EMI BTR-2/3 information wanted - EMI BTR-2 or EMI BTR-3 ?

Discussion in 'Tape Recorders' started by Stuart Blacklock, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Stuart Blacklock

    Stuart Blacklock Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2019
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    Hello All, this is my first post in this forum, some may know me from the Vintagerecorders website or seen my youtube videos, one of which is about a rather rare EMI tape recorder.

    I noticed a few people over different threads mention the BTR-2 and BTR-3, "InRoom19" mentions the BTR-2/3, unfortunately I can’t message him yet as I don’t have the privilege, might be because I just joined, but if you see this post, please can you help?

    So, for thoes who havent seen the video you can see it here



    A little bit of background information, in 2008 about, I visited Toerag Studios, the owner, Liam, gave me my first EMI BTR-2 machine, along with some spares to get me started, in his fast storage area he had all sorts of interesting things, that’s when the BTR3/2 caught my eye (Note this isn’t a BTR-3), he mentioned this was a rather unique machine as it contained all the large format or Octal valves and was stereo, he referred to it as the BTR2/3. Fast Forward to 2017, Liam contacted me asking if I was interested in this machine, his personal preference had swung from EMI to the Philips Pro 51 and he had 2 BTR's he wanted to sell. When I went to collect them, they were stored in a barn which belonged to Tim De Paravicini, it was clear they had been here for a very long time as the metalwork and paint had started to deteriorate. The BTR-2 machine was a BBC style one, the BTR-2/3 was in bits, lots of the wiring looms had been cut or where missing. |Tim explained to me who he brought the machine off, an engineer who’s name escapes me but worked at EMI Hayes, its believed this machine came direct from there, because it features REDD.18 amplifiers, I have been informed from an engineer at Abbey road, these where “in house” modules for EMI studios, (Not exclusive to Abbey Road).


    Trying to gather information on these machines, I managed to get hold of Peter Lindsley, an engineer who started working for Leevers Rich, formed his own company BIAS Electronics, then was brought out by Leevers Rich and worked there again, in the middle, he also worked for EMI TRD (Not to be confused with TRD the people who started making rival pro recorders), TRD stood for Tape Recorder Development. Peter explained that EMI where starting to produce stereo records and tapes ( Or tape records as he puts it), the problem is the BTR-3 was used solely in Abbey road, it wasn’t a machine available to outside the studio, as far as I can tell, EMI Hayes duplication rooms didn’t use them either. EMI decided it was more feasible to convert their rock solid BTR-2 machines to stereo, you would have recorders, to make space for the electronics, these machines couldn’t replay ( A separate replay head was used for alignment). He pointed out that there wasn’t a Stereo record / replay machine which makes this rather unusual.


    The BTR2/3 machine was a in house modification as far as I can see, the electronics used pre date the BTR-3, all except the REDD.18 replay units, these units took advantage of unused power supplies from the replay unit making it possible to create a stereo recorder.


    Electronic restoration was hampered by no circuit diagrams existing for such a machine, luckily I have a few contacts who had information and clues which helped me eventually get the machine back to 90% working order (Recording isn’t working properly yet), the machine needs to be re-painted, and I plan to send this off for professional sand blasting and restoration, during this time I plan to keep a record of the machines progress, a second video will be created.


    So if anyone has any details about the BTR2/3 I would love to hear from you, maybe you worked at Abbey Road or EMI Hays, from what I have read, these variations could have made it as far as Spain and Paris (ODEON), the more information the better.


    Looking forward to seeing what people know about this machine.
     
  2. Stuart Blacklock

    Stuart Blacklock Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2019
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    Sorry, Video can be seen here,

    Interested in speaking with
    Andy Lawrence - I belive he knows this machine directly
    Russell - Who worked at EMI REDD department around the time this machine was built
    Brian_G - Wored at EMI from 1962, but may know of this machine?

    Looking forwar dot trying to make a video detailing this rather rare machine

     
    kmetal likes this.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Home Page:
    This goes back a long way, Stuart!

    My only technical connection with Abbey Road was that I was an Assistant Engineer there for a couple of sessions in Studio 2 in 1968. I was fortunate to get an informal tour of the other studio control rooms and also the development labs. Most of the tape machines by then were two and four-track, the majority of them being solid-state, but there were some that were still valve-based.

    Two of the three names you mentioned have appeared in your post as a link because they are in the list of RO members. If, by chance, their email addresses that RO has for them are still active, then a short post from you with the body text quoting their RO names with an "@" sign in front will generate emails to the addresses drawing attention to this thread.

    I'm assuming you know the book Recording the Beatles, which is packed with detail of equipment at Abbey Road from the mid-1960's onwards.

    Keep up the research work, and please post back here if and when you manage to find out any more about the BTR-2/3.
     
    kmetal likes this.
  4. Stuart Blacklock

    Stuart Blacklock Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2019
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    Bello Boswell and thank you for your reply, I have managed to message the two I can, Andy has also posted here but only as a guest, he is someone I would really like to get in contact with as I believe he was the previous owner of this machine before Liam.

    The book you mention "Recording the Beatles", I haven’t brought it yet, but am looking for a copy in the UK, this is also an interesting story, I brought an EMI BTR-1 from Brian in June 2010 (the author of that book).

    By any chance do you know anything about ex EMI equipment being transferred to the ODEON in Spain? got a rather unusual EMI BTR-2 I am also researching, the seller said it came from Abbey ( Like every machine I get offered), but there was a bit of truth to this sellers story, I have spoken to Mirek at Abbey but this stuff is way after his time and he's not sure if there was ever a log of serial numbers, and not enough close up pictures of the BTR's to find identifying features / marks. (Off topic I know)
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Home Page:
    I didn't know anything about this, sorry.
     
  6. Stuart Blacklock

    Stuart Blacklock Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2019
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    No worries, thanks, it may or may not be true.
     

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