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Recording Now and Then: What Differences Are There?

 The processes, gear, and practices in recording have significantly evolved through the years. This is a truth that is hard to deny. Needs change as time passes by and this could be the main reason why such an evolution continues to happen. According to David Boyles, there are needs that are satisfied but there will always be challenges for live sound industry innovators to deal with.

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 Recording in professional and home studios have definitely become easier these days. This is in comparison with the same tasks several decades back. A major highlight of changes in this particular industry is the reduction of cost of mastering, production, and distribution. Since the sound signal chain is the basis of all tasks mentioned above, its simplification in today’s world means a reduction of gear size and increase in the efficiency of tasks in a soundstudio.
Going back to the 30’s, recording through wax mastering was a Herculean task.  The sheer size or bulkiness of music gear limits projects to professional studios. Add to this the sensitivity of the equipment and the inability of professional and home studios to maintain a true master copy.
After this era, the use of tapes was introduced and this significantly reduced the time needed to perform studio recording tasks. Gear and equipment size was decreased. It is in here where master copies can be made and maintained. However, another challenge appeared and this is in the form of the tendency of such tapes to be erased by magnetic fields.
The development of recording studio gear components from sources other than the major labels is also a highlight in these periods of time (1930’s to 1950’s). Home studios that were built under strict budgetary constraints benefited much from this. There are of course expensive gear available but this is an option that is chosen more by those who run professional studios.
A quick jump to 2016 will give people an easy overview of what has significantly changed and what persisted. Technological advancements in masterclass compression, SSD storage, miniaturization of electronic components, ancillary gear, and others have benefited much the audio recording industry. Access to high-end music gear has become easier and this can be explained by the reduction of cost of these things.
It is surprising that in the midst of all the technological advancements present, the recording process has never changed. Elements of the signal chain, performance, and acoustic space management are still the major players in the production of a perfect record.
It is also worth mentioning that other major changes in the audio recording and music industry include the roles of the mastering or audio engineer, distribution of record, and publicizing of singles or albums.  Changes are easily seen when these happens in the industry. People from both the production and consumption lines have no choice but to adapt and adjust.

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