The LP (from "long playing" or "long play") is an analog
sound storage medium
A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English), or simply a record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts nea ...
format characterized by: a speed of rpm
; a 12- or 10-inch (30- or 25-cm) diameter; use of the "microgroove" groove specification; and a vinyl (a copolymer of vinyl chloride acetate) composition disk. Introduced by Columbia
in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound, it remained the standard format for record albums (during a period in
Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training.Popular Music. (2015). ''Fun ...
known as the album era
) until its gradual replacement from the 1980s to the early 2000s, first by cassettes
, then by compact discs
, and finally by digital music distribution
. Beginning in the late 2000s, the LP has experienced a resurgence in popularity
At the time the LP was introduced, nearly all phonograph records for home use were made of an abrasive shellac
compound which resulted in noisy playback; they had much larger grooves, and played at approximately 78 RPM
, limiting the playing time of a 12-inch diameter record to less than five minutes per side. The new product was a 12 or 10-inch (30 or 25 cm) fine-grooved disc made of PVC
("vinyl") and played with a smaller-tipped "microgroove" stylus
at a speed of rpm. Each side of a 12-inch LP can play for about 22 minutes.
Only the microgroove standard was new, as both vinyl and the rpm speed had been used for special purposes for many years, as well as in one unsuccessful earlier attempt by RCA Victor to introduce a long-playing record for home use.
Although the LP was suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time, it also allowed a collection of ten or more pop music recordings to be put on a single disc. Previously such collections, as well as longer classical music broken up into several parts, had been sold as sets of 78 rpm records in a specially imprinted "record album" consisting of individual record sleeves bound together in book form. The use of the word "album" persisted for the one-disc LP equivalent.
The prototype of the LP was the soundtrack disc used by the
Vitaphone was a sound film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 short subjects made by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1931. Vitaphone was the last major analog sound-on-disc system and the only one t ...
motion picture sound system, developed by Western Electric
and introduced in 1926. For soundtrack purposes, the less-than-five minutes of playing time of each side of a conventional 12-inch 78 rpm disc was not acceptable. The sound had to play continuously for at least 11 minutes, long enough to accompany a full reel of 35 mm film
projected at 24 frames per second
. The disc diameter was increased to 16 inches (40 cm) and the speed was reduced to revolutions per minute. Unlike their microgooved LP descendants, they were made with the same large "standard groove" used by 78s.
Unlike conventional records, the groove started at the inside of the recorded area near the label and proceeded outward toward the edge.
Like 78s, early soundtrack discs were pressed
in an abrasive shellac compound and played with a single-use steel needle held in a massive electromagnetic pickup with a tracking force
of 2 ounce-force (0.55 N
). A new needle was used each time the film and disc were played.
By mid-1931 all motion picture studios were recording on optical soundtracks
, but sets of soundtrack discs, mastered by dubbing from the optical tracks and scaled down to 12 inches to cut costs, were made as late as 1936 for distribution to theaters still equipped with disc-only sound projectors.
Radio transcription discs
From 1928 onward, syndicated radio programming
was distributed on 78 rpm discs. The desirability of longer continuous playing time soon led to the adoption of the Vitaphone soundtrack disc format. Beginning in about 1930, 16-inch rpm discs playing about 15 minutes per side were used for most of these "
Electrical transcriptions are special phonograph recordings made exclusively for radio broadcasting,Browne, Ray B. and Browne, Pat, Eds. (2001). ''The Guide to United States Popular Culture''. The University of Wisconsin Press. . P. 263. which wer ...
Longer programs, which required several disc sides, pioneered the system of recording odd-numbered sides inside-out and even-numbered sides outside-in so that the sound quality would match from the end of one side to the start of the next. Although a pair of turntables was used to avoid any pauses for disc-flipping, the sides had to be pressed and arranged so that no disc being played had to be turned over to play the next side in the sequence. For example, a three-disc set designed for manual sequencing would have the sides labeled 1–2, 3–4 and 5–6, and the listener would manually flip each disc as the side ended; for an automatic record changer
turntable, the sequencing would be 1–6, 2–5 and 3–4, with the listener flipping over the stack of discs once the third side ended; with broadcast sequence, the ordering would be 1–4, 2–5 and 3–6 so that the studio engineer could play side 1 on one turntable, segue directly into side 2 on a second turntable, and then queue up side 3 on the first turntable.
