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Friday, May 11, 2007

DIY Turntable

posted by on May 11 at 9:25 AM

Looking for a weekend project? Last year, I found out about the CardTalk record player while watching The Tailenders, a documentary about the Global Recordings Network’s use of low-tech, self-powered playback devices for Christian missionary activity. An ingeniously folded piece of cardboard plus a crude needle and presto, a DIY turntable!

CardTalk player

Mountain States Collector has a profile of the CardTalk player. To build one, see Williamston High School science teacher Mr. Keith’s CardTalk diagrams at his Neat Science site.

Once you’re done, you may want to make your own Underwater Listening Booth. For true hi-fi reproduction, you can shell out up to 14 grand for a Laser Stylus Turntable.

The DIY turntable is another argument for the pro-vinyl crowd. Unlike magnetic tape, compact discs, and software-dependent players (iPod and personal computer), vinyl playback is an easily reverse-engineered post-Apocalypse technology and perhaps more durable, too. Tape remains vulnerable to strong magnetic fields, oxide shedding, and adhesive deterioration (such as Sticky Shed Syndrome).

The compact disc seems likely to last despite some kvetching by klutzes; though a brilliant invention, the playback and storage parameters of the CD seem profoundly counterintuitive; the inscribing act of vinyl cutting is closer to sculpting, carving, and writing than digital playback’s finely honed clocking of zeros and ones. Also, the much narrower data track of the DVD renders discs even more vulnerable to stray scratches and other accidental damage.

Of course, vinyl has limits too.

RSS icon Comments


Vinyl is the only medium that will last for the long haul. Musicians who ignore the format will be lost to history.

Posted by bubba | May 11, 2007 11:51 AM

LASER turntable for only $14K! they're getting cheaper!!! YES...

Posted by nipper | May 11, 2007 11:53 AM

Well bubba, I'm not so sure. Standard notation/sheet music has proven the most durable format so far; music by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) has survived. (Locally, the Medieval Women's Choir sings Hildegard's sumptuous songs on May 19.)

It is conceivable that digitally formatted music will last, assuming that someone transfers the music from format to (a generally lossles) format in a timely manner. The recent efflorescence of sound blogs (such as Mutant Sounds) that informally reissue lost vinyl treasure suggests that this may happen.

Also, we may see something analogous to the Sticky Shed Syndrome in CD-Rs. The CD-Rs I burned from 1996 to 2000 remain robust and free of failure while recent "burns" on cheap-o media have sometimes left me in the lurch. I recommend backing up in parallel with different dye formulations on CD-R, but that's a post for another day.

Posted by Christopher DeLaurenti | May 11, 2007 1:03 PM

Those people hate music and they obviously hate the records themselves. They are not being very nice to them.

Posted by Dougsf | May 14, 2007 4:44 PM

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