Musician and designer Yuri Suzuki has collaborated with Japanese education company Gakken to create a cute little record cutting machine that gets music-making consumers cutting their own five-inch vinyl records in a few short minutes.
Vinyl record consumption has been enjoying something of a resurge of late, with nearly 19 million vinyl albums being sold in the US during 2019. Popular though the format is proving to be, it cannot complete with streaming, which still rules the music consumption roost. But there’s been enough sustained growth over the last decade and more that old classics are being repressed and new releases from artists and labels are taking up more and more space in high street music stores.
For unsigned musicians or music-loving hobbyists though, cutting vinyl can be expensive. Last year we saw a Kickstarter project attract nearly half a million euros to bring a relatively inexpensive home cutter to life. The retail price once it goes into production – though that could be some way off as the Phonocut has yet to ship to backers – is €1,999, which is still quite pricey. But Suzuki’s Instant Record Cutting Machine offers a much, much cheaper way to cut vinyl at home.
Designed by Suzuki and his team and manufactured by Gakken, the compact unit is powered over USB. A music source device such as a smartphone is connected to the machine via an auxiliary input cable (3.5-mm mono jack or USB), the needle of the cutter mechanism to the left is positioned at the edge of a blank vinyl placed on the platter, either 33.3 or 45 rpm speed is selected, and the cutting begins.
Three to four grooves are cut for every millimeter or so, and a full side is ready for playback in around four minutes. The unit can then be switched from rec to play mode, where a tonearm with ceramic cartridge and integrated speaker allow for instant playback.
The 19 x 16 x 15-cm (7.5 x 6.3 x 5.9-in) machine comes with a printed magazine that documents its development and usage, along with power and audio cables, two cutting needles, five blank 5-inch black records and five blank 5-inch white records, and an EP adapter.
Prices start at ¥8,778 (about US$80), though there is a special Amazon edition that comes with another five yellow blanks, five green, and five light blue, as well as four cutting needles for ¥10,428. Launches in the UK and US are planned for later in the year.
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