SPARS is an acronym for the Society of Professional Audio Recording Studios. The SPARS Code is a three-letter code that appears on some Compact Disc recordings telling the consumer what type of tape recorder was used in the recording process, either analogue (A) or digital (D). Several limitations of the code have led to it being largely scrapped. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Backronym and Apronym (Discuss) Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, such as NATO, laser, and ABC, written as the initial letter or letters of words, and pronounced on the basis of this abbreviated written form. ...
This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...
In general, a tape recorder, tape deck, cassette deck or tape machine is any device that records and plays back, fluctuating signal by moving a strip of magnetic tape across a tape head. ...
It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Analog electronics. ...
A digital system is one that uses discrete numbers, especially binary numbers, or non-numeric symbols such as letters or icons, for input, processing, transmission, storage, or display, rather than a continuous spectrum of values (an analog system). ...
The three letters of the code have the following meanings:
- First letter - the type of tape recorder used during initial recording (analogue or digital)
- Second letter - the type of tape recorder used during mixing/editing (analogue or digital)
- Third letter - the type of mastering used (digital only)
There are three common types: In general, a tape recorder, tape deck, cassette deck or tape machine is any device that records and plays back, fluctuating signal by moving a strip of magnetic tape across a tape head. ...
- AAD - Analogue tape recorder used during initial recording, Analogue tape recorder used during mixing/editing, Digital mastering.
- ADD - Analogue tape recorder used during initial recording, Digital tape recorder used during mixing/editing and for the mastering.
- DDD - Digital tape recorder used during initial recording, mixing/editing and for mastering.
A small number of DAD recordings were also produced.
Since CD is a digital medium, it must be produced from a digital master – therefore the last letter of the code will always be ‘D’. CD may stand for: Compact Disc Canadian Forces Decoration Cash Dispenser (at least used in Japan) CD LPMud Driver Centrum-Demokraterne (Centre Democrats of Denmark) Certificate of Deposit ÄeskÃ© DrÃ¡hy (Czech Railways) Chad (NATO country code) Chalmers DatorfÃ¶rening (computer club of the Chalmers University of Technology) a 1960s...
As digital tape recorders only became available in the mid 1970s, all recordings prior to this date that appear on CD will be AAD – having been ‘digitally remastered’. This means that the original analogue master tape has been converted (transcribed) to digital. It does not always imply that there has been any additional editing or mixing, although this may have taken place. The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, inclusive. ...
CD may stand for: Compact Disc Canadian Forces Decoration Cash Dispenser (at least used in Japan) CD LPMud Driver Centrum-Demokraterne (Centre Democrats of Denmark) Certificate of Deposit ÄeskÃ© DrÃ¡hy (Czech Railways) Chad (NATO country code) Chalmers DatorfÃ¶rening (computer club of the Chalmers University of Technology) a 1960s...
Remaster (and its derivations, frequently found in the phrases digitally remastered or digital remastering) is a word and concept ushered into the mass consciousness via the digital age, although it had existed before then. ...
By the mid 1990s, confusion surrounding the code and the anomalies it produces led the inventor to recommend its discontinuation. As a result, new CD releases are less likely to include a SPARS code.
Lack of detail
The main limitation of the code is that it only covers the type of tape recorder used, not taking into account other equipment used in the production of the recording. For example, during the mixing stage (the middle letter in the code) many DDD recordings may have actually been converted from digital to analogue, mixed on an analogue mixing console, but converted back to digital and digitally recorded, thus earning it a 'D' in the relevant part of the code. This is because while digital tape recorders are now relatively cheap, large digital mixing consoles are still extremely expensive. In addition to this, many recordings have effects or parts of different recordings added on to them, creating more confusion for the code.
Representation of quality
The SPARS code should not be taken as an indicator of the quality of the recording. There are lots of poor quality DDD recordings around, and also lots of excellent quality AAD recordings. This was particularly true in the early years of digital recording, as recording engineers were inexperienced with the new technology and did not know how to get the best from it. Even today, when digital tape recorders are inexpensive, many recordings, including many pop records, are made AAD and have excellent sound quality.
- Weezer – The Blue Album (1994) – AAD
- U2 – The Unforgettable Fire (1984) – ADD
- ABBA – The Visitors (1981, released on CD 1984) – DDD
- Kenny Roberts – You're My Kind Of People (1988) – DDA (Digital Recording And Mixing, but released only on analog formats)
- Kenny Roberts – It Only Makes Me Cry (Forgetting You) (1988) – DDA (Digital Recording And Mixing, but released only on analog formats)
- Simple Minds – Street Fighting Years (1989) – DAD
- Celine Dion – Unison (1990) – AAD, DDD (four tracks)