Talk:Sound recording and reproduction

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Wasn't the pianola a sound recording device?[edit]

Look at the Pianola article. It states:

"Music rolls for pneumatic player pianos, often known as piano rolls, consist of continuous sheets of paper, about 11 1/4 inches wide and generally no more than 100 feet in length, rolled on to a protective spool, rather like a large cotton reel. The paper is perforated with numerous small holes, which control the pattern of the notes to be played as the roll moves across a tracker-bar. On reproducing rolls, additional holes control the volume level, accents, pedals, etc., to faithfully recreate the original performance."

Sound recording means to record sound waves on a support. But can it also mean to record a performance on a support? Because that was the case with pianolas. The earliest example of a pianola was produced in 1863, which is before Edison's phonograph.

I had a discussion about this recently. The most fundamental question is probably the above mentioned: does recording have to involve sound waves. Because any recording of sound is in some way codified, whether it is a cd, an lp, or a paper pianola roll with punches.

Any thoughts about this? Nickel van Duijvenboden — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nickelvd (talkcontribs) 17:06, 29 November 2006 (UTC

No, I think the Pianola, or the player Piano as it is known in the United States, does not really achieve the status of being a recording, any more than the doorbell in many homes. Both the Player Piano and the door bell can reproduce exactly the same note on command, but do not rise to the level of "recording" as such, other than in the rare and extreme reproducing Piano's of the 1920's and 30's. I own and love an Apollo Player Piano, but to attribute any roll to a particular artist would be as to know who is ringing the doorbell, when you are in another room. The exception being the aforementioned Reproducing Piano, which offer better sound than is possible from the early electrical, and even more primitive accoustical recordings of the same era. I had heard or read, that there are electrical sound recordings made in the 1930's of George Gershwin, who died in 1937.The same pieces of music, played on a reproducing player piano is in another league! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.9.50.200 (talk) 20:10, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Much obliged for your interesting response. Especially the doorbell comparison makes it pretty clear. Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nickelvd (talkcontribs) 15:36, 28 March 2007 (UTC

This article is about "sound recording", not simply "recording", which can mean making a written record of something by jotting it down with pencil and paper. Sound is a series of audio-frequency waves propagating through the air, or through some other conductive medium such as a non-soundproof wall or the internal structures of the human ear. When a recording piano was used to capture an actual live performance, the resulting piano roll is a recording of the piano key strokes, not the sound. Otherwise, a music roll is simply a manual encoding of written music in a form that can be played automatically. AVarchaeologist (talk) 08:54, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

