Records have come a long way since Thomas Edison invented the first phonograph in 1877. The phonograph was a type of record player that played back music from tin foil-coated wax cylinders, which eventually evolved into vinyl records.
The vinyl record, invented by Peter Goldmark, became a common feature in most homes and revolutionized how people listened to music. The 12-inch wide vinyl record boasted a capacity of about 20 minutes on each side and played at a speed of 33 1/3 revolutions per minute (RPM).
To this day, many music enthusiasts hail the vinyl music format as the best in sound quality and listening pleasure. While hit songs have come and gone, vinyl records have stood the test of time. Ask any audio enthusiast and they’ll most likely tell you that there’s something about listening to music on vinyl that can’t be matched.
Long Playing Time
When vinyl records hit the market, virtually all phonograph records for domestic use were made from an abrasive shellac material. These records had larger grooves and played at a speed of about 78 RPM.
With this speed, a 12-inch record could only play for a maximum of five minutes for each side. Since the material used for making the record was abrasive, phonograph records were also quite noisy.
Vinyl records had a smaller groove and played at a slower speed, which meant they could deliver up to 21 minutes of playing time per side. This meant one record could hold several songs.
The LP, as this type of record came to be known, was therefore a great milestone in the world of music recording and listeners. It was ideal for classical music, thanks to its prolonged continuous playing time. It also enabled musicians to put a collection of at least ten pop songs on a single disc.
Vinyl Records Today
In today’s world of subscription-based streaming, we can access any song or artist anytime we want from the comfort of our homes or the convenience of our phones. Nevertheless, many music enthusiasts still swear by the sound quality of vinyl records.
People who prefer high fidelity music often turn to vinyl records for the most realistic sound. Many music lovers believe that music sounds best before being converted to digital formats. That’s because up until about two decades ago, most musicians recorded music on analog tapes.
To put the popularity of vinyl records in today’s world into perspective, people bought more than 14 million vinyl records in the U.S in 2017, according to Nielsen Music. Online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay also sell several million vinyl records every year. Not only are vintage records popular with collectors, but artists today are also releasing new albums on vinyl.
Vinyl records have had a tremendous impact on the music industry, as well as on pop culture, albeit indirectly. Despite cutting-edge advancements in music recording technology, many music enthusiasts still consider vinyl records as the optimum in audio quality and listening experience.