Amanda Ghassaei, the woman who brought you 3D-printed records, is back with yet another impressive alternative to vinyl: laser-cut maple and plywood. And not only do the wooden records look real pretty, they sound a hell of a lot better than their printed-plastic counterparts.
But wood is still nowhere near bona fide vinyl, unfortunately. With a sample rate of just 4.5 kHz and a bit depth between four and five, the sound quality is still in the relative stone ages, with most high frequency sounds rolled off and limited dynamic range (digital audio typically ranges from 44.1-96 kHz and 16-32 bits, for comparison). But still! Wood records!
If you’d like to do it yourself and happen to have access to a laser cutter, Ghassaei wrote a post for Instructables that comprehensively details her process at Instructables, including a bit of Processing code that will turn any audio file into a vector to direct the cutter’s path. The rest of us will have to settle for the pressing of Radiohead’s “Idioteque” above or Ghassaei’s maple-cut rendition of the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.”
An interesting tidbit. Apparently it’s impossible to control the depth at which a laser cutter cuts, so the wooden records’ grooves are cut only laterally (side to side), not vertically. The vinyl nerds among you know this means the signal produced is mono, not stereo.