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3D Printers Give New Life to Old Recordings
Design News ^ | 1/8/13 | Cabe Atwell

Posted on 01/24/2013 8:38:39 PM PST by null and void

As 3D printers increase in popularity, more and more people are using them to bring their unique projects to life.

They've been used to manufacture everything from weapons parts (AR-15 lower receiver) to medical prosthetics (four-year-old Emma Lavelle’s "Magic Arms"), and now some are using them to bring new life to both old and new forms of recordable technology. In this case, 3D printing technology has been applied to restoration, and it only seems fitting that a relatively new invention was used to revitalize old recordings by prominent inventors from over 100 years ago.

Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have used 3D scanning technology to restore some century-old recordings made by three notable inventors that include Charles Sumner Tainter (inventor of an early telephone transmitter), Alexander Graham Bell, and his cousin Chichester Bell. The three predominately collaborated to bring about what was considered high-fidelity for audio systems (notably their graphophone) back in the 1880s. The team experimented using various mediums for their recordings that included discs and cylinders made from beeswax and cardboard, brass, and glass. They succeeded in making a series of recordings (more than 200 of them) on glass-based discs, which were sent to the Smithsonian in an effort to preserve them. However, they never sent the playback device needed to listen to the discs which were then (over time) considered useless and left to decay.

Click the image below to see photos of 3D printing and scanning bringing life to old music.

National Museum of American History curator Carlene Stephens examines a glass disc recording containing the audio of a male voice repeating "Mary had a little lamb" twice, made more than 100 years ago in Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Lab.
(Source: Rich Strauss, Smithsonian)

Decay they did -- until the research team from LBL got hold of them. They brought them back to life through restoration and were able to play the recordings 125 years after they were made. To accomplish this, the team employed the use of a 3D scanner, known as IRENE (Image Reconstruct Erase Noise ETC), to non-invasively scan the discs and create a high-resolution image. They then processed the digital image, which pieces together the damaged disc and removes any errors (from wear and physical damage) after which specialized software calculates and recreates the engraving method (in this case a stylus used to etch the glass/wax) to reproduce the audio into a digitized format. The team was successful at recovering the audio from six Volta Graphophone discs and is looking to restore and preserve a host of early recordings from the Library of Congress. While giving new life to old technology using 3D scanning technology is certainly impressive, 3D printing is capable of converting the latest technology in audio into a medium very few still use.

3D printing technology will definitely appeal to those fond of still playing music (or any other recording) through LP records spinning along at 33rpm. Amanda Ghassaei from Instructables.com has applied the relatively new hobby of 3D printing to bring digital audio back to the record player. The LPs she produced aren't vinyl, but plastic, and was done using a Objet Connex500 printer with UV-cured resin with a high 600dpi resolution to create the discs layer by layer. In order to actually hear the audio, she had to forego using any CAD software (apparently they're not powerful enough for the complex 3D modeling needed to produce an LP).

Instead, she wrote her own program that automatically converts any audio file into a 3D model. She states that the software works "by importing the raw audio data which is then converted into the geometry of the record through software calculations (mostly done through open-sourced processing software), which is then converted into a 3D printable file format." So is the end result like listening to your favorite MP3 deposited onto a plastic disc with only a minor reduction in audio quality? In a word, no -- not even close. Think of it like listening to that pocket AM radio you had back in the 70s and you'll get an idea of the overall sound quality. This is because the audio quality is only a fraction of that of an MP3 with a sampling rate of only 11kHz with a 5-bit to 6-bit resolution. While converting digital audio files onto an LP will not create decent sound until 3D printing technology evolves higher resolutions, the fact that it can be done now (albeit with a lo-fi listening experience) is certainly an accomplishment and a step in the right direction of converting digital audio into an analog format. However, printing LPs isn't anything new as a few others have already done this.

