"This isn't just a piece of equipment; it connects me with my dad”: Universal Audio’s Bill Putnam Jr confirms that he’s bought the classic Caesars Palace console that was built by his father and used to mix Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland

Caesars Console
(Image credit: Universal Audio)

In a moment of ‘full circlism’ for CEO Bill Putnam Jr, Universal Audio has purchased the legendary Studio Electronics Corp tube mixing desk that was built by Putnam Jr’s father, Bill Putnam Sr, for Caesars Palace hotel, Las Vegas, in 1966.

The classic bespoke desk, which came to be known as Caesars Console, went on to be used to mix live performances by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Diana Ross, George Burns, Tina Turner and many more, giving it huge historical significance. For Putnam Jr, though, it represents more than merely a technological achievement.

"This isn't just a piece of equipment; it connects me with my dad," he says. "I deeply admire the craftsmanship of his work and the historical significance of this console’s journey. Bringing it home is my way of preserving his legacy and inspiring new innovation here at UA."

Putnam Sr founded the original Universal Audio in 1958, and used the name on his audio products until the mid-’70s. UA was restarted in 1999 by his sons, Jim and Bill Putnam Jr, who have revived their father’s classic hardware in DSP-powered and native plugin form.

The Caesars Console includes 38 UA 1008 tube preamp modules; 21 UA 508 EQ modules on each channel and the echo sends; three UA 550 filters; three UA 500 EQs; and three Langevin 252 Graphic EQs. You’ll also find colour‑coded Langevin faders - blue, yellow, and green - arranged in three banks of six.

Putnam Jr purchased the console on Reverb, and Jim Tuerk, Reverb’s Director of Business Development, is happy to have helped. “We’re thrilled to help bring this console home to UA and see it continue to inspire creativity during this next phase of its life,” he confirms.

The console was installed at Caesars Palace’s Circus Maximus, a supper club at the hotel. It was used there until the final show on 3 September 2000, after which the venue was knocked down to make way for another development.

According to pro audio dealer LA Vintage Audio, the company that’s now sold the desk to UA, when Circus Maximus closed, the console was taken home by a sound engineer, and many of its components were sold off. However, what remained of it was later purchased by actor Vincent Gallo, who tracked down all the original amplifiers and restored it.

The console then found its way into the hands of producer Chris Nelson, who had it at Sound Space Studios in LA, before it was purchased and subsequently sold by LA Vintage Audio.

UA says that it now plans to study Caesars Console, explore its history, integrate it into its facilities, and use it to “inspire and shape the next generation of audio professionals”.

Caesars Console

(Image credit: Universal Audio)
Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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