VinylVideo Is Literally Video On Vinyl

GE Record Player and TV 1600x900

It’s often said that the music etched into a vinyl record takes on a transcendent quality that you simply can’t find in a digital recording, but does that still apply when you add motion picture? The collaboration of [Sengmüller and Diamant] sure think so, because they are offering a new experience for the turntable with the introduction of their VinylVideo pre-amplifier. No tape reels here, this project shows the extend of what is possible through analog video.

Vinyl Video Amp

While all record players capable of playing back 7 in. 45 RPM are compatible with the system, the VinylVideo records themselves specially cut in order to generate the video signal. Each of the custom records has room for a 4-minute music video on the A-side, and the single on the B-side. Videos play back in black & white, sub-standard definition with mono audio, and run around 12 frames per second. The pre-amp takes in the analog signal from regular audio cables via RCA jacks or 3.5mm headphone jack, and then a Raspberry Pi model A+ handles the analog-to-digital conversion. Video out options include HDMI and composite video via a 3.5mm TRSS jack.

The current VinylVideo pre-amp is actually a refinement of the original project from the mid ’90s where it was a part of folk art exhibits. The legacy website (circa 1999) is still live, so you can give it a visit. However, for the most authentic experience you may want to fire-up a virtual machine with Netscape Navigator and Real Player installed.

For a more in-depth look at the VinylVideo in action there is a great video below from [Techmoan]:



25 thoughts on “VinylVideo Is Literally Video On Vinyl

      1. I find it hilarious the non-hackers always post first. ;-) They always come out swinging, too. “May I submit this is not the best use of technology?!” I swear, last 6 months, some investment site must have mentioned HaD and now they’re sniffing around HaD for “early stage projects.” Must be terribly disappointing for them to see VinylVideo when Juicero 2.0 obviously makes more business sense.
        Keep it up! I personally think a PXL-2000 project would be cool (records to cassettes). I also remember a SCSI VHS-C “drive” from the early 90s that would fit into a Quadra 900 and store data – not video – on the cassettes.

      1. Um. The PXL 2000, as shown in the link, was a video camera that recorded onto audio cassettes. It was only 120×90 pixels and recorded to tape at 9x the speed of audio, so about 11 minutes. But it was really cool, and had nothing to do with videodisks. All the content was self-produced.

    1. Well if you can figure out the encoding scheme, since the decoder takes ordinary audio input, you could encode video, record it on a cassette tape and play it back into the decoder, PXL-2000 VCR.

  1. Some suspect that they are not even stored on the vinyl. The sounds captured from the video side look a bit lacking in bandwidth usage to carry the full signal, although we do not know which part Matt demonstrated. Maybe it was a full black frame.

    And yet there are no rips of these vinyls available anywhere for people to have a bite at them, try and decode at home.

    1. And some even suspect that the system works (mono, low bandwidth audio and mono, very low bandwidth video + lots of video noise). If you can’t get that from vinyl you’re not really trying.

    2. While I think storing very low bitrate video on vinyl is possible, I’d say this isn’t even trying. the output looks the same even when played on the high end turntable. maybe with a modern codec, QAM encoding and extending the bandwidth to whatever they are able to put on a record…

  2. When I was a child, my dear great aunt bought me one of those GE record players in the photo brand new. (Yes that seriously dates me but I was born before time started, UNIX time anyway.) That unit has absolutely nothing to do with video even though it looks way too much like a TV. It’s just a record player with a projector built into it. The right signal on the record would trigger the unit to advance a “film-stick” with a dozen pictures on it to the next picture. You put in the stick, start the record and let it advance at the right time when the “next slide” signal is generated. It was interesting when it got out of phase. At least i think there was a signal, I’d hate to think that it was pure timing with say strictly 3 minutes per image. I suppose that would technically make it video but with a frame rate of about 1/180 Hz. :-) I really do think there was a “next slide” signal but ancient memories get a bit fuzzy.

  3. I tried to decode the vinylvideo and it is very difficult. At first I fed the signal to the spectrum analyzer, but the image was far away. I checked the signal and found that the framerate was lower than anyone could have imagined. Only up to 8 frames per second. It also turned out that the resolution is not some 100, but only 41 lines. I tried to draw lines on paper with white spaces at the place of the pulses according to their duration. The images matched the footage of the video I had already seen decoded. Thus, vinylvideo is simply a low-quality, low-frame-rate composite video signal recorded as an audio recording.

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