The phrase "Wall of Sound" was coined to describe the production style adopted by eclectic production wizard Phil Spector in the early-to-mid sixties. The "Wall of Sound" formula was roughly as follows:

Stage one: Standard arrangement, one guitar, one piano, one drum set, one bass, what have you.

Stage two: For every instrumental part, add four to seven identical instrumental parts by that same instrument, played simultaneously. Drums and piano inclusive. Apply to vocals if appropriate. Add plenty of bells and whistles (often literally), and horns are a must.

Stage three: Don't multi-track it. Play it live, and stick one mic in the middle of the mess you've created.

I suppose stage four must've been "Profit!" because the unusual result certainly earned the appeal of the public. "River Deep, Mountain High" by Ike and Tina Turner was arguably most representative of the "Wall of Sound" method. This is perhaps arguable because you can somewhat hear the lead in that song--many of the tracks recorded during this period of his work had such focus on background instrumentals that the hook was lost. Somehow, it all seemed to work anyway.

For me, the words “Wall of Sound” conjure up memories of the good ol’ Grateful Dead.

The year is 1974 and the Dead’s popularity as a live act has grown immensely. When they started out, it was gigs in ballrooms and small theaters. With popularity came arenas and stadium shows. The Dead, always conscious of their fans, responded by building a sound system that was hard to believe.

After years of research and experimenting, the Dead’s tech team, Owsley Stanley, Dan Healy, Rob Wickersham, Bob Mathews came up with a sound system that had 641 speakers , 48 amps, 11 channels and 54 tweeters. The whole thing weighed about 72 tons and it took five trucks to tote the equipment around. It put out around 26,000 watts of pure sound. The Wall of Sound did put a huge strain on the band’s resources and was only used in 37 shows over 7 month period. You don't have to be a Deadhead to appreciate the quality of music that a system this powerful could produce . Some of you fellow noders who are in the music business might appreciate the following breakdown of the Wall of Sound.

Vocal System

Went through 1 channel and 19 amps. In all there were 226 speakers used, sixteen of which were 15”, sixty of which were 12” and one hundred twenty of the 5” variety. There were also 30 tweeters.

Lead Guitar

Also went through 1 channel but only one amp. It went through 20 speakers, all of the 12” type

Rhythm Guitar

Same as Lead Guitar


Went through 1 channel and 8 amps. In all there were 128 speakers used, sixteen of which were 15”, thirty two of which were 12” and eighty of which were of the 5” variety.


Went through 4 channels and 4 amps. In all, there were 36 speakers all of which were 15” variety.


Went through 3 channels and 10 amps. In all 120 speakers were used, sixteen of which were 15”, twenty of which were 12”, and sixty of which were of the 5” variety. There were also 24 tweeters.

Vocal Fill

Went through 2 amps and 64 speakers, twenty 15”, sixteen of the 12” and twenty eight of the 5” variety.

Instrument Fill

Went through 3 channels and 27 speakers, five of which were 15”, ten of which were 12” and twelve of which were of the 5” variety .

For more info and specifics on each of the systems, one might want to try

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