Co-Founder, Valve/Tube Guru, Audio Legend

In 1957, Vic Keary started his very first recording studio above a cowshed in Farnham, where he recorded local bands with a PA mixer and a ¼ inch EMI tape machine. Three years later, after studying electronics at RAE Farnborough, Vic was employed as a technical maintenance engineer at London’s prestigious Lansdowne Studios shortly after the departure of the legendary Joe Meek.

As was common in busy studios, Vic was often called upon to engineer recording sessions, despite the fact he was a member of the maintenance team. Vic’s very first commercial engineering session was ‘True Love’, a single by Terry Lightfoot, which stayed in the charts for four weeks and immediately established Vic’s reputation behind the desk. Significantly, Vic’s mix of Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger On The Shore’ helped to make it a global smash hit while he also modified Lansdowne’s EMI valve desk by re-designing the EQ and improving the top response.

For the next four decades, Vic ran a series of successful London studios, most notably Maximum Sound, Chalk Farm and Chiswick Reach. These facilities were all characterised by Vic’s own all-valve equipment designs beginning with Maximum Sound’s home-made desk, which he built over a long weekend and based on Lansdowne’s modified EMI console.

Chalk Farm, in particular, produced a significant number of reggae hits for Trojan Records and other roots labels – including Vic’s own reggae imprint Manic Records – with the studio owner’s pioneering techniques gaining kudos across the capital. Vic also ran two other cult record labels during the 1970s - Mushroom Records, which specialised in progressive rock and folk, and Sterling Records. Live sound and live recordings were also areas in which Vic achieved significant success, and he even won Melody Maker’s ‘Live Sound Of The Year’ for his live mixing work with Jamaican ‘toasting’ legend Tapper Zukie in the late-1970s.

After leaving Chiswick Reach in the late-‘90s, Vic decided to move into professional audio equipment manufacturing, feeling the urge to share the innovative all-valve designs he had personally been developing for decades with the wider recording world. Thermionic Culture was born.