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     The Mapleson Cylinder Disc Edition: 1984-85    Table of Contents      On Listening to the Mapleson Cylinders

The Mapleson Cylinders - Program Notes

- History
- The Mapleson Transfers
- Future Restorations

Future Restorations

I am often asked about digital restoration of the Maplesons--whether

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or not that might be the ultimate answer to rescuing some of the faintest signals. Digital filtering in itself is a very complex technology, and as yet not well defined. The digital filtering in use today has employed various techniques, including band splitting, dynamic noise reduction, deconvolution (as in the Soundstream reprocessings of Caruso records), and others. It is in any case a very expensive process, requiring sophisticated software and analysis.

In many cases the result is not at all what you would expect. I attended a demonstration in Washington, D.C., of a digital restoration of the famous cylinder of the Emperor Franz Josef. Although all the noise of the recording was gone, so was the sound of the human voice as we are used to hearing it. The human voice is a complicated instrument, with harmonics, overtones, timbre, vibrato, and many other characteristics. If any or all of these elements are deformed, whether digitally or otherwise, the sound is seriously impaired. (See B. A. Blesser, "Digitization of Audio: A Comparative Evaluation of Theory, Implementation, and Current Practice," AES Journal, XXVI/10 [1978], 739-771.) The "ambience" or hall sound of the old Metropolitan Opera House stage is present in the Mapleson recordings, and is preserved in these transfers, whereas in previous issues it was not to be heard. In the present state of the technology, digital filtering for this type of material does not offer any miraculous cures. However, I am seriously investigating such technologies as digital delta modulation recording and filtering, voice identification Spectrographic analysis, and other methodologies that might serve as a yardstick in judging the results.


     The Mapleson Cylinder Disc Edition: 1984-85    Table of Contents      On Listening to the Mapleson Cylinders