stereo (MODEL 670) variations following in the Fifties-vintage footsteps of an inspirational technology that became an essential ingredient to making history happen on so many hit records with a sought-after sound so many have become accustomed to hearing in over six decades of music production -- with which they could replace their original Fairchild units, Heritage Audio collectively could barely believe it. In reality, however, Heritage Audio's HERCHILD has effectively established itself as the industry reference for 'Vari-Mu Fairchild' compression the world over, but Ardent Studios' (rejuvenating) request provided the European pro audio manufacturer with a challenge (and also a unique opportunity): to take its carefully crafted (re)creation to another level, one that could conceivably turn its exceptional enquirer into an ardent admirer.

All of which begged an obvious question: what is it, exactly, that is so special about Ardent Studios' original Fairchilds? An answer lies in the fact that the team at Ardent Studios modified the attack and release times of their original units back in the early Seventies so that the time constraints were faster and more suited, therefore, to the increasingly rigorous demands of making modern recordings at that time. The modifications in question were first used to track Jimmy Page's acoustic guitars on the 1970-released Led Zeppelin III album, and that remained a best-kept secret... until now. Needless to say, after receiving the pencil-on-paper notes pertaining to those original modifications, Heritage Audio worked with the team at Ardent Studios tirelessly to nail the time constraints of the original units and -- after several months in the making -- the ultra-limited-edition HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition Vari-Mu compressors are now here. Thankfully, the team at Ardent Studios were so impressed with the resulting performance that they have now replaced their original modified vintage Fairchilds with four HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition units alongside a Model 670: The Ardent Edition. Enter Ardent Studios into the written proceedings, who -- upon taking delivery of their new Heritage Audio units on January 23, 2024 -- promptly proclaimed: "Peter Rodriguez of Heritage Audio was first contacted by our team when we wanted to recreate what made our original modified vintage Fairchilds unique -- from combing through our old modification notes to unique component values, he more than did his homework and has proven himself a true historian of recording technology; we at Ardent would like to thank him for taking on such a unique project that has meant so much to us."

Ultimately, Ardent Studios has been a special creative space for a diverse and well-known clientele, counting English rock royalty Led Zeppelin; American soul and R&B duo Sam and Dave; American rock band ZZ Top; American rock band R.E.M.; American blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn; American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and record producer B.B. King; American rock duo The White Stripes; American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan; American musician Stevie Wonder; American alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins; and American rockers The Allman Brothers Band amongst its impressive rallying roll call, to name but a notable few. Fortunately, thanks to Heritage Audio ardently capturing the spirit of that iconic Memphis recording studio with its HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition Vari- Mu compressors, anyone can effectively now own a legendary piece of gear that has been the centrepiece of so many multi-platinum recordings for many decades.

Available as ultra-limited-edition units produced only on request through Heritage Audio distributors, the 'modified' HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition Vari-Mu compressors -- and, indeed, their HERCHILD Model 660 and Model 670 standard siblings -- are a result of the European pro audio manufacturer successfully following the original Fifties-vintage 'family' -- formed from one-time availability as mono (MODEL-660) and stereo (MODEL 670) variations -- design that made them the most revered processors in the world as an essential ingredient to making history happen on so many hit records with a sought-after sound so many have become accustomed to hearing in over six decades of music production, albeit rarity rising throughout the decades has made original units increasingly hard to come by and near impossible to acquire. As such, Heritage Audio was able to trace the necessary components to manufacture modern-day alternatives, priced more realistically to suit those trying to craft contemporary hits of their own making with that familiar tone. This has been quite a long and winding road on Heritage Audio's part -- from tracing thousands of NOS Vari-Mu tubes from all around the world to commissioning the best names in the industry for making the needed transformers. By being based around 11 valves and five transformers in the case of the mono HERCHILD Model 660 and 22 tubes and 11 transformers in the case of the stereo HERCHILD Model 670, users can be assured that they will imprint that signature sound all over their tracks. Though this has taken Heritage Audio years to achieve, the European pro audio manufacturer has patently produced something so special that it is capable of letting the old 'grandaddy' of all compressors take a long-deserved rest -- as Ardent Studios' stunning reaction to taking delivery of its favoured four HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition units alongside a Model 670: The Ardent Edition with which to continue making its revered recording journeys to glory, ones which really represent the heart and soul of Memphis, clearly proves.

It is well worth noting here that, while staying true to the originals in terms of response and sound, Heritage Audio added a few things to make its HERCHILD Model 660 and Model 670 -- and, by that token, also its HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition -- Vari-Mu compressors more practical in modern- day studio setups, starting with direct access to the continuously variable slope (DC THRESHOLD) control -- something that makes those compressors so much more convenient since such control was only available on the originals via an inconvenient screw adjustment hidden from immediate access -- and also including SC FILTER control with four different frequencies to precisely tailor compression needs; needless to say, the stereo HERCHILD Model 670 and its 'modified' Model 670: The Ardent Edition sibling both provide an option to use them independently or linked together with IND (Individual), LINK (stereo), LAT VERT (mid-side), and LAT VERT LINK operational modes, the latter providing a whole new world of options when mixing. Moreover, those modified release times to perfectly match Ardent Studios' original units in the case of those ultra-limited-edition HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition units should not, of course, be overlooked when choosing which one -- or more -- of Heritage Audio's (temporarily) expanded family of vintage-sounding Vari-Mu compressors might best suit anyone's modern-day studio setup.


The ultra-limited-edition HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition and Model 670: The Ardent Edition are being produced only on request through Heritage Audio's growing global network of dealers with an SSP (Standalone Selling Price) of €5,999.00 EUR (including VAT) and €10,999.00 EUR (including VAT) in the EU, respectively, and a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) of $5,999.00 USD and $10,999.00 USD, respectively, US distribution being handled via RAD Distribution.

For more in-depth info, please visit the dedicated HERCHILD Model 660: The Ardent Edition webpage here.

For more in-depth info, please visit the dedicated HERCHILD Model 670: The Ardent Edition webpage here.



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