The Evolution of Recorded Sound

The Evolution of Recorded Sound

It may be hard for the younger crowd to believe or understand now, but there existed a time when the release date of your favorite band or singer’s new album – on vinyl, cassette, or even CD – was a highly anticipated event. Eager fans would line up outside the local record store, breathlessly awaiting the sound of new music from a beloved artist. In those days, the only way to preview the album you were buying was the latest single playing on the radio, and you would never dream of playing the tracks out of order, especially on the first listen. It was a different time.

Most of today’s music is easy to find andtypically available online, as old-school devices have largely been swept to the side by the likes of Spotify and iTunes. However, many will never forget the evolving charm of an old record player. Although some still have the old gear kicking around, a wave of nostalgia has resulted in a slew of new turntables being marketed toward people who never had the opportunity to live through vinyl’s glory days. For those who take their music seriously, vinyl records provide a richer, warmer sound than the digital options prevalent today. Along with turntables, an assortment of necessary accessories is also available. For details on items such as preamps, spin on over to http://www.vinylvintage.net/phono-preamp-buying-guide/ and check it out.

Thanks in part to DJs and hipsters, vintage equipment is more popular now than it has been in decades. Not only are some seeking to reconnect with the past, but they have recognized the subtle differences that make vinyl a viable alternative to digital music. Throughout history, the different devices used to produce sound have taught us some very interesting ways of how sound started and how sound works to this day.

The Phonograph

It all started with what is known as the phonograph, a historical piece created in the 19th century which begat the later love of turntables. Invented by Thomas Edison, the phonograph was a reproducing machine that used cylinders of sound to record and reproduce sound, making it the first to be able to reproduce sound. His original sound was recorded onto a piece of tin foil wrapped around a rotating cylinder. The machine had just two units, one for playback and one for recording. When you spoke into a mouth piece, it would make the sound vibrations and this would imprint the recorded sound onto the cylinder by the needle in a specific pattern.

Edison gave his sketch of his invention to John Kruesi, his mechanic, to build. With no problem building the phonograph, John completed the project within 30 hours. Once the project was completely finalized,Edison put the machine to the test by speaking into the mouthpiece. After he was finished recording, it was declared a success when the phonograph played his words back to him. Finally established on January 24, 1878, the device was officially invented. Unfortunately, the phonograph was difficult to figure out, and the use of tin foil meant that the machine only lasted a few playthroughs.

Modern Sound

The gadgets that are used to store and produce sound today function much differently compared to Thomas Edison’s first original sound. Now we use digital music players – software or hardware that playsdata files encrypted in audio formats. Essentially, a music player is a specialized computer that stores sound as another kind of information. MP3 devices such as the iPod and iPhone store the music you choose on a flash memory or hard drive, making it last longer than the phonograph, but without the charm and personality of vinyl records.

The music is stored in a specific numeric (digital) format that takes all the individual sound frequencies and converts them into a long string of numbers, compressing them mathematically, which takes up little space. The small amount of data this consumes allows you to download your files quickly. The music player’s hard drive will read and record the information by using magnetism to write and read the small magnetic zones moving back and forth across a super-fast spinning disc.

Over the last century or two, storage and playback of sound has evolved exponentially. How ever you like to listen to music, from the phonograph to vinyl to digital music formats and everything in between, one thing that hasn’t changed is our love for recorded melodic sound.

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