The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
CD Audio - What Converters were used , 80's to mid 90's ?
Old 1st January 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
CD Audio - What Converters were used , 80's to mid 90's ?

Hey you Old Timers , how did they make CD's back in the day before the DAW took over , before "Bounce to disk" ? How did they transfer the Master Tape to a CD back in the 80's up to the mid 90's ? What quality converters were used ? By today's standards , how good were those converters to transfer that analog tape to CD ?

I can't imagine converters being that good back then , you know , so is alot of my CD collection made with , by todays standards , low end converters ? Would a basic M-Audio USB interface of today be much better quality than what was used say up to the mid 90's ?

Old 1st January 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
If memory serves - things were transferred to digital via the converters in the Sony video machines (u-matic?) which were used as masters before DAT was common.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I know this forum is 90% teenagers in their bedrooms running cracked software on their laptops , mixing on headphones.........but theres gotta be some engineers still around here that know .
Old 2nd January 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
dualflip's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I guess that mostly all the conversion back then was built into the recorder, like Dash machines, ADAT, HD recorders like RADAR, etc...

I dont think ive seen any standalone converters from the 80s, i think that began in the 90s
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualflip ➑️
I guess that mostly all the conversion back then was built into the recorder, like Dash machines, ADAT, HD recorders like RADAR, etc...

I dont think ive seen any standalone converters from the 80s, i think that began in the 90s
Alot of cd's came out before those recorders , Like for example " Dark side of Moon " was released on CD in 1984 , and then 1992 ,

"In 1979, The Dark Side of the Moon was released as a remastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab,[98] and in April 1988 on their "Ultradisc" gold CD format.[99] The album was released by EMI on the then-new compact disc format in 1984, and eight years later it was re-released as a remastered CD in the box set Shine On."

Some of the Beatles CD's I have were released in 1987 .
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
dualflip's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
Alot of cd's came out before those recorders , Like for example " Dark side of Moon " was released on CD in 1984 , and then 1992 ,

"In 1979, The Dark Side of the Moon was released as a remastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab,[98] and in April 1988 on their "Ultradisc" gold CD format.[99] The album was released by EMI on the then-new compact disc format in 1984, and eight years later it was re-released as a remastered CD in the box set Shine On."

Some of the Beatles CD's I have were released in 1987 .
Yes, im not saying there werent digital recorders before, just that i thing that the converters were bundled in, the separate conversion unit i think is an idea from the 90s, but someone older than me could chime in...
Old 2nd January 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
Hey you Old Timers , how did they make CD's back in the day before the DAW took over , before "Bounce to disk" ? How did they transfer the Master Tape to a CD back in the 80's up to the mid 90's ? What quality converters were used ? By today's standards , how good were those converters to transfer that analog tape to CD ?

I can't imagine converters being that good back then , you know , so is alot of my CD collection made with , by todays standards , low end converters ? Would a basic M-Audio USB interface of today be much better quality than what was used say up to the mid 90's ?

I'm not really an old-timer (yet) but I believe the most commonly used converters back then were the ones built into the Sony U-Matic 1630 digital master tape machines which were the worldwide standard for delivering premasters for replication.

'Speculating now - on the quality of the converters - I bet the analog front end was pretty good, but the early digital technology was pretty bad - clocking, SRC, etc. - which is probably why most older CDs have been remastered at least once since the '80s/90s. So the chances are that most of your CD collection is made with newer ADCs, depending on when you bought them, but the trade-off is that many of them have also been crushed for loudness in the process. Still, I expect the U-Matic ADC sounds better than an M-Audio USB interface. Perhaps a shootout is in order

FWIW, I think you'd get more detailed answers if you asked this question in the Mastering Forum.

J~
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualflip ➑️
Yes, im not saying there werent digital recorders before, just that i thing that the converters were bundled in, the separate conversion unit i think is an idea from the 90s, but someone older than me could chime in...
Oh ok , some type of dedicated computer and all it did was make a Master CD .


The reason I wonder all this because we all complain about how much music doesn't sound as good as it used to . And put these old CD's on of classic albums and think wow , it sounds great , but didn't this come out in the 80's , 90's and was transferred with by today's standards , low end converters ? We sit there with all this High End gear thinking if only I could get my stuff to sound like this CD and yet the digital technology we have sitting in front of us is far superior than the stuff used to make that CD .
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➑️
I'm not really an old-timer (yet) but I believe the most commonly used converters back then were the ones built into the Sony U-Matic 1630 digital master tape machines which were the worldwide standard for delivering premasters for replication.

