Wax cylinder recording - He's In The Jailhouse Now

Forget iPods, MP3s, CDs, or even cassettes and vinyl. Here's how Thomas Edison first recorded sound 130-years ago - using wax cylinders. Duncan Miller of The Vulcan Cylinder Record Company, of Sheffield, England, UK, runs one of only two functioning cylinder phonograph companies in the world. Here he explains how it works, recording Vaudeville ukulele player Madame Pamita and Sheffield musician Tom Rodwell. Video courtesy of The Star. Full story

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Runtime: 4:49
Comments: 56

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Author Cristian Armen ( ago)
Would you kindly tell me where would one be able to buy one of these?

Author IIAOPSW ( ago)
Other than the horn, is there a difference between the playback apparatus
and the recording apparatus?

Author Christopher Wibberley ( ago)
A work colleagues girlfriend was working on recorded sound at the London
science museum.we spent over three hours the other Saturday night doing the
self same thing.using my standard and a Paul Morris blank we endeavoured to
make a record but finished up making a right balls up of it

Author Aidan The Lover Boy O'Dwyer ( ago)
Mister Walker. I know how 78s and 45s and 33 1/2 Vinyl LP Records are cut
and pressed. I know how cylinders are cut. The cutting process created the
master copy but how to make millions of copies out of the master for sale?
You know back in the day. Please make a video on this. Or at least reply
back to my comment here :-)

Author Aidan The Lover Boy O'Dwyer ( ago)
Nasal Much.

Author Victrola Meister ( ago)

Author johneygd ( ago)
I still found it amezing how sound waves can be stored on wax in the form
of groves, and how a wax cilinder could play back that recording by letting
it's needle follow those grove patterns.
It's just strange,just imagine what kind of sound would you get if you just
create random groves with a needle using your bar hand.

Author Lille P ( ago)
i get more impressed over this then modern technology

Author Santa Six ( ago)
It can be explained with three objects used today.
Megaphone, Stethoscope, and Seismometer.

Author frisco21 ( ago)

Author Kotikjeff ( ago)
Fantastic! Great sound, lovely singer and a wonderful slice of the past. 

Author Rodrigo Valenzuela (Rod) ( ago)
Channel BBC 4 - Sound of songs. masterpiece!!! January 2015

Author Geoffrey Chambers ( ago)
Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, University of California at
Santa Barbara enables you to download mp3s of historic wax cylinder

Author Dave Star ( ago)
This is a very interesting video . I would love to see more of you
recording technique.
Thanks Dave.

Author Juliana Brown ( ago)
Wouldn't it make more sense to say this is a photograph..and not a painting?

A photograph being... reality captured... a painting being infinitely
modifiable... like modern recording.

Author PlasmaMongoose ( ago)
If you were to place the quality of the wax recording in terms of an MP3,
it sounds like about 16kbps.

Author ArchyC ( ago)
I wonder if this guy could clean up that of "Funky Butt" granpa left
behind. Supposedly came from pre WW1 "Nwalins".

Author AstroGamerSteve ( ago)
So the cylinder recording is cut by a phonograph and played back by a
gramophone, correct?

Author Mark Aartun ( ago)
Where was this machine built? Looks to be a new designed machine. Very well
built! Any information would be greatly appriciated. 

Author DellDuckfan313 ( ago)
I think it's wonderful that this company exists. Who knew you could still
have a recording made on a cylinder, in the 21st century?

Author Shawn Borri ( ago)
I should say with no bell, a cone horn. Full Band recording, to capture the
full sound I have used a 56" brass horn, and sometimes with vocal put a Y
in and have the smaller horn off to the side for the vocalist, while
instruments are pointed at the larger horn. I have used a cygnet horn and
have made decent recordings with them for male baritone/tenor voice playing
an acoustic guitar. See is depends on the record you want.

Author Shawn Borri ( ago)
Horns depend on what kind of a record you are taking and what sound you
want. Duncan is using the correct horn for this recording situation, since
the uke and female voice have very high frequencies, a skinny short horn
works the best for this purpose. High frequencies tend to get lost on the
journey down the diaphragm so a short horn is best for these. Most original
acoustic recordings were made with a 27" long horn with the bell about 6"
in diameter. Band with no vocal a 56" horn.