Some transcriptions were recorded with a vertically modulated "hill and dale" groove, also known as
vertical cut recording
The vertical cut recording process is an early method of audio recording by which a stylus cuts a vertical groove into a phonograph record. This is in contrast to the lateral recording system which uses a stylus that cuts side-to-side across a re ...
. This was found to allow deeper bass (because turntable rumble was laterally modulated in early radio station turntables) and also an extension of the high-end frequency response.
Initially, transcription discs were pressed only in shellac, but by 1932 pressings in RCA Victor's vinyl-based "Victrolac" were appearing. Other plastics were sometimes used. By the late 1930s, vinyl was standard for nearly all kinds of pressed discs except ordinary commercial 78s, which continued to be made of shellac.
Beginning in the mid-1930s, one-off 16-inch rpm lacquer discs
were used by radio networks to archive recordings of their live broadcasts, and by local stations to delay the broadcast of network programming or to prerecord their own productions.
In the late 1940s, magnetic tape recorders were adopted by the networks to pre-record shows or repeat them for airing in different time zones, but 16-inch vinyl pressings continued to be used into the early 1960s for non-network distribution of prerecorded programming. Use of the LP microgroove standard began in the late 1950s, and in the 1960s the size of discs was reduced to 12 inches, becoming physically indistinguishable from ordinary LPs.
Unless the quantity required was very small, pressed discs were a more economical medium for distributing high-quality audio than tape, and CD mastering was, in the early years of that technology, very expensive, so the use of LP-format transcription discs continued into the 1990s. The '' King Biscuit Flower Hour
'' is a late example, as are
Westwood One is an American radio network owned by Cumulus Media. The company syndicates talk, music, and sports programming.
The company takes its name from an earlier network also named Westwood One, a company founded in 1978. The compan ...
's ''The Beatle Years'' and '' Doctor Demento
'' programs, which were sent to stations on LP at least through 1992.
RCA Records is an American record label currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. It is one of Sony Music's four flagship labels, alongside RCA's former long-time rival Columbia Records; also A ...
introduced an early version of a long-playing record for home use in September 1931. These "Program Transcription" discs, as Victor called them, played at rpm and used a somewhat finer and more closely spaced groove than typical 78s. They were to be played with a special "Chromium Orange" chrome-plated steel needle. The 10-inch discs, mostly used for popular and light classical music, were normally pressed in shellac, but the 12-inch discs, mostly used for "serious" classical music, were pressed in Victor's new vinyl-based "Victrolac" compound, which provided a much quieter playing surface. These records could hold up to 15 minutes per side. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
, performed by the
The Philadelphia Orchestra is an American symphony orchestra, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the " Big Five" American orchestras, the orchestra is based at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where it performs its subscripti ...
Leopold Anthony Stokowski (18 April 1882 – 13 September 1977) was a British conductor. One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, he is best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra and his appeara ...
, was the first 12-inch recording issued.
Compton Pakensham, reviewing the event in ''
The New York Times
''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' wrote, "What we were not prepared for was the quality of reproduction...incomparably fuller."
However, many of the subsequent issues were not new recordings but simply dubs made from existing 78 rpm record sets. The dubs were audibly inferior to the original 78s. Two-speed turntables with the rpm speed were included only on expensive high-end machines, which sold in very small numbers, and most people had little money to spend on groceries, let alone phonograph records in the depths of the ] Great Depression
The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The economic contagion .... Record sales in the US had dropped from a high of 105.6 million records sold in 1921 to 5.5 million in 1933 because of competition from radio
Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic waves of frequency between 30 hertz (Hz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz). They are generated by an electronic device called a transm ... and the effects of the Depression. Few if any new Program Transcriptions were recorded after 1933, and two-speed turntables soon disappeared from RCA Victor's phonographs. Except for a few recordings of background music for funeral parlors, the last of the issued titles had been purged from the Victor record catalog by the end of the decade. The failure of the new product left RCA Victor with a low opinion of the prospects for any sort of long-playing record, influencing product development decisions during the coming decade.
