Have You Ever Heard Radiohead’s ‘Idioteque’ … on Wood?
Software engineer laser-etches music onto maple
Above you will find what is likely the world’s first wooden record — Radiohead’s “Idioteque” etched into plywood by San Francisco’s Amanda Ghassaei, who earned some attention last year for pioneering 3-D printing of vinyl-style LPs. For this project, the coding genius used a 120-watt Epilog Legend EXT laser cutter to burn audio into acrylic, paper, and wood — wait till you hear the Velvet Underground on maple.
Okay, so it’s not a great listen, but neither is Jay-Z’s soundtrack for The Great Gatsby (for different reasons) and that’s not going to stop us from marveling at those playable platinum and gold records. Ghassaei’s latest creation is beautiful to look at and fascinating to consider — she’s a software engineer and general maker-of-things for DIY site Instructables, and has shared a detailed “how to” on her process.
As Wired explains, actual vinyl record presses offer a higher resolution than Ghassaei’s laser, so one 12-inch side of ply offers only about three minutes of play time. And while MP3 audio is typically 16-bit, the wooden etchings land in the four to five-bit range, so pop and hiss is plenty prevalent. There’s room for improvement, but according to the product’s creator, that’s exactly the point.
“For me, the most interesting part of publishing these projects is to see where other people take them, and the 3-D printed records were just a little too difficult for an average person to experiment with,” Ghassaei told Wired. “I’m hoping that people will download my code and make their own records, or make something I haven’t even thought of yet.” Your move, Third Man Records.