Record player has a long history, dating back to 1870’s, even beyond that. Ever since Thomas Elva Edison introduced phonograph, there had been a revolution in sound producing and recording mechanisms. The idea, at that point of time, was quite unique. Voices and sound should be preserved so that others can listen. It proved to be the foundation for the entertainment and fun what we experience today.
Since then, record players had gone through many changes and modifications. Finally, in late 1880’s Emil Berliner upgraded Edison’s invention and gave it the shape, the basics of which we can still see in the modern record players. Now, comes the question, “How Does Record Player Work?”
If you’re Vinyl-Crazy, you’d definitely want to read about it. To find that out, you have to first understand the basics of vinyl record and its construction (that’s a bonus!).
So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Construction of Vinyl Record
Vinyl is a material that preserves sound the best way. Since Thomas Edison’s invention, the process of making records has been improved and new stages were added to produce high-quality vinyl versions. Interestingly, Vinyl wasn’t introduced until 1940’s.
- Lacquer – the basic ingredient: In Edison’s model, they used lacquer to record sound by placing it on the record-cutting machine.
- Metal Master: After recording, the lacquer undergoes metal coating (silver or nickel) and the metal master is produced.
- Metal Record: After lacquer is separated from it, the metal master goes through record producing phase, in which metal records (also known as “Mother”) are produced.
- Stamper: Metal record consists of the original sound called master recording. Stamper is the negative of master recording.
- Vinyl Record: Stamper is the processed and vinyl record is produced. Then the vinyl is sandwiched between the Stamper and the hydraulic press. The process involves pushing an impression from the Stamper onto the vinyl. Then the vinyl disc is stiffened with cool water.
Sound stored in the vinyl record needs certain mechanism to produce it properly.
Working of the Record Player
The design of the record player has gone through certain conceptual changes, enhancements and advancements, yet the basic components remain there. Below, you can read about the entire mechanism and its working.
Your vinyl record with the hole in its center sits on a circular plate called turntable. Positioned in the center of the turntable is a rod that is used to hold the record in place. Due to the cover (made of plastic or rubber) on a metal turntable, the vinyl record is protected from metal scratches. Turntable may rotate or spin, depending upon the mechanism used.
- Belt driven turntable: A turntable that rotates with belt drive is known as belt-driven turntable.
- Direct drive turntable: If a turntable spins, the mechanism is known as direct-drive system.
#2. Stylus or Needle
It may be the smallest, but it is a vital component of record player that helps produce sound from the vinyl. Stylus has a conical shape. There is a flexible metal used to suspend the stylus in such a way that its pointed end can make contact with the top surface of the record.
It picks up the vibrations from the spiral grooves of vinyl disk and turns them into sound. For smooth flow and better sound quality, the stylus material is very important. Popular turntable brands use diamond stylus, while others have stylus made from hard material.
#3. Tone Arm
At one side of the turntable located a moveable arm called tone arm. It is used to carry the pickup and enables the needle or stylus to follow the grooves. The tone arm sits parallel to the surface of the record. It travels in an arc across the spinning record and picks up vibrations by means of the wires and flexible metal strip.
Towards the fixed end of the tone arm lies a cartridge which is used to convert the vibrations into electric signals. As the vibrations travel across the needle, the flexible metal strip and wires of the tone arm, through to the cartridge, the cartridge receives them and a coil in a magnetic field helps convert them into electric signals.
The electric signals from the cartridge are passed through the amplifier by means of wires. The amplifier helps enhance the power of the electric signals. Eventually, the electric signals are transformed into sound energy that can be heard with the help of speakers.
Advancements in Recorded
Initially, record players were used to produce monophonic sound, which means, only one speaker was used to produce all the sound. Later, in 1958, stereophonic systems were introduced which had two speakers. Due to stereophonic systems, there was a significant improvement in sound quality.
By now, your love for vinyl record players has definitely reached its peak. Vinyl record players have been popular for decades now. With cassette players, CD players and MP3 players, vinyl record players have their own significance, and that’s due to the natural and richer sound others cannot offer.