A History of Audio Capturing: Letting voices be heard across time

Tinfoil Phonograph from 1877

In 1877 American inventor Thomas Edison, out of his famous compound at Menlo Park NJ, filed his patent for an audio recording device that consisted of a cylinder wrapped in tin foil. One would crank the cylinder as it spun on a screw and it moved laterally along a needle. This needle would in turn cut a groove into the tin with variations in it caused by the small vibrations in the air produced by sounds.

While Edison was not the first to come up with a form of recording, he was a major factor in its early popularity and accessibility. From there inventors began to rapidly expand upon the capabilities of sound recording, from using small beeswax cylinders to shellac discs to applying magnetic powder to reels of tape. Even now more and more advancements are being made to audio capturing

How do Vinyls Work Anyways?

Shortly after Edison’s tin phonograph was invented newer innovations were soon created to improve upon his design. At first it was simple, changes such as removing the tin sheets and going wax cylinders, as the wax would allow for cleaner and deeper grooves to be made from emitted sound. Then changing from the cylinder design to a flat disc covered in a hard resin called shellac to allow for longer recordings. Later records would change from shellac to a polyvinyl chlorine, a plastic like coating which where the term vinyl comes from.

As it is being dragged along the grooves of the record, the needle (usually made of diamond) will scratch the surface which is why you will hear that familiar vinyl popping sound. Because of the intricate peaks and valleys of the grooves that hit the needle, each vibration of the needle causes the same vibration that was imprinted on it, this is then projected out through a speaker and you can then hear your favorite tunes.

The best way to store…

It is best to store vinyls in both a plastic dust cover as well as a rigid cardboard case. Keeping it in a cool, dry place

We here at Memories Renewed operate with the utmost care with your delicate audio formats

Magnetic Tape

Originating in 1927 in Germany, Magnetic tape was invented as a longer format replacement to the then relatively short shellac records of the time. How it was made was glue was applied a long thin strip of paper or other similar material and then dusted with iron oxide powder. Iron naturally has a strong but disorganized magnetic field and so when a current is run through a proper magnet and held up to the iron oxide, it orientates the iron’s magnetic field in such a way that it can be programmed to emit sound when played back.

Think of the magnetic fields in the same way a vinyl needle hits the peaks and valleys to make noise. All those tiny microscopic and in this case invisible variations actually can replicate the vibrations and sound put upon it.

Vinyl vs. Tape: The Great Retro Debate

From early on, even though magnetic tape had been around since the 1930s, vinyl had an early lead on mass market appeal. Magnetic tape had the difficult position of being both difficult and expensive to produce compared to the then relatively inexpensive record players. In the 1950s, a company by the name of Ampex produced an inexpensive home reel to reel system thanks in part by a large investment from singer Bing Crosby. Over the course of the 1950s and 60s magnetic tape surged in popularity thanks to its long format recording, and in 1964 the company Phillips developed the first personal audio cassette, which revolutionized music on the go. During all this time, vinyl held on to its position one of the best formats for pure music quality, and in fact still gets used as a standard to this day and is regaining popularity with younger generations.

The Downside of Aging Physical Media

While vinyl and audio reels still hold their reputation for high-fidelity sound quality, they both have tragic flaws that unfortunately will eventually degrade the quality of the audio recording. For vinyls, repeated use can cause damage along the grooves of the record causing a scratchy and hissy noise to appear. On top of that, if the record is not stored properly the vinyl or shellac coating of the record have the potential to melt slightly causing at best strange playback audio and at worst warping of the record. For Reel to Reel and Cassette tapes over time their magnetic coating will naturally get stripped away little by little as a natural consequence of playing these formats. On top of that, the iron oxide can potentially gradually lose its magnetism. Fortunately we here at Memories Renewed can capture and restore those priceless pieces of audio, while treating your possessions with the utmost care.

Do you have any Records/Cassettes/Audio Reels that you want digitized?

Let Memories Renewed do the work for you!