One interesting fact that emerges when you study recordings going back to the 1930s and up to today is that even though they had very little in the way of equipment, they made far fewer mistakes than those who record today with an embarrassment of equipment.
I have collected a large number of recordings from the 30s onward and so have a pretty good idea of what they did. It would be wise for those of you today to go back and listen to some of those great recordings and learn how to do things without whiz-bang presets on your Binford 9000.
Keep in mind that virtually all those early recordings were done with a single mic.
There was no editing or FX units or layering or dubbing. It was great musicians and skilled engineers doing a job to the best of their ability and to the limit of their equipment.
In the beginning, they did not have to worry about the stereo image, so that was one area which is not considered in the early recordings. There were stereo experiments in the 30s and 40s, but it would not become commercially available until 1955. And it would take years for them to figure out exactly how to mix for the new medium.
And so virtually everything before, during and for several years after the war was recorded in mono.
And most of it was before tape had been developed.
The recorders used wire that was made of steel alloy and about the size of very fine fishing line. Edits were performed by cutting the wire and tying a knot in it. Those of us who have used razor blades for tape edits think we had it hard, but we really can not imagine how difficult it was to get good recordings.
Today's technology is light years ahead of the early recording, but often results in an inferior recording. The problems of today obviously are not in the technology, but in the lack of knowledge, experience, and humility. People who think that they know it all will not learn anything, and internet forums are full of their wisdom.
So we will look at first the early mono recordings and see what we can learn from them.
This is just an introduction to this series of articles, so we will start next time.