His Master's Voice
February 19, 2008 7:00 AM   Subscribe

"And I saw records made! Music literally written in wax!" RCA Victor takes you, step by step, through the records manufacturing process of 1942. A few years later, they brought us the cassette tape, though it wasn't exactly "compact" yet. And let's not forget that RCA "exclusive": Living Stereo! "You know, in this gimmicky world of ours, RCA has never lost sight of what they started out to do: to reproduce sound with so much clarity and fidelity that you could "close your eyes and think you're there."
posted by flapjax at midnite (12 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a YouTube clip from a fellow proud of his 1958 RCA Sound Tape Cartridge machine.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 AM on February 19, 2008

Oh, and I almost forgot, the RCA Victor Studiomatic Changer! Protects them on the spindle, protects them on the groove!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:10 AM on February 19, 2008

Nice! Along those same lines, if you get a chance, check out the Tom Dowd documentary "The Language of Music." That guy was involved in most of the early recording techniques and invented a few (he was the guy who came up with the idea of a slider rather than a knob on a mixing board). Pretty cool stuff.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:14 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

And to think RCA also gave us the CED VideoDisc.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on February 19, 2008

Ha! I met Tom Dowd once and he said something along the lines of, "When I first started out in this business, we recorded to direct to disc. Now we've come full circle and we record, again, direct to disc". There was a cool Mr. Rogers episode where shows how they would cut a record on a lathe.

In the late 90's there were some recording studios that had a lathe which allowed hip-hop producers to craft a beat and then cut it to disc. Then then would sample it back in to get that dirty vinyl sound or have a DJ scratch with it to get some cool cuts. Now there are plug-ins and other software that do that now.
posted by chillmost at 7:23 AM on February 19, 2008

That isn't a cassette, but a Tape Cartridge, which the link tells us can be loaded in "2 and 2/5 seconds, exactly!"

The tape cartridge, which looks like a cassette on steroids, was ahead of its time and probably offered better sound quality than the later cassette.

Philips came out with the more convenient cassette, and basically open-sourced it to guarantee it would win.
posted by eye of newt at 8:20 AM on February 19, 2008

Yes, we truly have come full circle.
posted by caddis at 8:52 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Shaded Dogs
posted by hortense at 8:59 AM on February 19, 2008

My litmus test whenever listening to music I haven't heard before: Do I feel like the dog looks when he hears his master's voice?
posted by not_on_display at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2008

So thats what mastering engineers used to do

Not any more: "I always went for loud. Not meaning to destroy anything, but…" - Brian Gardner (who started out at RCA)
posted by Lanark at 2:03 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

More along the same lines:

A lot of this, and really the entire history of music recording, technology development, and industry competition, is covered in Where Have All The Good Times Gone?, an excellent transatlantic history from British journalist Louis Barfe. More here.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:12 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey I missed this when you first posted; nice find.
posted by nola at 5:26 PM on February 20, 2008

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