Stockholm, Sweden / London, June 5, 2007 — Abbey Road Studios and Propellerhead Software announce they have partnered to produce the Abbey Road Keyboards ReFill for Propellerhead Software’s Reason. Abbey Road Keyboards delivers a hypersampled collection of seven unique instruments recorded using the original equipment at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
The Abbey Road Keyboards ReFill consists of Reason 3.0 patches with samples of Steinway “Mrs. Mills” piano, Challen studio piano, Hammond RT-3 & Leslie Model 122, Mannborg Harmonium, Mellotron Model 400, Schiedmayer Celeste and Premier Tubular Bells. These time-tested keyboards have been at the studios since the early 60’s and were used on some of the most popular tracks of all time—from “A Hard Day’s Night” to “Dark Side Of The Moon” as well as numerous film scores such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Aliens, all three Lord of the Rings movies and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, to name but a few.
Abbey Road Keyboards was recorded in the famed Studio Two, where The Beatles recorded almost all of their songs. It is a spacious recording room, with a 28” high ceiling and over 2,280 square feet of space. Its acoustics are meticulously tuned with suspended bass traps, hanging quilted curtains and four 10” by 20” acoustically-treated panels that swing out from the walls to temporarily reduce the total room size. Not only was Abbey Road Keyboards sampled using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques from this studio, Propellerhead Software consulted with senior Abbey Road engineers to also capture these instruments as they were back in the day, incorporating some of the same vintage microphones, preamps, outboard processors and mixing consoles.
All instruments were captured using Propellerhead Software’s Hypersampling method. To capture every aspect of the instruments - from the way they resound in the Studio Two to their unique timbres and characteristics - they were all recorded at multiple velocity levels, from multiple angles, using multiple sets of microphones through the original mics, preamps, consoles and outboard gear at Abbey Road. With all the mic signals available separately in Reason, the Abbey Road Keyboards user can select between vintage sounding combinations of mics and pre-amps or state-of the art clean recordings, ready for the user’s own preferred processing.
“Propellerhead Software is honored that Abbey Road has selected us as a partner for this project,” says Ernst Nathorst-Bóós, CEO of Propellerhead Software. “Hearing the sound of these vintage instruments coming out of Reason is just fantastic. It sends chills up your spine.”
“As the market leader in the music software market, Propellerhead Software was the natural choice when it came to finding a partner for this project,” says David Holley, Managing Director, EMI Studios Group. “An outstanding achievement. An inspiring collection of sounds and it really does feel like you’re in Studio 2 with the real instruments.”
The instruments in detail …
Steinway Vertegrand “Mrs. Mills” piano: Manufactured in Hamburg, Germany in 1905 by Steinway & Sons, this exquisite piano has been tuned in a way that makes it sound out of tune—but in a very pleasant way, like some beaten-up barroom piano only better. Thanks to its lacquered hammers, the “Mrs. Mills” piano produces a bright, cut-through-the-mix sound and responds very dynamically to varying note velocities.
Challen studio piano: Sounding more like a typical home piano than the Steinway, the Challen piano offers a warm tone along with an unusually long sustain in its notes.
Hammond RT-3 & Leslie Model 122: The RT-3 is much bigger and heavier than the familiar big and heavy Hammond B. Besides the organ, there’s one other crucial item necessary for the full and proper effect: a Leslie 122 speaker. The talented Hammond organist Peter Adams played on the sessions to help capture many combinations the Hammond-and-Leslie sound.
Mannborg Harmonium: The Mannborg Harmonium is a foot-pedaled organ that sucks air through the reeds when pumped with the pedals. This Harmonium could qualify as the first instrument with a split keyboard; keys on the left side of the split point play a different group of reeds than those on the right. This split feature is maintained in the Harmonium presets.
Mellotron Model 400: The Mellotron Model 400 qualifies as one of the earliest sample players, except that instead of having RAM chips full of sounds inside, its samples have been recorded on 6” long strips of 3/8″ magnetic tape. Abbey Road Keyboards features the samples of the Cello, Strings and Flute tapes.
Schiedmayer Celeste: The Celeste is like an overgrown glockenspiel, played with piano style keys. It produces soft and warm, bell-like timbres. Historically speaking, a Celeste has most often been used within orchestral contexts, however many Abbey Road artists have discovered the Schiedmayer to work well for pop and other musical styles.
Premier Tubular Bells: The Tubular Bells is an orchestral percussion instrument made up of hollow metal tubes mounted on a frame. It’s tuned and laid out like a keyboard instrument and played by striking it with rubberized hammers. Who would use tubular bells, known as orchestral chimes, in a pop song? The Beatles, for one. Listen to “You Never Give Me Your Money” or “When I’m 64”.
Abbey Road Keyboards is a two DVD set containing both 16-bit and 24 bit versions of the sound library. The 16-bit version is lighter on the CPU and is suitable for composing and production work, while the 24-bit version is good to use at final mixing. The two are easily interchanged.
The ReFill also includes Guide To Abbey Road Keyboards, a 40-page full color booklet by Mark Vail (the author of Vintage Synthesizers and The Hammond Organ). The booklet provides a behind-the-scenes look at the ReFill recording sessions, the mics and outboard gear used and the instruments themselves.
Pricing and availability
The Abbey Road Keyboards ReFill will be available from Propellerhead dealers worldwide on June 13 2007. MSRP is EUR €199 / USD $229.
About Propellerhead Software
Propellerhead Software is a privately owned company based in Stockholm, Sweden. Formed in 1994, Propellerhead has created some of the most innovative new music software (ReBirth, ReCycle and Reason) and technology standards, including ReWire and the REX file format, which are used extensively in all kinds of music production. Propellerhead ReBirth program was the first virtual emulation of vintage analog gear - a trend that now dominates the music software arena.
About Abbey Road Studios
Abbey Road Studios was the first purpose-built recording studio in the world. Opened in 1931, the studio made its name with large orchestral works and, of course, The Beatles. It has also been the venue for many major film score recordings, including Aliens, Braveheart, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the last three Star Wars films, Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter. Unquestionably, it is one of the most authoritative, established and well-known names in the world of music. Today, Abbey Road Studios is the most technically advanced recording, film scoring, post-production and remastering complex in the world. www.abbeyroad.co.uk