I found a 2/2286 Billboard article that mentions RCA Studios in NYC having an "adapter" made so that
Sony and other digital tapes could be fed into the Soundstream editing computer.
I knew about RCA and Telarc making a SPDIF output adapter from the Soundstream electronics, so they
could feed Soundstream tapes into 1990's-standard DAWs and backup-tape systems, but I did not know
of any technology allowing Soundstreams advanced DAW to work with other digital tape formats. Until
Sonic Solutions came along, using a Mac II, the Soundstream computer was the only or one of the only
pro-grade waveform editors, non-linear editing systems and otherwise semi-modern digital production
system. I'm assuming that the Sony multi-track format mentioned in the article couldn't be easily
edited with a razor blade. Producers and mastering folks from this era have told me that almost
anything was preferable to video-insert-style editing with a Sony or JVC U-Matic based system.
The other interesting tidbit in this article is that the Soundstream editing system that ended up at
RCA was capable of 8 tracks. I read another Billboard article that told about how RCA's first
multi-track Soundstream recording (Levine/Chicago - Mahler 7th) involved sync'ing two Soundstream
electronics, for a total of 8 audio tracks. So Soundstream must have upgraded their editing computer
for RCA to 8 tracks also. The original non-prototype Soundstream system was 4-track and most early
users would send the same 2-track mix to two tracks for each channel, to assure proper recording and
playback (remember that these kinds of digital systems didn't work well with tape dropouts or other
imperfections). The Billboard article about the first RCA digital session, using Soundstream
(Ormandy/Philly - Bartok Concerto for Orchestra), had engineer Paul Goodman feeding two "different"
stereo mixes to each pair of Soundstream tracks, with a decision made later on which were used on
the final LP. Also interesting in that article about the first RCA Soundstream session that resulted
in released product was mention of how temperature-sensitive the Soundstream electronics proved to
be. Session had to stop and better venting (an old electric fan) was added to get the Soundstream
electronics to behave.
My late friend and mentor Bob Eberenz, who did one Soundstream session (Ormandy/Philly for Delos),
said that for his session, the Soundstream machine and crew were in another room. Bob did his
standard 3-mic pickup, using B&K mics, then a live 3-2 mix, feeding the 2-channel mix to the
Soundstream folks in the other room.
-- Tom Fine