That rainbow-colored jar is the final mix. Pre-digital, the final mix was delivered on actual tape to which the mastering engineer applied final touches to make the recording pop and shine. Frequencies are important for vinyl because records spin at different speeds in the center than on the outside, so the high frequencies need to be adjusted so the album sounds the same from start to finish.
Equalizing the length of side A and side B is vital. Longer sides mean more compromises. Those things take up more physical space on the record. When a mastering engineer was happy, the final master was transferred to analog tape used to press the master disc from which all other records were stamped. Then came CDs. They kept sides below 20 minutes, and put loud songs on the outside tracks and quiet ones toward the center to account for the natural deterioration of sound that occurs when the needle gets closer to the middle of the LP.
These days, Lyman says, vinyl is often the last thing artists and labels think about. Clients who employ Infrasonic's services only for lacquer cutting often hand over albums that are optimized for digital downloads and CD but are too long for vinyl, with track sequencing that fails to account for the medium's natural limitations.
To get an album longer than 40 minutes to fit onto one LP, Lyman says, high frequencies and bass are the first things that go. There's also extra distortion because he has to cut the master lacquer at a lower volume to fit all that extra music onto the LP.
As labels seek to capitalize on a physical medium that is gaining momentum, some marketing efforts offering superior sound are downright misleading. Lyman, however, says the added weight offers no musical benefit at all. It has long been believed that the human ear cannot hear frequencies above 22 kHz. This is why CDs sample sound at According to a theorem called Nyquist-Shannon, in order to reach a desired range, sound must be sampled at twice that range.
Half of 44, obviously, is Pono — along with some other digital retailers such as HDtracks. Pedram Abrari, Pono's executive vice president of technology and engineering, says the idea behind the player and the store is to sell and play back tracks at the rate at which artists record them.
Since artists typically record at rates much higher than In double-blind tests conducted by Levitin and others — some results of which were published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society — listeners cannot tell the difference between high-resolution audio and CD-quality audio.
But many audio professionals, including Bob Ludwig and NYU's Jim Anderson, say they can hear an improvement over CD quality, and they prefer the higher frequencies and sample rates. Anderson even teaches a class at NYU in which he instructs students on how to listen for the differences. And when you start to home in on those details, it starts to become very clear.
Abrari says Pono doesn't like to get into the science. And he says it's not just about what a person can hear but what they feel. If anything, it's closer to that of the CD. The ticks and pops are gone. There is no disc to ritually flip. The tracks sound closer to what the artist laid down in the studio, but that's only because the distortion and limitations present in the vinyl pressing are no longer part of the experience.
It's not as cheap an obsession, either. As he's been pitching Pono, Young has continued to promote the idea that analog formats and recording gear offer the authentic sound, and digital is a compromise. Many audio engineers disagree. Scott Metcalfe, for example, says that recording to analog tape isn't any purer than recording music digitally. But the distortion and pitch variation that analog tape adds to the recording are preferred by some artists and audiences.
But for some artists, he says — particularly in rock — those layers of distortion are preferable. Whether it's analog tape versus digital recordings, or vinyl versus CDs, objective quality is not the conversation: It's about which one the artist and listener prefer.
If people like to listen to vinyl, do so, enjoy life. But don't say that the sound is better. West Coast Sound's Greatest Hits!
By the mids, discs were usually 7 inches nominally Victor , Brunswick and Columbia also issued inch popular medleys, usually spotlighting a Broadway show score. Fewer than fifty titles were issued, and the series was dropped in , due to poor sales. The playing time of a phonograph record depends on the available groove length divided by the turntable speed.
Total groove length in turn depends on how closely the grooves are spaced, in addition to the record diameter. At the beginning of the 20th century, the early discs played for two minutes, the same as cylinder records. In January , Milt Gabler started recording for Commodore Records , and to allow for longer continuous performances, he recorded some inch discs. Eddie Condon explained: "Gabler realized that a jam session needs room for development.
