[78-L] The cylinder is coming back

David Lennick dlennick at sympatico.ca
Mon Apr 11 14:28:46 PDT 2011


Real vintage analog rules at Catherine North

by kathleen on April 1, 2011 · 5 comments

Artists who are seeking the ‘ultimate vintage analog recording experience’ will 
now be able to take advantage of Catherine North Studios’ exclusive new 
direct-to-wax cylinder recording service.

“We’re really excited to be bringing back a recording technology that hasn’t 
been used in almost a century,” says studio co-owner Duke Foster. His business 
partner, Michael Chambers, agrees. “Analog tape is great, but the ability to do 
multiple takes has really been abused in recent years,” says Michael. 
“Recording directly to wax cylinder is a more honest, artist-oriented approach.”

Sound purists will appreciate the complete absence of all electronics in the 
signal path. “At first, I was a bit concerned when Michael and Duke told me we 
were getting rid of all electronics at the studio,” explains Catherine North’s 
house tech Tristan Miller. “But when I realized the fidelity of sound 
transmission through mechanical coupling, I was completely blown away.”

The process offers many advantages from a production standpoint. “What’s really 
great about wax cylinder is the speed and simplicity of the process,” explains 
producer and artist Marcone. “You just basically position your musicians around 
the recording horn, get them to play the song as loudly as they can, and you’re 
done. My upcoming EP, Wax Cylinders From The Flood, took only 17 minutes to 

Jordan Mitchell, one of Catherine North’s in-house engineers and member of 
indie band The Rest, is also a fan of the wax cylinder approach. “After doing 
an A/B comparison between wax cylinder and digital recording, I was completely 
sold,” explains Jordan. “Our band is super excited about the sonic possibilities.”

Though wax cylinder playback machines aren’t currently available on the market, 
Tristan expects this to change soon. “Since there’s nothing left to repair at 
the studio, I’ve been able to devote more time to designing my TM-1200 Wax 
Cylinder USB Phonograph,” adds Tristan. “This device will provide an easy way 
for music lovers to transfer their wax cylinder collection to MP3 format. We’re 
hoping to start shipping units to retail by June 2011.”

"Finding NOS Edison cylinder blanks has been a challenge," explains Michael 
Chambers of Catherine North Studios.

Michael Chambers admits that the transition to wax cylinder hasn’t been easy. 
“Finding enough blank recording media to meet the growing demand from our 
clients has been a real challenge,” explains Michael. “NOS Edison cylinder 
blanks are really hard to find. But it’s worth the hassle, given the quality of 
the final product. You just can’t match those pure wax tones.”

In-house engineers Dan Hosh and Patrick Sirrs agree. “I can’t wait to get into 
the studio to record to wax cylinder,” explains Hosh, whose own band 1951 
expects to release some exclusive wax cylinder recordings soon. “The artists we 
work with are just chomping at the bit to ‘cut some wax,’” adds Patrick.

Even Catherine North’s student intern, Sean Thompson, is excited about the 
shift to wax cylinder. “One of the first things I had to do here was test every 
single cable in the studio. Man, what a hassle… wax cylinder is really going to 
simplify things around here.”

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