Courtesy the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music, enjoy a lovely history of recording through 1950. Lots of sample recordings you can listen to, including essentially-hifi recordings made live on 78s towards the end of that technology cycle. (Did you know a 78rpm live-recording shellac disc could record 14khz tones? Neither did I. That’s about where FM radio tops out, for comparison purposes. SURPRISE)
There are a couple of illustrative mp3s showing the difference between purely-mechanical recording and “electronic” recording – the move from acoustic horns to microphones, basically. Still no tape or ability to edit; throughout this entire era it’s still horns-or-live-mics-to-etched-master-disc.
(And if you’re seeing this on Livejournal or Dreamwidth, the Korra icon I’m using with this post is basically one of the kinds of microphones they’d’ve been using in the early electric recordings, preserved here. Cool. huh?)