Vaudeville stars Gallagher and Shean recorded "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean", written by themselves or, allegedly, by Bryan Foy, as two sides of a inch 78 in for Victor. The limited duration of recordings persisted from their advent until the introduction of the LP record in In the 78 era, classical-music and spoken-word items generally were released on the longer inch 78s, about 4—5 minutes per side. For example, on June 10, , four months after the February 12 premier of Rhapsody in Blue , George Gershwin recorded an abridged version of the seventeen-minute work with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra.
Generally the sleeves had a circular cut-out exposing the record label to view. Records could be laid on a shelf horizontally or stood on an edge, but because of their fragility, breakage was common.
German record company Odeon pioneered the album in when it released the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky on 4 double-sided discs in a specially designed package. The practice of issuing albums was not adopted by other record companies for many years. By about , [note 1] bound collections of empty sleeves with a paperboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as record albums that customers could use to store their records the term "record album" was printed on some covers.
These albums came in both inch and inch sizes. The covers of these bound books were wider and taller than the records inside, allowing the record album to be placed on a shelf upright, like a book, suspending the fragile records above the shelf and protecting them. Most albums included three or four records, with two sides each, making six or eight tunes per album.
When the inch vinyl LP era began in , each disc could hold a similar number of tunes as a typical album of 78s, so they were still referred to as an "album", as they are today. This series came in heavy manilla envelopes and began with a jazz album AP-1 and was soon followed by other AP numbers up through about AP These vinyl Rhino 78's were softer and would be destroyed by old juke boxes and old record players, but play very well on newer capable turntables with modern lightweight tone arms and jewel needles.
In , RCA Victor launched the first commercially available vinyl long-playing record, marketed as program-transcription discs. RCA Victor's early introduction of a long-play disc was a commercial failure for several reasons including the lack of affordable, reliable consumer playback equipment and consumer wariness during the Great Depression. There were also a couple of longer-playing records issued on ARC for release on their Banner, Perfect, and Oriole labels and on the Crown label.
All of these were phased out in mid Vinyl's lower surface noise level than shellac was not forgotten, nor was its durability.
In the late s, radio commercials and pre-recorded radio programs being sent to disc jockeys started being pressed in vinyl, so they would not break in the mail. In the mids, special DJ copies of records started being made of vinyl also, for the same reason. Beginning in , Dr. Peter Goldmark and his staff at Columbia Records and at CBS Laboratories undertook efforts to address problems of recording and playing back narrow grooves and developing an inexpensive, reliable consumer playback system.
It took about eight years of study, except when it was suspended because of World War II. Another size and format was that of radio transcription discs beginning in the s. No home record player could accommodate such large records, and they were used mainly by radio stations. They were on average 15 minutes per side and contained several songs or radio program material. These records became less common in the United States when tape recorders began being used for radio transcriptions around In the UK, analog discs continued to be the preferred medium for the licence of BBC transcriptions to overseas broadcasters until the use of CDs became a practical alternative.
On a few early phonograph systems and radio transcription discs, as well as some entire albums, the direction of the groove is reversed, beginning near the center of the disc and leading to the outside. The earliest rotation speeds varied considerably, but from to most records were recorded at 74—82 revolutions per minute rpm.
At least one attempt to lengthen playing time was made in the early s. World Records produced records that played at a constant linear velocity , controlled by Noel Pemberton Billing 's patented add-on speed governor.
This behavior is similar to the modern compact disc and the CLV version of its predecessor, the analog encoded Philips LaserDisc , but is reversed from inside to outside. In the s, Earlier they were just called records , or when there was a need to distinguish them from cylinders , disc records.
The older 78 rpm format continued to be mass-produced alongside the newer formats using new materials in decreasing numbers until the summer of in the U. Some of Elvis Presley 's early singles on Sun Records may have sold more copies on 78 than on In the mids all record companies agreed to a common frequency response standard, called RIAA equalization.