Author xylfox ( ago)
I think:Why wasnt this invented 100red years earlier?From mechanical point
they could have done it. Why didnt the Chinese invent a man-carrying
hot-air-ballon? They had smaller ones for thousand years.Also
paper,silk,bambus.Because there was no need? BTW: It took nearly 50 years
from this first records to a industrial mass-market.

Author palehorse864 ( ago)
I wonder, could cylinders be made of vinyl? Would they have more durability
or sound quality like that?

Author Hordes Of Nebulah ( ago)
i must try this, im a music technology major and i wanna record analog
tracks on a non electric device and some digital tracks and mix them to get
a strange sound

Author tannerin ( ago)
They should try recording songs on cylinders made of dried flavoured

Author sauroid1 ( ago)
Amazing sound quality.

Author rock4evr24 ( ago)
I would LOVE to know that too. Oh wow

Author McToddRidesAgain ( ago)
Phonophan79 may simply have used a better video camera and microphone, it's
really impossible to compare these types of recordings when they are shown
here as videos shot on wildly differing cameras. For cylinder recording
info, get Eric Reiss's book The Compleat Phonograph.

Author McToddRidesAgain ( ago)
You only use straight horns for recording with (albeit different sizes and
widths depending on the sounds you're collecting) but you NEVER use curved
horns for recording, ONLY for reproducing sound.

Author obscure323 ( ago)

Author Alexander “Gramophone guy” Kirtley ( ago)
he was using the wrong horn!, those small but long horns are only for voice
recordings! for recording that he really needed to use a large belled black
and brass horn or possibly a morning glory or even a cygnet!

Author EmmetEarwax ( ago)
Sound quality is good -but that's because it was just cut. 10-11 playings
and you'll hear definite deterioration. Best to tape record the cylinder
before it becomes a surface roar mess. I was in the Edison labs in NJ, and,
while they did sell albums of Edison disks and cylinders in the gift shop
and had a cylinder player for a visitor to run, there was no actual
recording being demonstrated. 

Author mandelcorny ( ago)
@edisonphonographfan still more difficult, and also, phonographs can have 2
sides, should have specified phonographs over vinyl my b. vinyl is such a
fail though, i was at a store selling old 78 rpm's made of shellac and they
felt so much better

Author mandelcorny (1013 years ago)
vinyl vs. cylinders in sound quality are the same. but vinyl can be
pressed, while wax cannot

Author EmmetEarwax ( ago)
The cutting needle IS pretrty sharp, and so it has no prob in recording a
perfect lo-fidelity cylinder. Also the "wax" is actually blue amberol, a
shellac-like substance that works very well. Wax was used prior to 1890
,mostly for home recording and it wore with each playing. Prior to 1878,
there were experiments with tin foil and lead. Tin foil records are now
unplayable (after 3-4 playings they wore out and they had to be scraped off
the cylinder !) and a lead cylinder still survives.

Author robert creighton ( ago)
this is so amazing love this song and recording on wax cylinder - too cool
i love old recording talking machines 

Author BlackHoleSun1921 ( ago)
Vinyl is too mainstream--- I have the new Radiohead album on Wax.

Author ufoengines ( ago)
Have you ever tried to record video on your machine, using the standards
from the Narrow Band T.V. folks ? ..... " Mechanical T.V."

Author Souza Brito ( ago)
s to send me the draft of the recording head? I have here a dictaphone and
I want to turn it into a phonograph ... but you have to manufacture the
bottles and burn too ... I would like if possible the design of the
recording head and other details please hugs Souza Brito

Author CassetteMaster ( ago)
Is there a way the wax is hardened after the recording is done? Cause it
seems like playing it would wear down the wax into just wiping out the
original recordings.

Author realgoodbread ( ago)
Two thumbs up.

Author Zefren Anderson ( ago)
Epic! XD

Author rweerakkody4565 ( ago)
i love all primitive recording devices and media. this is great. i see it
from recording to playing. nice sound quality. i only saw this in the
books. and very nice song. i can use this song on some occasion or
something. 5 stars.

Author Max Dzikowski ( ago)

Author Gregory May ( ago)
So cool! We want more videos of using these old machines to record!! Thanks
for showing the act of recording, and the finished output!

Author AAErikCO ( ago)
Really neat to watch! It's interesting to hear how a brand new cylinder
sounds to compare what the original wax cylinders must have sounded like
'hot off the stylus' :)

Author paragraphthree ( ago)
This is excellent.!

Author Fonograf1877 ( ago)
Great song !! 5/5

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