A few months back, I wrote about how I used a 3D printer to transform any mp3 into a physical record. Though all the documentation for that project is available here, and the 3D models could potentially be printed through an online fabrication service, I knew that the barrier to entry for normal people interested in trying out the process themselves was prohibitively high. With this project I wanted to try to extend the idea of digitally fabricated records to use relatively common and affordable machines and materials so that (hopefully) more people can participate, experiment, and actually use all this documentation I've been writing.
These records were cut on an Epilog 120 Watt Legend EXT to a theoretical precision of 1200dpi (the kerf of the cut and some tricks I used to avoid crashing the laser cutter dropped the actual precision down by ~1/6). The audio on the records has a bit depth between 4-5 (typical mp3 audio is 16 bit) and a sampling rate up to about 4.5kHz (mp3 is 44.1kHz). So far I've successfully cut audio on wood (figs 1-2), acrylic (figs 3-4), and paper (figs 5-6), and I'm sure there are many more materials that would work. I wrote the Processing sketch that generates the record cutting paths so that it can be modified for any song, material, cutting machine, record size, and turntable speed (skip ahead to download the code and learn how to make your own records).
You should also note that in this Instructable I'll demonstrate specifically how I used a laser cutter for this process, but the cutting files I'm using are standard vector graphics in a PDF format, so they can be extended to many other digital fabrication tools. For example, I'm curious to see if it's possible to use a CNC mill or a CNC razor blade paper cutter with my cutting files (a group of people were able to cut out some sine waves on paper using a Cameo in this Instructable).
Below are some of my final results, read on to see how they were made and how you can make your own.
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart on clear acrylic (download vector files):
Radiohead - Idioteque on wood (download vector files):
The Velvet Underground and Nico - Femme Fatale on maple (download vector files):