Working with new technology

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Working with new technology

One of the first CDs ever released was also one of the best selling CDs of all time. Dire Straits was released in 1982, followed three years later by Brothers in Arms, an even bigger CD release.

What's historically fascinating about these two releases was the band's desire to work with new technology. They and their label took quite a chance working with the new CD digital audio (perhaps good to remember that in 1982 there weren't many CD players to play it on).

The album was initially recorded on analog tape using a 24-track recorder at Basing Street Studios in London. Mark Knopfler, the lead guitarist, and vocalist for the band, along with the album's producer, John Carter, and engineer, Neil Dorfsman, oversaw the recording.

The 24-channel analog mix went to mastering in the conventional manner, where a lacquer was cut for vinyl. They apparently transferred that mix onto a Sony F1 recorder but didn't like how it sounded: harsh and bright. So, Knopfler and his team went to work.

Using a Sony 1610 digital audio processor to digitize the analog recordings and mix them in the digital domain, they re-mixed the album to sound warmer and less digital. Then, using that same Sony PCM-F1 recorder to capture the mix (I owned one of those too), they sent it to Philips for CD mastering.

On their Brothers in Arms release, they took a different tack, using multiple analog equalizers and compressors to soften the sound before it got digitized and then sent to Philips for production.

Cutting edge technology, as it applies to how a band gets their music to their fans, is not always successful.

Hats off to Dire Straits for taking a brave step forward and caring how it all sounds.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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