Learn about the history of recording and the science of sound from NIU experts

DeKALB – Despite being nearly extinct in the late 90s and early 2000s, vinyl records have made a reappearance in pop culture and in the homes of music lovers. Why are people so fascinated with this generally bulky and easily damaged music medium?

At the next STEM Café, sponsored by Northern Illinois University’s P-20 Center, NIU alum Andrew Morrison will discuss the history of recording technology and the recent resurgence of vinyl records. He will be joined by Anthony Del Fiacco, an audio engineer for NIU Integrated Media Technologies. The discussion will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Two Brothers Round House, 205 N. Broadway in Aurora.

Morrison, an associate professor of physics at Joliet Junior College who earned his PhD from NIU in 2005, has conducted research related to musical acoustics for many years. This interest has led to studies of Caribbean steelpans, mandolins, balalaikas, the hang (a percussion instrument) and even the acoustics of the coffee mug.

Del Fiacco is a life-long multi-instrumentalist who has been performing for more than 30 years. He also specializes in production, engineering and recording processes.

Del Fiacco will discuss the mechanics of the recording process, focusing specifically on the differences between vinyl and digital formats.

Morrison will talk about the history of recording technology, and he’ll share why the science of sound may not be able to explain why vinyl has come back, and why it’s not going away.

“I want people to take away the idea that perception of sound and music is highly varied from one person to the next and that it is difficult to quantify scientifically,” Morrison said in a news release. “There are many factors that influence the quality of a sound or the recording of a sound – no single measurement or metric can fully capture how any person hears a sample of sound.”

NIU STEM Cafes are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. They are free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from Two Brothers Round House.

For more information, call 815-753-4751 or email

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