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Sound Recording 101. Where did it Start?

Sound recording and playback are a physical, electrical, mechanical, or electronic re-production and are uttering of sound waves, including recorded voice, musical instruments, spoken word, music, and other sound effects. There are many types of sound recording devices. There are studio compressors, tape machines, record and playback machines, and tape heads. The two basic categories of sound recording technologies are digital recording and analog recording. Digital recording involves the use of computer hardware and software to create and reproduce sound.

The earliest known form of sound recording was the phonograph. It was invented by Samuel Simon in 1843. He created what is now called the “Simonic phonograph,” a cylinder-shaped device that could record sound vibrations into a disk. The cylinders were usually made of wood, with a thin layer of oil that preventing the moisture from accumulating inside.

The first commercially available sound recording devices were made by RCA Corporation. Theirault, RCA Victor, RCA Records, and RCA Vibrating Discs were the first versions of this recording machine. Over time, advancements in materials and equipment made it possible for mass production of these first phonographic discs. Today’s equipment, however, is designed for the precise reproducibility and high quality sound recording needs of the music industry. There are also compact disks and computers that can read and are played back sound recordings.

sound recording equipment

Today’s technology continues to improve and advance the recording process. Computer-based audio recordings are made digitally using samplers and other computer hardware. One major improvement is the addition of a “lifting system” to the stylus. The lifting system makes it possible to play back the signal at different pitches without using mechanical force. This is very noticeable when listening to or recording fast-moving music such as rock or rap, used commonly in music recording studios. The sudden changes in pitch makes it impossible to match the signal exactly, as it were.

Computer based recordings can also be done using what is called “paraphonic” tracking. This technique requires tracking a signal at more than two frequencies at the same time, and it requires an instrument or headset that can generate a stereo signal. Because the signal generated has more than 2 frequency bands, it is generated at different volumes which can be heard individually or mixed together to make a full stereo mix. Although a bit of a hassle, the ability to do this is a noticeable difference between recording using tape and recording to a computer.

Another way to classify a recording is by its frequency response, which is measured in Hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kH). The frequency response of a recording will vary greatly depending on the instrument being used and its capabilities. A high pitched voice would have a much different sound wave pattern (higher frequency response) than a synthesizer playing a piano piece with a low B note. Recording is a very important part of technology, as it allows us to preserve memories and pass them on to future generations.

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