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[ARSCLIST] Dawn of digital -- more info provided and more needed
A member of the AES Historical Committee point out some very ambiguous text on Denon's website -
he's right, they need a copy editor. But this got me on a very productive research path.
Denon's presentation at the AES 7th International Conference in 1989:
An Historical Overview of the Development of PCM/Digital Recording Technology at Denon
It has been 17 years since Denon conducted the first commercial PCM/digital recording session. This
event marked the beginning of a new era for recording engineers, studio operators, record companies
and audiophiles. During that time, Denon has improved music recording techniques and developed a
variety of digital audio products. This paper will outline some of the major achievements and
contributions over the nearly two decades made mainly by Denon.
Paper Number: 7-004 Conference: 7th International Conference: Audio in Digital Times (April
Authors: Anazawa, Takeaki; Hayashi, Hideaki; Inokuchi, Keizo; Oshinden, Kouichi; Takahashi, Yukio;
Takasu, Akihiko; Yamamoto, Kaoru; Todoroki, Shigeo
E-lib Location: (CD aes16) /procintl/1989to05/1175.pdf
I read that carefully and also read Denon's original 1973 AES Journal article about PCM recording:
Pulse-Code-Modulation Recording System
Volume 21 Number 7 pp. 535-541; September 1973
A pulse-code-modulation tape recorder for eight channels of audio information is described. The
sampling rate for each channel is 47.25 kHz, and the channel samples are interleaved in 13-bit code
plus parity and phase check bits for each, with three eight-channel blocks in a television-signal
horizontal-scanning-line format. A studio-quality video tape recorder is used. Engineering quality
considerations are explained and performance data are given. Applications to the mastering of disc
records of unprecedented fidelity are indicated.
Authors: Iwamura, Hiroshi; Hayashi, Hideaki; Miyashita, Atsushi; Anazawa, Takeaki
E-lib Location: (CD aes3) /jrnl6877/1973/7200.pdf
Then I did some pretty deep googling online and I think I've found out a few things.
1. According to the AES Conference paper, previous to developing the DN-023R, Denon used their own
and NHK technologies "testing various PCM methods" and "during the early 1970's about 20 test albums
were recorded." One specifically mentioned was called "'Somthing' by Steve Marcus and Tsutomu
Yamashita on Recital." Much online searching (and using Google's Japanese-to-English translator) got
me to a listing of Denon and Nippon Columbia jazz records at:
and that page lists an album "Somthing" by Jiroh Inagaki and Steve Marcus, Denon 7003-NCB, released
I believe this is actually the first commercially-released digital music recording.
2. Also according to the AES Conference paper, the first commercial recording made on the Denon
DN-023R system was the Smetana Quartet doing Mozart works, recorded in April 1972 in the Aoyama
Tower Hall, Tokyo. The Denon DN-023R system is described in detail in the AES Journal article cited
That AESHC member provided the following discography info about the Smetana Quartet album:
Original April 1972 recording session LP/CD disk:
String Quartet No.15 in d minor, K.421(417b)
String Quartet No.17 in B flat minor, K.458 'Hunt'
24-26th April 1972, Aoyama Tower Hall, Tokyo, Japan.
LP: Supraphon, Denon OX 7008 ND / NCC 8501 N
CD: Denon 33CO-1581 / COCO-75538 / COCO-70431
Original release date:
LP: October 1972.
It should be noted that the Smetana Quartet was signed to Supraphon
Records of Checoslovakia and because of this the Denon Label did this
recording as a joint recording venture.
This is the reason why the recording was jointly released on the Denon
and Supraphon label at that time on LP.
3. The Denon AES Conference paper goes on to say that in 1977 Denon designed "a more compact PCM
recorder for use in North America," the DN-034R, and "at the end of 1977 the DN-043R was delivered
to New York where it was used in the recording of a jazz album, the first commercial digital
recording in North America."
After much research, I believe that album was one of two records Archie Shepp made for Denon in
1977, either "Ballads for Trane" or "On Green Dolphin Street." If anyone has either of these two
LPs, please confirm or deny that they were made using the Denon digital system, and if there are
session dates, please provide. I might be wrong and these might be direct-to-disk records instead.
An Archie Shepp listing online indicates "Ballads for Trane" was produced by Yosio Ozawa and
engineered by Jesse Henderson. "On Green Dolphin Street" was produced by Yosio Ozawa and engineered
by Jim McCurdy. No studio information was given.
So, now I need some more info on those two Archie Shepp records. Thanks if you can help!
-- Tom Fine