The Studio

The Stereo Society StudioExplore the Stereo Society:
Download a QuickTime VR multiple-layered panorama of the studio from the technology's early days in 1995
The QTVR files are playable with Apple’s QuickTime application on Mac and PC. The file is quite large at 6.1Mb, but seemed worth posting as an inspired curiosity. There are several panoramas, and you must find the hot spot to travel from one to the other and to navigate through the different studio areas. The computer monitors (since replaced with flat screens) land you in another world which you can travel through to eventually land back in the real studio.

The Stereo Society was originally the private production studio of Mike Thorne.  Starting in the late seventies, as his production career grew in the London and New York new wave//punk/rock+roll scenes, he gradually acquired a large amount of sound producing and modifying equipment thanks to his search for exotic new sounds.  Guitars, effects pedals and synthesizers eventually climaxed in the purchase of a Synclavier in 1979, the first digital synthesizer to work in a commercial production environment and serial #6.  In 1984, this grew into a complete hard-disk computer recorder, an integrated music production environment.  In the old days, it was the drummer who had the muscles, partly from carrying all the kit around.  Then, the keyboard/synthesizer players came out with a heavier workout routine.  Finally, in the mid-eighties, it seemed that the producer was shouldering more than Atlas.  It was time to give the equipment its own dedicated music studio and give the roadies a break.

The audio equipment was initially simply a collection of modules and a simple mixer, with no ambition beyond preparing a track for development in a larger, conventional studio.  It all lived in Thorne's basement under his downtown New York City loft.  Everything, including the Synclavier, was portable and designed to move en masse to any studio where a particular album was being recorded, whether in London or New York City.  The Synclavier crossed the Atlantic six times before finally setting into the Stereo Society in 1986.

The flip side of not going to an outside studio meant that the outside studio had to come to the Stereo Society.  In 1987 we bought a Studer A80 24-track tape recorder.  Although the convenience of the computer disk recording was far beyond that of conventional tape (since any recording made on a computer disk can be played back at any time, not just when the tape happens to be passing the playback head), we needed a physical link to the outside world.  Thus many overdubs and huge vocals went onto China Crisis tracks in 1987 and, when they were working together in 1988, Thorne and Laurie Anderson hauled too many heavy multitrack tapes up and down the downtown blocks between their respective private studios.  Once again, high technology was good for the physique.

Automation (the ability for a mixer's computer to remember and duplicate fader moves) arrived with a larger mixer in 1989, and the first independent recordings (with Hilly Kristal) began at the Stereo Society.  Although the mixer was cheap and cheerful, the sound was good because the audio technology was quite basic, and the first mix survives as the long version of Mud.  Four years later, the larger Amek Einstein started use as the main mixer, with 80 input faders, and it has been in use ever since.

Between 1994 and 1996, the studio focus shifted toward other media, and facilities for graphics, video and text processing were installed.  We found ourselves able to do so many things: mix a 48-track rock+roll record, capture and edit broadcast-quality video, develop 3D animations, make complicated business plans and author Web sites.  The final integration of multimedia and music was effected with this authoring of the Stereo Society Web site and the presentation of Stereo Society recordings for online audition and direct download.  Although mail-order CD sales through our shopping cart are the staple, all tracks are available for direct download, and all may be auditioned through streaming RealAudio and mp3.

At the end of 2005, the studio and cottage record company were developing strongly, the ninth CD release is expected in the New Year, accompanied by a flurry of related music production.

In early 2006, the studio has evolved yet again, with the acquisition of a large ProTools system. This is expected to bring the music production integration back into focus in a way it hasn't been since production demands outstripped the Synclavier in the late eighties. You'll hear the results shortly.

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