CDs are dead, long replaced by MP3s and streaming music, and in their wake has risen renewed interest in vinyl, which, years after the first vinyl resurgence trend pieces started getting published, doesn't appear to be slowing down. Ulrich Sourisseau is riding that hype, all the way to the SXSW trade show floor where a crowd has been gathered around his Vinyl Recorder all week. Vinyl Recorder aims to solve the one big problem with vinyl: Recording on it is a major pain for the average Joe.
The machine essentially works like a normal record player, but in reverse: It's a record lathe connected to a CD player (or mp3, or any kind of audio file), and uses a diamond stylus to cut the record in real-time via sound vibrations produced by the playing music. This creates the master record, and cuts out all the other time-consuming steps needed to copy and mass produce it.
As I chatted with Sourisseau, who first designed the machine over three decades ago, we listened to a Little Richard album being cut in the background. By the time we finished talking, the record was made.
So, if you've got $4,000 and enough patience to spare, you can turn your entire digital music library into a massive vinyl collection—one record at a time. But that's not how most people are using the machine. It's mainly marketed to independent musicians who don't need to pay for bulk copies at a pressing plant, or want to put out a limited release of a single—like a boutique record.
Not that Sourisseau gives much of a damn about that kind of thing; he told me he doesn't even care for vinyl. As an engineer, he's interested in the technology.
He said that he built the machine back during the digital switchover so that he could keep playing the latest singles in the jukebox at his factory, which only played records. He hacked apart an old lathe and made a machine to transport the new CDs back in time, and now, I'm told, he's got the best jukebox in town.