So Mike, are you and others saying that a horn recording system is a one-way system? I thought the 
point of a playback horn was, partly, to undo some of the frequency response characteristics imposed 
by the recording horn, like how an electronic disk recording system uses an EQ curve to record and 
the reverse curve to play back. So, playing back an Edison cylinder with no playback EQ -- to use 
one example -- is not the listening experience intended, is it? So then you have to get into EQ "by 
ear" by the electronic-playback engineer.

So how is that any different, at base, from selecting an appropriate horn, playing back acoustically 
in a benign acoustic environment and recording the playback with a properly-placed accurate mic (ie 
a small-diaphram instrumentation mic or like -- not an obviously colored mic like a U-47)?

I'm not advocating one transfer method or another, I'm just curious why there's this hostility 
toward acoustic transfers -- of material that was recorded acoustically to begin with???

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 9:09 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller

This discussion sounds very similar to what happened at ARSC back in the
80s when Bill Storm (as discussed by George) discussed acoustical
playback in a presentation.  The mob (and it WAS a mob!) was about to
storm the stage (no pun intended) with torches and pitchforks when I
explained that he was not advocating ARCHIVING the recordings for
preservation this way, only using it as reference.  But it does seem
from his posting that John Eberle IS advocating archiving and
distributing recordings played acoustically, much like the Nimbus
Nitwits and their Crazy Count did with their Prima Voce series back in
the early days of CDs.

Let me stress once more, playing a record on an acoustical player is not
playing the record it is playing THE MACHINE.  As Steve said, each
acoustical horn introduces resonances on the sound, and thus each
machine is placing its "stamp" on the sound of every record played on
it.  It is NOT true that "you get to hear the true sound quality of the
cylinder as the Edison recording staff intended it to be."  You get to
hear it the way they were able to play it back on the primitive
equipment they had at that time, not the IDEAL equipment that would have
been preferable EVEN THEN.  To think they WANTED the recordings to sound
that way is absurd.  They did the best they could under the constraints
of their nearly deaf boss.  When electrical recording was available they
WANTED to use it.  When electrical reproduction was available they
WANTED to use it.  They (meaning Theodore Edison and to a certain
extent, Charles Edison) had to practically sneak around The Old Man's
back to improve their sound.  It is an insult to the Edison recording
staff to say that playing a cylinder acoustically "is how they intended
it to be".

And let me again state that I am not against playing acoustical records
acoustically for the fun of it or to experience what it was like.  Just
like it is fun once in a while to ride around in a Model T Ford or some
other ancient car, but it is not the IDEAL way to travel.

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller
From: Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sat, November 14, 2009 5:50 pm
To: [log in to unmask]

In recent years I have been privately advocating that each sound archive
other learning venues present a program called "How Our Ancestors Heard

It would sequentially play back the same piece of music, "Stars and
or an earlier piece for which recordings exist in all commercial media.

These would be reproduced through the actual machines for which they
intended rather than microphone recordings from them and would cover the

time spectrum then to now.

Using microphones to record what is played back on a phonograph,
graphophone, etc., introduces a further group of variables.

Part of the presentation would include playing electrical recordings on
acoustical machines, mono through stereo speakers, etc. to give an

This is a different process than that to which I was objecting in my
message. It brings into play the sound of each instrument in a real
acoustical setting which is far truer to the ear of the listener in the
than what a microphone can presently create and mimic.

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "George Brock-Nannestad" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 1:47 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Polk Miller

> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
> Hello,
> Steven Smolian wrote:
>> This approach is the shearest nonsense! Horns introduced distortion at
>> the
>> recording end and also at the playback end. This distortion varied from
>> one
>> horn desingn to another.
> ----- I am sorry, Steven, but I do think that there is room and even a
> need
> for this kind of re-recording. It is a part of sound recording and
> reproduction history. I do not think we can teach our ears to forget, but
> we
> can at least be conscious of our ears and try to go back to the times when
> this type of sound was amazing. Edison is not a good example for the
> variability of the playback end, because he was the only recording company
> that sold a complete system, i.e. controlled everything. He may have been
> idiosyncratic, and obviously we also learn about his preconceived views
> when
> listening to his products.
>> It may sound 'beetter" to the rerecording engineer but is a purely
>> subjective opinion.
> ----- I do not think it sounds "better" to anybody, but certainly more
> representative of the sound heard in the parlor than a good interpretative
> transfer that optimises the access to the sound as it was in the recording
> studio. A preservation transfer sounds horrible, but it is extremely
> useful,
> because it may be used for any purpose.
>> It amazes me that so much is made of presumed audio purity based on the
>> dictatorial opinions of a deaf listener.
> ----- I do not hope that it is the purity in an absolute sense that these
> transfers aim for. But it is rather amazing how good these "primitive"
> machines were. And the secret is, they were not primitive at all, but
> finely
> honed to the criteria they set.
> Bill Storm, formerly of the Belfer Laboratory, which was essentially
> founded
> by Walter Welch, was also a proponent of the audio history approach. I
> violently opposed it as a preservation format, you may see my discussion
> by
> downloading ARSCJv20n2p156-161 from the ARSC website.
> Kind regards,
> George
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "John Eberle" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 11:20 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Polk Miller
>> > We are collectors of Edison Phonograph antiquities here at Americana CD
>> > Mastering . In our collection ,
>> > we have Blue Amberol cylinder records of two Polk Miller songs
>> > recorded
>> > in November 1909 for Edison's clientele:
>> >
>> > Blue Amberol #2176 "The Laughing Song " and
>> > #2175 " The Bonnie Blue Flag "
>> >
>> > We currently have an mp3 of the Bonnie Blue Flag as played on our
>> Edison
>> > Concert Amberola Model A1 and recorded to Ampex GrandMaster 456 then
>> > transferred to aif file on a Masterlink at 48khz/24 bit resolution .
>> > This
>> > way you
>> > get to hear the true sound quality of the cylinder as the Edison
>> > recording
>> > staff intended it to be ; and as it was heard and enjoyed by the
>> > thousands
>> > of Edison customers who purchased it 90 years ago !
>> >
> ...........
> P.S. from time to time my mails to the list are not "taken". I wonder if
> there is some online filtering going on. Just to test the system I
> recently
> repeated my message with some variations more than 20 times over a couple
> of
> days, but no luck at all. And the loss is definitely with that particular
> reader who may suddenly read a piece of information he or she did not know
> about. George