Beck’s Beer Bottle Sound Recording

This beer bottle includes recorded audio etched into the glass. But you certainly won’t find half an album included with your next sixer. This is a one of a kind item that took a team of engineers to craft.

The idea comes from Phonographic Cylinders invented by [Thomas Edison]. Analog audio was etched into cylinders made of wax which could then be played by a needle and amplifying horn. The beer bottle is a similar size of cylinder, but etching the audio signal into glass is a horse of a different color. The video below includes a recounting of the development process from the guys who pulled it off. It includes using hard drive parts and special processing filters that remove harmonics introduced by the milling rig.

We’re sure you’ve figured it out by now; this is an advertisement. We say good! This is the kind of advertising we want. It’s topical, well targeted, and worth paying attention to. We felt the same way about the recent Oreo campaign and that Skittles hack. We hope that ad execs will take note of this.

By the way, it is possible to do this stuff at home. Check out the guy who made an Edison Cylinder wedding ring.



50 thoughts on “Beck’s Beer Bottle Sound Recording

  1. Well, I hope that Ad Execs take a nice long walk off of a long pier.

    Now that that’s off my chest, I’d like to mention there is almost no useful text information here – it’s all historical information on the Edison Cylinders. It would be nice to learn a bit more without having to sit through a video.

    1. agreed,


      some of the brightest minds are “too far” for highspeed video.

      those people USED to enjoy watching video on dial-up, but
      all the dial-up quality video on the internet has dissappeared and
      now theres only video that takes 20 minutes to cache a 3 minute video.


      you claim to love watching videos of ppl with the resources to have a huge workshop andor testing grounds, yet you hide and deny those same people of the fruits of the city-dwellers’s information/discovery.

      its noit just H.A.D. its the hole damm world.

      1. highspeed or not, every time i click on a “news story”
        that turns out to be just a “video story” i close it right away

        im not waiting my whole life to cache a video just to find out
        three seconds worth of reading.

        … ANYTHING to keep me on the page longer then the content is worth.
        im not anyone’s online slave. i have a life outside of the online world.

        1. I pretty much do the same thing. It’s rare i want to watch a video new item.

          I mean, reading is not that hard. Too bad websites are not required by law to have a test only option. Would be great for 4G users with limited data plans or those stuck with dial-up. I realize that is sooooo 20th century, but I hate sending mobile telcos money that should be saved for retirement. But we should be happy that their kids get to go to Yale.

        1. Your download speed is only as good as the server providing. That’s why video articles are a great pain in the ass when they get slashdotted, or just exist on far-away servers in foreign countries.

        2. I”m sitting on a 40Mb/20Mb connection right now, and that video still took 3 minutes to buffer.

          Even without a slow server causing a buffering issue, I could have read the transcript for that video in about 10 seconds instead of sitting there waiting for them to say it.

  2. Seems to me, if they company wanted to they could put sound bottles in your next six pack, when records are produced they’re pressed from a master, when bottles are blown they’re blown in a metal mould, all you have to do is make the inside of the mould like a record master and when you blow the bottle, instant sound bottle. Now playing the bottle, that’s another problem.

      1. I have seen in-die annealing of metals. Surely something similar could be done with glass and molds*.

        Interestingly the US centric spelling ‘mold’ is older than mould, which flows better. It dates back to middle english along with other spellings that are regionally asymmetric such as ‘gage’ or ‘smolder’. It is etymologically funny seeing as time has progressed, meaningless letters have been ADDED to these words and in some countries the pronunciation has changed to include those superfluous characters. It is the exact opposite of common language progression. Sometimes this has been done on purpose, as in the case of Aluminum/Aluminium.

        1. Most of those oddities in British-English were introduced from French after American-English split off. I interpret it as similar to the tendency for some folk to toss random French phrases into spoken American-English.

    1. Im sure they could start selling bottle or ahem, “phonographic cylinder”, players for a few grand for the audiophile that has everything. 3 minutes of some serious old school audio, free with every becks purchase.