'Speculating now - on the quality of the converters - I bet the analog front end was pretty good, but the early digital technology was pretty bad - clocking, filtering, SRC, etc. - which is probably why most older CDs have been remastered at least once since the '80s/90s. Still, I expect the U-Matic ADC sounds better than an M-Audio USB interface. Perhaps a shootout is in order

FWIW, I think you'd get more detailed answers if you asked this question in the Mastering Forum.

J~
Cool , maybe the Mods could move this thread to the Mastering section .
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
The reason I wonder all this because we all complain about how much music doesn't sound as good as it used to . And put these old CD's on of classic albums and think wow , it sounds great , but didn't this come out in the 80's , 90's and was transferred with by today's standards , low end converters ? We sit there with all this High End gear thinking if only I could get my stuff to sound like this CD and yet the digital technology we have sitting in front of us is far superior than the stuff used to make that CD .
Another thing to consider is that the DAW hadn't taken over the recording industry yet, so there were many big differences in the entire production process...
Old 2nd January 2012
  #11
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
In the 90Β΄s Mixdown to Dat (Sv3700) usin Apogee AD1000.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 
travisbrown's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualflip ➑️
I guess that mostly all the conversion back then was built into the recorder, like Dash machines, ADAT, HD recorders like RADAR, etc...

I dont think ive seen any standalone converters from the 80s, i think that began in the 90s
There were standalone converters when those devices were out. Even DASH. But CD came way before any of those devices. Eons in the digital timeline.

3M, Mitsubishi, Sony, Studer, EMT all had commercial digital recorders on the market by 1980 based on developments and practical applications in digital conversion technology of the prior ten years. However, I don't think there were any CD pressing plants in the US by 1980. Analogue masters (backups presumably) were sent to Japan on to convert and press.

I'm betting that the first CDs were through repurposed PCM converters developed by Sony from various video and multitrack machines built into standalone conversion appliances that wrote to a glass master, all in one box. So you are probably right that they weren't a readily available 1u piece of rack gear with a fancy silkscreened front, but also not an off-the-shelf device like you listed. As CD pressing plants proliferated, the conversion gear would have become more standardized and common, but we're probably still dedicated and integrated appliances.

Mastering houses weren't doing their own conversion for a long while. As late as '88 we usually still sent in two-track analogue masters to the pressing plant, though there were lots of D/A devices around by then. We did have a little Apogee Mini-Me type device that we used as a front end to a DAT recorder.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #13
Lives for gear
 
travisbrown's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
[...]

The reason I wonder all this because we all complain about how much music doesn't sound as good as it used to . And put these old CD's on of classic albums and think wow , it sounds great , but didn't this come out in the 80's , 90's and was transferred with by today's standards , low end converters ? We sit there with all this High End gear thinking if only I could get my stuff to sound like this CD and yet the digital technology we have sitting in front of us is far superior than the stuff used to make that CD .
Probably because the problem isn't with the converters.
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiofool ➑️
In the 90Β΄s Mixdown to Dat (Sv3700) usin Apogee AD1000.
Ah yes, the AD-1000, and before that the AD-500 - my first stand-alone ADC!

Memories...

These converters emerged in the early '90s and were meant to improve the quality of DAT masters. But DAT still took a back seat to 1630 for major label releases. I don't miss DAT at all - good riddance!
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown ➑️
Probably because the problem isn't with the converters.
Thats what I'm thinking .

The more I think about this , it seems that converters are the absolute LAST thing that contributed to these classic albums on CD that we love and listen to over and over again .

