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What Is A Vinyl Record ??
In the Groove
The vinyl record is an analog sound medium that consists of a flat disc record that has an inscribed modulated spiral, which usually starts near the outside edge (lead-in) and ending near the center of the record (lead-out). The audio content of the record is contained within the spiral groove which extends for more than a half mile. The groove itself is actually narrower than the thickness of a human hair yet is capable of producing the highest frequencies the human ear can detect, to the fundamentals that are felt rather than heard. The audio recording stored in this is played back by rotating the record clockwise at a constant rotational speed with a stylus or needle placed in the, converting the vibrations of the stylus into an electric signal and sending this signal through an amplifier to the speakers. The normal commercial disc is engraved with two spiral, one on each side of the record.
Just for the Record
Vinyl was the Most Popular Sound Medium for Decades
Phonograph records were the primary medium used for commercial music reproduction for most of the 20th Century. The flat disc record replaced the phonograph cylinder record for the most popular recording medium in the 1900s, and has gone through many changes since. The record has met with few challengers for this top rank from the likes of the reel to reel tape, the unforgettable 8-Track tape and then the cassette tape.
Although vinyl records lost their long reign of popularity by the late 1980s with the introduction of a digital format or compact disc, records continue to be manufactured and sold today, usually in a limited pressing.
Nazareth "Hair Of the Dog"
Black Sabbath "Paranoid" 1970
Iron Maiden "The Number of the Beast" 1982
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AKA Record Albums
The "vinyl record" has gone through many changes over time and generations and as a result has been referred to by several aliases. The terms "LP" and "EP" are acronyms for "Long Play" and "Extended Play" whereas 33's, 45's and 78's are designations which refer to the records rotational speeds by revolutions per minute.
Along with different rotational speeds records were made in different sizes 7" 10" 12". Typically a 7" record would be a 45 rpm speed, a 10" would be either 33 or 78 rpm and a 12" would be 33 rpm but of coarse there are exceptions to every rule. The term phonograph record is a hold over from the early days of the flat disc record. Records have been made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC since about 1949, and as such they are referred to as a vinyl records or just simply vinyl.
The term record album originally referred to a set of 10" 78's coupled together and housed in a "photo album" style booklet, usually containing art work on the front side and on the reverse information about the recordings resulting in a nickname the "record album" which has stuck, for decades until they were just refereed to as records ... These are the more popular aliases for the "vinyl record", there are certainly hundreds more that hipsters and disc jocks alike have used over the life and time of the record.
The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated"
Eagles "On the Border" 1974
Gentle Giant "Octopus" 1972
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- No bones About It
The Anatomy of a Record
There is an area about 0.25 in (6 mm) wide at the outer edge of the disk, called the lead-in where the groove is widely spaced and silent. This section allows the stylus to be set at the start of the record groove, without damaging the recorded section of the groove.
Between each track on the recorded section of an LP record, there is usually a short gap of around 0.04 in (1 mm) where the groove is widely spaced. This space is clearly visible, making it easy to find a particular track.
Towards the label center, at the end of the groove, there is another wide-pitched section known as the lead-out (dead wax). At the very end of this section, the groove joins itself to form a complete circle, called the lock groove; when the stylus reaches this point, it circles repeatedly until lifted from the record.
the catalog number and stamper ID is written or stamped in the space between the groove in the lead-out on the master disc, resulting in visible recessed writing on the final version of a record. Sometimes the cutting engineer might add handwritten comments or their signature, if they are particularly pleased with the quality of the cut.
"Are You Experienced"
Records Have Standards Too
Vinyl record standards for the United States follow the guidelines of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The inch dimensions are nominal, not precise diameters. The actual dimension of a 12 inch record is 11.89 in. (302 mm), for a 10 inch it is 9.84 in. (250 mm), and for a 7 inch it is 6.89 in. (175 mm).
Records made in other countries are standardized by different organizations, but are very similar in size.
Cream "Disraeli Gears"
Aerosmith "Permanent Vacation" 1987
Picture Discs, Colored Vinyl or Just Carbon Black
For the most part records are pressed on black vinyl. The coloring material used to blacken the transparent PVC plastic mix is carbon black, which is the generic name for the finely divided carbon particles produced by the incomplete burning of a mineral oil based hydrocarbon. Carbon black increases the strength of the disc and renders it opaque. Polystyrene is often used for 7" records. Some records are pressed on colored vinyl or with paper pictures embedded in them known as "picture discs". These discs can become collectors' items in some cases. Certain 45-rpm RCA, RCA Victor or RCA Red Seal used red translucent vinyl for extra "Red Seal" effect. During the 1980s there was a trend for releasing singles on colored vinyl sometimes with large inserts that could be used as posters. This trend has been revived recently and has succeeded in keeping 7" singles a viable format.
How Vinyl Records are Made
Why is Side 1 Paired with Side 6 ??
When auto-changing turntables were commonplace, records were typically pressed with a raised or ridged outer edge and label area. This would allow records to be stacked onto each other, gripping each other without the delicate grooves coming in contact with other, thus reducing the risk of damage. Auto changing turntables included a mechanism to support a stack of several records above the turntable itself, dropping them one at a time onto the active turntable to be played in order.
Many longer sound recordings, such as complete operas, were continued across several 10-inch or 12-inch records for use with auto-changing mechanisms, so that the first record of a three record set would carry sides 1 and 6 of the program, while the second record would carry sides 2 and 5, and the third, sides 3 and 4, allowing sides 1, 2, and 3 to be played automatically, then the whole stack reversed to play sides 4, 5, and 6.
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