When did recording studios switch to digital recording from tape?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by TigerTEAC, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
    Hi guys,
    I've been bugged by this question for a little while, and was wondering when recording studios went to digital recording instead of 2" tape? I was wondering maybe early 90s? Most computers didn't come around til the mid 80s, but they weren't fast enough I guess, so I'm suspecting early-mid 90s?
    Thank you,
  2. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    They didn't need computers. The audio signal was converted to a digital data stream. The stream was the saved to tape. Modern digital techniques require all the data to be accessible by RAM. RAM was too expensive, and probably too slow even if you could afford it, to be used as it is today.
  3. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
    Okay, when did that occur when they did the data stream?
  4. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    Grant, chilinvilin, sunspot42 and 2 others like this.
  5. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
  6. The Pinhead


    Sorry to break this to you, but by the early 80s few studios weren't recording digitally.
    Waymore, Robert C, Sterling1 and 7 others like this.
  7. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    During the early-mid '90s is when I would guess the wholesale abandonment of analog tape happened.
  8. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I don't think it was quite that early.
    Grant, Frost, TLMusic and 5 others like this.
  9. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
    I mean the 90s.
    WapatoWolf and Grant like this.
  10. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    One indication is the SPARS code on CDs. Early CDs were mostly AAD or sometimes ADD, and gradually DDD became the norm.
    caracallac, andrewskyDE and TigerTEAC like this.
  11. c-eling

    c-eling Somehow I See There Are Ships In Her Eyes...

    Scorpions-Love At First Sting, 1984
    "Recorded and mixed at Dierks Studios Cologne, 32-track digital recording & mastering"
    My LP confirms the frequency cut-off :laugh:
  12. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
    I do not like the sound of early digital recordings. I prefer 2”, 30 IPS 24 track tape.
  13. Drew

    Drew Senior Member

    Columbus, OH
    When I purchased my first CD player in 1987 at least half the CD's I was buying of contemporary recordings had DDD on the spars code. By the early 90's I was reading that many recording engineers were back to tracking bass and/or drums on analog tape because they preferred the way it sounded for those instruments.
  14. c-eling

    c-eling Somehow I See There Are Ships In Her Eyes...

    Asia-Alpha, 1983 is awful. Not sure what happened with that one.
    Abba-The Visitors, 1981 sounds excellent. <-- But I think this was mixed to digital. Can't remember.
    Have to be careful this doesn't turn into a Vs. thread. There are some great analog and great digital's :)
  15. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    Pro Tools software has become the standard for digital recording. Here’s some history:

    Introduced in 1991 by Digidesign, Pro Tools helped pioneer the concept of multitrack digital audio recording and is recognized for having revolutionized the audio industry. The first version of Pro Tools ran on the Mac II and supported four tracks of audio. Using additional cards and interfaces, Pro Tools expanded to support 16 tracks of simultaneous recording and playback.

    In 1992, Pro Tools Session 8 was released as the first Windows-based version of Pro Tools. In 1994, Pro Tools TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) was released which included real-time effects plug-ins.

    By March 1995, Pro Tools was recognized as having dramatically changed the economics of the recording industry, providing the same capabilities found in million-dollar studios at prices that small studios could afford. Later in 1995, Digidesign merged with Avid Technologies.

    In 1997 Pro Tools released Pro Tools 24, offering 24-bit audio resolution. In 1998, Pro Tools TDM for Windows was released. In 2002, Pro Tools HD was released, which supported higher sample rates and large mixing topologies.

    * Gathered from my copy of Pro Tools 101, An Introduction to Pro Tools 12
  16. frummox

    frummox Forum Resident

    New York
    For my little home setup I went from a Sony 2 track 1/4" to a TEAC 4 track 1/4" (both mastering to cassette) to two synched ADATs (I think '90s) to finally Pro Tools on my Mac Pro. Uncertain how prevalent ADATs were in professional studios but they were much talked about when I bought mine. Someone I knew years ago recorded digitally to VHS tapes.
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  17. fogalu

    fogalu Forum Resident

    Killarney, Ireland
    I remember buying an album (vinyl of course) in the early 80s and on the sleeve it was proudly proclaiming that it was produced from a digital source. I can't remember the name of this album but I do remember that it sounded slightly brighter than the analogue albums I owned at the time.
    I don't remember being very much impressed.

    However, I converted to digital (CD) a few years later. My first CD player was horrendous, the second was merely awful, the third was getting there, but the fourth - the legendary Philips 850 - won me over completely. That machine was working up until about two years ago - and it played everything - even CD-Rs which were unheard of when it was manufactured.

    It still plays well on good days - depending on which way the wind is blowing.
  18. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    I think that most would agree with you.

    Printing a hot signal to tape and getting natural compression is what they were going for.

    I did a studio session around '95 to multitrack ADAT.
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  19. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
    I’d say now about 1989 was when digital completely took over I guess.
  20. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    Action: Me too. My bands second CD was recorded on multitrack ADAT. Finding someone who has one those decks today to remix is like, impossible!!
    Dmann201, action pact and TigerTEAC like this.
  21. TigerTEAC

    TigerTEAC A reel-to-reel playin' saber tooth Thread Starter

    Dadeville, Alabama
    Well, I could get one for you and remix/remaster your recordings.
  22. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!


    Thanks for the offer....but the Cd wasnt that great to begin with!! LOL
  23. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    Soundstream seems to be the first "company" to record digitally in any regular way with the intent to take over the recording industry, in 1975
    Soundstream - Wikipedia

    As far as I know, the first release of anything using any Soundstream process, or claiming to, was the "Enrico Caruso A Legendary Performer" LP from RCA in 1976.
    Caruso* - A Legendary Performer
    This was allegedly using Soundstream to restore and improve the Victor Caruso masters. This LP release is noted on the wiki page.
    As I owned many original Victor disks, and many previous LP reissues of this material, I suspected then and now that this "digital improvement" was a bunch of nonsense and pretty poorly done. A $29.95 Radio Shack equalizer of the time could do about the same effect and it is arguable whether that even should have been done.
    A series of LPs called "The Complete Caruso" from RCA dribbled out in following years using the same or improved Soundstream processes, they claimed. This set of recordings was available from RCA in a CD box called "The Complete Caruso" in 1990.
    (This RCA set was afflicted with CD rot and the CDs are unplayable now.)

    (If you want a complete Caruso set, get the Naxos label set any way you can. RCA claims rights in US and prohibits its sale in US but you can get an import.) (RCA still honors its lifetime royalty contract with Caruso and still pays royalties to the family for these 1904 to 1920 recordings - other labels, including Naxos, do not pay royalties.)

    Anyway, Soundstream did get bigger and did unarguably legitimate things to push digital recording along. The company history is noted on the wiki page, including the first "new" LP recording they released, beaten to the market of a digitally recorded LP by one month by a different LP using a different digital process, both noted on the wiki page.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
  24. Bill Larson

    Bill Larson Forum Resident

    I have that Caruso album. It basically sounds like the treble was turned down.

    I remember one “technique” they claimed to use was using modern recordings as a roadmap to what the original dynamics would have been (!). The last phrase of La Donna e Mobile (I think) ended up being really loud as a result.
    TigerTEAC likes this.
  25. Dude111

    Dude111 An Awesome Dude

    Yes thats why IN MY OPINION most music (records) from the 80s dont sound good.....
    arcamsono likes this.

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