General Question

whitecarnations's avatar

How does music get onto vinyl records?

Asked by whitecarnations (1635points) March 8th, 2012

What I want to know is how is the data transferred? How do vinyl records work overall?

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5 Answers

marinelife's avatar

“A vinyl record is an analog recording, as opposed to CD’s recording, which are digital. Analog is able to catch the entire sound wave, while digital only recreates “snapshots” of the analog sound.

Sound vibrations are transmitted to a sensitive stylus (or needle), which cuts a groove into a wax record as it revolves. The vibrations of the stylus cause various depths and widths to be carved into the wax record, creating a groove.

When you place a record onto a record player, the needle on the stylus retraces the groove that has been cut into the record. As it retraces the groove, it recreates the sounds which caused the groove to bend and form in the first place by transferring the vibrations to a diaphragm in a speaker which picks up the sound and amplifies it to a reasonable level.”

How Does a Vinyl Record Work?

jaytkay's avatar

As @marinelife describes, it’s amazingly simple. For a good illustration, see this paper record player .

The recording process is simply the reverse. If you put a needle on the end of that paper cone, and put a rotating soft wax blank disc on the turntable, and talked into the paper cone, the needle would record the sound.

For production, a mold is made from the master disc, and they simply press the entire record onto vinyl.

RareDenver's avatar

Nice little film here that’s shows the whole process

Kayak8's avatar

When I made a vinyl album, the process stamper was referred to as “a sterling silver mother.” . . .

gasman's avatar

There’s a recording lathe that actually cuts grooves into metal according to the incoming audio stream. That becomes the master disk from which other metal copies are made, each of which then get’s pressed into a lump of hot vinyl, which solidifies as it cools to form the recorded disk.

I have a few direct-to-disk recordings made in the 1970s, recorded in a way where the audio signal goes straight from the microphones (& mixing console) into the recording lathe – no intermediate recording stage such as tape, as was normally the case. The whole side of the record was one single take for the musicians, so they couldn’t screw up. These are the best recordings I’ve ever heard – better than CD quality audio imho. The average vinyl record, of course, is noticeably worse.

[Correction: The lathe cuts the groove into lacquer coating on a metal disk.]

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