Columbia may have planned for the Bach album ML to be the first since the releases came in alphabetical order by composer the first 54 LPS, ML thru ML , are in order from Bach to Tchaikowsky However Nathan Milstein was very popular in the s so his performance of the Mendelssohn concerto was moved to ML There is also a CD copy of ML When the LP was introduced in , the 78 was the conventional format for phonograph records.
By , 78s still accounted for slightly more than half of the units sold in the United States, and just under half of the dollar sales. Canada and the UK continued production into , while India, the Philippines, and South Africa produced 78s until , with the last holdout, Argentina, continuing until The popularity of the LP ushered in the " Album Era " of English-language popular music, beginning in the s, as performers took advantage of the longer playing time to create coherent themes or concept albums.
But for the '70s it will remain the basic musical unit, and that's OK with me. Although the popularity of LPs began to decline in the late s with the advent of Compact Cassettes , and later compact discs , the LP survives as a format to the present day. Vinyl LP records enjoyed a resurgence in the early s. To compete with the LP, boxed album sets of 45s were issued, along with EP extended play 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.
This series was labeled AP-1 through about AP, 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.
Reel-to-reel magnetic tape recorders posed a new challenge to the LP in the s, but the higher cost of pre-recorded tapes was one of several factors that confined tape to a niche market. Cartridge and cassette tapes were more convenient and less expensive than reel-to-reel tapes, and they became popular for use in automobiles beginning in the mids. However, the LP was not seriously challenged as the primary medium for listening to recorded music at home until the s, when the audio quality of the cassette was greatly improved by better tape formulations and noise-reduction systems.
By , cassettes were outselling LPs in the US. The Compact Disc CD was introduced in 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 audiophiles ; but prices came down, and by CDs outsold LPs. The CD became the top-selling format, over cassettes, in 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 s there has been a vinyl revival. 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, inch LPs played for a maximum of about 23 minutes per side, inch records for around It wasn't until "microgroove" was developed by Columbia Records in 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 inch LP sufficient.
As a result, the inch format was reserved solely for higher-priced classical recordings and Broadway shows. Popular music continued to appear only on inch records.
Their beliefs were wrong. By the mids, the inch LP, like its similarly sized 78 rpm cousin, would lose the format war and be discontinued. Ten-inch records briefly reappeared as mini-LPs in the late s and early s in the United States and Australia as a marketing alternative. In , Columbia Records introduced "extended-play" LPs that played for as long as 52 minutes, or 26 minutes per side.
The minute playing time remained rare, however, because of mastering limitations, and most LPs continued to be issued with a to minute playing time. A small number of albums exceeded the minute limit. These records had to be cut with much narrower spacing between the grooves, which allowed for a smaller dynamic range 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.
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. Turntables called 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. 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 infinite loop , playing the same bit over and over until someone stops it. Mar 1, White Album.
Step 1: Identify The Record Version. Most albums have been released more than once, resulting in different release versions.. Some of these releases are worth hundreds of dollars. Leave comment Cancel reply. Checkout as Guest. Currently, we do not allow digital purchases without registration. Register Become a member of Amoeba. It's easy and quick! Forgot Password An error has occured - see below: E-mail To reset your password, enter your registration e-mail address.
Forgot Username E-mail: Enter your registration e-mail address and we'll send you your username. Amoeba Newsletter Sign Up. Email address:. Thank You You have been subscribed to Amoeba newsletter. 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.
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. 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. 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 DMM , the 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.
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