Before the establishment of the standard each company used its own preferred equalization, requiring discriminating listeners to use pre-amplifiers with selectable equalization curves. Prestige Records released jazz records in this format in the late s; for example, two of their Miles Davis albums were paired together in this format.
Each record held 40 minutes of music per side, recorded at grooves per inch. For a two-year period from to , record companies and consumers faced uncertainty over which of these formats would ultimately prevail in what was known as the "War of the Speeds". See also format war. By , million 45s had been sold. The large center hole on 45s allows for easier handling by jukebox mechanisms.
EPs were generally discontinued by the late s in the U. In the late s and early s, rpm-only players that lacked speakers and plugged into a jack on the back of a radio were widely available. Eventually, they were replaced by the three-speed record player. From the mids through the s, in the U. The adapter could be a small solid circle that fit onto the bottom of the spindle meaning only one 45 could be played at a time or a larger adaptor that fit over the entire spindle, permitting a stack of 45s to be played.
RCA Victor 45s were also adapted to the smaller spindle of an LP player with a plastic snap-in insert known as a " spider ". In countries outside the U. During the vinyl era, various developments were introduced. Stereo finally lost its previous experimental status, and eventually became standard internationally. Quadraphonic sound effectively had to wait for digital formats before finding a permanent position in the market place.
The term "high fidelity" was coined in the s by some manufacturers of radio receivers and phonographs to differentiate their better-sounding products claimed as providing "perfect" sound reproduction.
After a variety of improvements in recording and playback technologies, especially stereo recordings, which became widely available in , gave a boost to the "hi-fi" classification of products, leading to sales of individual components for the home such as amplifiers, loudspeakers, phonographs, and tape players.
Stereophonic sound recording, which attempts to provide a more natural listening experience by reproducing the spatial locations of sound sources in the horizontal plane, was the natural extension to monophonic recording, and attracted various alternative engineering attempts.
EMI cut the first stereo test discs using the system in see Bell Labs Stereo Experiments of although the system was not exploited commercially until much later. In this system, each of two stereo channels is carried independently by a separate groove wall, each wall face moving at 45 degrees to the plane of the record surface hence the system's name in correspondence with the signal level of that channel. By convention, the inner wall carries the left-hand channel and the outer wall carries the right-hand channel.
While the stylus only moves horizontally when reproducing a monophonic disk recording, on stereo records the stylus moves vertically as well as horizontally. During playback, the movement of a single stylus tracking the groove is sensed independently, e. The combined stylus motion can be represented in terms of the vector sum and difference of the two stereo channels. In the first commercial stereo two-channel records were issued first by Audio Fidelity followed by a translucent blue vinyl on Bel Canto Records , the first of which was a multi-colored-vinyl sampler featuring A Stereo Tour of Los Angeles narrated by Jack Wagner on one side, and a collection of tracks from various Bel Canto albums on the back.
However, it was not until the mid-to-late s that the sales of stereophonic LPs overtook those of their monophonic equivalents, and became the dominant record type. The development of quadraphonic records was announced in These recorded four separate sound signals. This was achieved on the two stereo channels by electronic matrixing, where the additional channels were combined into the main signal. When the records were played, phase-detection circuits in the amplifiers were able to decode the signals into four separate channels.
They proved commercially unsuccessful, but were an important precursor to later surround sound systems, as seen in SACD and home cinema today. This system encoded the front-rear difference information on an ultrasonic carrier. CD-4 was less successful than matrix formats.
A further problem was that no cutting heads were available that could handle the high frequency information. This was remedied by cutting at half the speed. Later, the special half-speed cutting heads and equalization techniques were employed to get wider frequency response in stereo with reduced distortion and greater headroom. Under the direction of recording engineer C. Robert Fine, Mercury Records initiated a minimalist single microphone monaural recording technique in The first record, a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance of Pictures at an Exhibition , conducted by Rafael Kubelik , was described as "being in the living presence of the orchestra" by The New York Times music critic.
