Digital technology has enhanced music production, recording and distribution in ways unimaginable just a few decades ago, but are we losing something more essential in the process? Chris May (of The Vinyl Factory) talks to ambient pioneer and friend of technology Brian Eno about the dangers of digital dependence in modern music. “It doesn’t just apply with African recordings. It’s a problem everybody is having at the moment. Do I resist the temptation to perfect this thing? What do I lose by perfecting it?"
Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
What is the relationship between the optical groove in a record or wax cylinder and sound, and how can we use this to recover analog recordings from the past? Dr. Carl Haber explains IRENE (.pdf; begin at slide 44 for audio samples).
Will Vinyl Survive? Is vinyl on its last legs? Or like Gloria Gaynor, will it survive? Most home listeners chucked out their turntables years ago, but are DJs finally giving in and following suit? DJs face off in a pair of articles discussing the merits of vinyl vs. digital...
Traditionally, (video) a DJ uses two turntables, but recently a series of new products has challenged the primacy of vinyl. While local record shops have been closing left and right, online stores have begun offering digital downloads. One digital-only outlet recently sold their 1,000,000th mp3. And now, a new store has taken the DJ completely out of the equation by making mix cds on demand.
The end of Vinyl II? Stanton ships Final Scratch, which enables a DJ to manipulate (mix, scratch, cut...) any music on their PC with their turntables. Besides not needing to carry all the weight and bulk of crates of records around, DJs can now skip the expensive and complicated step of cutting their own records in order to play original tracks. Is vinyl going to die for real this time?