Digital Imaging Camera Conversion: Records To MP3 :: Symblogogy
Digital imaging technology is an amazing tool. It provides biometric information to help keep us safe, it reads symbologies so that we can get information delivered to us through a camera and sofware (up to 20 seconds of low-res video on our cellphone screens - a 4 meg file), and now this type of technology can take a picture of a round phonograph record and deliver a sound reproduction via a MP3 file converted from reading the grooves of the record.
What more versitility does one want from a technology?
Excerpts from National Public Radio -
You Can Play the Record, but Don't Touch
by Nell Boyce - Morning Edition, July 16, 2007
At the Library of Congress, in a small, white room with bright red carpet, physicist Carl Haber sits down to play a record from 1930. It's a recording of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe." But here's the strange thing: This record is broken.
"It looks like somebody just got hungry and took a bite out of it," says Haber. He has positioned the record on a turntable and fitted the broken piece back into place, like it's a jigsaw puzzle. "If we spun this thing fast, the piece would come flying off, you know, and maybe hit somebody," he says.
But this turntable doesn't spin like a normal record player. And there's no needle hovering over the record. Instead, there's a camera linked to a computer. It snaps detailed images of the groove cut into the disc, and uses the images to reconstruct the sound without ever touching the record.
Haber got the idea for this setup a few years ago, when he was driving to work and listening to NPR. He heard a report on how historic audio recordings can be so fragile that they risk being damaged if someone plays them by dragging a needle over their surfaces. It made Haber wonder if he could get the sound off old recordings without touching their delicate surfaces. He worked with a colleague, Vitaliy Fadeyev, and they managed to reconstruct sound on a 1950 recording of "Goodnight, Irene" performed by the Weavers.
This was just a proof of principle. They have now developed their hands-off technique to the point that it's being tested at the Library of Congress to see whether it's good enough to someday scan the library's vast archive of sound recordings.
One thing they've learned: A broken record is no problem. Haber clicks a mouse and the camera takes pictures of the groove on "Iolanthe."
"And by taking these pictures, it essentially just unwinds the record into a big long stripe," Haber explains.