Vintage Audio Enthusiasts, Unite: A Deep Dive into the World of UREI Gear
Vintage audio enthusiasts, get ready for a deep dive into the fascinating history of United Recording Electronics Industries (UREI) has a rich history filled with famous musicians, engineers, and groundbreaking technology.
Founded in the 1950s by Bill Putnam Sr. in Chicago, UREI started as a design and manufacturing addition to his recording studio business, Universal Recording Corporation. After Putnam moved to Hollywood and established the United Recording Corporation, UREI acquired Studio Supply Co. and rebranded it as the Studio Electronics Corporation (SEC). By December 1965, Universal Audio had been completely absorbed by SEC, although Studio Electronics continued to produce some Universal Audio-branded products.
In 1967, UREI acquired the broadcast division of Babcock Electronics, including Teletronix and the patent rights to the electro-optical LA-2A leveling amplifier. The LA-2A was a game-changer, used on countless hit records by iconic artists such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beach Boys. The distinctive sound of the LA-2A can be heard on classic tracks like The Beatles' "All You Need is Love" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)." The LA-2A's signature sound was achieved through its use of an electro-optical attenuator circuit, which added warmth and smoothness to vocals, guitars, and other instruments.
The 1176 peak limiter, another UREI product, was used on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and countless other hit records. Its fast attack and release times made it perfect for leveling out dynamic performances, such as heavy guitar riffs or powerful vocals.
UREI's collaborations with legendary engineers and producers also left a lasting impact on the music industry. For example, the 813 family of time-aligned large-format studio monitor speakers was developed with the help of Edward M. Long of E.M. Long Associates in Oakland, California. These speakers were revolutionary for their time, providing accurate and detailed sound reproduction that allowed engineers to hear every nuance of their mixes.
In 1976, UREI moved its manufacturing and service center to Sun Valley, California. Collaborating with Edward M. Long of E.M. Long Associates in Oakland, California, UREI created the 813 family of time-aligned large-format studio monitor speakers, which were revolutionary for their time, providing accurate and detailed sound reproduction that allowed engineers to hear every nuance of their mixes. The 813 and subsequent models introduced in 1979, including the 813A, 815A, and 811A, used Altec Lansing and Eminence drivers.
UREI continued to innovate in the 1980s, introducing the 813B, which utilized JBL loudspeaker drivers. This product was a response to financial and quality control problems at Altec, highlighting UREI's dedication to quality and innovation.
In addition to their iconic products, UREI's legacy can be seen in the equipment used by modern-day producers and engineers. Many vintage UREI pieces have been used on recent hit records, such as Adele's 25 and Kendrick Lamar's DAMN.
In conclusion, UREI's contributions to the recording industry are undeniable. Their dedication to innovation, quality, and sound has left a lasting impact on music history, and their iconic products continue to inspire and influence musicians and producers today. Whether you're a vintage audio enthusiast or simply a fan of great music, UREI's legacy is one worth celebrating.