One of the first printed records was from aerospace engineer Chris Lynas, who created a "custom Fisher Price record player LP" inscribed with the song "Still Alive" from Portal early last year. He made the Fisher Price facsimile by painstakingly measuring out the records that came with the player. He then used a toothpick and tone generator to figure out the notes of the song and transferred them over to notes that the record player could synthesize (yet another long process). Lynas then used Processing software to test the notes (16 unique notes in all) and make new ones to fill in the gaps (in order to piece the song together). Once all the kinks were worked out, he uploaded the finished file (through Processing) directly to Shapeways, which did the actual printing (unknown as to what printer they used). While the painstaking process Lynas used to get his record printed is unique, it brings the question of piracy to the table even if it is a reduction in quality. Even so, it's still yet another accomplishment that was made possible by the fledgling 3D technology that emerging into the mainstream and has no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Related posts:



TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: alexandergrahambell; godsgravesglyphs
Mary had a little lamb...
1 posted on 01/24/2013 8:38:43 PM PST by null and void
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To: AD from SpringBay; al_c; AnalogReigns; archy; bmwcyle; Boogieman; bigbob; BuffaloJack; capt B; ...

3-D Printer Ping


2 posted on 01/24/2013 8:39:33 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable Tyranny)
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To: null and void

Cool idea if you have a good original.
I wonder how much of the original signal is lost in the digital to analog conversion?

Its probably simpler and better to just reissue as a digital from the analog master.

I think vinyl sounds great when its fresh, but this is probably a goofy idea.


3 posted on 01/24/2013 8:45:27 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: null and void

I don’t know about anyone else, but this kind of stuff just blows my mind.


4 posted on 01/24/2013 8:45:34 PM PST by fhayek
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To: null and void; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows

I used one of these 3-D printers to make me a copy of a CD once...


5 posted on 01/24/2013 8:51:18 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: null and void; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows

I next loaded it with more ‘stuff’ and made a 3-D copy of a rice cake.

Tasted about the same.


6 posted on 01/24/2013 8:52:22 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: null and void

I had no idea! Do you have to have a pristine master to do this?


7 posted on 01/24/2013 8:53:22 PM PST by Silentgypsy (If you love your freedom, thank a vet.)
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To: null and void
Mary had a little lamb...

But I ate it!

8 posted on 01/24/2013 8:54:19 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: fhayek; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows
I was digging through some old records I have. One is a Bell Labs demonstration record of artificial voices (I suspect for phone messages, "the number you have dialed...") from around 1963.

One of the bits is a computer singing "Daisy".


9 posted on 01/24/2013 8:55:44 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: null and void

Another use of this 3D tech: synthetic “beef” via 3D printing...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20972018

Too weird for me!


10 posted on 01/24/2013 8:59:42 PM PST by Southern Magnolia
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To: a fool in paradise

I had that record, too!


11 posted on 01/24/2013 9:04:04 PM PST by Age of Reason
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To: mylife
Cool idea if you have a good original. I wonder how much of the original signal is lost in the digital to analog conversion?

Hear a 3D-Printed Record Play a Surreal Version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Joy Division

12 posted on 01/24/2013 9:05:35 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: mylife
There are two main reasons Analog Music/recordings sound better than Digital Music/recordings.

One of them has to do with distortion. Digital Distortion and Analog Distortion sound different because of two basic factors. When tubes in amps distort you get harmonics that are more pleasing to the ear, and tubes gradually distort wherein digital signal has whats called a "hard knee" it is clean until that level is reached then it distorts quickly.

The other reason Analog sounds better is because of info captured during the recording process. Analog captures whatever the mic is capable of capturing as long as the analog recorder can lay down that signal to the physical media. Digital captures only part of what the mic gets BUT that is because of the limiting factor of how the digital recorder is constructed. Digital Media is fast becoming capable of holding the same amount of information analog media holds and as we get farther along in digital recorder equipment design that factor of limitation is becoming less of a problem.

The bottom line is digital takes a messy analog signal and makes it sterile and the pleasing part of a recording resides in that messy part that digital cleans up. But as technology advances, digital is becoming more and more capable of recreating that messy part we love to hear.

13 posted on 01/24/2013 9:09:17 PM PST by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the 2nd one...)
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To: Mad Dawgg

Natural sound is a Gift from God, and yes, many a Master leant an ear and mind to the study of it.

Pachabell’s Canon in D is simplistic if you to not hear this.


14 posted on 01/24/2013 9:18:02 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: Mad Dawgg

Truly, with the sample rates we have now in Digital it is getting better.

Sadly, now my ears are shot. LOL


15 posted on 01/24/2013 9:20:55 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: a fool in paradise

Sounds like Hammered Dog S***!


