November 4, 1916
Page 28

First Demonstration of Concert on New Radio Telephone Shows Possibilities of Device by Which Programs Are to Be Supplied to Audiences Within Radius of 1,000 Miles—A Wireless Music Central for Each Large City the Vision of the Inventor

Wireless Operator, on Atlantic Liner, Out at Sea: “The passengers are still applauding Amato’s singing of the Prologue; they’d like to hear some more operatic music.”
Wireless Telephone Demonstrator, in New York: “All right; next we’ll have an aria by the new tenor, Hipolito Lazaro—here it goes!”
Such are the messages that will be exchanged through the air waves in the near future, when still greater perfection is obtained in the device of “music by wireless,” of which the first public demonstration was given at the Hotel Astor, New York, on Oct. 26. This ·exposition of conveying musical tones by wireless was given under the auspices of the De Forest System of Telephony and the Columbia Graphophone Company.
Hear Operas at Sea
The same principle involved in the demonstration of last week makes it entirely feasible for passengers on an ocean-going liner to hear the operas sung at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and to catch the spirit of the audience, even to the minutest details of applause and hand-clapping.
Just what was the sensation of listening to this “music by wireless” will be appreciated by those who have had the privilege of hearing any of the transcontinental music demonstrations of the Bell telephone system. The present illustration, although really more wonderful, was perhaps a shade less stimulating to the imagination in that it did not give the effect of such vast distance. This was because the music happened to be transmitted only six blocks away, in Thirty-eighth Street. This circumstance was purely arbitrary, due to the fact that the Columbia’s recording rooms are at that place.
However, the effect of great distance will soon be realized, as a more powerful sending apparatus is shortly to be installed on the tower of the Woolworth Building, where the Columbia company has its executive offices. Passengers on ocean liners 1000 miles out at sea will then be able to enjoy concerts in New York.
Invitation to Amateurs
As it is, with the apparatus developed by Dr. Lee de Forest, it will be possible for every wireless operator within a radius of 150 miles from New York to hear a nightly operatic concert conducted in the Columbia laboratories simply by using the ordinary wireless equipment. Professional and amateur wireless operators,· of which there are thousands in the vicinity of New York, are invited to “listen in” on the wireless transmission of the latest records sent by the De Forest Radio Telephone.
At the Hotel Astor demonstration it gave one an uncanny sense of the wizardry of science when one sat at a table beside Johannes Sembach and, along with him, heard through individual receivers the noted Metropolitan tenor’s singing of Sigmund’s Love Song from “Die Wallküre.” Others of the Columbia artists dropped in to hear themselves sing over the ‘phone, among them Lucy Gates, who listened to her own facile delivery of George Henschel’s “Spring.”
Technically, the method of reproducing this music by wireless was as follows:
The Technical Process
From the roof of the Columbia company’s building on Thirty-eighth Street the tones were sent through the ether by means of a Grafonola in the horn of which had been placed a telephone microphone, through which high frequency currents were sent, generated by a large audion bulb. The waves thus obtained were sent out by the wireless station and caught at the Astor. There they were transformed again in telephonic currents by an audion detector, increased by an audion amplifier and heard through headpieces.
The audion bulb, invented by Dr. De Forest, is the chief feature in the apparatus used in the present tests. The audion is a wonderfully sensitive incandescent lamp, containing, besides the ordinary filament, two metal plates and a metal grid of fine wire, which translates the inaudible, high-frequency electric currents that come through the ether into telephonic currents which can be heard by the human ear.
At the Hotel Astor the guests heard a continuous performance of some thirty-three graphophone records, vocal and instrumental. As has been said above, the effect of listening to them was much the same as if one had been hearing music over the transcontinental telephone.
“Interference” in Ether
This demonstration, however, was more difficult in that the wireless waves now and then would meet with “interference.” Seated around the receiving table, we would sometimes hear a clicking or rattling sound. It was that of some wireless message “breaking in” on us—because it was on the same wave length. The powerful wireless station of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the thousands of plants operated by amateurs seriously affect wireless transmission.
“That is the New York Herald talking to one of the Panama boats,” said a wireless operator in the room, as he read one of the interrupting messages. We wondered what must be the thoughts of the operators out at sea when they heard this unexpected transmission of music through the ether. We were told by Dr. de Forest that it would be quite practicable for the long-distance hearers to transmit their approval of this concert and to call for a request number, as indicated at the start of this article.
Another question that was answered by one of the Columbia staff was: “What would be the effect if the various artists themselves, instead of the graphophone, should transmit the music through the wireless ‘phone?” The reply was that it would sound substantially the same to the listener.
Dr. de Forest predicts that by means of his newly developed receiving apparatus there will be created in the near future a music central in every large city whence nightly concerts will radiate to thousands of homes through the wireless telephone. By this method our children may be able to sit at home and enjoy a famous recitalist in Æolian Hall or an opera performance at the Metropolitan. —K. S. C.


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