Sound 80 Recording Studio
Sound 80 was a recording studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States founded by Tom Jung and Herb Pilhofer in 1969. Largely involved with local artists, the studio is best known for recording portions of Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks in 1974, but also made what is believed to be the first digital audio recording to be commercially released. Jung and Pilhofer had previously worked at the Kay Bank Studios in Minneapolis, where artists such as Dave Dudley and The Trashmen had recorded. The name came from advertising man Brad Morrison, who had previously named Hormel's Cure 81 ham product (supposedly while drinking Vat 69 Scotch).
3M, based in neighboring Saint Paul, Minnesota, brought in a prototype digital recording system in 1977 or 1978. Nicknamed "Herbie" after Herb Pilhofer, the system was used for two recordings by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and one for jazz group Flim and the BB's. One of the SPCO albums won the Grammy Award for Best Chamber Orchestra Recording in 1979. Being a prototype, it was a very bulky and finicky system. For example, it used wire wrap boards and few, if any, soldered connections. When it worked, the system had a number of good qualities. However, there was no editing ability for digital media at the time, so even minor flaws would require the whole track to be re-recorded.
Tom Jung left the company to work in New York City, but created a mobile recording unit known as Road 80, which was rented to Sound 80 studios on occasion. Jung later created the company DMP Digital Music Products, which also pushed the envelope of later digital audio technology (the company recorded the first multi-channel Super Audio CD).
The Sound 80 building was sold around 1990, but it the origihnal studio still exists and is now home to Orfield Labs who operate an Eckel Industries designed anechoic chamber. At -9.4 dB, it is listed as "the quietest place on Earth" by the Guinness Book of World Records. Sound 80 was listed in Guinness again in 2006 as the "Oldest Digital Recording Studio in the World".
Sound80 continues today under the ownership of Jan Erickson. The business moved to the IDS Tower and after that to the Campbell Mithun Tower in Minneapolis where it resides today. It continues to do high quality audio recording specializing in commercial recording and small ensembles. Sound80 has moved more and more into the areas of Talent booking, payroll, and trafficking for the advertising industry, as well as developing an expertise in recording and scriptwriting for elearning programs.
Artists who recorded at the studio include:
Bob Dylan Dave Brubeck (1978) Debbie Friedman Flamin' Ohs Flim & the BB's Michael Johnson Leo Kottke Lipps Inc., Funkytown sessions 1980 Prince, demos (1977) Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Skogie and the Flaming Pachucos, (1972) Skogie, (1973) Cat Stevens (1976) The Suburbs Suicide Commandos, Make a Record
- Sound80 Website www.sound80.com
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