Multi-tracking is a method where you are able to make separate sound recordings from different sources and put them together to make an arrangement.
Two German audio engineers developed multi-tracking in 1943, and at that time, the machines were only able to record two channels of audio, or Stereo. The stereo format became increasingly successful and soon became the “norm” for commercial recordings from the 1950s to the 1960s.
Composer and technician, Les Paul is credited for much of the development of multi-track recording. His experiments with tapes and recorders in the 1950s led him to order a custom eight-track recorder with Ampex.
Ampex then went on to create the 4-track recorder, where much of the Beatles and The Rolling Stones demos were recorded on.
The 4-track tape enabled the development of quadraphonic sound. This is a technique whereby each of the four tracks were used to simulate the 360-degree surround sound much like today’s 5.1 systems. In fact, the 4-track, quadraphonic surround sound was the direct precursor of today’s surround sound systems you get in theatres and many home theater systems.
The band Queen is famous for using multi-tracking to the extremes. On their hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” the operatic section was dubbed and overdubbed 180 times then combining each of the mixes into sub-mixes, then re-recording them onto 24-track tapes that were only available at that time. It took Queen three weeks to record the entire operatic section.
With today’s technology, a studio, project studio or home studio, are able to use more than 24 tracks of audio for their recordings, thus being able to assign a track to each of the different instruments being played.
Multi-track recorders can be analogue or digital. Analogue recorders can have up to 24 tracks on a tape that is two inches wide. The digital multi-track recorders have an unlimited supply of tracks that can be enabled to record simultaneously and have the capability of playing back more than one track simultaneously.
Starting in the mid 1990s right up to the present day, with the arrival of the multi-track recording software developed by Digidesign such as Pro Tools, Steinberg Cubase, Logic Studio by Apple and Sonar by Roland, sound can be recorded straight through an audio interface and straight into a computer. These software, usually relatively cheap, has enabled more musicians to produce their own music from home.
Title: The audio recording handbook
Author: Alan P. Kefauver
ISBN: 0895794624, 9780895794628
Title: ARSC Journal: Sound Recording Technology
Title: The story of Bohemian Rhapsody - TV Documentary
Website Program Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtrhcECdItk
Title: A piece of Atudio Recording History
Title: Recording Pioneers