How Home Audio Developed: The Vinyl Era
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At the end of the 19th century, Thomas Edison introduced his phonograph, where the wax roller played the role of a sound carrier. 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 German-American inventor Emil Berliner.
In 1897, he received a patent for two devices at once: a recorder and a gramophone. The first was used to record sound on a flat zinc disk - 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 pretty quickly took root in the homes of music lovers. The key to popularizing the records was new technology. In 1920, began to record electric microphones . The needle pushing through 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 records. The arsenal of playback devices replenished with a modified version of the gramophone - an electronicphone. Also, players appeared on the market who focused on low frequencies, and began work on new acoustics to take more advantage of electric sound recording.
Switching to vinyl
The next evolutionary stage came after World War II. Then the American company Columbia Records engaged in the production of plates made of special polymer material vinylite . 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 record (LP - long play), which has gained wide distribution. It had a rotation speed of 33⅓ rpm and a diameter of 12 inches.
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Following Columbia Records, another company, RCA Victor, rushed to the record market . 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, an enterprise of the Melody company, in 1970-1980 produced about one hundred million records annually. True, were made from the so-called polyvinyl chloride. In the 1990s, vinyl production worldwide declined significantly. They were gradually replaced by compact cassettes and CDs.
It seemed that the records had 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 . It was then that the number of records sold grew to 2 million copies a year and continued to grow.
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In 2019, vinyl sales almost almost surpassed sales compact drives for the first time in 40 years. According to data from the American Recording Association, for US residents spent $ 224 million on records and $ 247 million on CDs in the first half of last year.
You can read about the reasons for the resurgence of vinyl in our blog:
Vinyl is back and it's different
Why did vinyl come back and how are streaming services related
Who produces vinyl: the most interesting labels to date
What is HD vinyl and is it really that good
We have on Habré: the Russian-language podcast about home cinema, the audio add-on and the audio workshop .