Tim: Wesley, we're at the Vinylrecorder.com booth at South By Southwest. What are we here for? What is this?
Wesley: Well, this is a vinyl lathe where you can make your own vinyl record from any audio source direct to vinyl.
Tim: Why would someone want to do that?
Wesley: Well, I am an independent musician. I put out my own vinyl records before. I have pressed like 300 of them, I’ve sold 50; and I am planning to move on to another project and I had a closet full of records. So this was my way of putting out my records in a limited quantity. I hand-make it. And I can move on to other projects afterwards.
Tim: Is that the way to build it?
Wesley: That’s what made me fall in love with it. Yes.
Tim: Right. So what’s different about working with vinyl than say with a CD?
Wesley: The music is alive. For CDs, so you know Super Mario brothers, the first Super Mario he had a square nose. That’s what your audio looks like in 16-bit format. So what vinyl’s actually doing is stretching those square waves and rounding them out.
Tim: Now you are here at South By Southwest, because you got these couple of guys from outside the country.
Wesley: Right. I am here with Souri and Fritz. They are the masterminds behind the machine.
Tim: And they are behind the machine.
Wesley: Right. Correct.
Tim: So, what’s their story?
Wesley: Well I bought the machine about three years ago, I went to Germany, did the training, came back. I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do with the machine, and they had I mean, they couldn’t go to South By and they were curious about it. I was their contact here in the US, and so we came here last year, and now we are back again, because last year was such a hit for us.
Tim: You said you went to Germany for training, how complicated is it to set up a vinyl machine?
Wesley: Well, I have no technical training at all. No mechanical engineering experience. So it is a craft and we get included in this is a day of training.
Tim: And the price is €3200 right now?
Wesley: Right. €3200. Right now in the US, that is about $4000.
Tim: Is it hard to do? There are a lot of things, complicated machinery.
Wesley: Oh no. This is the machine from my house. I brought this here, I drove it here from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Tim: Usually in 2013, you see people going from vinyl to digital formats, here you are doing the opposite, you’ve got a CD player here that’s feeding music over to a vinyl cutting lathe.
Tim: It is kind of a _____ right now.
Wesley: Right. The world is in balance now.
Tim: Okay. And behind you, you showed me before, you’ve got the stuff, can you explain where that comes from?
Wesley: This is the outcut. This is the music. The physical sound cloud.
Tim: That is the actual detritus from the grooves.
Wesley: Yeah, the “swarf”.
Tim: It is called what?
Tim: Interesting. Okay. You had to learn German while you were doing your training?
Tim: Can you walk us through the parts of the machine a little bit?
Wesley: So the master of the machine is the cutter head, that’s how the audio gets printed or cut into the vinyl.
Tim: And the vinyl itself, is it ordinary vinyl that you get if you think about records is it the same material what you get in Presto record?
Wesley: No it is like Coca Cola and Pepsi. It is his own secret recipe.
Tim: So this is not only this is the razor and blades, what do the other blades cost? The price to get the vinyl blanks?
Wesley: Okay. Normally the sapphire is how you would cut a lacquer, an acetate. And that is how you normally would get a dubplate is it’s like finger nail polish soft, so you get 50 plates of a lacquer acetate and that would run you maybe $100 to get one cut. These blanks you can cut a 180-gram record for about five bucks. And the stylus is not sapphire it is diamond.
Tim: So that part you don’t get to replace very often if it is made out of diamond?
Wesley: The sapphire gets about 10 hours of cutting, and the diamond will get up to 300 hours.
Tim: How durable are the resulting records?
Wesley: Oh they are just as good as my vinyl records at home.In fact, I have got like some that were cut in the ‘60s. Apparently, my grandkids will be able to listen to the records I cut.
Tim: When you listen to these at home, what do you play these back on?
Wesley: I have an Audio Technica turntable and I also have a Technics 1200 ___ .
Tim: Do you find that vinyl really is undergoing a renaissance right now?
Wesley: Oh yeah, yeah, like I am backed up with my business until June right now for cutting.
Tim: How about ____ machines?
Wesley: Yeah, but they have been at this a long time, so they are a little bit more organized than me. So they have a system in place, that if you get in contact with them, they can have something available for you pretty soon.
Tim: There is not a lot of wait time?
Wesley: There is, there is a mailing list, so get it while you can.
Tim: And where does this stuff go? It’s all over the world?
Wesley: All over the world. We’ve had people from Australia come all the way to Germany.