Other Sound Recording Formats

The main purpose of this page is to share information about other sound recording formats. In the 1920s, the new sound-on-film technology used photoelectric cells to recording sound signals that were recorded straight onto the movie film optically. In 1927, with the introduction of talking movies, organized by The Jazz Singer, there was a fast demise of live cinema musicians and orchestras. There was a loss of many jobs as the musicians were replaced with pre-recorded soundtracks. There were protests against the replacement of real musicians with mechanical playing devices.

Based on the work of Danish inventor Valdemar Poulsen, there were several other sound recording systems developed, which included the first practical magnetic sound recording system. The magnetic wire recorders were efficient, but offered poor sound quality. These other formats for sound recording were chiefly used for voice recording and were marketed as business dictating machines.

In the 1930s a system of magnetic sound recording using steel tape was built up by the radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi. Using the same material used to make razor blades, these other sound recording formats were considered dangerous and the technicians had to function them from another room for safety. They used huge reels about one meter in diameter, because of the high recording speeds required. Moreover, the thin tape broke often, which sent jagged lengths of razor steel flying around the studio. It’s no surprise that these other sound recording systems were not very popular.

In 1935, AEG in Germany developed the K1 Magnetophon, which is seen as the other most important invention in sound recording, during this period. The optical sound-on-film system, as one of the other formats for sound recording used a sound-on-disc system. The film industry in due course accepted the optical sound-on-film system, which as one of the other sound recording formats revolutionized the movie industry in the 1930s. It also ushered the era of 'talking pictures'. Optical sound-on-film, became the standard film audio system throughout the world until it was outmoded in the 1960s.