16 posted on 01/24/2013 9:26:53 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: a fool in paradise

What is the point of destroying an Audio Technica stylus on this? LOL!!

I could make a better facsimile with a fork on pizza dough while drinking copious amounts of lambrusco. LOL


17 posted on 01/24/2013 9:30:15 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: a fool in paradise

My most destroyed Party albums sound a million times better than that.

Holy Crap!


18 posted on 01/24/2013 9:35:02 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: mylife
I think vinyl sounds great when its fresh, but this is probably a goofy idea.

I think you need to read the entire article. It's about the EXERCISE of restoring one-of-a-kind damaged recordings and how with better resolution in the near future full quality restoration of damaged an unusual recorded samples will be possible.

19 posted on 01/24/2013 10:00:19 PM PST by ElkGroveDan (My tagline is in the shop.)
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To: ElkGroveDan

I just think converting analog to digital to analog again will result in a loss.


20 posted on 01/24/2013 10:15:52 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: ElkGroveDan

It can never be better than the master.


21 posted on 01/24/2013 10:16:46 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: ElkGroveDan

If you don’t have a clean master you can not duplicate the original.

All you can do is guess.


22 posted on 01/24/2013 10:19:20 PM PST by mylife (The Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts)
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To: null and void

I’m wondering if these printers don’t replace the local hardware stores. Need a replacement for something, just print one up.


23 posted on 01/24/2013 11:23:52 PM PST by WKUHilltopper (And yet...we continue to tolerate this crap...)
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To: Mad Dawgg

Bob Carver, the legendary amp designer was one of the first to get “tube sound” from transistorized components by means of shaping circuits. Others have done similar work in digital to analog circuits, if one wants to pay dearly for the high end audio stuff. I dearly love Yamaha’s amps and receivers (even their low end stuff) for their utterly clean sound, even with the DSP being used to create their legendary digital sound fields(from digitally sampled echo info taken from famous public and concert venues).


24 posted on 01/24/2013 11:40:39 PM PST by mdmathis6 ("Barry" Xmas to all and have a rapaciously taxable New Year!)
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To: null and void

.........more Chuck Berry


25 posted on 01/25/2013 3:41:54 AM PST by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum -- "The Taliban is inside the building")
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To: null and void
Edison's recordings could be recovered. Warped LPs could be recovered.
26 posted on 01/25/2013 6:01:25 AM PST by mountainlion (Live well for those that did not make it back.)
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To: mylife

I don’t think that it would. They aren’t really digitizing the music, they’re creating a 3D image of the record disk (at a very high resolution) then either creating an exact duplicate. The software can compensate for things like warpage.

Alternatively they can use the media to reverse engineer the device ( or at least critical parts of the device) necessary to play it.


27 posted on 01/25/2013 6:13:13 AM PST by tanknetter
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To: mylife; Silentgypsy
mylife ~ Cool idea if you have a good original.

Silentgypsy ~ Do you have to have a pristine master to do this?

According to the article, the software eliminates the little bumps from grit and smooths over the areas damaged by the stylus from repeated playings.

Since the groove is cut with a "V" shaped tool and played with a "U" shaped stylus, there is virgin vinyl above and below the worn contact points from repeated playings. I'd bet correcting the wear in the physical media based on untouched groove areas gives a more accurate rendition than having a computer guess where the tops of the worn areas are supposed to be.

Yes, once that's done it could be translated directly to a digital format, but only a philistine would skip making a replacement disc... ;^P

28 posted on 01/25/2013 7:53:06 AM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable Tyranny)
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To: Silentgypsy; mylife
G. David Nordley wrote a touching story about recovering an old broken record using nanotechnology to "fly" a mapping nanobot down the grooves of the pieces and stitching the resulting maps together to recover the only recording of "His Father's Voice" in a story of that name published in the September 1994 issue of Analog.

3-D printers didn't even exist when he wrote this story.

29 posted on 01/25/2013 8:01:22 AM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable Tyranny)
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To: fhayek
I don’t know about anyone else, but this kind of stuff just blows my mind.

Mine too.

30 posted on 01/25/2013 8:02:43 AM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable Tyranny)
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To: Tainan; Salamander
.........more Chuck Berry

More cowbell...

