When auto-changing turntables were commonplace, records were typically pressed with a raised or ridged outer edge and a raised label area, allowing records to be stacked onto each other without the delicate grooves coming into contact, reducing the risk of damage.
Auto-changers included a mechanism to support a stack of several records above the turntable itself, dropping them one at a time onto the active turntable to be played in order. Many longer sound recordings, such as complete operas, were interleaved across several inch or inch discs for use with auto-changing mechanisms, so that the first disk of a three-disk recording would carry sides 1 and 6 of the program, while the second disk would carry sides 2 and 5, and the third, sides 3 and 4, allowing sides 1, 2, and 3 to be played automatically; then the whole stack reversed to play sides 4, 5, and 6.
The sound quality and durability of vinyl records is highly dependent on the quality of the vinyl. During the early s, as a cost-cutting move, much of the industry began reducing the thickness and quality of vinyl used in mass-market manufacturing.
The technique was marketed by RCA Victor as the Dynaflex g process, but was considered inferior by most record collectors. If stored correctly, v 5thinyl records are often said to "last forever". But if played often, deep scratches on the surface slowly destroy the records.
Unlike CD's however, a vinyl record isn't affected only by time passing. Vinyl is a material which is sensitive for high temperatures as well as uneven temperatures on different parts of a record.
Many collectors prefer to have heavyweight vinyl albums, which have been reported to have better sound than normal vinyl because of their higher tolerance against deformation caused by normal play. Manufacturing processes are identical regardless of weight. In fact, pressing lightweight records requires more care. An exception is the propensity of g pressings to be slightly more prone to non-fill, when the vinyl biscuit does not sufficiently fill a deep groove during pressing percussion or vocal amplitude changes are the usual locations of these artifacts.
This flaw causes a grinding or scratching sound at the non-fill point. Virgin vinyl means that the album is not from recycled plastic, and will theoretically be devoid of these impurities.
In practice, this depends on the manufacturer's quality control. The " orange peel " effect on vinyl records is caused by worn molds. Rather than having the proper mirror-like finish, the surface of the record will have a texture that looks like orange peel.
This introduces noise into the record, particularly in the lower frequency range. With direct metal mastering DMMthe master disc is cut on a copper-coated disc, which can also have a minor "orange peel" effect on the disc itself. As this "orange peel" originates in the master rather than being introduced in the pressing stage, there is no ill effect as there is no physical distortion of the groove. Original master discs are created by lathe-cutting: a lathe is used to cut a modulated groove into a blank record.
The blank records for cutting used to be cooked up, as needed, by the cutting engineer, using what Robert K. Morrison describes as a "metallic soap", containing lead litharge, ozokerite, barium sulfate, montan wax, stearin and paraffin, among other ingredients. Cut "wax" sound discs would be placed in a vacuum chamber and gold-sputtered to make them electrically conductive for use as mandrels in an electroforming bath, where pressing stamper parts were made.
Later, the French company Pyral invented a ready-made blank disc having a thin nitro-cellulose lacquer coating approximately 7 mils thickness on both sides that was applied to an aluminum substrate. Lacquer cuts result in an immediately playable, or processable, master record.
If vinyl pressings are wanted, the still-unplayed sound disc is used as a mandrel for electroforming nickel records that are used for manufacturing pressing stampers.
The electroformed nickel records are mechanically separated from their respective mandrels. This is done with relative ease because no actual "plating" of the mandrel occurs in the type of electrodeposition known as electroforming, unlike with electroplating, in which the adhesion of the new phase of metal is chemical and relatively permanent.
The one-molecule-thick coating of silver that was sprayed onto the processed lacquer sound disc in order to make its surface electrically conductive reverse-plates onto the nickel record's face. This negative impression disc having ridges in place of grooves is known as a nickel master, "matrix" or "father".
The "father" is then used as a mandrel to electroform a positive disc known as a "mother". Many mothers can be grown on a single "father" before ridges deteriorate beyond effective use.
The "mothers" are then used as mandrels for electroforming more negative discs known as "sons". Each "mother" can be used to make many "sons" before deteriorating. The "sons" are then converted into "stampers" by center-punching a spindle hole which was lost from the lacquer sound disc during initial electroforming of the "father"and by custom-forming the target pressing profile.
