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AES Promotes Wax Cylinder Recording Session

Suzanne Vega performs ‘Tom’s Diner’ at the Edison Museum

Suzanne Vega recording direct to Wax Cylinder at the Thomas Edison Museum with Museum Curator Gerald Fabris

Could there be a generation of pocket iPhonographs on the horizon?

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) recently hosted a recording session with Suzanne Vega at the Thomas Edison Museum, West Orange, N.J., recording the entire performance onto old-fashioned wax cylinders.

AES Education Committee Chair John Krivit and AES New York section member David Bialik held the session to “illustrate the creative relationship between physical science and recording.” Approximately 30 students and faculty from Boston’s Bay State College were on hand to witness the 19th century technology demonstration firsthand.

Left to right: Edison Museum Curator Gerald Fabris, AES Education Committee Chair John Krivit, Suzanne Vega and AES Convention Committee Broadcast Chair, David Bialik.

Edison’s wax cylinders were popular from 1878 through 1909 when they were replaced by the more familiar flat discs.

It was no coincidence that Vega chose to perform her hit “Tom’s Diner” for this session, says Krivit. A 1987 a capella version of the song was used by audio engineer and AES member, Karlheinz Brandenburg during his development of the MP3 process.