The Cinema 7080

Dec 5, 2021

Here’s a fun piece of recording studio history: Cinema Engineering’s chief designer Art Davis came out with the first “graphic equalizer,” the Cinema 7080, around 1950 or 1951. They are rare as hens’ teeth. I always wanted one and found a junked example a few years back and had it restored. This one works great now, and is nearly dead quiet—always a plus for a seventy-year-old piece of tube recording gear.

They work really well with a ribbon mic like an RCA 77 or 44, if you need to give it a bit of low or mid-boost. I wouldn’t really recommend that you go down the rabbit hole to try and find your own, though. It’s got some odd arbitrary frequencies (Cinema Engineering, as you can guess by the name, often made equipment for the movie industry, I think that’s where they arrived at the unusual frequencies of 63 hz, 160 hz, 400 hz, 1000 hz, 2500 hz, and 6300 hz). Those frequencies are not really usable for most modern studio applications.

Also the slide faders are really delicate; they wouldn’t stand up to modern studio abuse. But if you’re doing a 1940s or 1950s style session with ribbon mics and need to boost or cut a desired frequency, it works great, exactly as it was designed. Going to do some recording here at the house with McKinley James and band today, should be a lot of fun.