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Topic: Digitalizing Wax Cylinders NPR Article  (Read 2592 times) previous topic - next topic
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Digitalizing Wax Cylinders NPR Article

Quote
Enter the Endpoint Cylinder and Dictabelt Machine, invented by Californian Nicholas Bergh, which recently was acquired by the library. Thanks to the combination of its laser and needle, it can digitize even broken or cracked wax cylinders — and there are a lot of those. But Bergh said, the design of the cylinder, which makes it fragile, is also its strength. "Edison thought of this format as a recording format, almost like like a cassette machine," Bergh said. "That's why the format is a [cylinder]. It's very, very hard to do on a disc. And that's also why there's so much great material on wax cylinder that doesn't exist on disc, like field recorded cylinders, ethnographic material, home recordings, things like that."
~ https://www.npr.org/2022/04/05/1090819310/mystery-recordings-will-now-be-heard-for-the-first-time-in-about-100-years
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: Digitalizing Wax Cylinders NPR Article

Reply #1
I wonder what the audio quality of the material on these wax cylinders is. Some time ago I listened to some digitized vinyl from before the introduction of electrical recording at archive.org: the difference with electrically recorded is stunning. The disc won over the cylinder because the ease of replication, so I wonder, was there any quality difference?

As I understand, recordings in that time period were made by having an ensemble really close to the recording device. The article mentions recordings of live performances or birthday parties (i.e.: not some ensemble specifically aiming for the recording horn), I wonder whether one can discern anything at all.
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Re: Digitalizing Wax Cylinders NPR Article

Reply #2
This is "interesting" and it seems like a good thing to do, but I'm not interested enough to listen.  :P   If there is some interesting or historically relevant content I might want to read a transcript.

Quote
The disc won over the cylinder because the ease of replication, so I wonder, was there any quality difference?
Quality & ease of replication might be related because the original wax deteriorates with each play.   Otherwise it seems like the same technology with a different mechanical setup.

Re: Digitalizing Wax Cylinders NPR Article

Reply #3
I wonder what the audio quality of the material on these wax cylinders is. Some time ago I listened to some digitized vinyl from before the introduction of electrical recording at archive.org: the difference with electrically recorded is stunning.
The quality of old live mechanical (instead of electrical) cylinder recordings is really bad and sometimes even barely intelligible, due to massive amounts of distortion. Here is Thomas Edison himself talking into a cylinder phonograph in 1888. IIRC, wax cylinder recordings are made perpendicular to the cylinder surface (vertical cutting). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think shellac records were cut laterally from the start, and I think this method bears the potential for better sound quality.

Chris
If I don't reply to your reply, it means I agree with you.


Re: Digitalizing Wax Cylinders NPR Article

Reply #5
These sound way better than I expected.
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