This allows them to be placed in the dies of the target make and model record press and, by center-roughing, to facilitate the adhesion of the label, which gets stuck onto the vinyl pressing without any glue. In this way, several million vinyl discs can be produced from a single lacquer sound disc. When only a few hundred discs are required, instead of electroforming a "son" for each sidethe "father" is removed of its silver and converted into a stamper. Production by this latter method, known as the "two-step process" as it does not entail creation of "sons" but does involve creation of "mothers", which are used for test playing and kept as "safeties" for electroforming future "sons" is limited to a few hundred vinyl pressings.
The pressing count can increase if the stamper holds out and the quality of the vinyl is high. The "sons" made during a "three-step" electroforming make better stampers since they don't require silver removal which reduces some high fidelity because of etching erasing part of the smallest groove modulations and also because they have a stronger metal structure than "fathers".
Shellac 78s are fragile, and must be handled carefully. In the event of a 78 breaking, the pieces might remain loosely connected by the label and still be playable if the label holds them together, although there is a loud pop with each pass over the crack, and breaking of the stylus is likely. Breakage was very common in the shellac era.
He wanted to cry but could not. Salinger 's novel The Catcher in the Rye occurs after the adolescent protagonist buys a record for his younger sister but drops it and "it broke into pieces I damn-near cried, it made me feel so terrible. Another problem with shellac was that the size of the disks tended to be larger because it was limited to 80— groove walls per inch before the risk of groove collapse became too high, whereas vinyl could have up to groove walls per inch.
By the time World War II began, major labels were experimenting with laminated records. As stated above, and in several record advertisements of the period, the materials that make for a quiet surface shellac are notoriously weak and fragile.
Conversely the materials that make for a strong disc cardboard and other fiber products are not those known for allowing a quiet noise-free surface. Although vinyl records are strong and don't break easily, they scratch due to its soft material sometimes resulting in ruining the record. Vinyl readily acquires a static charge, attracting dust that is difficult to remove completely.
Dust and scratches cause audio clicks and pops. In extreme cases, they can cause the needle to skip over a series of grooves, or worse yet, cause the needle to skip backwards, creating a "locked groove" that repeats over and over. This is the origin of the phrase " like a broken record " or "like a scratched record", which is often used to describe a person or thing that continually repeats itself.
Vinyl records can be warped by heatimproper storage, exposure to sunlight, or manufacturing defects such as excessively tight plastic shrinkwrap on the album cover.
A small degree of warp was common, and allowing for it was part of the art of turntable and tonearm design. Standard practice for LPs was to place the LP in a paper or plastic inner cover. This, if placed within the outer cardboard cover so that the opening was entirely within the outer cover, was said to reduce ingress of dust onto the record surface. Singles, with rare exceptions, had simple paper covers with no inner cover. A further limitation of the gramophone record is that fidelity steadily declines as playback progresses; there is more vinyl per second available for fine reproduction of high frequencies at the large-diameter beginning of the groove than exist at the smaller diameters close to the end of the side.
At the start of a groove on an LP there are mm of vinyl per second traveling past the stylus while the ending of the groove gives — mm of vinyl per second — less than half the linear resolution. Another problem arises because of the geometry of the tonearm. Master recordings are cut on a recording lathe where a sapphire stylus moves radially across the blank, suspended on a straight track and driven by a lead screw.
Most turntables use a pivoting tonearm, introducing side forces and pitch and azimuth errors, and thus distortion in the playback signal.
Various mechanisms were devised in attempts to compensate, with varying degrees of success. See more at phonograph. There is controversy about the relative quality of CD sound and LP sound when the latter is heard under the very best conditions see Analog vs.
It is notable, however, that one technical advantage with vinyl compared to the optical CD is that if correctly handled and stored, the vinyl record will be playable for decades and possibly centuries,  which is longer than some versions of the optical CD. Guidelines for proper vinyl storage include not stacking records on top of each other, avoiding heat or direct sunlight and placing them in a temperature controlled area which will help prevent vinyl records from warping and scratching.
