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Genius!2: William David Harrison and inline consoles #11

The world's first 32-buss inline console, has been used on countless records, most famously by Bruce Swedien when working on Michael Jackson's Thriller

William David Harrison, better known in the audio world simply as Dave Harrison, was a recording and mixing engineer, before eventually becoming studio manager in the late ’60s at King Records, Cincinnati, and eventually moving to Nashville to start Studio Supply.

At the time studio consoles were largely custom built, and would be split into two sections – one for recording, with outputs going to tape, and the other for monitoring, with inputs coming from the tape machine and the outputs summed to the master outputs. This split-desk architecture required a considerable footprint for the desk, especially as larger 24-and even 32-track tape machines were coming into use. Dave Harrison’s development was to put the return from the tape machine on the same channel of the console as the send to the tape machine. This “inline” architecture puts a send and return fader easily within reach of the engineer on the same channel, making for a much smaller footprint and a more ergonomic experience.

Dave licenced this new design to Grover “Jeep” Harned of MCI in 1971, and the MCI JH-400 series were the first mass-produced console to use the new inline architecture. The very first of which went to Atlantic Studios.

The first console to bear the Harrison name was the 3232, launched in 1975. This extremely popular console design, the world’s first 32-buss inline console, has been used on countless records, most famously by Bruce Swedien when working on Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

David Harrison was made a fellow of the AES for his contribution to the inline console design, an architecture which is now used on nearly all large-format audio consoles. He died 17 August, 1995, in Arlington, Texas, aged 53. Harrison Consoles continue to build and develop audio equipment and software.

Pictures: Top: William David Harrison.

Last: A Harrison 3232 (version of the 32C), famously used by Bruce Swedien when he worked on Thriller

Published earlier this year and sponsored by QSC Audio, Genius!2 is the second edition of Genius!, celebrating those clever people whose inventions have transformed the world of professional audio. The 30-page supplement is also available to read in a handy digital-edition form