At the base of the inlay card to Michael Jackson's album Thriller, it claims that the album was recorded using the 'Acusonic Recording Process'. I am quite intrigued and wondered if you could explain what exactly this is?
Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: The phrase doesn't refer to anything physical. Rather, it's a catchphrase invented by the well-known recording engineer Bruce Swedien, who worked on the album, to describe the approach to recording he developed. One of the techniques he likes to use is to record a lot of acoustic sources separately in stereo with a stereo pair, rather than with a close mono mic. He also tends to move sources around in the studio in front of a fixed stereo pair when tracking them one by one, rather than move the mics around, so that each source is recorded with the correct room acoustics.
The disadvantages of the 'Acusonic' approach are that it requires a lot more tracks than the equivalent mono technique, it takes slightly longer to record everything, and you need a big mixing desk to perform the mix down. Of course, for someone like Michael Jackson, these are not pressing concerns! The advantage of the Acusonic technique is that you can achieve a much greater sense of space around the instruments, with more natural early reflections and reverberation characteristics. Remember, though, that this technique was developed back when digital reverb machines weren't anywhere near as good as they are now. In any case, it certainly seems to have helped Bruce Swedien's career!