Acoustic recordings: 1902-1925

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Emile Berliner, a German born American, was working on a machine that used a flat circular disc, much easier to store, but crucially would play for longer and would play louder than the phonograph which was invented by Thomas Edison in 

He patented his Gramophone on the 8th November 1887   
A year later, Emile Berliner started mass production of his gramophone, which initially went on sale in German, England and the USA.

Berliner was also an astute businessman and formed three separate companies to record, manufacture and sell gramophones and records.
They were :
The Gramophone Company in the UK, affectionately known as ‘His Master’s Voice’ and later to become EMI.
Deutsche Grammofon in Germany
and the Victor Talking Machine in the USA,  later to became RCA-Victor.
This photograph shows the very first recording studio of the Gramophone Company, (later known as His Masters Voice and EMI) opened in 1898 and located in the basement of the Coburn Hotel, London.
The first records were mostly orchestral, brass brand or little vocal ditties; and they were recorded acoustically with the performer standing front of the huge  metal horn, down which travelled the sound to a vibrating  stylus  cutting directly into a wax master disc.
No microphones as yet and all recordings were done in the studio, as it was well nigh impossible to move the equipment.

here is where St Andrews recorded
New Gramophone Company studios in City Road
so instead of orchestra and singer around acoustic recording horn – imagine a choir
13 single sided records were recorded  in October 1902 : these were all 10” records
the very first recording session by an English choir
rushed out for a Christmas release.

Acoustic Recordings : 1902 - 1925
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Acoustic recording
This superb reconstruction shows how singers and performers were recorded in the early days of Acoustic recordings by the recording horn.  Microphones not invented yet!

Pathe Newsreel
1920  (silent)
Making an acoustic record

This article, which I wrote for 'Cathedral Music' magazine in 2018, charts the first fifty years of church music recordings on 78rpm records.   I hope it may be of interest.

Read the story of the 78rpm record labels