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The Sound Science Phonograph (e.g., Turntables) and Phonograph Record (e.g., LPs) Thread!

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by Steve999, Jul 29, 2018.
  1. Steve999
    This is a thread about phonographs and phonograph records!!!

    For much of my life LPs were the highest fidelity playback medium I had access to!!!

    I would prefer if someone cited to some kind of evidence, or if not, source, or better yet a link, in each post, or at least put up some kind of picture, no matter how tangential or disreputable! This is about learning and having fun. If someone thinks your post has no merit at least they will have some interesting reading material they can get to by hyperlink or something to look at, etc.

    In the spirit of sound science, this thread includes open season for constructive, respectful argument and exchange of interesting, useful, radical, dogmatic, semi-plausible, flatly incorrect, off-the-wall, totally spaced out, or humorous knowledge. Personal attacks, veiled or subtle, direct or indirect, blunt, incendiary, catastrophically devastating, permanently mind-altering in either a good or bad way, or otherwise, are not welcome!

    Appropriate subject matter includes but is not limited to:

    I. History:

    The invention and history of the phonograph. Wax cylinders, 78 RPM records, and 45 RPM singles. The birth of the recording industry and how phonograph records have progressed or continue to progress through that time.

    II. LP End-User Set-up, Techniques, Current Uses, and Related Technologies:

    Direct drive versus belt-drive turntables. The relative merits of moving magnet versus moving coil cartridges. Where the best place for a preamp applying the RIAA equalization is (in a turntable, on an outboard DAC, in a computer, in a receiver, digitally or in the analog domain). How to best set up a turntable and a cartridge. What a good amount of money to spend on a turntable and a cartridge is to get the most out of the medium. The audible thresholds of wow and flutter and harmonic distortion. Which past turntables and cartridges were the best. Which current turntables and cartridges are the best. Where to place your turntable and how to isolate if from feedback and vibration. How to mitigate the problem of low-frequency rumble. How to salvage a warped record. Using them as DJs to include matching BPM and scratch noises. Old men at public radio stations playing their favorite LPs from half a century ago on a radio show 37 people listen to on average. CDs that have been mastered in whole or in part from LPs because no one can find better source material.

    III. How to digitize LPs if you wish:

    What LPs you have that you really like that you cannot find in a digital file or CD anywhere (we can help you digitize it, if you feel the digitial technology is up to it!). How to digitize LPs, including getting rid of clicks, pops, and surface noise with a computer in the digitizing process.

    IV. And penultimate but not least, the relative merits of LPs versus older alternative and modern digital audio technologies!

    The merits of the LP relative to CD redbook, cassette, 8-track, the minidisc (Hey! I liked minidiscs!), popular lossy codecs, etc., and any particular experience with any of these formats. Whether the analog technology of LPs has more or better data or sound because of a "stairstep" discreet sampling nature of digital audio. Whether the sampling rate for redbook and its cut-off at approximately 20 khz leads to audible or emotional or subconscious or unmeasurable advantages for LPs over CDs. Whether the existence of frequencies above 20 khz in some analog playback equipment has any effect on lower frequencies below 20 khz that causes a deficiency or disadvantage in redbook playback. Whether digital sound is harsh or hard or artificial relative to LP sound. Whether any of these factors or the very high ultrasonic frequencies picked up by some phonograph cartridges adds to the music listening experience, on an audible or technical or emotional or subconscious or unmeasurable level.

    V. Other reasons why you might enjoy LPs aside from the technical merit of LP technololgy:

    Whether recording or mastering for LPs was more carefully done than for CDs because there was less dynamic range to work with, so more judgment was needed. The nostalgia factor in LPs. Whether LPs have some euphonic distortions that make the listening experience more pleasant in some ways. The large artwork on the album sleeve. LP masters that are better than certain CD masters. Music that you fell in love with when it came out on LP. And just as a sweetener, postings of LP Album art you really liked.

    Wikipedia states in its Introduction:

    A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English, or record) is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac; starting in the 1950s polyvinyl chloride became common. In recent decades, records have sometimes been called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.

    The phonograph disc record was the primary medium used for music reproduction throughout the 20th century. It had co-existed with the phonograph cylinder from the late 1880s and had effectively superseded it by around 1912. Records retained the largest market share even when new formats such as the compact cassette were mass-marketed. By the 1980s, digital media, in the form of the compact disc, had gained a larger market share, and the vinyl record left the mainstream in 1991.[1] From the 1990s to the 2010s, records continued to be manufactured and sold on a much smaller scale, and were especially used by disc jockeys (DJs) and released by artists in mostly dance music genres, and listened to by a niche market of audiophiles. The phonograph record has made a notable niche resurgence in the early 21st century – 9.2 million records were sold in the U.S. in 2014, a 260% increase since 2009.[2] Likewise, in the UK sales have increased five-fold from 2009 to 2014.[3]

    As of 2017, 48 record pressing facilities remain worldwide, 18 in the United States and 30 in other countries. The increased popularity of vinyl has led to the investment in new and modern record-pressing machines.[4] Only two producers of lacquers remain: Apollo Masters in California, and MDC in Japan.[5]

    Phonograph records are generally described by their diameter in inches (12-inch, 10-inch, 7-inch), the rotational speed in revolutions per minute (rpm) at which they are played (8 1⁄3, 16 2⁄3, 33 1⁄3, 45, 78),[6] and their time capacity, determined by their diameter and speed (LP [long playing], 12-inch disc, 33 1⁄3 rpm; SP [single], 10-inch disc, 78 rpm, or 7-inch disc, 45 rpm; EP [extended play], 12-inch disc, 33 1⁄3 or 45 rpm); their reproductive quality, or level of fidelity (high-fidelity, orthophonic, full-range, etc.); and the number of audio channels (mono, stereo, quad, etc.).

    Vinyl records may be scratched or warped if stored incorrectly but if they are not exposed to high heat, carelessly handled or broken, a vinyl record has the potential to last for centuries.

    The large cover (and inner sleeves) are valued by collectors and artists for the space given for visual expression, especially when it comes to the long play vinyl LP.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  2. Steve999
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  3. old tech
    Great idea for a thread. Although there are many vinyl myths, this is one area where the real science is more interesting than the myths.

    Speaking of which, I don't think it is a good idea discussing the "stair steps" myth as that is not how digital audio works.

    A couple of good references to kick this off below.


    The hydrogenaudio site has many good threads regarding digitising LPs.
  4. Steve999
    Great post! I don't disagree with anything you say. I just wanted to leave things wide open for learning and debate. As to the stair steps analogy, here's a link I think people have put up any number of times here to explain the misconceptions in relative lay terms:


    For visuals it includes these:

    and most commonly, this:

    I must admit that as a layperson, I am never sure I will quite fully understand digital audio, but I try to get my arms around it in increments.

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018

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