[Table of Contents]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: [AV Media Matters] Wire Recordings - announcement of new (old) technology

VidiPax has been working for quite some time on the development of the
"ultimate" wire playback machine.  This is consistent with our corporate
goal of providing the finest quality restoration from any media.  Art
Shifrin has been the person behind this effort which has been going on
for some time at VidiPax.  We have not done any "press releases" on this
as yet, but here is a brief description of what we have done.  We are
quite proud of the undertaking - understand that patents in wire
recording technology have not been given in QUITE some time.  We started
from scratch, threw out all of the assumptions, and set out to build
simply the best technology for playing back wires - and that meant that
we had to build a new machine - entirely from scratch - and that is
precisely what we have done.  The results are spectacular - no other
word for it - the machine makes any other wire recorder reproduction
sound primitive - and we should know because we have literally dozens of
them in our museum that we have studied and learned from. This is not
the first project of this type at VidiPax - we constantly have modified
machines to get the optimal quality from the beginning of the existence
of the company - but this IS the first time when we have built an
entirely new machine.  It is not the last.  Our "VidiPax Theorem" as
described below has been accurate on many occasions and we intend to
continue to pioneer in projects of this type.   Here is the basic

The VidiPax theorem: at least in analog, old recordings were always
recorded better than they could be played back (on original equipment).

As a curiosity, Art Shifrin picked up a top of the line Webcor wire
machine about 20 years ago, along with some original wires.  It operated
properly upon immediately being plugged in and still does. He
occasionally used it for fun (shocking people with ?news? of such an
arcane medium) , and did  one transfer job for the renowned jazz drummer
Max Roach.  The interest remained on the proverbial back burner until
Art joined Vidipax almost a year ago.

He'd always intended to get better results from the medium, as he?s well
known for doing with early disk and cylinder recordings since the early
70?s.   For those of you who are not familiar with Art's track record
(ha ha) in this field - he designed and built what many feel is the
finest cylinder playback machine ever - only 3 were built, and were sold
to Swedish Radio, J. Paul Getty Jr. and The Rogers and Hammerstein
Archives of Recorded Sound at Lincoln Center (where Adrian Cosentini
uses it for his restoration work). Art had done some modifications to
the wire machine, comparable to those done by others: connecting the
original head, still mounted in the old, crude transport to new
electronics rather than the original circuits, and got as much
improvement as anyone else attempting the same thing.

The interest hibernated until Art joined Vidipax almost a year ago.
Having bought the incredible collection of wire recorders from Hal
Layer, Jim Lindner, founder and President of Vidipax asked Art if he
could work some magic on this knotty medium.  Art undertook the study of
all of the machines in the collection, along with the extraordinary
documentation in the Vidipax Library.  Of immense value were the
recollections of Dr. Marvin Camras about his developments (circa 1942)
in this, and tape media.  Pete Hammar, formerly the curator of The Ampex
Museum of Magnetic recording and inveterate collector of this kind of
historical information, provided Camras? reminiscences to Art and
continues to be a source of valuable information.

The result is an exciting new machine.  With a novel guidance and drive
system, the playback quality of the 24 ips (did you realize it runs that
fast?) is, finally, after 50 years of neglect much closer to the ideal
envisioned by Camras.   A preponderance of the improvement circumvents
the design flaws and limitations of the original machines.  Hearing the
wires straight out of the machine (without any digital or analog
filtering and other processing ) leaves the listener with a hefty
respect (if not pleasant shock) for this short lived medium.  Unlike any
original machine,  it easily accommodates the various diameters and
widths of  spools (for some reason, we just don?t think of them as
reels) used by the various manufacturers commencing in 1942 here in the

Already, the machine?s been used to restore field recordings of blues
and stories taken by folklorist Kathryn Tucker Widham in the Birmingham,
Alabama area. James Baggett, of the Birmingham Public Library?s archives
recently told us that they never dreamed that such recordings could
sound that clear.  Yet another find was one of the wires that was part
of the acquisition from Layer: two staff people at a CBS radio station
in 1950, talking on the wire about how they might use the new machine to
produce a program with pre-recorded music from Guy Lombardo?s summer
replacement show for Jack Benny.  Here in 1999, the listener gets a good
laugh hearing one ask the other... is there a groove on the wire??

Art ?Shiffy? Shifrin; 212-563-1999 ext 112; Art@VidiPax.com

Jim Lindner
The Full Service Magnetic Media Restoration Company
See our Web Site at www.vidipax.com
212-563-1999 ext. 102

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents]