The Sonoma Story

When Sony and Philips proposed SACD as the next generation music format, it had, at its core, an entirely new way of digitally encoding music called Direct Stream Digital, or DSD. At the time, however, there were only a handful of two-channel DSD recorders in existence that Sony had built at its R & D labs in Japan. Artists, producers and engineers who heard the quality of DSD were soon lining up to use these prototype recorders on the first direct-to-two-track DSD recordings. To address the need for multichannel recordings, Philips Research in The Netherlands would later build a behemoth eight-channel DSD recorder but there were no tools for editing the recordings into finished, releasable masters.

To solve this problem, the launch team for SACD in the United States recruited the brightest professional audio and software engineers it could find and assembled them in a ‘skunk works’ located in a large industrial space in the high-tech South of Market area of San Francisco. In a crash program, which lasted less than two years, the team in San Francisco created the world’s first DSD recording and editing system. Due to its northern Californian roots, they dubbed it the Sonoma Workstation.

The Sonoma tradition continues today as the workstation is used by discriminating artists around the world to record hi-res projects for release on SACD and, more recently, online. More than a single product or technology, Sonoma stands for the pursuit of uncompromised audio quality in any form. It is that unquenchable thirst for unmatched audio quality that is now driving the development of the Model One Headphone System from Sonoma Acoustics.