Collectors store their records in a variety of boxes, cubes, shelves and racks. Even so, these early electronically recorded records used the exponential-horn phonograph see Orthophonic Victrola for reproduction.
CD-4 LPs contain two sub-carriers, one in the left groove wall and one in the right groove wall. CD-4 sub-carriers could be played with any type stylus as long as the pickup cartridge had CD-4 frequency response. The recommended stylus for CD-4 as well as regular stereo records was a line contact or Shibata type.
Gramophone sound includes rumble, which is low-frequency below about 30 Hz mechanical noise generated by the motor bearings and picked up by the stylus. Equipment of modest quality is relatively unaffected by these issues, as the amplifier and speaker will not reproduce such low frequencies, but high-fidelity turntable assemblies need careful design to minimize audible rumble.
Tonearm skating forces and other perturbations are also picked up by the stylus. This is a form of frequency multiplexing as the control signal restoring force used to keep the stylus in the groove is carried by the same mechanism as the sound itself. Subsonic frequencies below about 20 Hz in the audio signal are dominated by tracking effects, which is one form of unwanted rumble "tracking noise" and merges with audible frequencies in the deep bass range up to about Hz.
High fidelity sound equipment can reproduce tracking noise and rumble. During a quiet passage, woofer speaker cones can sometimes be seen to vibrate with the subsonic tracking of the stylus, at frequencies as low as just above 0.
Another reason for very low frequency material can be a warped disk: its undulations produce frequencies of only a few hertz and present day amplifiers have large power bandwidths. For this reason, many stereo receivers contained a switchable subsonic filter. Some subsonic content is directly out of phase in each channel.
If played back on a mono subwoofer system, the noise will cancel, significantly reducing the amount of rumble that is reproduced. High frequency hiss is generated as the stylus rubs against the vinyl, and dirt and dust on the vinyl produces popping and ticking sounds.
The latter can be reduced somewhat by cleaning the record before playback. Due to recording mastering and manufacturing limitations, both high and low frequencies were removed from the first recorded signals by various formulae. With low frequencies, the stylus must swing a long way from side to side, requiring the groove to be wide, taking up more space and limiting the playing time of the record.
At high frequencies, hiss, pops, and ticks are significant. These problems can be reduced by using equalization to an agreed standard. During recording the amplitude of low frequencies is reduced, thus reducing the groove width required, and the amplitude at high frequencies is increased. The playback equipment boosts bass and cuts treble so as to restore the tonal balance in the original signal; this also reduces the high frequency noise. Thus more music will fit on the record, and noise is reduced.
The current standard is called RIAA equalization. It was agreed upon in and implemented in the United States in ; it was not widely used in other countries until the s. Before that, especially fromsome different formulae were used by the record manufacturers. In Joseph P. Maxwell and Henry C. Harrison from Bell Telephone Laboratories disclosed that the recording pattern of the Western Electric "rubber line" magnetic disc cutter had a constant velocity characteristic.
This meant that as frequency increased in the treble, recording amplitude decreased. Conversely, in the bass as frequency decreased, recording amplitude increased. Therefore, it was necessary to attenuate the bass frequencies below about Hz, the bass turnover point, in the amplified microphone signal fed to the recording head.
Otherwise, bass modulation became excessive and overcutting took place into the next record groove. When played back electrically with a magnetic pickup having a smooth response in the bass region, a complementary boost in amplitude at the bass turnover point was necessary. Miller in reported that when complementary boost at the turnover point was used in radio broadcasts of records, the reproduction was more realistic and many of the musical instruments stood out in their true form.
West in and later P. Voigt showed that the early Wente-style condenser microphones contributed to a 4 to 6 dB midrange brilliance or pre-emphasis in the recording chain. This meant that the electrical recording characteristics of Western Electric licensees such as Columbia Records and Victor Talking Machine Company in the era had a higher amplitude in the midrange region.
Brilliance such as this compensated for dullness in many early magnetic pickups having drooping midrange and treble response. Over the years a variety of record equalization practices emerged and there was no industry standard. Evidence from the early technical literature concerning electrical recording suggests that it wasn't until the — period that there were serious efforts to standardize recording characteristics within an industry.
