History of Vinyl Records and turntables
Written on November 28, 2019
History of Vinyl Records
The following is a brief history of vinyl records which started in the 1900s.
Vinyl records have been a huge entertainment for listeners and collectors.RCA launched the first commercial vinyl long-playing record in 1930. Vinyl has continued to grow in popularity last year in the USA , vinyl records were over 1,000% higher than a decade prior, So where is vinyl headed from here?
Inventor of Vinyl Discs
The first vinyl discs were made for playback at 331/3 rpm and pressed into 12″ diameter flexible plastic discs. Unfortunately they flopped due to lack of consumer playback equipment and consumer leeriness because of the great depression. In 1939 Columbia Records did not give up and continued to develop vinyl technology and in 1948 introduced the 12″ long play (LP) 33 1/3 rpm microgroove record.
This became a rivalry between RCA Victor and Columbia Records which led to the introduction of another competing format by RCA, the 7″/45 rpm Extended Play (EP). These two formats fought for dominance from 1948 to 1950 and was known as the War of the Speeds.
Who Won Between These Rivalries
After fighting it out for a few years the 12″ 33 1/3 rpm (LP) became a predominate format for albums, and the 7″ record became the format of choice for singles.EPS offered a similar playtime to the 78 rpm discs, and LPs provided up to thirty minutes playtime per each side. Consumers caught onto stereo LPs in the early 1960s therefore, conventional mono LPs stopped being manufactured by 1968.
Completion of other Products
In 1962 Phillips introduced the first cassette and gave vinyl stiff competition.
consumers latched onto this new product because of its size, being more portable, being able to rewind, pause,fast-forward play and stop at a touch of a button. Phillips also began developing another technology in 1974 which was a compact disc (CD), which would completely upset the vinyl market in 1988. This caused a continued decline of sales for vinyl from 1988 to 1991 with only collectors and audiophiles remaining loyal to the vinyl format.
Vinyl Record rebound
After a number of years of music being stored as MP3s and MP4s on computer hard drives, vinyl saw a comeback in the late 2010s. Since 1991,, vinyl records saw the highest number of vinyl sales in January 2017. So the year 2017 marked the tenth consecutive year of vinyl growth partially thanks to indie rock, the opening of more record stores and the novelty of the format. Today vinyl records are continuing to grow in popularity’ Amazon has a large inventory of all types of music
This technology dates back over 160 years. In 1857,a french inventor named Edouard-leon Scott De Martinville introduced his Phonautograph pictured on the right. It used a vibrating diaphragm and stylus to record sound waves by tracing them on sheets of paper, but it could only visualize the sound waves and could not play them back. This invention led to Thomas Edison’s invention of the Phonograph in 1877.
Edison’s Phonograph initially comprised a grooved cylinder wrapped in tin foil,(the recording surface),that was turned by a hand crank. When the sound entered the mouthpiece, the sound waves made the diaphragm and the attached needle vibrate, making indentations in the foil. Edison soon changed from using tin foil to wax for better sound and better durability.
The patent of Emile Berliner ten years later in 1877 created the Gramophone,(pictured right). It used a needle to laterally trace spiral grooves onto a cylinder. Soon the cylinder was replaced by flat discs, initially made of rubber and later shellac.
At the turn of the century, these records were being mass-produced and the Gramophone’s design was changed to make it more functional in the home. The original horn on the Gramophone was very large and was a necessity for its sound.US Phonograph and Record Brand Victor Talking Machine Company altered the horn so it could tilt down so it could easily fit into a cabinet.this device became known as the Victrola,pictured left
The wind up players were being replaced by electric powered successors in the 1930s and after the increasing popularity of bulky turntable systems with built in speakers and amplification came the invention of the Hi-Fi record player,pictured below.
The Victor Talking Machine ended up being bought out by Radio Corp. of America (RCA). RCA Victor who was selling 33 1/3 rpm records also knocked out the Duo Jr,pictured below. The first component turntable designed to be plugged into radio sets, so no need for a phonograph built in amplification and speakers.
Different types of Turntables
The first record players had what they called idler wheel designs,pictured right. In today s market turntables are mostly belt driven and less typically direct drive systems. The reason being the idler wheel method had its disadvantages. As the wheel was coupled to the motor, vibration from it interfered with its sound and the single record playing turntable that emerged didn’t require such a high torque system.
The belt driven turntable, pictured left, was much more efficient, simple and cost effective method, with a motor off to the side driving a rubber belt that wrapped around the outside of the platter to turn it. The belt absorbed the vibrations therefore helping to isolate motor noise from the platter.
