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I've never even held vinyl.

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Ok, I'm one of those generation xers that was a teenager when CDs were the thing. So I get into car audio, which quickly leads into headphones and (wondering about) home audio, and I come to find out that people actually LIKE vinyl and still USE it to listen to MUSIC on. With really NICE equipment! Furthermore I did an ebay search of my favorite band Hot Water Music, and was astounded at the vinyl records! I can't believe they still actually produce vinyl, I mean I know they do but still, that's ...weird.

I have never been exposed to vinyl in the least bit. Never played a record. My impression of vinyl was that it was a poor format that crackles and pops, and the records wear out, and they break ('sounds like a broken record').

I did some searches, but the thing about searches is they never tell you very basic stuff.

Questions:

Do the records wear out?
Is there any way to skip songs or anything? God I'm going to feel so young. Surely there must be a way? Can you start in the middle of the record?
How much music fits on them?
When DJs mix music with them, does that damage the disc at a faster rate than playing them?
From what I understand the needle tracks in a groove that is basically a copy of the audio waveform, but for stereo sound wouldn't there have to be two grooves with two needles?

be gentle.
post #2 of 63
Ah, youth

Records wear out. The vinyl is slowly worn down by the metal needle moving across it. Highs are first to go because they are sharp peaks in the vinyl. Just like eroding mountains, the new ones are pointier.

There are visible bands between songs. You lift the needle and place it in another band to change songs.

About 25 minutes per side. Tighter packed grooves put more music on a side but are more prone to scratches.

Anything that increases the mechanical pressure between needle and vinyl wears them faster.

Stereo: 1) Up and down, 2) Side to side
post #3 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Stereo: 1) Up and down, 2) Side to side
You must kidding! GENIUS! I should have thought of that. That is friggen neat
post #4 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by trains are bad
You must kidding! GENIUS! I should have thought of that. That is friggen neat
And then, young Padwan, there were Quadrophonic records that had four audio signals with two signals enocded in each (up/down;side/side) analog track. The stone age precursor to todays surround sound.
post #5 of 63
There were turntables, like any CD player, that can skip tracks and even programmable. Not to mention controlled via remote control. I had a Sony turntable that has a platter that slides out like a CD player drawer.

You can start playing a record anywhere by (gently) placing the needle onto the playing surface. Heck, you can even play a record backwards so that you can hear those secret satanic messages....such as when "This is a test..." is played backwards, it sounds like "Sex is a sin...". No kidding and it was confirmed in the old Stereo Review magazine.
post #6 of 63
for classical, jazz and classic rock, nothing beats vinyl and a tube amp
post #7 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy
You can start playing a record anywhere by (gently) placing the needle onto the playing surface.
Yikes, don't forget to turn the volume down first, or your woofers will do a frightening dance when the stylus unloads, and then the tweeters will emit an end of life pop when the stylus drops into a new groove. Also don't forget to clean the record prior to playing it (each side). Also clean the stylus. Never ever touch the surface of a record. Can't wipe skin oils out of grooves.

"broken record" actually refers to a scratched record where the helical track has been short circuited. The stulus will skip back each revolution and play that track over and over.

A curious comparison, record albums spin at constant speed, so the linear speed of the stylus changes dramatically from the outside to the inside. CDs read from the inside to the outside tracks, but run at constant linear speed, so the rpm drops as they wind outward.

I seem to recall that the bass information is recorded in mono in the radial track. Not sure about that one, but you can see very wide track spacing on records with a lot of bass content.

Records are compressed to allow more info to be recorded, then decompressed on playback. This is one of the functions of a phono preamp.


gerG
post #8 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedLeader
for classical, jazz and classic rock, nothing beats vinyl and a tube amp
x2
post #9 of 63
I've been really tempted to try out some vinyl especially because a lot of the underground rap I listen too is released on 12" records. Alas I am even past generation X. I was barely there for minidisc, DAP is what I am all about. I just don't know if I can do it. It feels like I am busting out an Apple II to check my email when I could just do it on my laptop.

