Volume 6 Starts Here
Welcome to the sixth year of the UK's leading hi-tech music recording magazine — and before I say anything else, I'd like to thank all of you out there, our readers, who support the magazine and give us vital feedback about what you think, and what you want to see more or less of in these pages.
It really doesn't seem all that long since I picked up the first copy of Sound On Sound, and yet so much has changed in the world of hi-tech recording. Progress marches ever onwards, and we reap its benefits. This progress takes many forms of course, quite apart from the fact that one person's progress may be a step backwards to another.
Many new products or types of products are essentially very predictable. Advances in electronics and manufacturing technology bring within the reach of the ordinary musician equipment that was previously only available to professionals with big money to spend. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why we have always looked, and will continue to look, at systems such as the Synclavier — technology at the leading edge of recording that will filter down to us mere mortals before too long. Ian Gilby's report from TEAC in Japan showcases examples of this kind of repackaging of previously top-end equipment in a more affordable form. Most notable are an automated 24-track console for under £10,000 (sure it's expensive, but think of how much you'd have paid up till now) and Dolby S.
Dolby S, a cut-down version of Dolby SR, will be available on Tascam's MSR24 and MSR16 recorders from next year. The system promises significant improvements in the performance of cheaper analogue machines, and the only thing standing in the way of Dolby S finding its way into cassette multitrackers and maybe even domestic hi-fi is squeezing the necessary electronics on to a single chip — any guesses how long that will take?
Products can move the other way too. I'm writing this on an Atari ST, a computer designed as a domestic machine that unexpectedly found itself an 'industry standard' in professional recording studios. DAT was conceived essentially as a domestic format, although it is now a de facto professional mastering standard, and is only now finding its way on to the UK domestic market for reasons that I'm not about to go into here (but see David Mellor's excellent DAT feature in this issue).
So, much of what we call progress involves movements of existing technologies across price or other barriers. But equally, much of it stems from genuine innovation, from new ideas or the availability of new technology, and by its very nature we cannot predict this kind of development. I think that one of the things that I look forward to most about the year ahead — as far as music is concerned, that is — is being surprised; surprised either by genuinely unexpected new products, or at least by the hints and rumours of what could be coming up, and being able to tell you all about it. Watch this space.
Editorial by Paul Ireson
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