The age of ear buds and mp3 downloads has eclipsed many ‘traditional’ recording technologies, on Friday, February 10, Suzanne Vega record a live performance directly to Wax Cylinder. Co-hosted by Audio Engineering Society Education Committee Chair John Krivit and NY Section member David Bialik, the event saw 30 Bay State College students and faculty members bus from Boston to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, NJ to audit this authentic 1888-style recording session.
Long relegated to the pages of audio obsolescence, Thomas Edison’s Wax Cylinders were the first popular format for music (and spoken word) distribution. The initial link in an evolutionary chain that stretches from lacquer LPs to vinyl 45 RPM singles to 8 track tapes and CDs, they thrived from 1878 until 1909 when they were replaced by discs.
“We’ve held similar demonstrations in Boston, and they’ve proved an excellent way to illustrate the creative relationship between physical science and recording,” John Krivit says. “It’s not coincidental that Ms. Vega performed her iconic Tom’s Diner hit for our demo,” Krivit points out. “Her original 1987 a capella version was used as a reference standard by audio engineering innovator (and AES member), Karlheinz Brandenburg in his development of the mp3 process.”
Photo - Suzanne Vega recording direct to Wax Cylinder at the Thomas Edison Museum with Museum Curator Gerald Fabris