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AUDIO PRODUCTION TOOLS
DIGITAL RECORDERS & NON DESTRUCTIVE EDITING
Digital Recorders (like Digital Mixing Boards) contain more flexible options than their Analog counterparts and are often built into Audio Software that includes virtual Mixing Boards.
Digital Recorders usually contain graphical TIMELINES to show how individual sounds are laid out in each individual track left to right, which represents going from the start of the song to the end. Timelines often show passage of time in terms of standard time (Minutes : Seconds), rhythmic time (Bars : Beats), and even samples (the actual samples).
Timelines can be viewed in terms of Minutes / Seconds, Bars / Beats, and Samples. You can use any of these increments for seeing where in time you are, and copy, cut or paste digital sound files using standard computer file manipulation techniques such as holding the option key to make a copy.
Digital Recorders allow users to EDIT sounds within the timeline using NON-DESTRUCTIVE EDITING (rather than the destructive editing that happens when you cut and splice analog tape). Sounds can be easily CUT, COPIED, PASTED and MOVED from track to track and even to different positions along the timeline. This is similar to using Timeline editing techniques in Video production software.
Analog tape requires DESTRUCTIVE EDITING, in which the tape is physically sliced and taped to a different location. There is no saving the original file, and no “undo” with the exception of removing the tape and re-attaching the original pieces. Yes, people worked with copies when editing Analog tape, but every generation (copy) of Analog introduces a small amount of hiss that gets added to the original sound. Purists would make a copy for a safety and then proceed to edit the original tape.
I was misquoted in a Miles Davis biography when I told the story of my first day on the Amandla album (which I happened to be listening to as I write this). I was told to edit the master 2" analog tapes, and when listening back to the edits I was so filled with stress and concern that this perverse though crossed my mind of putting the razor blade against the tape while it passed beyond the playhead to the take-up real. The really perverse part was I pictured myself not just holding the razor but rather moving it up and down while the tape passed, which would have ended up in extremely destructive editing! Of course I immediately put the razor blade down and stepped back from the tape machine. The edits were good, I was able to relax, and never had such a temptation since.