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30 years ago today: the smokey globe and the 2s

TM
ToasterMan Granada North West Today
I didn't realise they were replaced after only a few weeks. I had previously guessed that the original soundtracks were mono, and the new ones were stereo mixes introduced for the launch of NICAM in the Autumn.

Actually, both mixes were produced in Stereo, just the later mix was heard in Mono until Autumn 1991.

The uploads on Lambie-Nairn's YouTube channel back in 2010 prove the early versions were indeed in Stereo.
Last edited by ToasterMan on 20 February 2021 2:05pm
MA
Markymark Meridian (Thames Valley) South Today
I didn't realise they were replaced after only a few weeks. I had previously guessed that the original soundtracks were mono, and the new ones were stereo mixes introduced for the launch of NICAM in the Autumn.

Actually, both mixes were produced in Stereo, just the later mix was heard in Mono until Autumn 1991.

The uploads on Lambie-Nairn's YouTube channel back in 2010 prove the early versions were indeed in Stereo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ar1aavGXk


Crystal Palace and other sites had had 'unofficial' NICAM broadcasts for quite some time prior to Autumn 1991, certainly from before Feb 91. ( I suspect the more significant milestone was when NC1 and 2 were modified for stereo sound ?
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Avatar credit: © BBC, ITA, BREMA 1967
NG
noggin Founding member
I didn't realise they were replaced after only a few weeks. I had previously guessed that the original soundtracks were mono, and the new ones were stereo mixes introduced for the launch of NICAM in the Autumn.

Actually, both mixes were produced in Stereo, just the later mix was heard in Mono until Autumn 1991.

The uploads on Lambie-Nairn's YouTube channel back in 2010 prove the early versions were indeed in Stereo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ar1aavGXk


Crystal Palace and other sites had had 'unofficial' NICAM broadcasts for quite some time prior to Autumn 1991, certainly from before Feb 91. ( I suspect the more significant milestone was when NC1 and 2 were modified for stereo sound ?


Yes - we were watching BBC One from Crystal Palace with NICAM stereo on quite a large number of programmes long before the official launch (we installed a third-party NICAM board in our VHS HiFi VCR, tee-ing off the IF with the NICAM subcarrier on it, and then fed the stereo line-level audio output from the board into the Simulcast phono inputs on the VCR that you'd otherwise use to record TV with stereo FM Radio simulcast audio).

BBC One presentation certainly had a stereo route for programmes well before 1991 (My hazy memory suggests we were NICAM listeners by 1988?) - though I don't know about BBC Two nor do I know if the CRV laser players used for BBC Two ident replay were initially stereo sources and/or the discs stereo mastered?
JA
james-2001 Central (East) East Midlands Today
One of the pres sites back in the early 00s had scans of the newsletter (the "stereo Radio Times" as they called it) that listed programmes that would be broadcast in NICAM- indeed I remember there being editions from as far back as 1988 (though there weren't many programmes on it), where the editions from the early part of 1991 had seemingly most programmes in stereo.

I have read that up until the offical launch of NICAM, on both BBC, ITV and C4, the NICAM track could be silent or broadcasting something different to programme audio, so if you did have NICAM equipment you'd have had to turn off the NICAM signal to watch the actuall programme from time to time.

We didn't have a NICAM compatible TV until 1992, but one thing I remember is the lights on front of the TV were different colours (I think red for NICAM and green for mono, but it was a long time ago, we got rid of that TV in 1998) if there was a NICAM signal (which there was all the time on the broadcast channels by 1992, but obviously wasn't there on the VCR or mega drive output which were only mono), and it told you on screen when you changed channel whether what you were watching was mono or NICAM.
Last edited by james-2001 on 20 February 2021 2:41pm
NG
noggin Founding member
One of the pres sites back in the early 00s had scans of the newsletter (the "stereo Radio Times" as they called it) that listed programmes that would be broadcast in NICAM- indeed I remember there being editions from as far back as 1988 (though there weren't many programmes on it), where the editions from the early part of 1991 had seemingly most programmes in stereo.


Yes - initially it was easier to make live or as-live shows in stereo than some edited shows, as editing stereo audio without going to a dub was still quite tricky with the restricted number of audio tracks available on VTRs. (Edits often had 'Bel Boxes' which were digital audio lay off devices to allow you to do stereo audio mixes, as Beta SP and 1" VTRs didn't have enough audio tracks on their own to really allow for this in a 2 machine edit, or a three machine without copying material first)

As a result live shows like Wogan were often stereo, but initially a lot of edited shows were mono.
TM
ToasterMan Granada North West Today
I didn't realise they were replaced after only a few weeks. I had previously guessed that the original soundtracks were mono, and the new ones were stereo mixes introduced for the launch of NICAM in the Autumn.