31 posted on 01/25/2013 8:06:03 AM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable Tyranny)
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To: All; y'all; no one in particular
Here's an interesting video of the UP 3-D Printer in action.
32 posted on 01/25/2013 8:25:42 AM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable Tyranny)
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To: fhayek

I’m with you... Amazing!


33 posted on 01/25/2013 9:34:06 AM PST by LibWhacker
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To: null and void

There is a whole lot of awesome in this story.


34 posted on 01/25/2013 9:40:07 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: mylife

For the stuff they’re working with there are no analog masters. They have a single copy, probably damaged, usually in a medium (like wax) that gets even more damaged if you play it. Technically they’re not converting from digital to analog, they’re scanning the lumps of the analog then making it again in a form they can play and not worry about damage, so while there is digital storage what’s stored is pictures not sound.


35 posted on 01/25/2013 9:44:40 AM PST by discostu (I recommend a fifth of Jack and a bottle of Prozac)
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To: null and void

Yep.

Ain’t nuthin’ in the world that more cowbell can’t fix.


36 posted on 01/25/2013 11:42:40 AM PST by Salamander (Do not remove this tagline under penalty of law.)
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To: WKUHilltopper; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows
I’m wondering if these printers don’t replace the local hardware stores. Need a replacement for something, just print one up.

Don't feel like doing laundry? Brrrp-pffftt-zzzbppptt (printer sounds)... instant clean underwear for the weekend!

37 posted on 01/25/2013 3:04:00 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: mountainlion; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows
Edison's recordings could be recovered. Warped LPs could be recovered.

WE CAN REBUILD IT! WE HAVE THE TECHONOLOGY. The Six Million Dollar Rekird!


38 posted on 01/25/2013 3:09:24 PM PST by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: a fool in paradise

Why wash your dishes when you can just print up some more?


39 posted on 01/25/2013 11:20:03 PM PST by WKUHilltopper (And yet...we continue to tolerate this crap...)
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a bit of an update/sidebar:

We Had No Idea What Alexander Graham Bell Sounded Like. Until Now
Smithsonian researchers used optical technology to play back the unplayable records
By Charlotte Gray
Smithsonian magazine, May 2013
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/We-Had-No-Idea-What-Alexander-Graham-Bell-Sounded-Like-Until-Now-204137471.html


40 posted on 05/21/2013 6:21:02 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: null and void; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks null and void.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


41 posted on 05/21/2013 6:21:32 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Thank heavens there are people willing to put in this kind of time and effort. Amazing stuff.


42 posted on 05/22/2013 5:29:49 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! -Ps80)
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To: Nailbiter

bflr


43 posted on 05/22/2013 5:44:06 AM PDT by Nailbiter
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To: null and void

I understood “of,” “and,” and “the.”


44 posted on 05/22/2013 7:58:16 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: pabianice

Really? What does the “the” mean in Robert the Bruce?


45 posted on 05/22/2013 8:26:23 AM PDT by null and void (Republicans create the tools of opression, and the democrats gleefully use them!)
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To: mylife
Truly, with the sample rates we have now in Digital it is getting better.

Sadly, now my ears are shot. LOL

We're apparently sitting in the same boat.

 

46 posted on 05/22/2013 12:14:23 PM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: mdmathis6
Bob Carver, the legendary amp designer was one of the first to get “tube sound” from transistorized components by means of shaping circuits.

I've wanted a Silver 7 amp for a couple of decades now. I remember reading a Stereo Review article about it. Their comments about the amp was that, like most manufacturers, Carver was less than 'truthful' about the power his amp was capable of. However unlike most manufacturers, his power estimates were actually wildly conservative, because he was unwilling to certify a power level with any audible distortion at all. Unfortunately, the abuse I've subjected my ears to over the years has really rendered my ability to hear the nuances his hardware brings to the table.

47 posted on 05/22/2013 12:31:13 PM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: zeugma

I had subscriptions to Stereo Review right up until it became a smudge of video and audio magazine and lost focus. The cartoons(Rodriguez?) were hysterical!


48 posted on 05/22/2013 2:32:37 PM PDT by mdmathis6 (Rest assured, Mankind is loved....both completely and severely!)
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