CBS Laboratories head research scientist Peter Goldmark led Columbia's team to develop a phonograph record that would hold at least 20 minutes per side. Although Goldmark was the chief scientist who selected the team, he delegated most of the experimental work to William S. Bachman, whom Goldmark had lured from General Electric, and Howard H. Scott.
Research began in 1939, was suspended during World War II, and then resumed in 1945.
[.] Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded on January 15, 1889, evolving from the A ... unveiled the LP at a press conference in the Waldorf Astoria on June 18, 1948, in two formats: in diameter, matching that of 78 rpm singles, and in diameter. [''The First Long-Playing Disc''](_blank) The initial release of 101 recordings were: 58 12-inch classical LPs (ML 4001 to 4057, ML 4071), 12 10-inch classics (ML 2001 to 2012), twelve 12-inch light classic /ML 4058 - 4067, ML 4069, ML 4070/, eight 10-inch light classic /ML 2013 - ML 2019/ and eleven 10-inch popular numbers (CL 6001 to 6011). According to the Columbia's Initial LP Catalog, published in Billboard on 3.07.1948, all classical LPs were organized in alphabetical order of composers. So, this list is opened by ML 4002 with Bach's Concerto in D minor for 2 violins and orchestra by Adolf Busch and Frances Magnes, with the Busch Chamber Players and Concerto No. 2 in E major by Adolf Busch, with the Busch Chamber Players. Columbia may have planned for the album ML 4001 to be the LP opening the initial list of 101 LPs. However, Bach's A minor Violin Concerto by Tibor Varga, foreseen for Side A, could not be released on LP, because of some contractual reasons, probably. So, without Bach, with Mendelssohn, ML 4001 landed in alphabetical list under M like Mendelsson.
Library of Congress (Congress.gov) (accessdate June 21, 2021)
When the LP was introduced in 1948, the 78 was the conventional format for phonograph records. By 1952, 78s still accounted for slightly more than half of the units sold in the United States, and just under half of the dollar sales. The 45, oriented toward the single song, accounted for just over 30% of unit sales and just over 25% of dollar sales. The LP represented not quite 17% of unit sales and just over 26% of dollar sales.
Ten years after their introduction, the share of unit sales for LPs in the US was almost 25%, and of dollar sales 58%. Most of the remainder was taken up by the 45; 78s accounted for only 2% of unit sales and 1% of dollar sales.
The popularity of the LP ushered in the " Album Era" of English-language popular music, beginning in the late 1950s, as performers took advantage of the longer playing time to create coherent themes or concept albums. "The rise of the LP as a form—as an artistic entity, as they used to say—has complicated how we perceive and remember what was once the most evanescent of the arts",
Robert Thomas Christgau ( ; born April 18, 1942) is an American music journalist and essayist. Among the most well-known and influential music critics, he began his career in the late 1960s as one of the earliest professional rock critics and ... wrote in '' Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies'' (1981). "The album may prove a '70s totem—briefer configurations were making a comeback by decade's end. But for the '70s it will remain the basic musical unit, and that's OK with me. I've found over the years that the long-playing record, with its twenty-minute sides and four-to-six compositions/performances per side, suits my habits of concentration perfectly."
Although the popularity of LPs began to decline in the late 1970s with the advent of Compact Cassette
The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback. Invented by Lou Otte ...s, and later compact discs, the LP survives as a format to the present day. Vinyl LP records enjoyed a resurgence in the early 2010s. Vinyl sales in the UK reached 2.8 million in 2012. US vinyl sales in 2017 reached 15.6 million and 27 million for 2020. [RIAA 2018 Year-End Music Industry Revenue Report](_blank)
The LP was soon confronted by the "45", a diameter fine-grooved vinyl record playing at 45 rpm, introduced by RCA Victor in 1949. To compete with the LP, boxed album sets of 45s were issued, along with EP (
An extended play record, usually referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single but fewer than an album or LP record.) 45s, which squeezed two or even three selections onto each side. Despite intense marketing efforts by RCA Victor, the 45 ultimately succeeded only in replacing the 78 as the preferred format for singles.