Actually, both mixes were produced in Stereo, just the later mix was heard in Mono until Autumn 1991.

The uploads on Lambie-Nairn's YouTube channel back in 2010 prove the early versions were indeed in Stereo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ar1aavGXk


Crystal Palace and other sites had had 'unofficial' NICAM broadcasts for quite some time prior to Autumn 1991, certainly from before Feb 91. ( I suspect the more significant milestone was when NC1 and 2 were modified for stereo sound ?

I thought for a certain time, the announcements for early NICAM broadcasts were recorded in Mono, did they switch before the official launch?
CO
commseng London London
I remember doing stereo analogue lines equalisation for BT circuits for a test OB - I think it must have been 1988, but I have absolutely no means of confirming that.
It was snooker - I expect it would have most likely been from Wembley (the conference centre there?).
As far as I am aware that was the first live stereo Television OB on the BBC.
IT
IndigoTucker
BBC shows were dubbed using a separate multitrack tape system before NICAM, SYPHER/CYPHER? I think it was tweaked for stereo, but was working by 1988, and Remembrance of the Daleks was broadcast in stereo from tape.
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Actually, both mixes were produced in Stereo, just the later mix was heard in Mono until Autumn 1991.

The uploads on Lambie-Nairn's YouTube channel back in 2010 prove the early versions were indeed in Stereo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8ar1aavGXk


Crystal Palace and other sites had had 'unofficial' NICAM broadcasts for quite some time prior to Autumn 1991, certainly from before Feb 91. ( I suspect the more significant milestone was when NC1 and 2 were modified for stereo sound ?


Yes - we were watching BBC One from Crystal Palace with NICAM stereo on quite a large number of programmes long before the official launch (we installed a third-party NICAM board in our VHS HiFi VCR, tee-ing off the IF with the NICAM subcarrier on it, and then fed the stereo line-level audio output from the board into the Simulcast phono inputs on the VCR that you'd otherwise use to record TV with stereo FM Radio simulcast audio).

BBC One presentation certainly had a stereo route for programmes well before 1991 (My hazy memory suggests we were NICAM listeners by 1988?) - though I don't know about BBC Two nor do I know if the CRV laser players used for BBC Two ident replay were initially stereo sources and/or the discs stereo mastered?


NC1 was upgraded for stereo in 1988 although it could only handle pre recorded material from a specific VT suite in stereo because CAR's router needed upgrading.

To get live programmes on air in stereo there was a separate sound mixer in the Spur. I can't believe the aren't stories of entertaining cockups with that arrangement but I guess as it was still technically a test transmission it didn't matter too much.

https://www.bbceng.info/Eng_Inf/eng-inf-files/EngInf33.pdf

NC2 was done the following year.
Write that down in your copybook now.
JA
james-2001 Central (East) East Midlands Today

Crystal Palace and other sites had had 'unofficial' NICAM broadcasts for quite some time prior to Autumn 1991, certainly from before Feb 91. ( I suspect the more significant milestone was when NC1 and 2 were modified for stereo sound ?


Yes - we were watching BBC One from Crystal Palace with NICAM stereo on quite a large number of programmes long before the official launch (we installed a third-party NICAM board in our VHS HiFi VCR, tee-ing off the IF with the NICAM subcarrier on it, and then fed the stereo line-level audio output from the board into the Simulcast phono inputs on the VCR that you'd otherwise use to record TV with stereo FM Radio simulcast audio).

BBC One presentation certainly had a stereo route for programmes well before 1991 (My hazy memory suggests we were NICAM listeners by 1988?) - though I don't know about BBC Two nor do I know if the CRV laser players used for BBC Two ident replay were initially stereo sources and/or the discs stereo mastered?


NC1 was upgraded for stereo in 1988 although it could only handle pre recorded material from a specific VT suite in stereo because CAR's router needed upgrading.

To get live programmes on air in stereo there was a separate sound mixer in the Spur. I can't believe the aren't stories of entertaining cockups with that arrangement but I guess as it was still technically a test transmission it didn't matter too much.

https://www.bbceng.info/Eng_Inf/eng-inf-files/EngInf33.pdf

NC2 was done the following year.


Looks like that's also the point where NC1 and NC2 swapped places.
VM
VMPhil Granada North West Today
To get live programmes on air in stereo there was a separate sound mixer in the Spur. I can't believe the aren't stories of entertaining cockups with that arrangement but I guess as it was still technically a test transmission it didn't matter too much.

I'm sure I recall reading an anecdote that sometimes the sound on a live programme would inadvertently continue on the NICAM feed after it had finished, so you could hear what was going on in the studio.
CY
cylon6 London London
There was a lot of love for the 2s when this tweet was posted.



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