78 RPM gear ratio claim[edit]

What is the source for this statement: "The specified speed was 78.26 rpm in America and 77.92 rpm throughout the rest of the world (this was related to the speed of a mains-driven synchronous motor)" I doubt that the speed is related to an electric motor. It was commonplace for early recording studios to use a weight driven clockwork motor to drive the turntable- early electric motors were notoriously unreliable as to maintaining a constant speed. Saxophobia (talk) 20:39, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Does this edit improve it? TJRC (talk) 17:25, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
In fact, the gear ratio explanation is a myth, although one now so well-established by so many otherwise excellent sources that I despair of ever being able to expurgate it from the many WP articles in which it appears. The specified speeds of 78.26 in the 60 Hz AC US and 77.92 in 50 Hz AC countries resulted from the widespread adoption, by around 1930, of stroboscopic discs or turntable edge markings to standardize the speeds of recording lathes. They were the nearest speeds that stroboscopic markings for use with those AC frequencies could come to the 78 RPM average of the 76 to 80 RPM recording speeds nominally or actually used by the major record companies (late acoustical and early electrical recordings by Victor, for example, were usually cut at about 76 RPM, despite public statements that the correct playing speed was 78 RPM). As noted by the initial poster, early recording lathes typically used weight-driven motors, which had been refined to a high degree by the mid-1920s, and this continued well past the introduction of electrical recording. Electric motors were less stable and they created electrical fields which could introduce hum into the signal, which is also why the recording electronics were battery-powered for quite some time. Vintage 78 RPM turntables directly gear-driven by synchronous AC motors are so very rare that several advanced collectors have reported never coming across such a creature. In the 1920s in both the US and UK, 60 and 50 Hz, respectively, were not yet universal standards. Several other frequencies were also in use, frequency and voltage were far from stable, and electricity was still DC in some densely populated urban centers with original Edison service, such as Manhattan in NYC.
As far as I am aware, the only significant vintage recording and playback system in which the turntable was driven by a synchronous AC motor in such a way that there was an absolutely fixed ratio between the rotational speeds of each was the Vitaphone system for motion picture sound. In filming, the separate cameras and recording lathes were securely driven by synchronous AC motors powered from a common source, an absolute necessity in order to keep photography and sound recording perfectly synchronized. In projection, the turntable was driven by the projector motor via a flexible coupling, so its rotation, too, was locked to a motor's RPM, but that motor was not necessarily either synchronous or AC. These appear to be the only notable exceptions, and it may be that the mechanics of this very specific system got generalized by someone into a now widely disseminated statement about all electrical-era disc recording.
My enlightenment on this subject came from following discussions on 78-L in the late 1990s (similar but more recent postings have appeared on other discussion boards), but although most of the participants were well-known and highly respected archivists, scholars, collectors and reference book authors, it is not practical to cite sources in this piecemeal form in a WP article. Does anyone know of a good citable source that can be used to demolish this exasperatingly ubiquitous gear ratio myth once and for all? AVarchaeologist (talk) 10:49, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
P.S. Here is a link [1] to a relatively recent (2008) ARSC discussion list summary of the matter by Dr. Michael Biel, possibly foremost among the aforementioned well-known and highly respected scholars and authors. It goes right for the jugular of the authoritative-seeming but ill-informed AES Society article by the late Warren Rex Isom which may have started the error on its journey into the wider world and which this article currently cites. Any opinions as to whether information in such a format and forum is acceptable as a WP cit for the purpose of slapping the myth down? AVarchaeologist (talk) 02:53, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Funny, I missed seeing that discussion, although I subscribe to both groups. Great, now I have to modify my user page. I think if the text were changed to show the "correct" information as shown in the discussion board, it would quickly be reverted to the "verifiable" source showing the incorrect information. What we need is for Dr. Biel to publish his research in the ARSC Journal, which definately qualifies as a reliable source. 78.26 (His Wiki's Voice) 12:06, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Citing that particular list posting in the WP article would be very unfair to Dr. Biel: it is plainly a reply he dashed off quickly and sent raw, with grammatical outrages left untamed and otherwise badly in need of copyediting, which is certainly not typical of his writing. He would surely be chagrined to find it being spotlighted to the general public. IIRC his 1990s 78-L contributions are far more presentable and detailed. I am hoping that by now the information in them has worked its way into at least one citable book or periodical. AVarchaeologist (talk) 13:11, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

Secretly recording[edit]

I believe there's a US Federal law against secretly making a sound recording, but only found an ambiguous entry at telephone tapping. --Pawyilee (talk) 09:18, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Deletion of material about job losses among theater musicians[edit]

Mention of the impact of the sound film revolution of the late 1920s on theater musicians, along with a cit that includes an unusually long block quote, has been added to this and a number of other audio-related articles. I see no point in wading through the history to find out when this was done and who did it. Although the material is obviously a good-faith contribution and appropriate to WP articles with a focus on the advent of sound film or the history of theater orchestras, it has been injected into several articles where it is very tangential at best, a distraction and irrelevant cit-bloat at worst. IMO, this is one of those instances, so I am deleting it. AVarchaeologist (talk) 22:30, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

section deleted by Profperry[edit]

The paragraph that was deleted by Profperry was a copyvio from [2]. The deletion should not be reverted. 78.26 (I'm no IP, talk to me!) 18:33, 13 December 2013 (UTC)