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(Berkeley)   Particle physicist wins $625K "genius grant" for using high-resolution imaging of grooves to digitize and play 135-year-old recordings. Suddenly your tube-based audiophile stereo isn't so impressive any more   (alumni.berkeley.edu) divider line 36
    More: Cool, Particle Physics, sound check, imaginations, genius grant, particles, rescuers, Alexander Graham Bell, stereos  
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1828 clicks; posted to Geek » on 02 Oct 2013 at 4:39 AM (28 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



36 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-10-01 08:52:14 PM
Digitizing it is different from playing it, subby.
 
2013-10-01 09:00:36 PM
Awesome.  I've had the idea that such a technique might work, but this guy made it happen.  Bravo.
 
2013-10-01 09:12:55 PM
Yeah, but he didn't use pure silver Monster cables to transfer the data to the speakers, so he might as well have just farted loudly.
 
2013-10-01 10:27:17 PM
 
2013-10-01 10:36:42 PM
Let's see him do that with my 8-Tracks.
 
2013-10-02 01:02:29 AM
Only 135 years? Pfft!

Archaeoacoustics
 
2013-10-02 01:52:18 AM
Apples to oranges.

Even if the recordings are rendered to exact original specifications, they will still sound worse an old telephone.
 
2013-10-02 03:48:36 AM
His (horrible) website:
http://irene.lbl.gov/
 
2013-10-02 03:51:56 AM

ShawnDoc: His (horrible) website:
http://irene.lbl.gov/


I submitted that a little too quickly.  His website has examples of different recordings. The optically captured recordings, after being run through a noise filter process are remarkably clear.
 
2013-10-02 04:25:10 AM

ShawnDoc: ShawnDoc: His (horrible) website:
http://irene.lbl.gov/

I submitted that a little too quickly.  His website has examples of different recordings. The optically captured recordings, after being run through a noise filter process are remarkably clear.


Yeah.  Even before noise reduction, the optical "Goodnight Irene" sounds better than vinyl, and after it, it's on par with the CD.  Even the excitingly-named "sound of optically read groove amplitudes before differentiation into velocities" sounds decent.

But wow, $625K, now he can afford a proper audiophile setup.
 
2013-10-02 05:00:45 AM
oi33.tinypic.com
 
2013-10-02 05:28:36 AM
The two researchers later augmented their technique so they could retrieve audio information from even older wax cylinders. The cylinders were more problematic than the discs because they are easily damaged

You don't say.
 
2013-10-02 05:31:14 AM

gaslight: Digitizing it is different from playing it, subby.


reading is different than thinking that you are right ...

pretty certain that they mentioned playing the material after scanning it ...

but go ahead and explain how you think the word play has only one meaning
 
2013-10-02 05:34:00 AM
Was the hero tag off slumming it in the politics tab?
 
2013-10-02 05:34:41 AM

balthan: The two researchers later augmented their technique so they could retrieve audio information from even older wax cylinders. The cylinders were more problematic than the discs because they are easily damaged

You don't say.


"Are you done with that?" - LOL

remind me to not let him play with things which are important to me
 
2013-10-02 06:16:30 AM
BUT 60HZ HUM AND BREAKFAST CEREAL CRACKLES GIVES THE RECORDING A WARMER SOUND!!!!!

// The only pure sound is banging mammoth bones on rocks, you techno-turds!
 
2013-10-02 06:42:34 AM
That is awesome. Well done science dude.
 
2013-10-02 06:47:33 AM
My favorite recording is inaudible.  You've probably never heard it.
 
2013-10-02 06:47:36 AM

maddogdelta: BUT 60HZ HUM AND BREAKFAST CEREAL CRACKLES GIVES THE RECORDING A WARMER SOUND!!!!!

// The only pure sound is banging mammoth bones on rocks, you techno-turds!


Well you just try to put on a blank CD next time you want to give the room some class. Me, I have a full collection of silent records for that natural polyvinyl warmth without some squabbling toady going on in a whalelike fashion.
 
2013-10-02 06:52:54 AM

gaslight: Digitizing it is different from playing it, subby.


So you're supposing that they declared the method worked, published that result, and got a MacArthur grant, all without ever playing back the result of the restoration method to verify this?

