Yes, the Soundstream editing system was massive (it was a DEC computer), and it was slow to transfer
tapes back and forth with the computer, but let's not forget that everything else (including Decca,
Denon and EMI in-house VTR-based systems) didn't have DSP, waveform editing or anything beyond
video-style insert-editing. Same with the Sony 1600/1630 system. I think the Sonic Solutions was
first pro-grade waveform editor/mastering system after Soundstream, but there may have been
something that was short-lived before that. I know you could do homebrew editing on Commodore 64's
and Radio Shack TRS-80 computers, but that was not pro-grade.
CD mastering was still mostly VTR-centric until the late 90's, although Sonic and then ProTools
started making headway in the mid-90's. I think they typical MO was to dump your DAW final onto a
1630 tape or, later DAT and Exabyte started being accepted at the CD plants. At least that was the
situation in the US, in the Polygram system.
Your perspective about too little CD manufacturing capacity in the early days reminds me of tales
I've heard about what killed SACD (aside from the fact that it started off as a superior 2-channel
system and was then quickly re-launched as many-speaker gadgetry, which had little uptake with real
consumers living in real homes with real wives). One tale oft repeated (but I've never tracked down
the facts on it, so I can't say it's true) is that between Sony reissuing the Bob Dylan catalog on
SACD hybrid and Abkco putting out the early Rolling Stones catalog on hybrid, all of the hybrid
manufacturing capacity (which was too little) was booked for months, while market buzz on SACD
fizzled since you couldn't play the first generation of discs on anything except pricey
first-generation SACD-only players. Also, they launched SACD without hybrid discs, and with a very
limited selection of titles. And of course the first generation hardware was super-costly. This was
all the same series of mistakes made with the CD, but at the dawn of the CD era, there was a healthy
cassette market and LPs were still a force. Some argue that SACD's failure sped up the rush to
pirate downloads, which began the downfall of the record business. I'm not sure I give the "SACD
moment" that much importance. I would argue the single event most contributing to the downfall was
the price-fixing in the US market throughout the 90's. Consumers read all the news reports that came
out when the record companies had to pay fines and settle antitrust enforcements and other lawsuits.
There was then a widespread attitude during the Napster days of, "the ripped me off for years, screw
'em." The industry reaction of suing its customers didn't help!
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Goran Finnberg" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 5:11 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Early digital recording history -- a couple of followups
> Tom Fine:
>> Sony was 4th (and it was the
>> pro-sumer PCM F-1 system at
>> first, followed quickly by the 1600 system).
> "Following the development of the home-use PCM-1 digital audio processor in
> 1977, the professional-use PCM-1600, which used the U-Matic machine, was
> launched in March 1978."
> May I point out that despite having the ability to record digitally what use
> is that if you cannot edit?
> Fact is that Sony was still telling me at the London AES in 1980 that they
> had no digital editor but soooooon it should be available. ;-)
> Bis, Robert von Bahr, was the first in Sweden if not in Europe? to buy the
> Sony PCM-1, 78/79?, and used it to record in parallel with his ReVox A-77
> from then on but he could not edit the digital tapes nor was there any
> medium to release any digital recording in their native form.
> When CD arrived, 82/83, the pressing capacity was so low that even if you
> did have something ready to be sent to the replicator you could be set on
> the waiting list for a year or so.
> At the 1980 AES meeting in London I got bored and walked over to Kingsway
> Hall to find DECCA/London producer Jimmy Walker and DECCA senior recording
> engineer John Dunkerley recording solo piano works with Vladimir Ashkenazy
> at the Steinway.
> Despite having a fully operational digital recorder and editing system home
> built they were still recording on two DECCA modified Studer A80 running in
> parallel using Dolby A because they did not have more than a few digital
> recorders and having many recording teams out recording scheduled works
> meant that still some of the recordings had to be made in analogue because
> of the shortage of digital recording equipment.
>> no one was making commercial digital recordings
> So to be able to make commercial recordings you must have editing equipment
> too and having the ability to record digitally but NO editing facility and
> you are still dead in the water with no ability to make a ready edited
> product for sale.
> This was the biggest reason for DECCA to make everything in house since the
> thought of having to go to the USA, Soundstream, for editing was completely
> out as far as DECCA was concerned. And the Soundstream editor was big and
> clunky and VERY slow........
> Best regards,
> Goran Finnberg
> The Mastering Room AB
> E-mail: [log in to unmask]
> Learn from the mistakes of others, you can never live long enough to
> make them all yourself. - John Luther
> (")_(") Smurfen:RIP