Dateline: December 11th 2009. Santa Cruz: After almost two years in production, the first sections from Alan Parsons’ highly anticipated living encyclopedia on sound recording are being made available for streaming and digital download.

During the week of Dec 18th more than two hours of material will be available on-line here at The sections, all featuring narration by the inimitable Billy Bob Thorton, individually examine the topics of MIDI, EQ, Delays, Drums, Noise Gates and Recording a Choir. Details of each include:


Alan demonstrates exactly what MIDI is and explores its current uses and applications. Featured guests include Dave Smith, who developed MIDI in 1983, Madonna producer Patrick Leonard, and Simon Rhodes, senior classical recording engineer from Abbey Road Studios, fresh from his work on the Avatar movie soundtrack with James Horner.


This epic scene gets to the heart of what EQ is all about, from frequency response to the range of human hearing to every form of EQ process and device. Instrument by instrument, Alan looks at all the major sound types: what they need and some of the danger areas. Blackbird’s John McBride and Green Day producer Jack Joseph Puig provide invaluable observations on this key aspect of recording.


Tracing its development from tape echo in the 1950s, Parsons looks at modern delay devices, parameters, and applications. This scene features an extended free-form section where Alan uniquely twists, turns, and distorts delay effects on vocals.


In this scene, the Art and Science of Sound crew descends upon legendary British session drummer Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto) in his Los Angeles studio. Simon reveals many of the secrets of his phenomenal sound, from tuning, to miking – choice and positioning – to recording and processing. Additional insights on phase are offered from Tool producer Sylvia Massey.

Noise Gates

In this scene, Parsons finds Paul Buff, the man who invented the noise gate (and who happened to sell Frank Zappa his first studio), and moves on from there. A complete set of practical demonstrations of ways you can use a noise gate in the studio concludes the scene.

Recording a Choir

While almost every school, college, and church has wanted to record a choir at some stage, and most likely already have the equipment – most need the knowhow. In this scene, Parsons shows up for class one morning at a California High School and teaches them the art and science of recording a jazz choir. The result is pure magic.

As in the entire collection of The Art and Science Of Sound Recording, the initial scenes, presented and produced by Alan, offer you his exclusive insider access to legendary musicians, producers and engineers and to their award-winning recording techniques. This collection offers something for everyone interested in recording their own music, from novice to professional engineers. Supported by extensive musical examples, custom diagrams, and interview clips, The Art & Science of Sound Recording takes a classic approach to recording and listening – followed by informed experimentation – and shows how this approach can live in the modern DAW-based environment. These are scenes that you can watch over and over again, and still enjoy nuances.

The second set of scenes will be available for download in January 2010, and the final scenes a month after that, just ahead of the release of the complete DVD boxed set.

We are tremendously excited at this initial release and feel this will become a landmark work on music production that will be essential viewing and listening for many years to come. Much like Alan’s own music and productions!

The Alan Parsons’ ASSR Team

Dateline: November 17th. Los Angeles: Nominated for no less than thirteen GRAMMYs over his career to date, Alan Parsons felt very much at home during October’s filming session at the GRAMMY Museum, a backdrop for the first section: An Introduction To Recording.

Alan Parsons in the GRAMMY MuseumSituated in ‘currently-being-revitalized’ downtown Los Angeles, the GRAMMY Museum features interactive exhibits that let you monitor recorded sound quality from the wax cylinder to 96k Surround, and investigate everything from the role of the producer to the power of a plug-in.

Alan recorded a number of segments in and alongside many of the ‘pods’ and ‘spaces’ in the museum’s Third Floor, drawing frequent attention from a stream of visitors who felt that an exhibit had somehow come to life in front of their eyes.

An Introduction To Recording traces the development of sound recording from Edison, Emile Berliner, and Valdemar Poulsen, through to multitrack tape and digital. Along the way Alan comments on his own personal experiences with The Beatles and Pink Floyd at Abbey Road as the studio moved from 8 to 16 to 24 track systems.

“But as the Grammy people know so well, great music is not about the technology, it's what people do with it that counts,” says Alan in one sequence. In another, Alan reveals that Academy’s original name of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was a “natural influence” for the title of the program.

Dateline: September 24th 2009. Los Angeles: One of the final pieces of the puzzle fell into place this month when Billy Bob Thornton recorded dialog for the Art And Science Of Sound Recording DVD project.

Alan Parsons and Billy Bob ThorntonThe recording, which took place at Billy Bob’s ‘Cave’ Studios in Los Angeles, was produced by Alan Parsons, and engineered by Thornton’s partner in the BoxMasters, JD Andrew.

Billy Bob’s voice is featured in all the various sections of the program, complimenting Alan’s on-screen and hands-on explanations and demonstrations.

Billy Bob Thornton
“Delivering lines out of context on a music and technology based project would have been a challenge for anyone else.” Said Alan. “But Billy is both an actor and a musician with his own recording studio. He was the perfect choice. We had a tremendous time doing it, and had plenty of laughs along the way. I’m hoping I can reciprocate by helping out Billy and the BoxMasters on a future project.”

The Art And Science Of Sound Recording now moves into its final stage, with release now expected in November.

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Dateline: June 5th 2009 Santa Barbara, Calif. To record the lead vocals on a brand new Alan Parsons track, All Our Yesterdays, Alan called on Chicago-based internet recording specialists Source Elements. From his studio in Santa Barbara, Alan successfully recorded Alan Parsons Live Project singer PJ Olsson while PJ was safely installed at his house, cross-country in Michigan.

The session started at a breezy 9AM in California (a rather more civilized 11 AM for PJ in the Midwest) and after minor set-up time using the Source Connect software the recording quickly took on a relatively ‘normal’ appearance – complete with customary singer complaints about the choice of key.

"It's quite an eerie experience hearing a vocalist in high quality audio from thousands of miles away as if he's behind the glass," said Alan, post-session.

The vocal was recorded flat at source, with just some limiting from a Universal Audio 1176 emulation for playback. Source Connect’s Pro system, currently centered around a Mac/ProTools rig, currently minimizes latency by initially delivering a low bandwidth signal as the recording takes place. The files can then be ‘invisibly’ updated in the background so that by playback full resolution high quality audio has been recorded onto the host system.

“There's no real substitute for being there, and interacting, having the performer step out of the studio and into the control room for playbacks,” says Alan. “But hey – we save a day of traveling, a round-trip airfare, and we can hook up at a moment's notice."

Source Connect has no directly integrated video component to aid interaction at the present time. Other systems such as eSession and Virtual Glass offer more visual features but Source Connect chief Rob Marshall says that until recently the company has focused on the post-production market, where on-going interaction between engineer and talent has been less crucial.

Internet Recording is one of a series of specialist, technique-based Recording Technique scenes on the Art & Science Of Sound Recording DVD.

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