Man, apparently science is just straight-up magic in your world, I bet researchers there save a bundle since they just need a robe and wizard hat instead of a multimillion dollar imager to nondestructively analyze delicate old media.
 
2013-10-02 07:35:36 AM
Is this were all the audio snobs post about how their format is better than everything else?

/I just use Real Player
 
2013-10-02 07:43:47 AM
It's amazing how cranky some people will get when you try to explain that "better" actually means "distorted".
 
2013-10-02 07:51:25 AM
I remember seeing a laser based vinyl record player a few years back. I think the price was about the same as that grant.
 
mjl
2013-10-02 07:53:45 AM
Radio 4's Charlotte Green completly crack up on air over a story like that (apparently someone told her it sounded like a bee in a jamjar)
A must listen clip it will put a smile on your face.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJdlF-DCUKs
 
2013-10-02 08:06:12 AM
Piracy finds a way...


/lulz
 
2013-10-02 08:15:47 AM
I don't feel like this is worth $600,000.
 
2013-10-02 08:24:15 AM

DirtyDeadGhostofEbenezerCooke: My favorite recording is inaudible. You've probably never heard it.


John Cage is so 1975....
 
2013-10-02 08:30:08 AM

UsikFark: maddogdelta: BUT 60HZ HUM AND BREAKFAST CEREAL CRACKLES GIVES THE RECORDING A WARMER SOUND!!!!!

// The only pure sound is banging mammoth bones on rocks, you techno-turds!

Well you just try to put on a blank CD next time you want to give the room some class. Me, I have a full collection of silent records for that natural polyvinyl warmth without some squabbling toady going on in a whalelike fashion.


You know what's sad, I honestly don't know if you're serious or mocking the vinyl-only folks. That's how absurd that is.
 
2013-10-02 08:59:33 AM
Now lets hear from some old pottery or something else groovy.
 
2013-10-02 09:14:38 AM
And now they can do the same thing in reverse: Take digital recordings and make vinyl out of them:

http://www.amandaghassaei.com/3D_printed_record.html
 
2013-10-02 11:00:20 AM

TheDumbBlonde: Been done.  http://www.nypl.org/node/61970


From a recording on paper, too... http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/arts/27soun.html
 
2013-10-02 01:23:03 PM
Actually, it sounds as if he is getting an award (and a grant) for his IRENE system, which has been around for about a decade now.

But optical pickups aren't new.  LP players with a laser stylus have been available since the late '80s.  My understanding is that they're good in that they can work around defects in a groove, but that the disc must be thoroughly cleaned beforehand as they don't self-clean the groove of dust.  I imagine that the IRENE system might have the same problem.
 
2013-10-02 03:34:06 PM

Lokasenna: It's amazing how cranky some people will get when you try to explain that "better" actually means "distorted".


What about the idea that recordings were mastered to that distortion at the time and playing them on higher-fidelity equipment removes the period sound? Or do you hate people playing baroque compositions on period instruments using different tunings than 440-A as well?
 
2013-10-02 03:35:33 PM

PirateKing: And now they can do the same thing in reverse: Take digital recordings and make vinyl out of them:


Or videos.
 
2013-10-02 07:26:48 PM
No, it's the name of a Rasputina song:

http://song meanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858671796/
 
2013-10-02 08:09:29 PM

theorellior: Lokasenna: It's amazing how cranky some people will get when you try to explain that "better" actually means "distorted".

What about the idea that recordings were mastered to that distortion at the time and playing them on higher-fidelity equipment removes the period sound? Or do you hate people playing baroque compositions on period instruments using different tunings than 440-A as well?


Depends. Are they insisting that their specific brand of catgut strings and use of 480-A is, objectively, the best way to listen to all music ever? Because that's what the audiophile argument boils down to.  Your analogy would technically require people to own, say, four or five different record players and stereo setups to properly simulate the equipment available when a given recording was made.

On the other hand, digitally storing the recording at a quality higher than period equipment can play back leaves us with the option of listening to it however we want. We know enough about the types of distortion and filtering going on that a software/hardware "Vintage In A Box" solution is entirely possible.

I'm sure someone out there has their living room kitted out with a computer running into a vinyl-pressing machine so they can have the convenience of working with FLAC but the... ahem... "pristine tone" of a $50,000 amp loaded with NOS tubes from some abandoned factory they purchased in Detroit just for the sake of having their own supply.
 
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