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Dark Side of the Moon recording console smashes world record at auction

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An Abbey Road recording console used by Pink Floyd to record ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ has sold for a record-breaking sum under the hammer.

Dating from 1971, the gargantuan 10ft wide, 40–channel EMI TG12345 MK IV console was the star lot at the ‘TCM Presents Rock and Roll Through The Lens' sale at Bonhams New York auction house yesterday (27th March) and sold for a whopping $1,807,500 (£1,441,842).

Housed in Studio 2 at Abbey Road, the console was used by a diverse array of musicians including Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Kate Bush and The Cure until it was deemed out-of-date and sold to producer Mike Hedges in 1983.

It immediately became entrenched in rock 'n’ roll folklore when Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright used the world-famous studios to record their ten-track masterpiece ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ in 1973.

Referred to as ‘the greatest console every constructed’, Bonhams said in a press release: ‘The sound recording of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon is testament to the superior engineering of this recording equipment.’

The price of £1,441,842 is a world record for a piece of technology sold at auction and far eclipses the £718,000 paid for the Apple 1 computer in 2014. The sum also dwarfs Bonhams’ pre sale estimate of £550,000.

So steeped in Pink Floyd history is the desk, that David Gilmour was even involved in its creation! Recounting a planning meeting he was invited to at Abbey Road in 1967 to discuss updating their outdated 8-track desk to a newer 8-track, Gilmour remembers "I said that they should ignore eight-track altogether and switch from four-track to 16-track; doing that would have saved them money and put them in front of most other studios".

Heeding his words, EMI engineers eventually installed the MK IV in the legendary Studio 2 in 1971. The world-famous sound quality supposedly comes from the military attention to detail used in its creation; for example, the interconnecting cables were all routed within steel trunking inside the console, to reduce any form of radio interference in the recording process.

Katherine Schofield, head of Entertainment Memorabilia UK at Bonhams, said: “The world record price of this important item of music engineering only confirms the military precision of EMI craftsmanship and the powerhouse persona of Abbey Road Studio.

“The intense bidding seen in the room and on the phone speaks to its association with one of the UK's most relevant and successful bands, Pink Floyd, and highlights the fact that this is far from being any ordinary console.”

You can check out the MK IV's impressive, and not slightly nerdy, technical specification below:

40 channels with limiter/compressor on each, 4 echo returns and 16 monitors, MK3 feature cassettes, track monitor cassettes, dual channel 16 track sync mixer, two banks of 12 pairs of microphone channels, 8 pairs of main channels to centre section, monitor level controls for tracks 1-8 on left and 9-16 on right side, Ernest Turner manufactured VU meters comprising 16 full size VU meters and approximately 50 channel VUs, quadrant radial faders by Painton, with approximately 1600 capacitors (many original), housed in the original semi-wrap-around frame made of block board with teak and mahogany veneer.


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