Retired, But Still In The Game

It’s been a long hard summer. Weather, mostly good; travel, mostly delayed; days mostly long and drawn out… It’s not the gigs that are hard it’s the times in-between. This summer saw me doing some long days. Seven AM load-ins seem to be the norm, onstage at midnight another burden. There is something about doing a show in the same day as the load-in that is much easier….
However despite my moans and gripes it has been a good summer with many great shows and lots of nice people met on the way.

For me technically there was a major change. I decided to change desks. I decided to go for something smaller!

I am fairly well known for being a die hard analog fan and have mixed The Prodigy on a forty channel Midas XL3 for many years. This summer though I was fed up with manoeuvring a desk that doesn’t fit between the scaffolding uprights of the mix platform into position. It had become too big, was taking up too much space and had to go, be retired.

Luckily I had just bought a 32 channel Midas XL3! Just a tiny bit smaller but enough to fork lift straight into place. A new case was ordered that could be manhandled by two people. Stereo modules were added to bring the channel count to 36. A new double bay rack was built, courtesy of my equipment supplier Wigwam, that fitted under the desk. I now had a new compact set up. Just two racks, one with PSU’s and FX under the desk, the other beside me with the inserts, and effects I needed to get hands on, next to me. That and my pedal board and cables trunk now took up just over half the truck space of my previous set up.

The previous desk was demoted to the B rig, where it only did a handful of shows. The former B rig desk, another 40 channel Midas XL3, now had no work. It was time for her to be retired.
Midas XL3 serial number: 003 was the first large Midas I bought. She had had an interesting life, but like they say ‘one careful owner’. She was bought new from Midas in about 1989 and was one of the very first ever made. Different from later models, the output section was to the left rather than central. The headphone socket was on top in the master section. Otherwise, the same as every other XL3, but somehow special. This desk started life as a touring desk. In this capacity it was used for numerous artists including James Brown.

Eventually 003 entered the Clapham Grand as the house desk. My colleague Dave Cooper clearly remembers her being delivered, being "bowled over by what a great sounding board the XL3 was”. After a few years she ended up in The Forum in Kentish Town where she was used for many shows over her ten year residency.

I am pleased to say that 003 now has a fitting resting place. She is being retired, but to Bradford and the National Science and Media Museum. She will not be on permanent display yet as there just isn’t space, but there are plans to feature her in an exhibition in the future. Significantly she is the first 'live sound’ object in the collection. This is an area sadly neglected but one for which Britain was for many years at the forefront of in terms of development, design and personnel. From the early work of companies like Tannoy, to Martin, WEM and Turbosound. So many great desks are British and surely one of the most significant is the XL3!

Come along and see a bit of history!

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