The "last hurrah" for the 78 rpm record in the US was the microgroove 78 series pressed for the Audiophile label (Ewing Nunn, Saukville, Wis.) in the early 1950s. This series was labeled AP-1 through about AP-40, pressed on grainless red vinyl. Today AP-1 through AP-5 are very scarce. By very tightly packing the fine groove, a playing time of 17 minutes per side was achieved. Within a couple of years Audiophile switched to .
Reel-to-reel magnetic tape recorders posed a new challenge to the LP in the 1950s, but the higher cost of pre-recorded tapes was one of several factors that confined tape to a niche market. Cartridge and cassette tape
The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback. Invented by Lou Otte ...s were more convenient and less expensive than reel-to-reel tapes, and they became popular for use in automobiles beginning in the mid-1960s. The LP was not seriously challenged as the primary medium for listening to recorded music at home until the 1970s, however, when the audio quality of the cassette was greatly improved by better tape formulations and noise-reduction systems. By 1983, cassettes were outselling LPs in the US.
The Compact Disc (CD) was introduced in 1982. It offered a recording that was, theoretically, completely noiseless and not audibly degraded by repeated playing or slight scuffs and scratches. At first, the much higher prices of CDs and CD players limited their target market to affluent early adopters and audiophile
An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction. An audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a piece of recorded music or a live musical performance, typically inside closed headphones, In-ear monitors, open ...s; but prices came down, and by 1988 CDs outsold LPs. The CD became the top-selling format, over cassettes, in 1992.
Along with phonograph records in other formats, some of which were made of other materials, LPs are now widely referred to simply as "vinyl". Since the late 1990s there has been a vinyl revival. Demand has increased in niche markets, particularly among audiophiles, DJs, and fans of indie music, but most music sales as of 2018 came from online downloads and online streaming because of their availability, convenience, and price.
With the advent of
A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before ... or "talkies", the need for greater storage space made rpm records more appealing. Soundtracks – played on records synchronized to movie projectors in theatres – could not fit onto the mere five minutes per side that 78s offered. When initially introduced, 12-inch LPs played for a maximum of about 23 minutes per side, 10-inch records for around 15. They were not an immediate success, however, as they were released during the height of the Great Depression, and seemed frivolous to the many impoverished of the time. It wasn't until "microgroove" was developed by Columbia Records in 1948 that Long Players (LPs) reached their maximum playtime, which has continued to modern times.
Economics and tastes initially determined which kind of music was available on each format. Recording company executives believed upscale classical music fans would be eager to hear a Beethoven symphony or a Mozart concerto without having to flip over multiple, four-minute-per-side 78s, and that pop music fans, who were used to listening to one song at a time, would find the shorter time of the 10-inch LP sufficient. As a result, the 12-inch format was reserved solely for higher-priced classical recordings and Broadway shows. Popular music continued to appear only on 10-inch records.
Their beliefs were wrong. By the mid-1950s, the 10-inch LP, like its similarly sized 78 rpm cousin, lost the format war
A format war is a competition between similar but mutually incompatible technical standards that compete for the same market, such as for data storage devices and recording formats for electronic media. It is often characterized by political and ... and was discontinued. Ten-inch records briefly reappeared as mini-LPs in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States and Australia as a marketing alternative.
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded on January 15, 1889, evolving from the A ... introduced "extended-play" LPs that played for as long as 52 minutes, or 26 minutes per side. These were used mainly for the original cast albums
A cast recording is a recording of a stage musical that is intended to document the songs as they were performed in the show and experienced by the audience. An original cast recording or OCR, as the name implies, features the voices of the sh ... of Broadway
Broadway may refer to:
* Broadway Theatre (disambiguation)
* Broadway theatre, theatrical productions in professional theatres near Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
** Broadway (Manhattan), the street
**Broadway Theatre (53rd Stre ... musicals, such as '' Kiss Me, Kate
''Kiss Me, Kate'' is a musical written by Bella and Samuel Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story involves the production of a musical version of William Shakespeare's ''The Taming of the Shrew'' and the conflict on and off-s ...'' and '' My Fair Lady
''My Fair Lady'' is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play '' Pygmalion'', with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who takes speech lessons f ...'', or to fit an entire play, such as the 1950 production of '' Don Juan in Hell
''Man and Superman'' is a four-act drama written by George Bernard Shaw in 1903. The series was written in response to a call for Shaw to write a play based on the Don Juan theme. ''Man and Superman'' opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London ...'', onto two LPs. The 52-minute playing time remained rare, however, because of mastering limitations, and most LPs continued to be issued with a 30- to 45-minute playing time.
