It’s hard to believe that Sound On Sound is now 30 years old! When the magazine started in 1985 MIDI was still a new technology, but software sequencers sync’ed to tape via SMPTE were soon to change the landscape of home recording beyond recognition. Affordable multitrack tape machines, too, offered home studios production options comparable to pro studios for the first time. I’d already been running my own home studio for a few years back then and, like many others, I built a lot of my early equipment myself, picking up information where I could, since there were no books, magazines or college courses relating to music recording technology. Indeed, I ended up writing some of the very first books on the subject myself!
Sound On Sound’s content tracked the ongoing evolution of recording and synthesis, as digital technology began to offer new and inspiring alternatives to the analogue sounds of Moog and ARP. Digital audio recording followed digital synthesizers, although it is easy to forget that hard-drive storage was prohibitively expensive in those pioneering days, and a state-of-the-art computer was a monochrome Mac with a nine-inch screen and a very scary price tag.
Although we’ve seen a lot of changes in technology over the 30 years of Sound On Sound, one thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the thirst for knowledge amongst our readership. The means to record high-quality music is now well within the reach of almost every musician, but without the knowledge to use the kit properly, the results will almost always disappoint.
One of the most rewarding things about working for SOS is that we get to talk with a lot of renowned producers, engineers and musicians, and it is our privilege to be able to distil some of that knowledge and pass it on to you in our articles. It is no accident, however, that we have no-one on the editorial team who would consider themselves to be a journalist more than they would a musician, engineer or recording enthusiast. Yes, they can all write and edit copy, but they are also skilled music and recording practitioners, too. We get to produce the kind of magazine we ourselves would like to read, and I am sure that has contributed something to our longevity in the sometimes transient world of publishing.
The last 30 years have turned out to be a wonderful journey, but it’s far from over. As long as there is recording and electronic music, we’ll be here. I hope you enjoy this special 30th anniversary issue — watch out for our 1985 recording session feature, and some very ‘retro’ ads from the early years, and if you really want to know where it all started, we’ve made the whole of the first issue available as a free download.
To mark our 30th anniversary, the SOS team chose some highlights from the history of modern music technology. Click the link to download our Timeline Of Tech! timeline-tech-1115.pdf
Also, see our 30th anniversary video feature: Recording: Past, Present & Future.