Multitrack recording is sound recording that allows different sounds to be recorded separately before fusing it together. It was the brainchild of Ross Snyder in the mid 1950s, but Les Paul was the man who brought this method to the fore. This recording technique has been a mainstay of commercial music ever since, and all professional recording studios are proficient in it.
Although tape has not been completely replaced as the medium for recording, the advent of digital technology means that the majority of recording studios use digital systems as they are not restricted to linear editing. In order to achieve this, the studio has to possess top of the range computer and audio recording software. For all those who think that they would be able to come close to professional studio quality recordings, think again. This kind of equipment is too expensive for one person or band alone. It makes far more sense to utilise the digital prowess of the experts.
Naturally, the number of tracks that can be recorded simultaneously depends on the equipment used. For studios that still use tape, the main factor is the actual size of the tape employed. However, recording studios that are at the top end of the spectrum use computers to provide them with an astonishing array of available tracks. The best available multitrack machine is a 24-track, but computers can be used to enable the use of several of these 24-track machines at once, meaning that they can utilise hundreds of tracks at once!
The digital age is edging towards being able to record unlimited numbers of tracks at once, but, in practice, a computer’s memory capacity will set a limit that varies from machine to machine. A multitrack recording studio allows an artist to use ‘Selective Synchronous’ recording which allows any track to be recording or playing back at any point on the tape. The musician can record track D whilst listening to tracks A,B, and C which lets them add extra material to these existing tracks if they so choose. Then, all of these tracks can be played back as if they had been recorded together as an original performance.
The next time you hear someone speak about the merits of home recording, ask them if they can record a hundred tracks at once before combining them for an amazing sound. If their answer isn’t no, then they are lying. A multitrack recording studio offers you limitless options, ensuring that your dream of producing a musical masterpiece is realised.