A small number of albums exceeded the 52-minute limit. These records had to be cut with much narrower spacing between the grooves, which allowed for a smaller dynamic range
Dynamic range (abbreviated DR, DNR, or DYR) is the ratio between the largest and smallest values that a certain quantity can assume. It is often used in the context of signals, like sound and light. It is measured either as a ratio or as a base- ... on the records, and meant that playing the record with a worn needle could damage the record. It also resulted in a much quieter sound with increased surface noise. The list of long-playing vinyl records includes the 90-minute 1976 LP ''90 Minutes with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops'', made by Radio Shack
RadioShack, formerly RadioShack Corporation, is an American retailer founded in 1921.
At its peak in 1999, RadioShack operated over 8,000 worldwide stores named RadioShack or Tandy Electronics in the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Austra ...; Genesis' '' Duke
Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalty or nobility, they are ran ...'', with each side exceeding 27 minutes; Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan (legally Robert Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a career sp ...'s 1976 album '' Desire
Desires are states of mind that are expressed by terms like "wanting", "wishing", "longing" or "craving". A great variety of features is commonly associated with desires. They are seen as propositional attitudes towards conceivable states of affa ...'', with side two lasting almost thirty minutes; Def Leppard
Def Leppard are an English rock band formed in 1976 in Sheffield. Since 1992, the band has consisted of Rick Savage (bass, backing vocals), Joe Elliott (lead vocals), Rick Allen (drums, backing vocals), Phil Collen (guitar, backing vocals ...'s 1987 album '' Hysteria
Hysteria is a term used colloquially to mean ungovernable emotional excess and can refer to a temporary state of mind or emotion. In the nineteenth century, hysteria was considered a diagnosable physical illness in women. It is assumed that ...'', with each side exceeding 30 minutes; Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. While fluid in the early years of the band, the lineup for most of the band's history has consisted of Harri ...'s 1984 release Powerslave and its follow up '' Somewhere in Time'' both required this special manufacturing, as each surpassed the 52 minute maximum; Todd Rundgren's 1975 album '' Initiation'', totaling 67 min 32 s over two sides; Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys were an American rap rock group from New York City, formed in 1978. The group was composed of Michael "Mike D" Diamond (vocals, drums), Adam "MCA" Yauch (vocals, bass), and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz (vocals, guitar, programming) ...; and André Previn's ''Previn Plays Gershwin'', with the London Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is a British symphony orchestra based in London. Founded in 1904, the LSO is the oldest of London's symphony orchestras. The LSO was created by a group of players who left Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orche ..., whose sides each exceeded 30 minutes; side two of Pink Floyd's '' Atom Heart Mother
''Atom Heart Mother'' is the fifth studio album by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd. It was released by Harvest on 2 October 1970 in the UK, and by Capitol on 10 October 1970 in the US. It was recorded at EMI Studios (now Abbey Ro ...'' and both sides of '' the Division Bell'' and '' Wings' Greatest'' all exceed 28 minutes. Finally, several recordings of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony were reissued on single discs; these LPs contained about 35 minutes on each side, with the third movement split into two parts.
Spoken word and comedy albums require a smaller dynamic range compared to musical records. Therefore, they can be cut with narrower spaces between the grooves. '' The Comic Strip'', released by Springtime Records in 1981, has a side A lasting 38 min 4 s, and a side B lasting 31 min 8 s, for a total of 69 min 12 s.
Turntables called automatic record changers could play records stacked vertically on a spindle. This arrangement encouraged the production of multiple-record sets in automatic sequence. A two-record set had Side 1 and Side 4 on one record, and Side 2 and Side 3 on the other, so the first two sides could play in a changer without the listener's intervention. An alternative type of record changer pushed the played disc off the turntable into a hopper, instead of having discs drop on top of each other. Then the stack was flipped over. Larger boxed sets used appropriate automatic sequencing (1–8, 2–7, 3–6, 4–5) to allow continuous playback, but this created difficulties when searching for an individual track.
