Archive for June, 2014

Translating Old Sound to Modern Digital Formats

June 30th, 2014

Anything you can embed sound in you can scratch, crease, crumple, bend, break, tear, warp, or melt.
Alec Wilkinson, “A Voice from the Past” New Yorker May 19, 2014

Musical Notes UnearthedWhat do Mickey Hart (drummer for the Grateful Dead), a physicist name Carl Haber, and antiquated recordings of sound have in common?

On March 24, 2012 I wrote about digital preservation of images. In the May 19 issue of The New Yorker, Alec Wilkinson in his Annals of Sound column wrote “A Voice from the Past: How a physicist resurrected the earliest recordings.” It’s a fascinating account which recounts the unearthing of all types of sounds that audio preservationists have loving watched over for years but been unable to hear.

New Yorker Magazine coverThese preservationists, sometimes referred to as archeophonists, were ecstatic when experimental physicist Carl Haber (a member of the part of the ATLAS team that identified the Higgs boson particle in 2012) invented IRENE (Image Reconstruction Eliminating Noise, Etc.). A $200K machine (of which there are five so far), it scans wax cylinders, records, piano rolls, aluminum disks, and other old recording mediums of music, voices, and other sounds in 3D so they can be played in a digital format.

To learn more about Haber as well as about a French proofreader who recorded sound in soot on paper in the 1800, and others who made recordings they were never able to hear in their lifetimes as well as outsdated formats like , read the complete article.

History/research, Sound & music editing, Technical & process