Heretofore, electrical recording technology from company to company was considered a proprietary art all the way back to the Western Electric licensed method used by Columbia and Victor. Broadcasters were faced with having to adapt daily to the varied recording characteristics of many sources: various makers of "home recordings" readily available to the public, European recordings, lateral-cut transcriptions, and vertical-cut transcriptions.
The NAB, among other items, issued recording standards in for laterally and vertically cut records, principally transcriptions. Empirically, and not by any formula, it was learned that the bass end of the audio spectrum below Hz could be boosted somewhat to override system hum and turntable rumble noises.
Likewise at the treble end beginning at 1, Hz, if audio frequencies were boosted by 16 dB at 10, Hz the delicate sibilant sounds of speech and high overtones LP) musical instruments could survive the noise level of cellulose acetatelacquer —aluminum, and vinyl disc media. When the record was played back using a complementary inverse curve, signal-to-noise ratio was improved and the programming sounded more lifelike.
Columbia disclosed a recording characteristic showing that it was like the NAB curve in the treble, but had more bass boost or pre-emphasis below Hz.
The authors disclosed electrical network characteristics for the Columbia LP curve. This was the first such curve based on formulae. This was intended for use by hi-fi amplifier manufacturers. If records were engineered to sound good on hi-fi amplifiers using the AES curve, this would be a worthy goal towards standardization.
Besides also being a battle of disc size and record speed, there was a technical difference in the recording characteristics. Ultimately, the New Orthophonic curve was disclosed in a publication by R. Moyer of RCA Victor in He traced RCA Victor characteristics back to the Western Electric "rubber line" recorder in up to the early s laying claim to long-held recording practices and reasons for major changes in the intervening years.
It eventually became the technical predecessor to the RIAA curve. Hence the RIAA curve did not truly become a global standard until the late s. Further, even after officially agreeing to implement the RIAA equalization curve, many recording labels continued to use their own proprietary equalization even well into the s.
Overall sound fidelity of records produced acoustically using horns instead of microphones had a distant, hollow tone quality. Some voices and instruments recorded better than others; Enrico Carusoa famous tenor, was one popular recording artist of the acoustic era whose voice was well matched to the recording horn. It has been asked, "Did Caruso make the phonograph, or did the phonograph make Caruso? Delicate sounds and fine overtones were mostly lost, because it took a lot of sound energy to vibrate the recording horn diaphragm and cutting mechanism.
There were acoustic limitations due to mechanical resonances in both the recording and playback system. Some pictures of acoustic recording sessions show horns wrapped with tape to help mute these resonances. Even an acoustic recording played back electrically on modern equipment sounds like it was recorded through a horn, notwithstanding a reduction in distortion because of the modern playback. Toward the end of the acoustic era, there were many fine examples of recordings made with horns.
Electric recording, which developed as early radio became popularbenefited from the microphones and amplifiers used in radio studios. The early electric recordings were reminiscent tonally of acoustic recordings, except there was more recorded bass and treble as well as delicate sounds and overtones cut on the records. This was in spite of some carbon microphones used, which had resonances that colored the recorded tone.
The double button carbon microphone with stretched diaphragm was a marked improvement. Alternatively, the Wente style condenser microphone used with the Western Electric licensed recording method had a brilliant midrange and was prone to overloading from sibilants in speech, but generally it gave more accurate reproduction than carbon microphones.
It was not unusual for electric recordings to be played back on acoustic phonographs. The Victor Orthophonic phonograph was a prime example where such playback was expected. In the Orthophonic, which benefited from telephone research, the mechanical pickup head was redesigned with lower resonance than the traditional mica type. Also, a folded horn with an exponential taper was constructed inside the cabinet to provide better impedance matching to the air.
As a result, playback of an Orthophonic record sounded like it was coming from a radio. Eventually, when it was more common for electric recordings to be played back electrically in the s and s, the overall tone was much like listening to a radio of the era. Magnetic pickups became more common and were better designed as time went on, making it possible to improve the damping of spurious resonances.