      1. If you read the text we actually used microgoove, which is 4x smaller than Edison/78 profile, allowing an audio spectrum similar to an LP.
        Actual file recorded back from the bottle albeit an early on with some surface noise:

    1. Hi Micah – if you want to hear the actual sound check out this video, which was the launch in auckland at semi permanent: the audio is a straight line into the computer. It was cut with a mono recording of the song, allowing for higher output levels with less chance of the stylus skipping in the deeper frequencies.


  3. you people complaining about video only,
    These people are taking the time with their information that may have taken days, maybe months or even at times years of work to share with everyone. There’s no entitlement here. If you strongly feel the need for someone to share their information a certain way, here’s a suggestion,
    Why don’t YOU take the time to transcribe all of the HAD videos out there, on your own website, instead of sitting there and complaining like a little spoiled bitch.

    1. It’s an advertisement. I’m not going to watch an advertisement to glean a few gems out.

      If this was something else, like the “Guitarduino show and tell,” then I would watch it.

  4. Wow, people on here are so negative sometimes, so what if they spruced it up with a little advertising? It was still interesting to see them in the process of recording onto glass and the hurdles they had to overcome.

    1. I think it was a cool project. But then, I am engineer and anything like this is interesting. I would of loved to been on the team that designed and built this. Who cares if it was sponsored by company (at least it was for beer. Even nerds like beer I’m told).

      Come on guys… did you complainers go to the Karl Marx school for Ecomonics? Crack open a Becks and enjoy it. If you still cant, try another beer. Sooner or later everything will be funny.

  5. Very nice ad campaign… Bottle shown was actually a green plastic replica of a bottle… If you look carefully at the video (look very closely) you can see the video change from a glass bottle (very wavy, and optically warped transmission visible), to the actual scene where they are cutting the grooves (bottle now perfectly smooth and aligned), pay close attention to the bottle neck as well as the outer diameter smoothness. They also show a green plastic cylinder being machined in one of the scenes as well. Also the cuttings from the recording stylus are the same look as when you machine acrylic plastic. If you were cutting glass, the cuttings would be a powder or granular in appearance. Still a cool idea for an add campaign. Would like to make an Edison player using a modern stylus (phonograph needle) as they did. Good job!

    1. Hi Aron,
      Thanks for the post, here’s a bit of background to the process.
      Knowing bottles are no where near round due to the molding process, we opted not to go down that path.
      We tested using many substrates, acrylic initially but the material tears unless cut at very high speed.
      Research shows that historically nitro-cellulose paint was used with a small amount of castor oil added, still used at a London cutting house.
      Having tried many other paint systems including 2 part polyurethane we found we could not better the tried and true car paint!
      So we CNC machined an acrylic bottle then coated in 9 layers of nitro-celloulose paint as a cutting base. Of course over time the paint gets harder requiring adjustment of weight, damping and equalization.
      Wishing to be true to the brief we did coat bottles and cut them which although playable gave terrible results, grinding a bottle smooth and coating it would not have helped as all bottles are bent over their length!
      Here’s a short clip of the cutting lathe in action.
      Note the glowing wires going to the cutting tool in the first shot.

  6. Well done. WRT to the bass frequency issues, modern (well, all) photograph records have the bass highly compressed to reduce the size of the groove. They just had to find the right equivalent of the ‘RIAA curve’ for their medium.

    Very cool project. Nice cameo by audacity, too. :)

  7. Let it never be said that throwing money at problem doesn’t get things done. The problem here was getting a beer company’s name in the brain-share.

    Editor: It was a learning experience, but I have no need to see more articles like this.

  8. There’s nothing pedestrian about this piece of kit…They’re using a Technics linear-tracking tonearm with an Ortofon Omega cartridge. The bottle had to be ground to an extremely high level of smoothness (within 0.1 micron) before they could actually record anything on it.

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