Saturday, March 2, 2013

3-D Printable Recordings

I stumbled onto this and was blown away. Over at Instructables, amandaghassaei is doing the most ridiculous things with audio--including converting audio information into files suitable for 3-D printing.

The video above has examples of familiar sounds converted to print files, printed, and played back on a standard phonograph.This is not a way to get a perfect reproduction--in fact, the results almost achieve the quality of the original Edison recordings. You can compare and contrast if you want.
The printed record is different from a traditional LP in a couple of ways; the grooves are so much larger (because the printers simply aren't up to the resolution) that you can't record as much information on a side. The grooves are also analog representations of analog sounds--the grooves are printed with triangles.
3-D printed record grooves
You can see the sharpness of the grooves, above, compared with the analog grooves, below.
Analog grooves cut in vinyl
The printer is not your neighbourhood RepRap printer, but a similar printer but working to finer tolerances. Even so, it can't yet match the fineness of an analog record--yet.
I love how she's used all this crazy technology to produce a recording on the level of a Edison cylinder.

She's also using an Arduino to explore granular audio--which gives me hope that she won't be doing too much clean-up on the 3-D printed recordings. Because I find a big part of what's interesting about the recordings is their imperfection, their decompositional aspects.Perfection of reproduction isn't the goal (or at least not the only goal).

The way the Arduino savages the sound is fascinating. In fact, all of her work is.

I'm quite fond of this new version of Over the Rainbow. It's no Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (a version that transformed the song for me), but the mutations that it runs through, I find sonically attractive. And Instructables is to be given an "attaboy" chip for finding her a place to stand.

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