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The History Of The Record

A chronicle by Peter K. Burkowitz

1978 PolyGram equips its classics teams and regional companies with marketable digital recorders and prepares switching to digital recording procedures..
  • Under the technical supervision of Dr. Hermann R. Franz, PolyGram engineers Dieter Soiné (production technology) and Horst Söding (development department) design the complete technology of the CD production, based on their own lab experience in Hannover, going back as far as 1961. The markets are supplied from 1982 onwards.
  • The group acquires the remaining 50 % of Casablanca.
1980 The group acquires DECCA, UK, with Reinhard Klaasen as managing director. DECCA´s early start into the digital future means advantages for the use of the repertoire, but it also creates problems for the internal exchange.
1981 DGG Tonmeister Karl-August Naegler receives a Grammy Award for his recording of Alban Berg´s Lulu (Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris, Pierre Boulez) in the category „Best Engineered Album, Classical“.
1983 After reaching retirement age, and a further year in an advisory capacity, P. K. Burkowitz surrenders his operational responsibility to Prof. Dr. Hans Hirsch (head of the classics department at DGG), the technical field to engineer Han Tendeloo (head of group Adva), and the DGG recording department to Klaus Hiemann (see picture).
  Klaus Hiemann Klaus Hiemann
1984 The first CD-ROMs (reald-only memory) are produced in Hannover.
1985 A six-year cooperation between Philips and Dupont Optical begins under the logo PDO.
1986 After the retirement of R. Klaassen, Roland Kommerell is made managing director at DECCA.
  • The CD-Video with analog picture and digital sound is created.
  • During the Funkausstellung P. K. Burkowitz, invited for this purpose, explains to interested visitors the principles of recording in the “digital era”. This is followed by an exchange of ideas with Oliver Berliner about the situation and plans of the descendants of Emil Berliner and his views on subsequent developments (see the following pictures).
1989 The bit rate for two-channel recordings is increased from 16 to 24 bits.
  • Development of High Capacity Discs (forerunners of the DVD).
  • The 24 bits technology is also introduced for multitrack recordings (> 2).
  • The remaining production facilities are transferred from Hannover, Podbielskistraße, to Langenhagen.
  • The first recordings in “4D” technology are carried out, with A/D conversion as close to the microphone as possible, so that only digital signals are carried to the mixing desk via cable. (Resolution during both the recording and the mixing process should exceed the CD standard).
  • DG producer Hans Weber receives a Grammy Award for his recording of Charles Ives' orchestra works (New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein) in the category „Best Classical Album“. Tonmeister was Klaus Scheibe.
1992 DG Tonmeister Gregor Zielinsky receives a Grammy Award for his recording of Leonard Bernstein´s Candide (London Symphony Orchestra, Bernstein) in the category „Best Engineered Album, Classical“.
1993 Patenting of the CD recycling technology, a PolyGram Hannover product.
  • The PolyGram plant Hannover/Langenhagen is renamed PolyGram Manufacturing & Distribution Centres GmbH (PMDC).
  • DG Tonmeister Rainer Maillard receives a Grammy Award for his recording of Bartók´s The Wooden Prince and Cantata Profana (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, & Chorus, Pierre Boulez) in the category „Best Engineered Album, Classical“.
1995 The first functional high-capacity discs are released.
1996 The favorable business prospects and the closure of the administrative building in Langenhagen enable Klaus Hiemann to realize the old plan of building a separate accomodation for recording purposes, and also to give it a truly appropriate name, independent from any commercial ups and downs: The Emil Berliner House. After its completion the recording centre of PolyGram Hannover moves into the new building on the company premises in Langenhagen. It is on the ground level throughout. Oliver Berliner is present at the official opening ceremony. Also the street in front of the Langenhagen premises is renamed, so there is now an official Emil-Berliner-Straße in Hannover.
  The Emil Berliner House in Hannover-Langenhagen: Exterior views, studio with three cascaded Yamaha DMC 1000 mixing consoles, central equipment room
  • PolyGram Hannover exceeds the mark of one billion CDs.
  • Production of DVDs with a memory capacity of 7 CD-ROMs (DVD-5).
  • Celebration of “100 years of record technology”.
  • Seagram (US) acquires the PolyGram shares from Philips and integrates them into its global enterprise, creating the world´s biggest music company inside this new holding.
  • The DVD-9 (equaling 13 CD-ROMs) is now produced serially.
  • The first recordings at 96 kHz sampling frequency are produced in the Emil Berliner House.
  The first 96 kHz recordings were a true battle of material. The first 96 kHz recordings were a true battle of material.
  • PMDC is renamed Universal Manufacturing & Logistics GmbH (UML). PolyGram Recording Services (PRS) are dubbed Universal Recording Services (URS).
