Monday, 20 April 2015

Field Recording: A Glitch On The DLR

DLR map
Public transport in London is a fact of life. Unless you are one of the chosen few who can walk to work or drive, you will end up on public transport at least once a week. being confined to a small space for a long period of time on a regular basis will, unsurprisingly, become rather monotonous. I've spoken before on this blog about how I try to lighten up the 2 hours of each day I spend on the tube by listening to podcasts.

That said, every so often, something a bit strange happens that catches you off guard. Whether it's people in fancy dress, passengers exhibiting bizarre behavior or just something disgusting, public transport in London does throw you the occasional surprise. A few months ago I was on my way into work on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), when I noticed that the automated PA announcements that tell you which station is next on the line had a weird delay effect. The result was a series of announcements that were pretty hard to decipher and for some strange reason, slightly unnerving. Because of these strange sounding announcements, passengers, some of whom see each other every day and never so much as acknowledge each others existence, we're smiling at each other and laughing slightly confusedly at what was going on. As I was standing next to one of the PA speakers, I pulled out my iPhone and began to record the announcements. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Tefifon

One of my favourite things about audio technology is the vast amount of strange, obscure formats and machines that exist in the world. For every innovation that changed the way people listened to music, the CD for example, there were a handful of lesser know ones that never quite made it (hands up who still owns a Minidisc player?).

The Tefifon is a little known audio format from 1950's Germany and utilises a thin, flexible vinyl strip to store music. It's coiled up inside a plastic cartridge much like an old 8-track tape would be. Techmoan, a youtube user with a wonderful channel full of interesting and informative tech reviews (I really recommend his HI-FI videos playlist), got hold of a Tefifon and has produced a detailed and pretty fascinating deconstruction of the machine.
 Whilst the machine can hardly be called groundbreaking and the audio quality isn't going to give vinyl a run for it's money, it's beautifully designed and the artwork on the cartridge sleeves is fantastic. It's a wonderful artifact and a clever idea, but I never want to hear that version of "Tutti Frutti" again.