Vinyl records are vulnerable to dust, heat warping, scuffs, and scratches. Dust in the groove is usually heard as noise and may be ground into the vinyl by the passing stylus, causing lasting damage. A warp can cause a regular "wow" or fluctuation of musical pitch, and if substantial it can make a record physically unplayable. A scuff will be heard as a swishing sound. A scratch will create an audible tick or pop once each revolution when the stylus encounters it. A deep scratch can throw the stylus out of the groove; if it jumps to a place farther inward, part of the recording is skipped; if it jumps outward to a part of the groove it just finished playing, it can get stuck in an
In computer programming, an infinite loop (or endless loop) is a sequence of instructions that, as written, will continue endlessly, unless an external intervention occurs ("pull the plug"). It may be intentional.
This differs from:
* ..., playing the same bit over and over until someone stops it. This last type of mishap, which in the era of brittle shellac records was more commonly caused by a crack, spawned the simile "like a broken record" to refer to annoying and seemingly endless repetition.
Records used in radio stations can suffer cue burn, which results from disc jockeys placing the needle at the beginning of a track, turning the record back and forth to find the exact start of the music, then backing up about a quarter turn, so that when it is released the music will start immediately after the fraction of a second needed for the disc to come up to full speed. When this is done repeatedly, the affected part of the groove is heavily worn and a hissing sound will be noticeable at the start of the track.
The process of playing a vinyl record with a stylus is by its very nature to some degree a destructive process. Wear to either the stylus or the vinyl results in diminished sound quality. Record wear can be reduced significantly by the use of a high-quality, correctly adjusted turntable and tonearm, a high-compliance magnetic cartridge with a high-end stylus in good condition, and careful record handling, with non-abrasive removal of dust before playing and other cleaning if necessary. Wear from playback is eliminated by using an optical record player, as no needle comes into contact with the record.
The average LP has about of groove on each side. The average tangential needle speed relative to the disc surface is approximately . It travels fastest on the outside edge, unlike audio CDs, which change their speed of rotation to provide constant linear velocity (CLV). (By contrast, CDs play from the inner radius outward, the reverse of phonograph records.)
Thin, closely spaced spiral grooves that allowed for increased playing time on a rpm microgroove LP led to a faint pre-echo warning of upcoming loud sounds. The cutting stylus unavoidably transferred some of the subsequent groove wall's impulse signal into the previous groove wall. It was discernible by some listeners throughout certain recordings but a quiet passage followed by a loud sound would allow anyone to hear a faint pre-echo of the loud sound occurring 1.8 seconds ahead of time. This problem could also appear as post-echo, with a ghost of the sound arriving 1.8 seconds after its main impulse. Pre- and post-echo can be avoided by the use of direct metal mastering.
The first LP records introduced used fixed pitch grooves just like their 78 predecessors. The use of magnetic tape for the production of the master recordings allowed the introduction of variable pitch grooves. The magnetic tape reproducer used to transfer the recording to the master disc was equipped with an auxiliary playback head positioned ahead of the main head by a distance equal to one revolution of the disc. The sole purpose of this head was to monitor the amplitude of the recording. If the sound level from both the auxiliary and main magnetic heads was loud, the cutting head on the disc recording lathe was driven at its normal speed. If the sound level from both magnetic heads was quieter, however, then the disc cutting head could be driven at a lower speed reducing the groove pitch with no danger of the adjacent grooves colliding with each other. The playing time of the disc was therefore increased by an amount dependent on the duration of quieter passages.
The record manufacturers had also realised that by reducing the amplitude of the lower frequencies recorded in the groove, it was possible to decrease the spacing between the grooves and further increase the playing time. These low frequencies were then restored to their original level on playback. Furthermore, if the amplitude of the high frequencies was artificially boosted on recording the disc and then subsequently reduced to their original level on playback, the noise introduced by the disc would be reduced by a similar amount. This gave rise to an equalization frequency response applied during record coupled with an inverse of the response applied on playback. Each disc manufacturer applied its own version of an equalization curve (mostly because each manufacturer's equalization curve was protected by interlocking patents). Low-end reproduction equipment applied a compromise playback equalization that reproduced most discs reasonably well. By contrast, amplifiers for audiophile equipment were equipped with an equalization selector with a position for most, if not all, disc manufacturers. The net effect of equalization is to allow longer playing time and lower background noise while maintaining full fidelity of music or other content.
