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I agree with Tom that circa 1981 is when RCA starting recording the majority of their classical sessions digitally via Soundstream.  The BMG Soundstream playback machines (there are two) are now at Battery Studios (mentioned in an earlier post) and still are functioning.  According to a Sony/Battery engineer I spoke to about two years ago, Columbia didn't record using the Soundstream system.

Jon Samuels

--- On Tue, 10/9/12, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [ARSCLIST]
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 1:13 PM

For classical music, I would say 1981-ish timeframe. If I remember correctly, Columbia used 3M a bit and then used a straight Sony system in the early years. RCA used Soundstream and I think later switched to a Sony system, perhaps DASH. Both companies may well have tried both Soundstream and 3M at different times. In the UK, both EMI and Decca developed their own digital recorders, even though the 3M system drew heavily from BBC engineering.

A former RCA engineer told me that they had a working Soundstream playback system in the late 90's and probably beyond. Telarc also had a working Soundstream playback system. I don't think any other working systems existed by the end of last century. In fact, Telarc used a modification to get a SPDIF output from the Soundstream digital board that had been developed by the RCA engineer, confirmed to me by both parties when I was working on my ARSCJ article.

Much but definitely not all rock music was still being recorded analog and then mastered to digital (sometimes a dub of a 2-track analog master tape) well into the 90's.

Back to classical music, for new recordings in the early 80's "Digital" on the sleeve was a selling point. So I have always assumed once the companies started making digital recordings at sessions, they jumped in with both feet and stopped making analog tapes soon afterward.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2012 11:51 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST]


> Does anyone know in what year RCA and Columbia were recording mostly in
> digital? I'm not interested in when their firsts were but when it became
> common practice.
> 
> Steve Smolian.
>