November 3, 2015

HOME RECORDING FLASHBACK: Recreating The ’80s Home Studio Experience.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, England’s Sound on Sound magazine recreates the typical 1985-home recording studio, with a reel to reel analog recorder that record eight tracks of audio, a Roland drum machine, hardware synthesizers and a pair of Yamaha digital reverb units. (The article also includes a clip of a demo recorded on that gear. It doesn’t sound too bad!) Even if home recording isn’t your bag, baby (as legendary Ming Tea frontman Austin Powers would say), reading the article gives a real sense of how far technology has advanced in 30 years. Today a PC with software such as Cakewalk’s Sonar, Propellerhead’s Reason or Avid Pro Tools can record as many tracks as the PC’s RAM can handle (and that’s a lot), software synthesizers can replicate virtually any hardware synthesizer, and post-production tools such as Melodyne’s pitch correction program or Izotope’s RX5 audio restoration software would have seemed like science fiction in 1985.

I know — I was there; I had the same Roland TR-707 drum machine the Sound on Sound authors used, a pair of Yamaha SPX-90 digital reverb and processing units, and my hardware synthesizer was Yamaha’s CX5M music computer — which was an absolute beast to program, but was capable of some decent sounds; it was basically a Yamaha DX-9 synthesizer with a (very) rudimentary computer attached, and which used an existing TV as a monitor, Altair 8800 style. (Which isn’t pictured in this circa-2000 photo I took of the unit for a magazine article while it was in storage in my parent’s home):

Now if only songwriting and melodies had kept pace with the remarkable advancements in technology…

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