How Home Audio Developed: The Vinyl Era

Last time we talked about how home audio became massive – in particular, it touched the era of radio. Today we are talking about vinyl – how it came to people’s homes.

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First records

At the end of the 19th century, Thomas Edison introduced his phonograph, where he played the role of a sound carrier. wax roller. Recording on it was carried out using a needle attached to a microphone membrane. But the material used was rather capricious – it was easily deformed, it required special storage conditions. These features negatively affected the sound quality. Therefore, engineers began to look for an alternative. One of them was proposed by the German-American inventor Emil Berliner.

In 1897 he got patent for two devices at once: recorder and gramophone. The first was used to record sound on a flat zinc disc – all the same with a speaker and needle. Subsequently, this disk was used as a mold for the production of copies. They were first made from ebonite (vulcanized rubber), and then from shellac.

At first, gramophones were installed in clubs, restaurants and educational institutions. However, the devices quickly took root in the homes of music lovers. The key to popularizing the records was new technology. In 1920 to record sound have begun use electric microphones. The needle pushing through the tracks on the master disk was also electronically controlled.

All this made it possible to improve the recording quality and expand the frequency range of the plates. Arsenal of playback devices replenished a modified version of the gramophone – an electrophone. Also, players appeared on the market that focused on low frequencies, and started work on new acoustics to take advantage of electric recordings.

Switch to vinyl

The next evolutionary stage came after the Second World War. Then the American company Columbia Records engaged in the production of plates made of special polymer material vinyl. It forms the basis of modern records, although over the past time the production technology has been significantly improved.

In 1948, the label released the first long-playing LP (long play), which received wide distribution. It had a rotation speed of 33⅓ rpm and a diameter of 12 inches.

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Following Columbia Records to Record Market rushed another company is RCA Victor. The confrontation between the two firms, which today is known as the “speed war.” In the 1950s, RCA developed its own vinyl format – EP (extended play). It was a 7-inch drive at 45 rpm. A few years later, two formats actually divided the American market among themselves. LP was mainly used for recording music albums, and EP – for singles.

In the USSR, the first long-playing records came out with rotation speeds of 78 and 33 rpm. Production was the largest in the world. Aprelevka Plant, the company of the company “Melody”, in 1970-1980 let out about one hundred million records annually. True, were made they are from the so-called polyvinyl chloride. In the 1990s, the production of vinyl records around the world decreased significantly. They were gradually replaced by compact cassettes and CDs.

What now

It seemed that the records left the music scene forever. Today, however, the vinyl industry is undergoing what critics call a “second birth.” It all started in 2007, when the so-called Music Store Day. That’s when the number of records sold has grown up to 2 million copies per year and continued to grow.

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In 2019, vinyl sales are almost surpassed CD sales – for the first time in 40 years. By given For the first half of last year, the American Association of Recording Companies spent $ 224 million on records and $ 247 million on CDs.

You can read about the reasons for the revival of vinyl in our blog:

Vinyl is back and he’s different
Why did vinyl come back, and how are streaming services related to this?
Who produces vinyl: the most interesting labels to date
What is HD vinyl and is it really that good?

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