Another CD I have sitting here is "Master Of Puppets" from Metallica , made in 1986 . Thats old !! But it sounds great . In my opinion , the best Metal Album of all time .
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
...The reason I wonder all this because we all complain about how much music doesn't sound as good as it used to . And put these old CD's on of classic albums and think wow , it sounds great , but didn't this come out in the 80's , 90's and was transferred with by today's standards , low end converters ? We sit there with all this High End gear thinking if only I could get my stuff to sound like this CD and yet the digital technology we have sitting in front of us is far superior than the stuff used to make that CD .
Not to dismiss it's the song and production (not the converter..
I'd propose another factor is the forced compromises of the loudness race were not yet in full swing.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
in the 80s we used beta
you would mail that to Northeastern Digital
they would make a glass master. They used spidf
back then to transfer from beta to whatever they used


ironically the digital multitrack was around before CD
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw ➑️
in the 80s we used beta
you would mail that to Northeastern Digital
they would make a glass master. They used spidf
back then to transfer from beta to whatever they used


ironically the digital multitrack was around before CD
Your not talking about the Beta players you watch movies with , like a VCR , are you ?

Were these Beta player/recorders just for audio ?
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
travisbrown's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
Your not talking about the Beta players you watch movies with , like a VCR , are you ?

Were these Beta player/recorders just for audio ?
Yes, those ones. Beta was often used for audio mixdown and audio transport. Digital Beta wasn't around until early 90s, but I recall some of the pre-DigiBeta machines had i/o converters on them even if the medium was analogue.
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown ➑️
Yes, those ones. Beta was often used for audio mixdown and audio transport. Digital Beta wasn't around until early 90s, but I recall some of the pre-DigiBeta machines had i/o converters on them even if the medium was analogue.
wow , I actually still have a Beta "Hifi" player I watch movies on sometimes . I bought a box of 80's movies off ebay for $10 and got like 25 movies , all of them good ones . I'm half way through the first Star Trek movie , never seen it before , its pretty good . Lots of the movies are new , unopened , which is crazy .
Old 2nd January 2012
  #21
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
Hey you Old Timers , how did they make CD's back in the day before the DAW took over , before "Bounce to disk" ? How did they transfer the Master Tape to a CD back in the 80's up to the mid 90's ? What quality converters were used ? By today's standards , how good were those converters to transfer that analog tape to CD ?

I can't imagine converters being that good back then , you know , so is alot of my CD collection made with , by todays standards , low end converters ? Would a basic M-Audio USB interface of today be much better quality than what was used say up to the mid 90's ?

The professional recorder was a Sony 1610 and recorded on Sony U-matic machines.

Later the Sony PCM-F1 came along and that recorded on Betamax tapes. This was the consumer / semi-pro version. But it had to be converted to the 1610 / 1630 format for the mastering plants.

There were special editing machines that controlled the U-matic machines for editing.

HHB later had the cheaper (Β£6,000 in the 1980s) CLUE editing controller for the PCM-F1 / Betamax system (I still have one of these in the loft).
Old 2nd January 2012
  #22
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualflip ➑️
I guess that mostly all the conversion back then was built into the recorder, like Dash machines, ADAT, HD recorders like RADAR, etc...

I dont think ive seen any standalone converters from the 80s, i think that began in the 90s
It started in the '70s - Denon since 1973 I think.

The Sony 1610 was mid/late 70s and superseded by the 1630.

The PCM-F1 was 1982, one year before the CD came out.

I started recording digital in 1982.

The 1610/1630 and PCM-F1 systems were stand-alone converters that used U-matic (1610/1630) or Betamax (PCM-F1) tape transports to record on.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #23
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➑️
I'm not really an old-timer (yet) but I believe the most commonly used converters back then were the ones built into the Sony U-Matic 1630 digital master tape machines which were the worldwide standard for delivering premasters for replication.
The 1630 and the earlier 1610 were really stand-alone converters - or rather - transportless recorders. They used U-matic tape transports.
Old 2nd January 2012
  #24
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown ➑️
There were standalone converters when those devices were out. Even DASH. But CD came way before any of those devices. Eons in the digital timeline.

3M, Mitsubishi, Sony, Studer, EMT all had commercial digital recorders on the market by 1980 based on developments and practical applications in digital conversion technology of the prior ten years. However, I don't think there were any CD pressing plants in the US by 1980. Analogue masters (backups presumably) were sent to Japan on to convert and press.

I'm betting that the first CDs were through repurposed PCM converters developed by Sony from various video and multitrack machines built into standalone conversion appliances that wrote to a glass master, all in one box. So you are probably right that they weren't a readily available 1u piece of rack gear with a fancy silkscreened front, but also not an off-the-shelf device like you listed. As CD pressing plants proliferated, the conversion gear would have become more standardized and common, but we're probably still dedicated and integrated appliances.

