Using a record-cutter to turn old CDs into 45RPM singles

As part of Manchester's Futuresonic 2008 conference, you can have your old CDs and DVDs "overwritten" with a vintage record cutter and converted to a 45RPM record:

Take part in a social music sharing event with a difference - in CD-Recycled 45rpm Aleks Kolkowski uses his vintage record cutter to 'overwrite' existing data and cut grooves on CDs/DVDs so they can be played on a turntable. Bring unwanted CDs/DVDs and a sound file and receive a recycled disc in return.
Link (via Gizmodo)


  1. The first 45 I ever owned was DEVO’s Whip It. That’d be the one I’d want done. :)

  2. Wonder if you can have one side CD and other side record grooved. Nice little hidden track for CDs.

  3. Finally something interesting to do with those junk AOL trial cd’s that somehow hid themselves in my things while moving beyond just art projects!

  4. There is a company in Germany that presses CD’s with vinyl on the other side. I can’t seem to google it at the moment.

  5. Wonder what the RIAA will have to say about it… :(

    Still got my original 45s collecting dust (mostly 80s pop songs) in a closet, and an old 1970s-vintage school library portable record player to play them on.

  6. I’m curious about the sound quality … has anyone ever actually heard one of these? The vinyl records I’m used to are a much softer material than the plastic that CDs are pressed from, so I wonder if these discs would have a more brittle sound like old shellac 78s.

    Way cool idea no matter how they sound, though.

  7. Wolf Eyes or Nautical Almanac (bands from ann arbor, MI in the mid 90s) put out some disks like this. I think they used an old school soundscriber to do it. It was a sweet idea, but sounded pretty rough (like the link says, the soundscriber basically records at “telephone” quality), and did indeed thrash my needle.

  8. I had dream once that was similar to this: the idea was the record would basically work as a film projector, with a light underneath to project pictures from the disc. I don’t think it would take much work to make it cool.

  9. Hey—
    If you simply burn your music collection from your computer to a CD using this technique, the watermarks and all the other tracking nonsense could be expunged. Hard for a raider to prove you “pirated” a sound recorded to a record. Analog forever, kids. Mayhap ’tis time to reconsider some old techniques like this, seeing as how the digital open-air prison state is almost finished.

  10. I’ve just started doing this myself, using an old Rek-O-Kut lathe I found in Florida and a cutting head I got from Nautical Almanac… Sound is not great, but that’s not the point really :) Plastic picnic plates so far have provided the most pleasing results, audio-quality wise.

  11. Hmmm. . . a 5-inch cd cut at 45rpm, you get how much time? A minute? A minute and a half? I know some record players won’t even get to the end before the tone arm picks up and shuts off.

  12. I gotta give mad props to James “twig” Harper and Carly Ptak of Nautical Almanac fame for doing this years ago (1999) Nautical Almanac had a release with lathe cut on one side and CDR audio data on the other.

    they are best seen to really appreciate but the records are killer too. Carly Ptak’s solo album, Prepare Yourself, is always on high rotation at my house.

  13. there was a compilation with thomas brinkmann in the late 9os that was a cd on one side, and a lockgroove on the other… sounded like a fairly stupid, minimal electronic click beat.

    i’m with other folks on the sound issues. totally fun idea, poor quality object. gotta love 45s though. i use final scratch, so i don’t bring a lot records to a gig except my 45s in case of technical failure…

  14. One fascinating implications of this project is its focus on recasting digital media as analog media at a time when environmental factors (i.e. peak oil) have started to raise questions about what sort of world we will be living in if fossil fuels are no longer available to, among many other things, power our digital media devices.

    There’s some discussion on recorded media in a potentially post-oil/post-digital world here:

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