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Recording CDs now can be done at home

By Dustin Lemmon, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Dustin Lemmon / staff
Aledo city clerk Brian Whitehall sets up a tape recorder for a city council meeting in February. Cassette recorders, which revolutionized recording in the 1970s, are still used by many communities to record city council and village board meetings.

In the ever-changing world of technology the cassette tape recorder has been all but forgotten, thanks to the advances in digital recording equipment which can produce better-quality recordings.

Cassette tape recorders were a hit when they were first introduced to amateur musicians in the 1970s. The early four-track recorders were a technological breakthrough that could combine up to four instruments on one tape, Rick Stoneking, a musician and salesperson with Griggs Music in Davenport, said.

The novelty of the four-track recorders inspired many musicians to start writing and recording their own songs.

Those recorders, which cost around $1,500 when they first came to music stores two decades ago, now cost about $500 and are overshadowed by the eight-track digital recorder, which runs around $1,000, Mr. Stoneking said.

``A lot of things have gone digital,'' he said. ``Things have gotten pretty cool.''

The advances in digital technology have helped not only major recording companies, but also musicians who want to record in their own home, either with hopes of writing a hit song or simply as a hobby, and now have access to high-tech recording gear.

``It lets your average guy write stuff at home,'' Mr. Stoneking said. ``He can manufacture his own CD right in his own studio.''

Musicians now can record several different tracks, altering the recordings to remove mistakes and improve a song's quality.

One of the digital recorders ``coolest features'' is their ability to over-record, Mr. Stoneking said. A musician singing a vocal track who on ``the first chorus you sang OK but the second chorus you nailed it, you can copy the second chorus and put it over the first,'' he said.

While cassette recorders have lost their place in the music world, they still are a staple of many governmental offices.

Aledo city clerk Brian Whitehall said he has been using a small tape recorder with a broken rewind button to record city council meetings for 13 years.

At the request of Aledo aldermen, council meetings have been recorded for close to 25 years, he said. ``We can find the mayor from 25 years ago in the archives.''

The council does not use an advanced recording system with microphones for each aldermen -- just a traditional tape recorder sitting at the head of the council table.

Mr. Whitehall said the tapes serve little purpose when it comes to recording the minutes of the meeting.

``They're hardly ever listened to, unless someone misses a meeting and wants to review them,'' he said. ``They're nothing but entertainment value after the council approves the minutes. But they are available to the public.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.