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How does a record player? Here I will explain

In the age of the transmission (streaming) of music, it could be something strange to ask how to operate a record player. But the magic of this apparatus continues to influence many people in one way or another. What is that for a disk rotating on a plate that keeps the eyes almost hypnotized and our ears and hearts excited? Let’s take a look at the way in which many of your favourite artists have touched the glory by putting his music na simple piece of plastic.

Teach the wax to talk about: the origin of the recordings

Segundo modelo de fonografo de Edison para explicar cómo funciona un tocadiscosPhotograph of Thomas Edison with his second model of the phonograph in 1878 Levin Corbin Handy/Public Domain

Let’s start back, way back. It is the mid-NINETEENTH century, and a French inventor, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, discovered that you can create a transcript physics of sound when passing a bristle gently over the surface of a piece of paper or of glass blackened by the smoke.

The sow was connected to a flexible diaphragm that vibrated when it was struck by the sound, which in turn made the bristle vibrate, leaving marks on the piece of paper or glass. Despite what is fascinating is that it was this development, there was no way to play or save the audio after you produced the sound; it was purely for visual analysis.

It was not until the 1870’s that a gentleman named Thomas Edison realized that if he could record the movements correctly, you could play them. The invention of Edison, the phonograph, operated by turning a cylinder of wax (see photo above) at speeds up to 160 rpm (revolutions per minute), while dragging a needle through it.

If the needle was sufficiently sharpened, and applied enough pressure, could cut off the wax. And if, in addition, at the same time was “vibrada” by a person speaking through a mouthpiece that was connected to it, these sound waves could be recorded in the form of grooves cut.

To play the sound, one would replace the needle with a sharp cutting edge for a playback, more light, and which exerted much less pressure. Now, the needle will only pass through the slots, making vibrate the diaphragm, which would cause the playback of a sound by moving the air. The use of a “horn” attached amplifies the sound (like a speaker). This process was the key of any recording in that time.

Vinyl discs and speakers

Un disco de vinil de 33 rpm sobre un tocadiscos para explicar cómo funciona un tocadiscosAngeloDeVal / Shutterstock.com

But how does your record player modern? It is almost certain that yours does not have a horn or a cylinder rotating, then, in what way the sound plays? As time passed, the design of Edison, the German inventor Emile Berliner patented his version of the phonograph, in its place I used flat discs.

As this type of recording it was easier to produce and store, became the dominant format. During the first half of the TWENTIETH century, the majority of recordings were made of rubber of shellac, a resin derived from the secretion of the insect lac (sounds strange, I know: but so it was).

As time went on, they made other advancements, which allows you to have disks of plastic vinyl, high-fidelity leaner than you have now.

To play sound, your record player is a modern way it does this is similar to the original invention designed by Edison, but instead uses electricity and a magnetic cartridge. When you turn it on and put the needle on the surface of the disc, this starts to circulate through the slots.

Instead of vibrating a diaphragm, the needle vibrates and moves a small magnet in what is known as a cartridge (the part that holds the needle). The movement of the magnet creates an electrical signal that is amplified, generally through a/V receiver power, and is sent to the speakers.

Your speakers are simply large magnets connected to coils, which in turn are connected to a cone. When an electrical signal enters the speaker, it moves the magnet and vibrates the cone. The cone pushes the air, creating sound and allowing you to listen to your favorite songs.

Depending on your disc player and its configuration, it is possible that you are wondering how a disk produces two different sounds into two separate speakers for a stereo effect, let’s talk about that.

Stereo, two-for-one: audio of two channels

Dos altavoces con soporte al piso para explicar cómo funciona un tocadiscosKEF

Your cd player may produce music in stereo because of the way that they cut grooves into your disk. When Edison launched the phonograph cylindrical, its slots are moved up and down on what was then known as hills and valleys.

However, the flat discs of Berliner chose to record the music with the needle vibrating to the left and right (side to side) in a groove in the shape of a V. When it reached the middle of the TWENTIETH century, and the record companies wanted to record two tracks at once, one in the left channel and another on the right, decided on a hybrid design.

The record companies decided to cut the slots at an angle of 45 degrees. This means that as the needle moves through the grooves, the right side of the wall contains a clue and the left side of the wall contains another.

The cartridge of recording can move along with these 45 degree angles, ensuring that the movement of the magnet right is sent to the correct speaker, left or right.

Speeds and numbers: some details

Un hombre con un disco de vinil en sus manos y un tocadiscos sobre una mesa. ¿Cómo funciona un tocadiscos? Aquí te lo explicamos

Now you know the basics of how to work a turntable. But what happens with all the numbers? What is a disc 45 and how is it different from an LP? For the case, what is a LP?

With the record player modern, you can notice a speed dial with numbers such as 33 1/3, 45 and 78. This only corresponds to the speed –measured in rpm– that should turn the selected disk when playing.

The option of 78 rpm is a leftover from the days of records from shellac, which is played at faster speeds. However, the options for 33 1/3 and 45 rpm are the two speeds that tend to provide the records more modern.

This is the result of a format war between RCA and Columbia in the 1940s. Everything you need to know is that you must verify the correct speed of your disk before you play it. Quiet, not shalt thou mar the corners of the disk by selecting the wrong speed: simply sound very fast or very slow.

When it comes to the LP, that is –simply– the name that Columbia chose to call their discs, 12-inch, playing at 33 1/3 rpm. LP means “Long Playing” and had the intention of appointing more albums new that could be played for more than 20 minutes, in comparison with the playing time much shorter drive shellac of less than four minutes. Now, that you know how to work a record player, listen, and enjoy!

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