130-year-old Sound Recordings

Alexander Graham Bell and his Volta Laboratory Associates began research into recording sound in the early 1880s. They tried a variety of recording mediums, such as glass, wax, rubber, and metal. The experimental materials were eventually donated to the Smithsonian Institution, but they were not played back for fear of damaging the original material. But new technology is able to detect the recorded sound without scratching the cylinders and discs.
The recordings in the museum’s collection are in fragile condition due to their age and experimental nature. Until now, the technology to listen to the recordings without damaging the discs and cylinders was not available. The noninvasive optical technique used in this project to scan and recover sounds was first studied by Berkeley Lab in 2002–2004 and installed at the Library of Congress in 2006 and 2009. The process creates a high-resolution digital map of the disc or cylinder. This map is then processed to remove evidence of wear or damage (e.g., scratches and skips). Finally, software calculates the motion of a stylus moving through the disc or cylinder’s grooves, reproducing the audio content and producing a standard digital sound file.

The new preservation laboratory at the Library of Congress has hundreds of early recordings, including 200 from Volta Laboratory, to work on, and four of them are digitized for you to listen to at the Berkeley Lab website. Link -via reddit

Newest 2
Newest 2 Comments

Miss C, you might do a bit on the Japanese
ELP (think they still call it that) turntable, a 5-laser rig that can even play records that
are physically broken in pieces.
I believe the Library of Congress has one.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"130-year-old Sound Recordings"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More