  • The repertoire is digitalized for the purposes of electronic commerce.
  • During a URS recording session with Max Raabe and his Palast Orchester (see picture below) both modern condenser microphones and a historic Reisz microphone from the late 1920 are used, the latter borrowed from the museum of Georg Neumann GmbH, restored by Manfred Hibbing (Sennheiser electronic). The picture also shows the Neumann CMV 3, the first condenser microphone from approximately the same period. This recording presents the titles „Women always need a man friend” and “Avalon”.
  Left to right: Rainer Maillard (URS), Manfred Hibbing (Sennheiser), Max Raabe (singer), Klaus Hiemann (URS), Wolf-Dieter Karwatky (URS) Left to right: Rainer Maillard (URS), Manfred Hibbing (Sennheiser), Max Raabe (singer), Klaus Hiemann (URS), Wolf-Dieter Karwatky (URS)
  • Emil Berliner Studios is now the name for all services of the previous Recording Centre, such as implementation of recording sessions, recording practice and technology, mastering of tapes and the keeping of archives.
  • As part of the Cannes Classical Awards, Klaus Hiemann is awarded The Emile Berliner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • The French company Vivendi merges with Universal Music to form Vivendi-Universal.
  • January: Since the end of 1996, more than 5 million DVDs have been produced.
  • The first DVD-Audio is made at the Emil Berliner Studios, but the first products are released not until 2003 (see examples below).
2002 The department Media Authoring is a new addition to the existing services of EBS, devoted to authoring the new sound carrier formats DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD. It provides pioneer work and is subsequently complemented by the screen picture, together with the DVD-Video.
2002/2003 Much ado about nothing: The experts and parts of the Hi-Fi/High End scene are at cross purposes over the new recording format DSD, on which the Super Audio CD is based, and possible advantages of this format in comparison to PCM, as it is used for CD and (in its high-resolution variety) for DVD-Audio, the rival format of SACD. Whereas the discussion is marred by the use of unsuitable comparisons and untenable marketing slogans, EBS really undertakes to compare the formats. They are the first (and perhaps the only) team worldwide to do so. During the recording of Mahler´s 2nd Symphony (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Gilbert Kaplan, released on Deutsche Grammophon CD 474 380-2, SACD 477 594-2) in the Musikvereinssaal, Vienna, the whole recording sequence is carried out by using both PCM and DSD technology following the microphone. To exclude sound variations by different A/D converters, the team uses special converters capable of dealing with both formats. The result of the subsequent listening comparisons by double-blind test is as straight-forward as sobering: There is no difference whatsoever.
2005 The Universal-owned plant for optical data carriers on the premises in Hannover/Langenhagen is sold to the American company Entertainment Distribution Company (EDC).
2007 Deutsche Grammophon/Universal gives up large portions of its company-owned Emil Berliner Studios for “strategic reasons”. The departments Mastering and Media Authoring are closed down. They carry on as independent companies, managed by their respective executives (Eastside Mastering Studios Berlin GmbH headed by Götz-Michael Rieth and Dirk Niemeier, platin media productions GmbH & Co. KG headed by Harald Gericke). By this time, the extensive company archive has already been disincorporated into a separate branch. Only the recording crew remains, still carrying out assignments for DG and DECCA.
2008 By way of a management buy-out Emil Berliner Studios – Deutsche Grammophon GmbH turns into the new independent company EBS Productions GmbH & Co. KG, carrying on under the Emil Berliner Studios with more or less the same crew. In the meantime Hannover/Langenhagen is getting emptier by the day: All tape archive stock is transferred to Arvato Digital Services (previously Sonopress) in Gütersloh, Westfalia.
  • The management of EBS decides to leave Hannover/Langenhagen and to move to Berlin. The premises there in the Köthener Straße 38, close to the Potsdamer Platz, still house the historic Meistersaal and various other companies from the section “media production”. The studios are rebuilt completely, which takes as much as nine months to be completed.
  • At the same time overdub recordings for actor Ulrich Tukur´s album “Mezzanotte” are underway in the studios in Hannover/Langenhagen, the last recording sessions at the old address.
  Recording with Ulrich Tukur at Emil Berliner Studios Recording with Ulrich Tukur at Emil Berliner Studios
2010 EBS leaves the location Hannover/Langenhagen and moves to Berlin. On October 21 the crew celebrates the start into a new and hopeful era of its outstanding and complex history.



The author does not guarantee the correctness of calendary dates, as the figures in the sources do not always coincide.

© 2010 Peter K. Burkowitz †
Amendments since 1983 and editing for web presentation: Daniel Kemper
We would like to thank Mrs A. Panczel-Lenke for translating this historical survey into English.