When I first started to make records with Robey, Falk & Bod, the main recording equipment used was a 16 track tape deck. And usually an Ampex machine. At least in the studios where we recorded. Did some demo sessions on 8 track decks as well. Kinda crazy when you think you can easily have a 100 track session today with modern digital workstations like Pro Tools.
When we recorded at CBS Studios in NY, there was actually a tape engineer. And his main job was to start and stop the tape deck. REALLY! The audio engineer handled the board, and the tape engineer the deck. I think it was the same at CBS Nashville at the time. But then you also weren’t allowed to turn off the lights in the studio in NYC. That was a union gig. Different times for sure.
Today, Jeffrey’s drums alone will take up 15 tracks. In my early days, we would use five tracks for drums – – Kick, Snare, High Hat and Overheads (left and right.) And a lot of times those tracks would get bounced down to stereo (two tracks) so we could free up tracks for other instruments.
You had to plan your recordings out way in advance. At least we did since budgets were limited. And even in the 70’s studio time was $200-$250 and hour. A reel of tape was over $200, and that didn’t last too long. Anyway, spending $50,000 on an album was easy then. And $50,000 in 1975 is over $200,000 in today’s dollars! Crazy expensive.
In 1973 I shared a house with Dan Fogelberg in Nashville for a couple of weeks. He was just finishing his first album, ‘Home Free’. He had a test pressing so we rolled one and listened. Of course I was completely blown away. I asked how much the album cost to make. He told me $150,000. And that’s like $800,000 in todays cash. Insane! Poor Dan is not with us anymore.
Personally, I love the modern world. A notebook and a little bit of pro gear and you’re good to go, and portable. Spend $10,000 now and you can sound like a real studio. Thank you 1’s and 0’s. And this, like all other Indie’s, is the way I track my songs, in my home studio.
When it comes to final mixing and mastering though, I think you need to use real professional audio engineers. And that’s what I’ve been doing, so far. At least for the mix. Mastering by Grammy winning mastering engineers is surprisingly cheap.
In my ‘Liner Notes’ I talk about the mixing side of things in a bit detail just in case anyone is interested. Please take a look!