Part II in our look at the history of Recording Studios. It is easy to forget the humble beginnings of the amazing technology that we have these days. Refer to part I for the earliest recording studios, no we move into the 1900’s with further advancements in technology.
Recording Studios: Electrical Recording
The advent of electrical recording in 1925 drastically improved the quality of the recording process of disc records in recording studios. There was a period of nearly five years, from 1925 to 1930, when the premier technology for home sound reproduction consisted of a combination of electrically recorded records with the specially-developed Victor Orthophonic phonograph, a spring-wound acoustic phonograph which used waveguide engineering and a folded horn to provide a reasonably flat frequency response. Electrically-powered phonographs were introduced c. 1930, but the magnetic cartridge and electronic reproduction did not become common until the late 1930s.
The advent of electrical recording made it possible to use microphones to capture the sound of the performance. The leading recording studios switched to the electric microphone process in 1925, and most other record companies followed their lead by the end of the decade. Electrical recording increased the flexibility of the process and the sound quality of the recordings. However, the performance was still cut directly to the recording medium, so if a mistake was made the recording was useless
Electrical recording made it more feasible to record one part to disc and then play that back while playing another part, recording both parts to a second disc. This and conceptually related techniques, known as overdubbing, enable studios to create recorded “performances” that feature one or more artists each singing multiple parts or playing multiple instrument parts and that therefore could not be duplicated by the same artist or artists performing live. The first commercially issued records using over-dubbing were released by the Victor Talking Machine Company in the late 1920s. However overdubbing was of limited use until the advent of analogue recording on audio tape. Use of tape overdubbing was pioneered by Les Paul in the 1940s.