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Sound equipment - Azimuth Co-ordinator

Azimuth Co-ordinator

  • Object:

    Sound equipment

  • Place of origin:

    London (assembled)

  • Date:

    ca.1969 (assembled)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Speight, Bernard (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bakelite knobs on a painted metal box

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Pink Floyd Music Publishing

  • Museum number:

    S.294-1980

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Azimuth Co-ordinator was a joystick device for controlling a quadraphonic sound system. By swivelling the stick, the sound output could be shifted from one speaker bank to another; with the joystick in the central position, the sound output would be equal in all speakers. It was used almost exclusively by Pink Floyd, in conjunction with a quadraphonic sound system, and was operated by keyboardist Rick Wright.

This equipment was used at their 1969 Royal Festival Hall show and was one of Pink Floyd's first uses of quadraphonic sound in a live environment. This was an early surround sound technique which utilised a four speaker system with a speaker in each corner of a room, or four banks of speakers in the case of a live performance. They would later go on to develop and champion the quadraphonic system for their album Dark Side of the Moon.

Quadraphonic sound never took off to any large extent, however, despite its availabilty to the home consumer. In 2003 Dark Side of the Moon was re-released, this time in 5.1 surround sound, the updated and more successful progression from quadraphonic sound. Consumer technology had, by this point, caught up with Pink Floyd's early sound experimentation.

Physical description

Azimuth Co-ordinator developed by Bernard Speight for the British Rock band Pink Floyd in the late 1960s. Oblong metal box painted grey apart from the top side which is painted pink. In the centre of the front fascia there are two black bakelite knobs, while on the top surface there are two octagonal holes either side, from which two metal joy-stick levers with plastic knobs protrude fromthe mechanism below which include the rheostats. In the centre of the top panel are 8 black buttons which are depressed to operate.

Place of Origin

London (assembled)

Date

ca.1969 (assembled)

Artist/maker

Speight, Bernard (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Bakelite knobs on a painted metal box

Dimensions

Height: 13.4 cm, Width: 46 cm, Depth: 16.5 cm, Height: 28 cm *Approx* Inc. height of the "joysticks"

Object history note

This is an early quadrophonic sound system made by Bernard Speaight, an Abbey Road sound engineer, for Pink Floyd in the late 1960s; the first system produced was used by them in May 1967 at their concert 'Games for May' at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, but was stolen after the performance. This was the first appearance at the hall of what was essentially a pop band, and it also marked the first appearance in Britain of a rudimentary quadraphonic PA system, effected by additional speakers erected around the room and an early version of an amazing device. This particular one was introduced at their Royal Festival Hall concert in 1969; it has now gone down in Floyd folklore as the 'Azimuth Coordinator'. This elaborate name was given to what was essentially a crude device which used four large rheostats converted from 270 degree rotation to 90 degree. Along with the shift stick, these elements were housed in a large box and enabled the panning of quadraphonic sound.

The coordinator was also used on the recording of their Dark Side of the Moon album which was released in March 1973. The album was produced by the band between June 1, 1972, and January 1973, and engineered by Alan Parsons who had worked for The Beatles. Parsons was largely responsible for many of the sound effects, most notably the clock montage leading into 'Time' on side one, which Parsons used to demonstrate the power of quadraphonic sound.

Descriptive line

Azimuth Co-ordinator developed by Bernard Speight for the British Rock band Pink Floyd in the late 1960s and used by them in their Queen Elizabeth Hall concert 'Games in May', 12 May 1967, and on their 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon.

Labels and date

Azimuth Co-ordinator used by Pink Floyd
About 1970

New instruments and techniques allowed the band to try out different electronic sound effects on their recordings and in live concerts. The Azimuth Co-ordinator was a 'surround sound' system used in the stage shows. As keyboard player Rick Wright turned the joystick, the source of the sound moved from speaker to speaker around the auditorium.
[56 words]

Metal and plastic
Made by Bernard Speight

Given by Pink Floyd Music Publishing
Museum no. S.294-1980 []

Materials

Bakelite; Metal; Paint

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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