Crystal pickups were also introduced as lower cost alternatives. The dynamic or moving coil microphone was introduced around and the velocity or ribbon microphone in Both of these high quality microphones became widespread in motion picture, radio, recording, and public address applications. Over time, fidelity, dynamic and noise levels improved to the point that it was harder to tell the difference between a live performance in the studio and the recorded version.
This was especially true after the invention of the variable reluctance magnetic pickup cartridge by General Electric in the s when high quality cuts were played on well-designed audio systems.
There were important quality advances in recordings specifically made for radio broadcast. The intent of the new Western Electric system was to improve the overall quality of disc recording and playback. The newly invented Western Electric moving coil or dynamic microphone was part of the Wide Range System.
It had a flatter audio response than the old style Wente condenser type and didn't require electronics installed in the microphone housing. Signals fed to the cutting head were pre-emphasized in the treble region to help override noise in playback. Groove cuts in the vertical plane were employed rather than the Please Help Me Im Falling - Various - 20 All Time Golden Hits (Vinyl lateral cuts.
The chief advantage claimed was more grooves per inch that could be crowded together, resulting in longer playback time. Additionally, the problem of inner groove distortion, which plagued lateral cuts, could be avoided with the vertical cut system. Wax masters were made by flowing heated wax over a hot metal disc thus avoiding the microscopic irregularities of cast blocks of wax and the necessity of planing and polishing.
Vinyl pressings were made with stampers from master cuts that were electroplated in vacuo by means of gold sputtering. Audio response was claimed out to 8, Hz, later 13, Hz, using light weight pickups employing jeweled styli. Amplifiers and cutters both using negative feedback were employed thereby improving the range of frequencies cut and lowering distortion levels.
Radio transcription producers such as World Broadcasting System and Associated Music Publishers AMP were the dominant licensees of the Western Electric wide range system and towards the end of the s were responsible for two-thirds of the total radio transcription business. Developmentally, much of the technology of the long playing record, successfully released by Columbia incame from wide range radio transcription practices.
The use of vinyl pressings, increased length of programming, and general improvement in audio quality over 78 rpm records were the major selling points. Goldmark, Rene' Snepvangers and William S. Bachman in made it possible for a great variety of record companies to get into the business of making long playing records. The LP record for longer works, 45 rpm for pop music, and FM radio became high fidelity program sources in demand. Radio listeners heard recordings broadcast and this in turn generated more record sales.
The industry flourished. Technology used in making recordings also developed and prospered. There were ten major evolutionary steps that improved LP production and quality during a period of approximately forty years. At the time of the introduction of the compact disc CD inthe stereo LP pressed in vinyl was at the high point of its development.
Still, it continued to suffer from a variety of limitations:. Audiophiles have differed over the relative merits of the LP versus the CD since the digital disc was introduced.
Modern anti-aliasing filters and oversampling systems used in digital recordings have eliminated perceived problems observed with very early CD players. There is a theory that vinyl records can audibly represent higher frequencies than compact discs, though most of this is noise and not relevant to human hearing.
According to Red Book specificationsthe compact disc has a frequency response of 20 Hz up to 22, Hz, and most CD players measure flat within a fraction of a decibel from at least 0 Hz to 20 kHz at full output. Due to the distance required between grooves, it is not possible for an LP to reproduce as low frequencies as a CD.
Additionally, turntable rumble and acoustic feedback obscures the low-end limit of vinyl but the upper end can be, with some cartridges, reasonably flat within a few decibels to 30 kHz, with gentle roll-off.
Carrier signals of Quad LPs popular in the s were at 30 kHz to be out of the range of human hearing. The average human auditory system is sensitive to frequencies from 20 Hz to a maximum of around 20, Hz. High frequency sensitivity decreases as a person ages, a process called presbycusis. For the first several decades of disc record manufacturing, sound was recorded directly on to the "master disc" at the recording studio.
From about on earlier for some large record companies, later for some small ones it became usual to have the performance first recorded on audio tapewhich could then be processed or edited, and then dubbed on to the master disc. A record cutter would engrave the grooves into the master disc. Early versions of these master discs were soft waxand later a harder lacquer was used. The mastering process was originally something of an art as the operator had to manually allow for the changes in sound which affected how wide the space for the groove needed to be on each rotation.
