A sound engineer and inventor based in Melbourne, Australia, is hoping to put a new spin on an old technology with his Desktop Record Cutter (DRC). The turntable-on-steroids looking device allows home musicians to press their music onto wax within minutes with turn-key stereo cutting technology. While the machine is fully automated for ease of use by the technophobe, engineers and tinkerers can customize their DRC with upgrades and modifications.
According to Paul Tayar, inventor of the DRC and head of the company behind it, Machina Pro, none of the audio path on the DRC is digital. “The DRC is basically a robot controlling an all-analog cutting path,” he says. This "robot" automates all required controls into a two or three button start he’s dubbed "auto-pilot." Once enabled, all that’s required of the user is to feed audio in from a computer, or possibly a tape machine, and lay down a blank vinyl disc to record it on. The machine will then cut the music in real time, so one minute of music will take one minute to cut.
Some of the DRC’s features include an integrated load cell to measure cutting pressure, allowing users to dial in different depths for cutting in various mediums. A vacuum chip sucker is built in, as well as an adjustable mount for a digital microscope. High-torque motors on the turntable will allow for precise digital control, while the DRC will ship in a water-, impact- and dust-resistant Pelican Storm case.
The company is also taking advantage of 3D printing technology in the design process, speeding up development by bringing new concepts to fruition within hours. Tayar says they’re also taking some of the motion technology and sensing found in 3D printers and CNC (computer numerical control) machines, and incorporating it into the DRC, which has spurred “some amazing components, all at pricing that makes it viable to include.”
As far as those components Tayar hopes to add, he says a vacuum record clamp tops the list. The mechanism would pull the record down to the spinning platter, allowing for better cuts as well as a better listening experience (the DRC also plays records, just like a regular, albeit high-end, turntable). Other add-ons they hope to make standard on the DRC are a microscope and screen visualization, record heating to allow other materials to be cut, and an upgraded monitoring path.
While a similar machine was introduced in 2006 in the form of the Vestax VRX 2000, the DRC is hoping its much more affordable price tag will make it attractive to small labels and music producers looking to satisfy a growing crowd of vinyl-loving audiophiles. Sales of vinyl records have jumped dramatically in the last several years, and expect to keep rising.
Currently in development, Machina Pro recently completed a Kickstarter campaign for the DRC that went well past its modest goal of US$10,000. Tayar believes the device's success will hinge on its final price, and is hoping to offer it low enough for enthusiasts to deem it worthwhile.
“Initially, it was just me and a handful of ‘lathe-trolls’,” said Tayar, of the hard-core enthusiasts. “I dared not even hope for the response that we’ve received. The first model is pitched at more of a pro, prosumer level. We expect studios, DJs and the cutting hobbyist to be our main clientele. We are working very hard to bring this to the mainstream though.”
Tayar is targeting a price of US$6,500, which includes everything required to start cutting records immediately. The company has also slated a consumer-friendly model for development with the idea of bringing the technology to a more main-stream user with a price of around US$3,500.
Source: DRC Kickstarter campaign
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