In the mid 60s Acoustic Research’s the AR turntable, pictured right, which had a three point susp+-ension turntable design, was among the most popular in the beginning of the belt drive models.
In the early 70s, the direct drive, pictured left, was invented by Panasonic’s technics brand debuting in the classic technics – SP- 10 turntables. Here the platter sits on top of a drive motor that spins at 33 1/3 rpm or 45 rpm. There are no belts or wheels to contend with for repairs or replacement. The only problem was cost, which you will more and likely find direct – drive decks on the higher end turntables
Vinyl Records Worth to a Collector
price can vary widely and is generally determined by three factors, Artist, title and the condition of the vinyl record which determines the vinyl records worth to a collector.
What are the Most Valuable Vinyl Records
How often a record is put into press makes a big difference on a records worth, the more that were released to the public the less valuable the record becomes.
There are valuable titles by hugely successful artist like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Miles Davis, etc. There are also many valuable records that were produced by obscure artists from all over the world.
What to Look For Changing its Value
Vinyl albums still stored in their original sleeves will hold more value. Not only because they have been better protected, but because the album covers are a part of its history behind the music. The original sleeves for the album adds more value because musicians expressed themselves with these covers which adds to its history.
How the vinyl album was protected will also change its value. Vinyl records are graded based on the sound quality and appearance as follows.
M – m stands for mint, or perfect.generally, the only way a vinyl album is graded this way is if it has never been played or if it is in a plastic seal and never opened.
NM – Near mint means the record looks almost as if it just left the factory the day it was produced. Any defect in either the album sleeve or album vinyl is minor if at all. If it came with posters or words on a sheet they should be there also with the album. This is the highest grade you can achieve on a used record.
VG+ – Means very good, plus any marks on the surface of the vinyl are minor and doesn’t affect the quality of sound. A record graded VG+ is not worth quite as much as a record graded NM, but it should retain much of its value.
VG – VG stands for “very good”, but will show a bit of wear. There will be more marks and scuffs on a VG record than VG+ record, and the marks may be beginning to cause some static or noise. The listening experience should still be mostly undisturbed by these marks however, and rarer records graded VG will still hold a fair amount of its value.
VG- – This is a step below VG. There will be more and maybe deeper marks with this rating. These marks will usually cause some ticks and pops. The music will generally be louder than the tick or pop.
G- This is a step below VG-. Although G stands for good, a G grade is not good. There will be a lot of surface marks causing lots of noise which makes listening to the record much less enjoyable. The only good thing with a G rating is that even though it has a lot of surface marks the record will still play through without skipping. Album covers graded G may be worn or torn. These records will look and sound as if they have seen better days. Only rare titles have value when rated G.
P – Meaning poor. The vinyl will be marred with plenty of ugly marks which cause surface noise so loud that you will not be able to enjoy listening to it. Only the very rarest records will have any value in their condition.
How to Clean a Vinyl Record by Hand
The method I use on how to clean a vinyl record by hand and what you will need is as follows : A record wash solution, a record cleaning brush, two micro fiber towels, and master sleeves, which you can purchase these at Amazon who sells kits for this purpose and has great prices for these items.
The reason you need two micro fiber towels is, one is so you have somewhere to place the record on so its lint free, and the second towel is for wiping the excess solution off the vinyl after the cleaning is completed.
The first step is lay the vinyl record on a micro fiber towel making sure the towel is completely flat.put the record wash solution on the record cleaning brush making sure you completely cover the entire surface of the brush.
gently run the brush around the entire record several times clockwise and then repeat counter clockwise several times without any pressure, sort of glide the brush around the record.
Gently turn the vinyl record over trying not to touch the record where the grooves are where you are cleaning and repeat the same procedure. You don’t have to add anymore solution to the brush. Flip the record over again and take the second towel and gently go over the grooves and wipe off the excess solution doing this to both sides of the record and making sure you see no dust, lint or other issues.
Take a master sleeve and run your hand gently over the surface of the new sleeve making sure there are no creases or wrinkles that can cause scratching when you slide the record in. You don’t want to use the old sleeve that it came in because it may have dust or dirt which can scratch or dirty the vinyl which of course you wouldn’t want. Slide the clean record into the sleeve trying not to touch the grooves or surface of the newly cleaned record and you now have a clean protected record. This procedure should only take around five to ten minutes. If you have any questions you can comment below and I will try to answer your question or comment the best I can.