In 1954, the
Recording Industry Association of America
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the music recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors that the RIAA says "create, manufacture, and/o ... (RIAA) introduced a standard equalization curve to be used by all record manufacturers. Consequently, both low-quality and audiophile reproducers alike could replay any recording with the correct equalization. There are two versions of the reproduction RIAA equalization curve. The first curve is the inverse of the recording curve designed for cheaper equipment using crystal or ceramic reproduction cartridges. The second curve is intended for equipment fitted with magnetic reproduction cartridges where the output voltage is dependent on the frequency of the recorded signal (the voltage output is directly proportional to the frequency of the recorded signal; that is: the voltage doubles as the recorded frequency doubles).
Fidelity and formats
The audio quality of LPs has increased greatly since their 1948 inception. While early LP recordings were monophonic, stereophony had been demonstrated in 1881 and Alan Blumlein had patented Stereophonic sound in 1931. Unsuccessful attempts were made to create stereophonic records starting in the 1920s, including Emory Cook's 1952 "binaural" LPs using two precisely spaced tracks on the record (one track for each channel) that had to be played with two monaural pick-ups on a tuning-fork-shaped tonearm. The modern system ultimately released by Audio Fidelity Records in November 1957 uses two modulation angles, equal and opposite 45 degrees from vertical (and so perpendicular to each other.) It can also be thought of as using traditional horizontal modulation for the sum of left and right channels (mono), making it essentially compatible with simple mono recordings, and vertical-plane modulation for the ''difference'' of the two channels.
The following are some significant advances in the format:
* Helium-cooled cutting heads that could withstand higher levels of high frequencies (Neumann SX68); previously, the cutting engineer had to reduce the HF content of the signal sent to the record cutting head, otherwise the delicate coils could burn out
* Elliptical stylus marketed by several manufacturers at the end of the 1960s
* Cartridges that operate at lower tracking forces (2.0 grams / 20 mN), beginning from the mid-1960s
* Half-speed and one-third-speed record cutting, which extends the usable bandwidth of the record
* Longer-lasting, antistatic record compounds (e.g.: RCA Dynaflex, Q-540)
* More advanced stylus tip shapes (Shibata, Van den Hul, MicroLine, etc.)
* Direct metal mastering
* Noise-reduction ( CX encoding, dbx encoding), starting from 1973
* In the 1970s,
Quadraphonic (or quadrophonic and sometimes quadrasonic) sound – equivalent to what is now called 4.0 surround sound – uses four audio channels in which speakers are positioned at the four corners of a listening space. The system allows for t ... (four-channel) records became available in both discrete
Discrete may refer to:
*Discrete particle or quantum in physics, for example in quantum theory
* Discrete device, an electronic component with just one circuit element, either passive or active, other than an integrated circuit
* Discrete group, ... and matrix formats. These did not achieve the popularity of stereo records due to the expense of consumer playback equipment, competing and incompatible quad recording standards, and a lack of quality in quad-remix releases. Quad never escaped the reputation of being a gimmick, and the various (mutually incompatible) discrete surround solutions required an ultrasonic carrier signal that was technically difficult to capture and suffered degradation with playing. With the advent of DVD-Audio
DVD-Audio (commonly abbreviated as DVD-A) is a digital format for delivering high-fidelity audio content on a DVD. DVD-Audio uses most of the storage on the disc for high-quality audio and is not intended to be a video delivery format.
The st ... and Super Audio CD
Super Audio CD (SACD) is an optical disc format for audio storage introduced in 1999. It was developed jointly by Sony and Philips Electronics and intended to be the successor to the Compact Disc (CD) format.
The SACD format allows multiple aud ..., multi-channel recordings once favored and championed by artists like Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Anthony Stokowski (18 April 1882 – 13 September 1977) was a British conductor. One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, he is best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra and his appeara ... and Glenn Gould have made a modest comeback. In addition, new surround recordings have been made for these formats and Blu-ray Audio.
