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London Music: The Sound Revolution

The United Kingdom has been the birthplace for numerous acts that revolutionized the music industry on an international scale. Artists that were not only talented, but years ahead of their time emerged, and with them came new ways of making and performing music. This new sound is what became affectionately known as The London Sound.

London is perhaps most famous for its Rock scene during the 60’s as this is what gave way to acts such as Iron Maiden, The Clash, Led Zeppelin and most popularly, The Beatles. The Beatles could easily be regarded as the pioneers of the 60’s “London Sound” as their experiments with the way they recorded their music greatly influenced the rest of the industry later on. Because of this, the music recording and publishing company, EMI, granted The Beatles unlimited access to Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles didn’t have to pay for studio time so they were free to spend as much time experimenting with the sound equipment. This led to The Beatles becoming the first artists to record using multi-track recording technology; where overdubbing a record became possible, as opposed to the older one-track method where a record was essentially just a live, in-studio, performance on record. As a result, Abbey Road Studios was one of the first studios in London to offer this technology to musicians.

The Beatles - Abbey Road
The Beatles – Abbey Road

As studio technology changed, so did the live performance equipment. The Beatles were said to use the RCF brand of speakers for their live performances at Brixton Academy. RCF was a new brand founded only 10 years before the prime time of The Beatles, yet they were popular among Rock and Pop artists because RCF was the first to manufacture and make use of transducers; creating a higher quality sound. RCF was at the forefront of the audio industry in the 1970’s.

One of The Beatle’s most successful UK tours consisted of a performance at The Roundhouse. The Roundhouse is a live music venue that also offers live performance and in studio recording. RCF was the main brand of speakers used in The Roundhouse because of their distinctive sound quality.

The Roundhouse quickly became one of the most popular live music venues, with performances from other industry pioneers such as The Rolling Stones, during their 1971 United Kingdom tour.

The Rolling Stones are said to be industry pioneers because of the way they merged genres of music. They were the one of the first bands to incorporate the blues, soul and country into rock music. The Rolling Stones were extremely popular with London’s younger crowd because of their hard rock sound. They were a lot edgier than The Beatles and their music constantly pushed the boundaries and ventured into unchartered territory, giving way to a totally new sound.

Sound equipment manufacturing companies were forced to up the standard as the sound evolved. The Rolling Stones began recording with 8-track technology which “brought the sound to life” and was supplied and manufactured by Meyer Sound. Meyer Sound quickly overtook RCF in popularity and the Wembley Stadium in London, where both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed during their respective tours; was fitted with the top of the range Meyer Sound equipment.

As the main stream Rock and Pop genres evolved, so did the underground UK music scene. Rap and Reggae music were gaining popularity and this made the entire industry in general gravitate towards a louder sound consisting of harder drums and deeper bass. Around the same time night clubs became popular in the 90’s, this new underground sound evolved into rave music which was basically a mix between reggae, rap and dance music. These genres where constantly trying to outdo each other by incorporating new, faster drum-lines and electronic bass. This new wave gave way to the sub bass culture that laid the path for Electronic Music (EDM). Despite its growing popularity, this sound was ignored by mainstream record companies because it was edgy and the audience that identified with it was seen as rebellious.

By 2002, EDM had evolved and given way to house music, trance music, grime and dubstep. These were all recognized as the mainstream sound of the London youth. Just as the music genres had evolved, sound equipment had changed to accommodate this new sound. Speakers that could withstand the heavy bass and drums became popular and the Mackie speaker brand was at the forefront of this revolution in technology. Mackie introduced three-way speaker sound systems that could not only keep up with the heavier sound but improve the sound quality as well.

There was an ongoing fight within EDM genre for who could produce the loudest sound with the most bass. The same competitiveness could be seen amongst sound equipment manufactures as well; each company wanting to top the next by producing a clearer, higher definition sound. The overall zeitgeist was “Bigger, Better, Louder” and as a result, many new types of speakers gained popularity as opposed to the 1970’s where one brand would monopolize the music market.

Creating waves in the present day is the Flare Audio brand of sound equipment that’s widely popular for its high definition sound. The founder, Davies Roberts created loudspeaker designs based on the theory of Waveform Integrity which states that the loudspeaker should be sonically invisible, neither adding nor detracting from the clarity of sound produced by the driver. Flare Audio has set a new standard in professional audio as they are constantly trying out new loud speaker technology such as Nanoflow driver alignment and Vortex porting technology. Flare Audio is always improving their sound and that makes them one of the sound companies to watch in 21st century.

The fight for the best sound is never-ending. As the music industry evolves, shifts and changes so does the sound technology and that is perhaps, the best thing about the UK music scene as a whole.

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