Berkeley physicist Carl Haber recently was named a MacArthur Fellow for his work finding long-lost sounds and digitally restoring them. He has brought the voices of Alexander Graham Bell and Jack London back to life with a special high definition camera that reads the patterns off broken discs and other recordings and turns them into sound. The newly minted MacArthur genius joins us in the studio.

Restored Sounds That We Played During the Show

Carl Haber, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who was recently named a MacArthur Fellow for 2013

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    It is unexpected that you recover sound with hi-def photography. Did the old method of cleaning up recordings by removing background noise reach its limit?And forgive me for asking, but is there audio from JFK’s assassination that be re-analyzed with the new method to tell us whether only oswald fired at the motorcade?

    • Frank

      This method of audio restoration only works on items with grooves like cylinders and 78 rpm recordings. I dare say there is contemporary technology that might be able to work on audio from the JFK assassination but it would use different technology

  • Ken

    So what’s the reason behind older recordings having a distinct sound or tone to the vocal qualities? It seems like all vintage orators have the same voice. I’m assuming it’s as much about the recording equipment as the playback, or did everyone sound like ducks in tin boxes back in the day?

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