Ampex 8 Track
•The original Ampex 8-track recorder, model 5258, was an internal Ampex project. It was based on an Ampex 1" data recorder transport with modified Ampex model 350 electronics. •The first of the Ampex 8-track recorders was sold to Les Paul for $10,000 in 1957 and was installed in his home recording studio by David Sarser It became known as the "Octopus". •Ampex model 5258 serial number 3 was sold to Atlantic Records at Tom Dowd's instance for $10,000 in early 1958. • Atlantic was the first record company to use a multi-track recorder in their studio.
•Multi-track recording differs from overdubbing and sound on sound because it records separate signals to individual tracks. •Sound on sound which Les Paul invented adds a new performance to an existing recording by placing a second playback head in front of the erase head to playback the existing track before erasing it and re-recording a new track. •Multi-track recorders also differs from early stereo and three track recorders that were available at the time in that they can record individual tracks while preserving the other tracks. The original multi-channel recorders could only record all tracks at once. •The earliest multitrack recorders were analog magnetic tape machines with two or three tracks. •Elvis Presley was first recorded on multitrack during 1957, as RCA's engineers were testing their new machines. Buddy Holly's last studio session in 1958 employed three-track, resulting in his only stereo releases not to include overdubs. •The new three-track system allowed the lead vocal to be recorded on a dedicated track, while the remaining two tracks could be used to record the backing tracks in full stereo, and this system was also used extensively by producer Phil Spector in the early Sixties for his famous "Wall of Sound" recordings.
•Frank Zappa experimented with a five-track recorder, in the early 1960s, prior to his work with The Mothers of Invention. •However, recorders with four or more tracks were restricted mainly to American recording studios until the mid-to-late Sixties, mainly because of import restrictions and the high cost of the technology. • In England, pioneering independent producer Joe Meek produced all of his innovative early Sixties recordings using monophonic recorders. •EMI house producer George Martin was considered an innovator for his use of two-track as a means to making better mono records, carefully balancing vocals and instruments; Abbey Road Studios installed Studer four-track machines in 1959 and 1960, •The Beatles would not have access to them until late 1963, and all recordings prior to their first world hit single
I Want to Hold Your Hand
(1964) were made on two-track machines
•The artistic potential of the multitrack recorder came to the attention of the public in the 1960s, when artists such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys began to multitrack extensively, and from then on virtually all popular music was recorded in this manner. •The technology developed very rapidly during these years. At the start of their careers, the Beatles and Beach Boys each recorded live to mono, two-track (the Beatles), or three-track (the Beach Boys); by 1965 they used multitracking to create pop music of unprecedented complexity. •The Beach Boys' acclaimed 1966 LP
relied on multitrack recorders for its innovative production. Brian Wilson pretaped all the instrumental backing tracks with a large ensemble, recording the performances live, direct to a four-track recorder. •These four-track backing tapes were then 'dubbed down' to one track of an eight-track tape. Six of the remaining seven tracks were then used to individually record the vocals of each member of The Beach Boys, and the eighth track was reserved for any final 'sweetening' overdubs of instruments or voices.