* In the later 1970s, engineers Gerry Block and Burgess Macneal devised a preview system of mastering vinyl that allowed about 10–20% more music per disc while not sacrificing dynamic range. The preview tape head was positioned far enough before the program tape head to allow the disk computer enough time to measure the peaks in low frequency and thereby expand the feed appropriately for the greater excursions of groove modulation they produce. The Compudisk system was unveiled at the 1980 AES Convention, alongside the Zuma Disk Computer (made by John W. Bittner) and the Neumann VMS-80 lathe, which had its own advanced disk computer.
The composition of vinyl used to press records (a blend of polyvinyl chloride and polyvinyl acetate
Polyvinyl acetate (PVA, PVAc, poly(ethenyl ethanoate)), commonly known as wood glue, PVA glue, white glue, carpenter's glue, school glue, or Elmer's glue in the US, is a widely available adhesive used for porous materials like wood, paper, and ...) has varied considerably over the years. Virgin vinyl is preferred, but during the 1970s energy crisis
The 1970s energy crisis occurred when the Western world, particularly the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, faced substantial petroleum shortages as well as elevated prices. The two worst crises of this period wer ..., it became commonplace to use recycled vinyl. Sound quality suffered, with increased ticks, pops, and other surface noises. Other experiments included reducing the thickness of LPs, leading to warping and increased susceptibility to damage. Using a biscuit of 130 grams of vinyl had been the standard. Compare these to the original Columbia 12-inch LPs (ML 4001) at around 220 grams each. Besides the standard black vinyl, specialty records are also pressed on different colors of PVC/A or picture discs with a card picture sandwiched between two clear sides. Records in different novelty shapes have also been produced.
In 2018, an Austrian startup, Rebeat Innovation GmBH, received 4.8 million in funding to develop high definition vinyl records that purport to contain longer play times, louder volumes and higher fidelity than conventional vinyl LPs. Rebeat Innovation, headed by CEO Günter Loibl, has called the format 'HD Vinyl'. The HD process works by converting audio to a digital 3D topography map that is then inscribed onto the vinyl stamper via lasers, resulting in less loss of information. Many critics have expressed skepticism regarding the cost and quality of HD records.
In May 2019, at the Making Vinyl conference in Berlin, Loibl unveiled the Perfect Groove software for creating 3D topographic audio data files. This is a critical step in the production of HD Vinyl stampers, as they provide the map for subsequent laser-engraving. The audio engineering software was created with mastering engineers Scott Hull and Darcy Proper, a four-time Grammy winner. The demonstration offered the first simulations of what HD Vinyl records are likely to sound like, ahead of actual HD vinyl physical record production. Loibl discussed the Perfect Groove software at a presentation titled "Vinyl 4.0 The next generation of making records" before offering demonstrations to attendees.
Use by disc jockeys
Disc jockeys (or DJs) in clubs still frequently use vinyl records, as cueing tracks from cassette tapes is too slow and CDs did not allow creative playback options until the advent of the CDJ-1000 turntable in 2001. The term "DJ", which had always meant a person who played various pieces of music on the radio (originally 78s, then 45s, then tape cartridges and reels; now cuts from CDs or tracks on a computer) – a play on the horse-racing term "jockey" – has also come to encompass all kinds of skills in "
Scratching, sometimes referred to as scrubbing, is a DJ and turntablist technique of moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to produce percussive or rhythmic sounds. A crossfader on a DJ mixer may be used to fade between two reco ..." (record playback manipulation) and mixing dance music
Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. In terms of performance, the major categories are live dance music and recorded danc ..., rapping over the music or even playing musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. A person who pl ...s, but the original dance club (non-radio) definition was simply somebody who played records, alternating between two turntables. The skill came in subtly matching beats or instruments from one song to the next, providing a consistent dance tempo. DJs also made occasional announcements and chatted on the side with patrons while songs were playing to take requests, similar to what radio disc jockeys have been doing since the 1940s.
An album cover (also referred to as album art) is the front packaging art of a commercially released studio album or other audio recordings. The term can refer to either the printed paperboard covers typically used to package sets of and 78-rpm ...
* Conservation and restoration of vinyl discs
"The History Of The LP Record". Classical33.co.uk
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