audible records

Audible Records was imagined as a B brand of Audible, the leading distributor of audiobooks. In this alternate universe scenario where I get put in charge of fun stuff, Audible's B brand is a record label that specializes in producing high-quality Limited edition LP box sets of best-selling novels, stand-up comedy, and radio dramas that are in their library. But these aren't any records! These records are made out of wood and have audio laser cut into them.


Each audible title would come enclosed in a cloth slipcase with an image relating to the book on the front. In this instance, it's the old beat up Cadillac from Jack Kerouac's On the Road.


The records are housed in a wooden folio, with the title screen printed on the cover.

 wooden records with laser-etched grooves

wooden records with laser-etched grooves

 title page

title page


The record sleeves are bound into the cover, much like 78 rpm record sets that were popular in the '30s and '40s.



I converted the MP3 into a WAV file with a bit depth that would produce playable grooves with Audacity, a free audio editing program.


The audio file is then opened up in Python, a coding language found in Macs, to extract the raw audio data as a text file. The text file is then taken into a Processing sketch that...


...generates the PDF files with groove paths, which are then taken into Adobe Illustrator to create laser cutter-ready vector files.


The grooves are made of thousands of points and, because of how the laser cutters at school are calibrated or something, the cutting took forever. And that was before all the trial and error. Seriously, it took sooo long. There's a $0.40 per minute charge for laser cutting at school, and I couldn't afford to work all of the kinks out or cut an entire record, but I did manage to get some audio.

Get more info on the laser cutting process here.

Cutting grooves with the laser cutters at school turned out to be extremely difficult, but I was able to get some audio from the intro to the audiobook version of On the Road. The grooves are made up of an insane amount of tiny little lines, which took forever to cut and got really pricey, so I decided to be content with being able to get some test grooves cut instead of trying for an entire record.

 @ericdvaldez I did it!!! The last couple of times that I tried to laser cut a piece of a record onto wood was with a file that I downloaded. This time it was with an mp3 that I converted into a file of record grooves. Too bad it'll sound awful no matter what since it's not vinyl. Next time I'll be cutting more than just test grooves.

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