Direct to Disk Recording

Direct to disk recordingDirect to disk recording was a common method of recording music in use up until the invention of recording to magnetic tape in the 1940’s. Direct recording to disk involved cutting a master disk direct as the artist played the music.

This meant that no overdubs were possible and that any mistakes the musicians made would stay on the recording as editing was not possible – it literally was a one take performance.

The introduction of magnetic tape meant it became possible to edit recordings retrospectively by ‘taping over’ parts of the performance when required. Les Paul’s invention of the multitrack recorder (more here) dividing the recording tape into bands allowing various instruments to be recorded to a band without any interference from any other instrument. This made it possible to re-re-record certain instrument parts where necessary without affecting the other parts of the recording. Magnetic tape recording was seen as a great leap forward but was no without it’s detractors who claimed that the introduction of tape caused a loss of clarity in the quality of recording.

These days most recording is done digitally – magnetic tapes have been replaced by hard disks that store the recorded music in digital form. Tapes have not died out however, and there is a strong belief that digital recording lacks the “warmth” of music recorded to magnetic tape. You can try this for yourself by listening to and comparing the same piece of music from a CD and then from vinyl.

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