A bit like Arthur Lintgen
, Berkeley Lab physicists Carl Haber and Vitaliy Fadeyev have developed a computer that “reads” records
. IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase, Noise, Etc.)
scans thousands of high-resolution digital images of a record’s surface, maps them out, and then replicates the audio by analyzing the grooves—all without using a needle
. In the process, they can also visually edit out scratches and dust. Since a needle isn’t needed, the record can be warped, moldy, or even broken. Berkeley Labs is hosting some samples on their site
, including “Goodnight Irene” of course. They also have an introductory video
(QT .mov, 32,953 KB).
Since August, Haber and Fadeyev have been helping the Library of Congress recover and preserve the sound from rare or delicate recordings. They have also developed a device to scan 3D recordings like wax cylinders.
As they point out, these processes are no way superior to current restoration methods. Yet they’re much safer than using a needle on fragile mediums like acetates, shellac, wax, cellulose, and metal foil. Instantly having unlimited copies of the digitized audio file is a nice bonus, too.
Sound Reproduction R & D Home Page (Lawrence Berkeley Natl. Lab.)
From the new Library of Congress blog.