As the playing of gramophone records causes gradual degradation of the recording, they are best preserved by transferring them onto other media and playing the records as rarely as possible.
They need to be stored on edge, and do best under environmental conditions that most humans would find comfortable. Where old disc recordings are considered to be of artistic or historic interest, from before the era of tape or where no tape master exists, archivists play back the disc on suitable equipment and record the result, typically onto a digital format, which can be copied and manipulated to remove analog flaws without any further damage to the source recording.
For example, Nimbus Records uses a specially built horn record player  to transfer 78s. Anyone can do this using a standard record player with a suitable pickup, a phono-preamp pre-amplifier and a typical personal computer.
However, for accurate transfer, professional archivists carefully choose the correct stylus shape and diameter, tracking weight, equalisation curve and other playback parameters and use high-quality analogue-to-digital converters.
As an alternative to playback with a stylus, a recording can be read optically, processed with software that calculates the velocity that the stylus would be moving in the mapped grooves and converted to a digital recording format. This does no further damage to the disc and generally produces a better sound than normal playback. This technique also has the potential to allow for reconstruction of broken or otherwise damaged discs.
Groove recordings, first designed in the final quarter of the 19th century, held a predominant position for nearly a century—withstanding competition from reel-to-reel tapethe 8-track cartridgeand the compact cassette.
The widespread popularity of Sony's Walkman was a factor that contributed to the vinyl's lessening usage in the s.
Vinyl records experienced a sudden decline in popularity between and when the major label distributors restricted their return policies, which retailers had been relying on to maintain and swap out stocks of relatively unpopular titles. First the distributors began charging retailers more for new product if they returned unsold vinyl, and then they stopped providing any credit at all for returns. Retailers, fearing they would be stuck with anything they ordered, only ordered proven, popular titles that they knew would sell, and devoted more shelf space to CDs and cassettes.
Record companies also deleted many vinyl titles from production and distribution, further undermining the availability of the format and leading to the closure of pressing plants. This rapid decline in the availability of records accelerated the format's decline in popularity, and is seen by some as a deliberate ploy to make consumers switch to CDs, which unlike today, were more profitable for the record companies.
In spite of their flaws, such as the lack of portability, records still have enthusiastic supporters. Vinyl records continue to be manufactured and sold today,  especially by independent rock bands and labels, although record sales are considered to be a niche market composed of audiophilescollectorsand DJs. Old records and out-of-print recordings in particular are in much demand by collectors the world over.
See Record collecting. Many popular new albums are given releases on vinyl records and older albums are also given reissues, sometimes on audiophile-grade vinyl. In the United Kingdom, the popularity of indie rock caused sales of new vinyl records particularly 7 inch singles to increase significantly in  briefly reversing the downward trend seen during the s.
In the United States, annual vinyl sales increased by Many electronic dance music and hip hop releases today are still preferred on vinyl; however, digital copies are still widely available. This is because for disc jockeys "DJs"vinyl has an advantage over the CD: direct manipulation of the medium. DJ techniques such as slip-cueingbeatmatchingand scratching originated on turntables. With CDs or compact audio cassettes one normally has only indirect manipulation options, e.
With a record one can place the stylus a few grooves farther in or out, accelerate or decelerate the turntable, or even reverse its direction, provided the stylus, record playerand record itself are built to withstand it. Figures released in the United States in early showed that sales of vinyl albums nearly doubled inwith 1.
Sales have continued to rise into the s, with around 2. InTaylor Swift soldcopies of her ninth studio album Evermore on vinyl. The sales of the record beat the largest sales in one week on vinyl since Nielsen started tracking vinyl sales in The sales record was previously held by Jack White who sold 40, copies of his second solo release, Lazarettoon vinyl in Inthe sale of vinyl records was the only physical music medium with increasing sales with relation to the previous year.
Sales of other mediums including individual digital tracks, digital albums and compact discs have fallen, the last having the greatest drop-in-sales rate. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. According to the RIAA 's midyear report inphonograph record revenues surpassed those of CDs for the first time since the s.
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