Mastering houses weren't doing their own conversion for a long while. As late as '88 we usually still sent in two-track analogue masters to the pressing plant, though there were lots of D/A devices around by then. We did have a little Apogee Mini-Me type device that we used as a front end to a DAT recorder.
CD was launched in 1983 (may have been slightly earlier in Japan).

I heard demo CDs in 1982 before the official launch on special demo from Sony.
Old 2nd January 2012 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➑️
The 1630 and the earlier 1610 were really stand-alone converters - or rather - transportless recorders. They used U-matic tape transports.
Ah, I didn't know that. 'Always thought it was a single machine. Used to hear them called "1630 tapes". I've never actually seen one, but I remember they were still in use at the bigger mastering houses when I started as a newb mastering from DAT to CD-Rs in 1995 (with my trusty Apogee AD-500 and Pro Tools 3!).

I wonder if anyone still uses them?

Thanks for the info!

J~
Old 3rd January 2012
  #26
Gear Addict
 
CAT5's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
As for quality; The company I worked for before I went freelance owned and used 1610's / 1630's. They didn't sound half bad. A lot better than the F1 (and F501, 601 and 701).

Also, there where a lot of Umatic type recorders and some where had way less trouble with errorsthan others. Error correction wasn't as good as in later recorders.

Btw;If I remember correct The first DAT by Sony was also a recorder/converter combi....
Old 3rd January 2012 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CAT5 ➑️
As for quality; The company I worked for before I went freelance owned and used 1610's / 1630's. They didn't sound half bad. A lot better than the F1 (and F501, 601 and 701).
I should hope they did sound better - they were several thousand more expensive - also they had two converters, the F1 system had a single converter that did L/R/L/R/L/R etc... That's why Audio+Design made a modified 701 with digital outputs and a delay to get the two channels in sync. (didn't matter if you used the analogue out as it was sorted in the F1 unit).

My - all this talk of F1 and 1610 systems is bringing back memories.
Old 3rd January 2012 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CAT5 ➑️
Btw;If I remember correct The first DAT by Sony was also a recorder/converter combi....
The first DATs I saw were complete machines.

Oh - back in those days I was working for REW in London - a top-end Hi-Fi and Pro-Audio dealer. Actually the No.1 Pro-Audio dealer at the time, I can't think of any other Pro-Audio dealer at all in London at that time (late 1070s / early 1980s).
Old 3rd January 2012 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
ScumBum's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett ➑️
The first DATs I saw were complete machines.

Oh - back in those days I was working for REW in London - a top-end Hi-Fi and Pro-Audio dealer. Actually the No.1 Pro-Audio dealer at the time, I can't think of any other Pro-Audio dealer at all in London at that time (late 1070s / early 1980s).
Thanks for all the info !

Check this article out PCM adaptor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"This video signal can be stored on any ordinary analog video tape recorder, since these were the only widely available devices with sufficient bandwidth. This helps to explain the choice of sampling frequency for the CD, because the number of video lines, frame rate and bits per line end up dictating the sampling frequency one can achieve. The sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz was also adopted in the Compact Disc, as at that time, there was no other practical way of storing digital sound than by a PCM Converter & video recorder combination. The sampling frequencies of 44.1 and 44.056 kHz were thus the result of a need for compatibility with the 25-frame (PAL countries) and 30-frame black and white (NTSC countries) video formats used for audio storage at the time. (Note that neither PAL nor NTSC was itself used, the black and white version of video storage was used with no color subcarrier.)"


So those Alesis ADAT's were pretty similar in concept to these Sony machines .

I'm still wondering how do these converters compare with low end converters of today . I guess the best way to test this is just a basic converter test of running audio out the converter back in to see if it degrades the sound ?
Old 3rd January 2012 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScumBum ➑️
Your not talking about the Beta players you watch movies with , like a VCR , are you ?

Were these Beta player/recorders just for audio ?
very similar but the were marketed for different purposes
got one in 1985? or 86
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 465 views: 84561
Avatar for HSi
HSi 6th May 2019
replies: 65 views: 6836
Avatar for Remoteness
Remoteness 7th February 2010
replies: 3 views: 1921
Avatar for bass man
bass man 11th May 2011
replies: 20 views: 2041
Avatar for Janb
Janb 18th November 2011
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump