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BOOK REVIEWS:The Edison Lateral Series -- Three CDs
REVIEWED BY JOSEPH G. JACKSON
From Antique Radio Classified
(Copyright 1997 by John V. Terrey - For personal use only.)
Thomas Edison regarded the phonograph as his favorite invention. Although the phonograph was invented in 1877, Edison did not commercialize it until about 10 years later. His patents covered basic sound recording techniques using cylinder disc and moving tape. Edison chose the vertical cutting technique for his records. Initially he produced vertically cut records on cylinders, but later switched to disc -- the now famous "Diamond Discs." The laterally cut discs, produced by the Victor Talking Machine Company and others, proved to be more of a commercial success and became the industry standard.
As Joseph Jackson points out in this review, contemporary radio programs are not the best means to demonstrate an old radio. A collection of CDs produced by Diamond Cut Productions offers a solution to this problem -- a faithful reproduction of Edison's lateral discs. (Editor)
You've just completed a year-long restoration of the most prized radio in your collection. In the midst of your immediate family and closest friends you "flick the switch" with pride. Your enthusiasm falters however when the only thing you receive is either endless "psycho babble" on talk shows, "telephone trading post," or some guy grinding on an electric guitar. "Smoke on the Water" really doesn't translate well through a horn speaker. Where is the music your radio was intended to play?
Diamond Cut Productions of Hibernia, New Jersey, has come to the rescue with the release of the Edison Lateral Series, a collection of three CDs filled with previously unreleased "lateral" recordings made in the late 1920s by the Edison Record Company. The quality of these recordings is very good to excellent, as they have been restored with the PC program, "Diamond Cut Audio Restoration Tools," which is also available at a reasonable price. This program has many applications, including noise reduction of analog tape recordings and optical soundtracks, as well as static and noise reduction of AM, FM and shortwave broadcasts.
The CD liner notes give a brief history of the recordings. "Lateral" refers to the method of groove modulation. Edison had stubbornly promoted "vertical" modulation as was used on cylinder recordings and his own "Diamond Discs," while the competition ultimately dominated the market with more cheaply produced "lateral" discs.
Another advantage to lateral technology was thinner discs which could be stored in much less space than Diamond Discs (which measure nearly a quarter of an inch thick!). As we well know, to the consuming public, smaller is better -- i.e., CDs versus LPs.
The Edison Record Company was eventually pressured into producing "lateral" discs, which were technically better than those of the competition, but the effort was too late. Edison dropped out of the record business the day before the stock market crash of 1929. Over a thousand titles had been mastered but only a mere handful was released.
The Edison Lateral Series contains a pot pourri of the unreleased titles from such performers as the California Ramblers, B.A. Rolfe & his Lucky Strike Orchestra, the Golden Gate Orchestra and many others. Some of the selections even include Glenn Miller featured on trombone. Using a little ingenuity and a transmitter kit, such as the one available from Antique Electronic Supply, you can become your own DJ and hear your receiver truly sing with the music it was designed to reproduce.
The list price for each CD is $17.98 plus $2 shipping and handling. For more information, write to: Diamond Cut Productions, P.O. Box 305, Hibernia, NJ 07842-0305.
MORE FROM THE interNET
Walter DeGroot also alerted us via the internet to the work of Diamond Cut Productions. He tells us that Craig Maier and his business partner Rich Carlson have devoted several years to recovering the recordings from Thomas A. Edison's archives in West Orange, New Jersey. Because of the computer software that they have developed, we can hear these "antique" recordings possibly even better than originally. The company can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com or check out its web site at http://members.aol.com/dctools. The entire manual of over 100 pages is available for viewing or printing at this site. Collectors can use this program without being experts and really begin to enjoy the old sounds.
(Joseph G. Jackson, 6331 Old Forsyth Rd., Macon, GA 31210)
Audio Restoration Software
Diamond Cut Productions also offers its "Diamond Cut Audio Restoration Tools" (DCart), a Windows-based computer program. DCart uses Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques to eliminate the annoying surface noise, clicks and pops that are heard when old and worn records are played. Capable of processing both mono and stereo recordings, the DCart program can be used to restore the original quality of LP and 78 rpm records, as well as tape recordings and movie soundtracks. DCart's capabilities also include lowpass, bandpass, and highpass filters, as well as a 10-band graphic equalizer.