How are sounds recorded on vinyl

How does the music get on the record?

Published by Records Junkies18. February 2019Category (s): Vinyl Wiki Tags: How does the music get on the record? No Comments

Records can be recorded in both mono and stereo sound. With a mono recording, the tones in the grooves are only scratched on the horizontal plane. With the stereo method, the sound is also recorded through different depths of the grooves.

 

How does the music get on the record?

Not only children but also young adults have mostly heard of turntables these days, but never a record. Even with the grandparents, the large black discs have been regularly exchanged for small silver ones over the years. However, there is a steadily growing number of fans who are now turning to the classic record rather than the CD.

 

Vinyl is on the rise again

While sales of long-playing records and singles fell steadily from the late eighties and dropped to a level of 0.3 million discs by 2003, there has been a clear upward trend since then. In 2017, the number of classic records sold in Germany was back to 3.3 million copies.

There are a number of reasons for this, which also have to do with technology. Because with the record, the sound is not converted digitally, but directly on the record. You can then have copies made of this pattern. Before copying, however, it is first about the recording itself.

 

The grooves of the record

If you take a closer look at a record, you will quickly notice that the surface is riddled with grooves. These grooves are full of bulges both laterally and in depth. When the cartridge of a turntable moves over the grooves, the tones can be heard. In the case of records, the vibrations of the sound are therefore transmitted directly to the sound carrier by means of scratches. This is a major difference to today's CDs.

 

The digital capture of sounds

CDs are digital sound carriers. This means that the recorded sound is first converted into data. When the disc is read later in the CD player, the sound is then read from the data material and played back. For many enthusiasts, it is therefore important that the sound of records appears more natural and therefore feels warmer than on a CD. However, no differences between the two recording methods can actually be heard in blind tests with high-quality devices.

 

A little experiment

An essential difference to the CD is that the tones can be made audible in a much easier way. If the record rotates on the turntable, all you need is a sharp needle attached to a sheet of paper with scotch tape. When the needle moves along the writing on the grooves, the vibrations are transmitted to the sheet. The result usually sounds rather dull and indistinct, but the principle behind the records becomes clear in any case.

 

Mono and stereo

Records can be recorded in both mono and stereo sound. With a mono recording, the tones in the grooves are only scratched on the horizontal plane. With the stereo method, the sound is also recorded through different depths of the grooves. If you look closely, these movements of the turntable's pick-up can also be perceived with the naked eye.

 

 

The sound quality steadily decreases

A clear disadvantage of the record is that the quality of the sound is damaged every time it is played. This is clearly audible on older and correspondingly often played records. Before the actual sound starts, scratching noises can often be heard, which come from small scratches and dirt on the record. The pickup itself also causes a certain amount of wear and tear. Because of the consistent quality, it was easy for the CD from the late eighties to largely displace records from the shelves of shops.

 

The art returns to the cover

However, this development had a clear disadvantage with regard to the design of the covers of sound carriers. Due to its size, the case of a long-playing record offered and still offers considerably more space than the packaging of a CD. The previously often elaborate design of the shell has been reduced over the years. The revival of records therefore also offers opportunities in terms of the optical upgrading of albums.