Audio Editing – The Early Pro Tools Days

The Early Days of Audio Editing With Pro Tools

Most people in audio production never stop to think about how recording and editing was done before the age of the computer. This article discusses one of the early hard disk based editing products from 20 years ago. Digidesign’s Sound Tools was the predecessor to Pro Tools. With only two channel editing, it was primitive by our present standards – but (in old man speak) “We liked it that way!”.

Today it seems unimaginable to spend seven-figure money to set up a world class recording studio – much less “wait” for even a simple edit to take shape with clients over our shoulder. But soft leather couches, patient production people working long hours and a good cappuccino machine made the process  manageable. It was early in the 1990s and we all thought the professional production world would always be this way, expensive and slow. Within a span of just 2-3 years it all changed dramatically.

From Linear to Non-linear. With tape – every edit was a rhythm of roll the tape, stop, rock the reels to find your edit spot, mark with a grease pencil or thumb, slide into an edit block, cut with razor blade and reconnect tape with edit tabs. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! Some of our best clients would have so many edits, the tape was solid white with edit tape!

Early Pro Tools Mono-Chrome Interface

Enter this new thing, “non-linear” editing. In 1989 Digidesign and Dyaxis offered the audio editor the first generation of “hard disk based” editing.  The 500Mega-byte drives were very “mechanical” sounding as the fans and whirling drive parts chattered and buzzed.  It was still very exciting to think that you could move between edits with almost instantaneous commands. This space age user interface boasted a crazy new feature called an “undo” button. OMG! ;0)

To appreciated how impressive these new systems were compared to “linear” tape, think of comparing Star Treks’ transporter to driving across country in a car. There was no comparison!

Digidesign Sound Tools circa 1990 (click for enlarged view)

Typical of dramatic changes in high technology products, some people adopted early. While the subjective quality of the new hard disk based editors left some hold-outs, many were quick to save money and benefit from the much quicker new “non-linear” editing workstations. It would be a few more years before hard disk based system surpassed most “broadcast” or “world class” quality analog editors.

EAR was the first  Apple, Avid and Digidesign professional audio reseller in the Southwest and the new “Pro Tools” was a huge success. At only $6,000 it was a bargain! Professional Ampex, MCI or Otari tape decks were $4,000-$25,000 alone. The new price point and 16bit resolution made it an instant hit with smaller production companies and studios. The workflow of the day still required your edited project to be finished back to tape (ie: “layback”). However, the cost savings of buying one tape deck compared to multiple decks more than paid for the cost of the computer and software.

Sound Tolos brouchure details

The system was built on the Apple SE and Mac II, early Mac desktop computers. Apple was still a renegade computer for right-brained people, but their superior (often mono-chrome) graphics and creative feel made them the obvious platform of choice. EAR was also an Apple reseller – a perfect fit for our clients! Some may remember these days with fondness, others with frustration.

The early systems were not without their temperamental crashes. Like most new technology, as long as the head aches  don’t out number the advantages – people grew with the improvements and stability over the years.

30 years later EAR is one of the largest professional audio editing workstation providers in the Southwest. We now cover everything from microphones, mixing, content distribution and automated filed based workflow products.

We’re proud to have had the opportunity be the first of our kind in so many ways over the past decades, while still blazing new technology trails today! Haven’t seen the newest version of Pro Tools? Download a 30 day free trial version.

EAR’s nationally renowned award winning staff offers deep product knowledge and first rate integration, management and “after the sale” support for professional audio and video products and services.

Dallas Baptist University – Horner Music Hall

Dallas Baptist University – Horner Music Hall

DBU Chooses EAR Professional Audio/Video for AVID Audio System Design, Integration and Equipment Supply

EAR Professional Audio/Video was selected for system design, Integration and equipment fulfillment for the newly constructed Horner Music Hall Recording Studio at Dallas Baptist University. The new complex was designed by Russ Berger Design Group.

This new all new facility features a first floor complex with a main surround control room, Production A and B control rooms, each fully integrated with studios and a central machine room. Each of the three independent control room environments feature AVID Audio Pro Tools HD systems with AVID ICON control surfaces including D-Control ES and C|24 models.

The Pro Tools file based workflow is designed for collaboration between each of the control rooms, depending on various project and curriculum objectives including film scoring, Foley, music recording, and music composition.

Audio for Film/Video Mix Room Processing Rack Processing and Patching Racks

John Gibson of EAR worked with DBU engineering staff to create and document the system integration and wiring interface for the Audio Recording Studio Level of the new complex. EAR also supplied the AVID Control Surfaces, as well as the vast array of signal processing, monitoring, and studio furniture needed to complete the facility.

Dallas Baptist University features an Avid Audio D-Command console. Ask about our special educational professional pricing programs or get a quick quote today.

For additional information on this project please contact John Gibson – john (at) ear.net 800-473-6914

Tempest Turns 30 – Mix Magazine

Mix Feature: Tempest Recording Celebrates 30 years

Our congrats go our to Clark Rigsby from Tempest Recording and 30 years of the finest in audio recordings! Having the pleasure of working with Clark and watching his many talents shine has been an honor. Mix Magazine agrees.

The recent December Mix issues features Clark noting some of his many Grammy award winning projects including Tower of Power, Steve Gadd, World Saxophone Quartet, Kim Wilson, James Moody, Jimmy Smith, N.Y. Philharmonic Principals, Joe Allessi and Phil Smith, Joey DeFrancesco, George Coleman and Glen Campbell, among others.

EAR first started working with Clark in the analog multitrack days of the early 1980’s. Like many professional engineers, he would stop by Fridays to pickup a case of 2 inch Ampex tape and a pack of razor blades for weekend projects.

Our many thanks to Clark for his great work. We wish him many more years to come of the finest in audio recordings.

Vintech – Class “A” Audio Processing

Vintech – Audio processing like no other.

EAR is proud to represent Vintech as their full line reseller. Vintech has a complete line of hardware products with that “sound”. Designed for the very best front end to digital and analog recording – Vintech manages the finest microphones and prerecorded sources with delicate care and confident control.

Vintech featured products (buy now or call for a quote):

Today EAR offers their products as stand alone items – or as a complete system including everything from mics to studio consoles and monitoring systems. Contact one of our product specialist today at 800-473-6914

For More about Vintech

Contact one of EAR product specialist to find the right product for your tracking or live recording. We have hundreds of specialty products and great people!

For complete details about the Vintech line and special (we pay your sales tax) professional pricing contact an EAR product specialist today 800-473-6914.

Neve Releases New Module Options for Mixer

AES NYC, Rupert Neve Announces Two New 5088 Modules

At this year’s AES conference in New York City, Rupert Neve Designs is announcing the release of the two new modules for the groundbreaking and multi-award winning 5088 console: The 5051 Inductor EQ / Compressor module and the 5088 Stereo Module.

The new Stereo Module for the 5088 uses the same high-voltage, transformer-coupled topology found throughout the 5088, and allows both twice the density, and considerable cost savings when compared with mono modules.  The Stereo Module is outfitted with a single 100mm fader, individual left/right pans, individual trims, 6 auxes and a stereo width control.  When Aux to Groups on Aux 5/6 is activated, the stereo channel signal can be routed with an independent mix level to any of the 8 groups.

The 5051 combines a classic three band EQ based on Rupert’s vintage designs with the power and flexibility of the Portico Series compressor.   Utilizing a discrete, class-A signal path and high performance input and output transformers, the 5051 delivers the performance and musicality expected from a Rupert Neve Design.

For additional details including special professional, educational or government pricing – contant an EAR product specialist today 800-473-6914 or on line.