The series of records was then named Mercury Living Presence. In , Mercury began three-channel stereo recordings, still based on the principle of the single microphone. The center single microphone was of paramount importance, with the two side mics adding depth and space.
Record masters were cut directly from a three-track to two-track mixdown console, with all editing of the master tapes done on the original three-tracks. The Mercury Living Presence recordings were remastered to CD in the s by the original producer, Wilma Cozart Fine, using the same method of three-to-two mix directly to the master recorder. Through the s, s, and s, various methods to improve the dynamic range of mass-produced records involved highly advanced disc cutting equipment.
RCA Victor introduced another system to reduce dynamic range and achieve a groove with less surface noise under the commercial name of Dynagroove. Two main elements were combined: another disk material with less surface noise in the groove and dynamic compression for masking background noise.
Sometimes this was called "diaphragming" the source material and not favoured by some music lovers for its unnatural side effects. Both elements were reflected in the brandname of Dynagroove, described elsewhere in more detail.
It also used the earlier advanced method of forward-looking control on groove spacing with respect to volume of sound and position on the disk. Lower recorded volume used closer spacing; higher recorded volume used wider spacing, especially with lower frequencies. Also, the higher track density at lower volumes enabled disk recordings to end farther away from the disk center than usual, helping to reduce endtrack distortion even further. Also in the late s, " direct-to-disc " records were produced, aimed at an audiophile niche market.
These completely bypassed the use of magnetic tape in favor of a "purist" transcription directly to the master lacquer disc. Also during this period, half-speed mastered and "original master" records were released, using expensive state-of-the-art technology. A further late s development was the Disco Eye-Cued system used mainly on Motown inch singles released between and The introduction, drum-breaks, or choruses of a track were indicated by widely separated grooves, giving a visual cue to DJs mixing the records.
The appearance of these records is similar to an LP, but they only contain one track each side. The mids saw the introduction of dbx-encoded records, again for the audiophile niche market. ELPJ , a Japanese-based company, sells a laser turntable that uses a laser to read vinyl discs optically, without physical contact.
The laser turntable eliminates record wear and the possibility of accidental scratches, which degrade the sound, but its expense limits use primarily to digital archiving of analog records, and the laser does not play back colored vinyl or picture discs.
Various other laser-based turntables were tried during the s, but while a laser reads the groove very accurately, since it does not touch the record, the dust that vinyl attracts due to static electric charge is not mechanically pushed out of the groove, worsening sound quality in casual use compared to conventional stylus playback.
In some ways similar to the laser turntable is the IRENE scanning machine for disc records, which images with microphotography, invented by a team of physicists at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories. In order to convert to a digital sound file, this is then played by a version of the same 'virtual stylus' program developed by the research team in real-time, converted to digital and, if desired, processed through sound-restoration programs. Terms such as "long-play" LP and "extended-play" EP describe multi-track records that play much longer than the single-item-per-side records, which typically do not go much past four minutes per side.
An LP can play for up to 30 minutes per side, though most played for about 22 minutes per side, bringing the total playing time of a typical LP recording to about forty-five minutes.
Many pre LPs, however, played for about 15 minutes per side. The term EP is still used for a release that is longer than a single but shorter than an album, even if it is not on vinyl format. The usual diameters of the holes are 0. Many 7" singles pressed outside the US come with the smaller spindle hole size, and are occasionally pressed with notches to allow the center part to be "punched out" for playing on larger spindles. Sizes of records in the United States and the UK are generally measured in inches, e.
LPs were inch records at first, but soon the inch size became by far the most common. Flexi discs were thin flexible records that were distributed with magazines and as promotional gifts from the s to the s. This format was soon dropped as it became clear that the RCA 45 was the single of choice and the Columbia inch LP would be the album of choice.
Most colors were soon dropped in favor of black because of production problems. However, yellow and deep red were continued until about Price, plant manager. In the s, the government of Bhutan produced now-collectible postage stamps on playable vinyl mini-discs. The normal commercial disc is engraved with two sound-bearing concentric spiral grooves, one on each side, running from the outside edge towards the center.