Maybe one day when the poor college days are over I will explore the mysterious world of vinyl.
post #10 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillC
1 Records wear out. 2 The vinyl is slowly worn down by the metal needle moving across it. 3 Tighter packed grooves put more music on a side but are more prone to scratches. 4 Anything that increases the mechanical pressure between needle and vinyl wears them faster. 5 Stereo: Up and down, Side to side
I edited this post down to just the facts that were incorrect to make it easier to reply to.

1 If the cartridge and tonearm are in good shape and aligned properly, records can play thousands of times with no wear. However a misaligned cartridge or a chipped stylus can ruin a record in just a few plays. Most worn records you see got that way from being played with a worn or chipped stylus.

2 Metal needles are what are used on acoustic gramophones. Turntables have stylii that are tipped with either a diamond or sapphire point.

3 Tightly packed grooves are not more prone to scratches. A tighter packed groove means that the sound has been cut into the record at a lower volume, or compressed to have less bass and less dynamics. The width of the groove itself is narrower, not necessarily the ridge between the grooves.

4 Vinyl is not worn by tracking force so much as irregular shaped stylii. If a stylus has a chip in it and has a sharp edge, it digs into the groove wall, no matter how light you track. If your needle fits the groove properly, you can track quite heavy and not damage the groove at all. Vinyl is flexible and it has a memory for its shape. It will stretch to allow the stylus to pass and then snap back into shape.

5 Stereo is not reproduced both laterally and vertically. It is only lateral. The groove is V shaped, and one side of the groove is the left channel and the other side is the right.

See ya
Steve
post #11 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerG
I seem to recall that the bass information is recorded in mono in the radial track. Not sure about that one, but you can see very wide track spacing on records with a lot of bass content. Records are compressed to allow more info to be recorded, then decompressed on playback. This is one of the functions of a phono preamp.
Bass information is recorded in stereo on records. Bass information requires a wider lateral swing back and forth than higher notes, which makes the grooves wider.

The phono preamp doesn't have anything to do with compression. It corrects for equalization. Records are EQ'ed to keep the grooves from getting too wide. Certain frequencies are rolled off a bit. The preamp boosts those frequencies to compensate. In the 80s there were records designed to be used with DBX expanders to extend the dynamics, but those were very uncommon.

See ya
Steve
post #12 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot
The phono preamp doesn't have anything to do with compression.
Seems like your understanding of the word "compression" is pretty limited, then (maybe on compression as used in compressor devices for musicians?) - unless you want to nitpick that it should rather be decompression regarding bass on vinyl playback, but I don't think so. Read your own words:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot
It corrects for equalization. Records are EQ'ed to keep the grooves from getting too wide.
If one would understand that as a form of frequency dependent electro-mechanical compression/decompression, I'd regard that as entirely correct. It's not the usual term for audio fans and musicians, but it's surely the right one for computer geeks. And I'm sure you'll find more of the latter on the web...

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
post #13 of 63
Generally, how long does a well cared for record last before the sound on it starts to go south?
post #14 of 63
GuffMorgan: In general, a well cared for record might very well outlast the original owner. As for the number of playbacks without impact on the sound, I'd say, if the equipment is good, a good record can be played back more often than one would ever want to listen to it.

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by lini
GuffMorgan: In general, a well cared for record might very well outlast the original owner.
Manfred / lini
Well, Manfred, I think you're right about that one. Last weekend I picked up about 1000+ vinyl albums for $25 at a yard sale. The overwhelming majority are well recorded classical from the 50's (mono) 60s, and 70s on mostly major labels. I've been cleaning each one on a VPI 16.5 RCM, then listening. There is an occasional crackle or pop, but most of the time there is absolutely no background noise whatsoever. And I have yet to encounter a scatch of any kind.......these things were very well cared for. Right now I have on the TT a recording of Prokofiev's Violin Concertos #1 and #2 by Isaac Stern.........both the performance and the sound quality are stunning.
Unfortunately, I was told that the original owner of these gems is no longer with us.......but his vinyl lives on!
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