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Philadelphia-based recording engineer Joe Tarsia's skills can be heard on a significant number of classic pop music tracks, earning him over 150 gold and platinum record awards. He was also the founder and owner of the legendary Sigma Sound Studios. Besides being a state of the art recording studio, Sigma Sound was the recording base of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International Records. Tarsia's recordings of that time were noteworthy for their clarity and aural definition, achieved years before the digital era.
Tarsia took technical courses in high school before taking a position with the research department of Philco Corporation, which lasted for a decade. Later, he became a service technician for various Philadelphia recording studios. Hungry for knowledge, Tarsia would trek to New York City to mix with top audio engineers. Around 1961, he took an audio engineering position with Cameo Parkway Records. Cameo Parkway's artists included Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydell, The Orlons, Dee Dee Sharp, The Dovells and Bunny Sigler.
In the fall of 1967, Tarsia, the aspiring studio owner, sold his car, house and other personal possessions and purchased a lease on the second floor of the 212 North 12th Street Building (formerly Sound Plus Studios), and upgraded the studio from 2-track mono to 8-track stereo. Operating as a one-man operation, Sigma Sound opened its doors for business on August 5, 1968. During the 1970s' gold and multi-platinum-laced heyday of 'The Sound Of Philadelphia', the facility became a 24-hour operation, in order to meet the great demand for its services. The studio's success prompted Tarsia to open another studio in nearby New York, named Sigma Sound Studios of New York. It had a client list that included Whitney Houston, Madonna, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, Ashford and Simpson and Paul Simon.
In 1990, Tarsia's son Michael Tarsia became president of Sigma. More recently, Joe Tarsia is sharing his vast wealth of knowledge and experience, as lecturer and as a participant in such educational programs as GRAMMY In The Schools.
Tarsia closed the New York studio sometime in the early 1990s; and in 2003, sold the original studio in Philadelphia.
- Shepherd, John (2003) Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Media, Industry and Society v.1: Media, Industry and Society, Continuum, ISBN 978-0-8264-6321-0, p. 670-1
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