The last part of the spiral meets an earlier part to form a circle. The sound is encoded by fine variations in the edges of the groove that cause a stylus needle placed in it to vibrate at acoustic frequencies when the disc is rotated at the correct speed. Generally, the outer and inner parts of the groove bear no intended sound exceptions include the Beatles ' Sgt.
Increasingly from the early 20th century,  and almost exclusively since the s, both sides of the record have been used to carry the grooves. Occasional records have been issued since then with a recording on only one side. The coloring material used to blacken the transparent PVC plastic mix is carbon black , which increases the strength of the disc and makes it opaque. Some records are pressed on colored vinyl or with paper pictures embedded in them "picture discs".
During the s there was a trend for releasing singles on colored vinyl—sometimes with large inserts that could be used as posters.
This trend has been revived recently with 7-inch singles. Records made in other countries are standardized by different organizations, but are very similar in size.
The stylus is lowered onto the lead-in, without damaging the recorded section of the groove. This space is clearly visible, making it easy to find a particular track. Towards the center, at the end of the groove, there is another wide-pitched section known as the lead-out. At the very end of this section the groove joins itself to form a complete circle, called the lock groove ; when the stylus reaches this point, it circles repeatedly until lifted from the record.
On some recordings for example Sgt. Automatic turntables rely on the position or angular velocity of the arm, as it reaches the wider spacing in the groove, to trigger a mechanism that lifts the arm off the record.
Precisely because of this mechanism, most automatic turntables are incapable of playing any audio in the lock groove, since they will lift the arm before it reaches that groove. The catalog number and stamper ID is written or stamped in the space between the groove in the lead-out on the master disc, resulting in visible recessed writing on the final version of a record.
Sometimes the cutting engineer might add handwritten comments or their signature, if they are particularly pleased with the quality of the cut. These are generally referred to as "run-out etchings". 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.
Not every mastering engineering cuts lacquers — lathes haven't been made in decades and are in short supply, which keeps owners like Gonsalves busy — and Gonsalves is often sent digital files to work from rather than the all-analog tape one might expect. It's a little bit more idiot-proof and a little bit less technical. The analog format allows for artists to transport their music from magnetic tape to LP to your speakers or headphones without the complications of digital conversion. This, ideally, is the closest one can get to what the artist intended — if the artist recorded on tape and sent the reels over to an engineer like Gonsalves to cut a lacquer master from.
But whether its origins are digital or analog more on this later , a vinyl disc should have more musical information than an MP3 file — so it should be an improvement on streaming sites such as YouTube or SoundCloud, especially on a good system. Fighting the loudness wars: Digital music engineering, particularly for radio-bound music, is often marred by a volume arms race, which leads to fatiguing, hyper-compressed songs that squish out the dynamics and textures that give recordings their depth and vitality.
Vinyl's volume is dependent on the length of its sides and depth of its grooves, which means an album mastered specifically for the format may have more room to breathe than its strained digital counterpart.
The longer an album, the quieter it gets: Gonsalves played me Interpol's lengthy debut album and a inch Billy Idol single, and the decibel difference — without any distortion creeping in — was remarkable.
That warm vinyl sound: "I think this is what people like about it: it pins very closely to the way that human beings hear music organically," Gonsalves said. But analog-to-digital conversion and vice versa has come along quite a bit since the birth of the CD, and Gonsalves says he asks for high-definition, bit files to master from if digital's the option. Still, as artists and labels hop on the vinyl trend, some new vinyl releases may be mastered from CD-quality audio, not the high-resolution formats audiophiles and folks like Neil Young adore.The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by a speed of 33 1 ⁄ 3 rpm, a or inch ( or cm) diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove onancribpassrefcu.gestsoulucurfeicompprettherstertemptawars.couced by Columbia in , it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the.