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Vinyl's Back Again


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ukelele lady

I keep reading that vinyl LPs are back in again, I never thought they went out.

I've still got some from the past , you know the usual stuff, Simon and Garfunkle,

Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond etc.

I wonder who first took the gamble to bring them back, after all it is a gamble when there

is so much hi-tech stuff out there. The only snag is the youngsters are going to have to

buy a turn table, fortunately I've still got mine.

Long may they live.

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I keep reading that vinyl LPs are back in again, I never thought they went out.

I've still got some from the past , you know the usual stuff, Simon and Garfunkle,

Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond etc.

I wonder who first took the gamble to bring them back, after all it is a gamble when there

is so much hi-tech stuff out there. The only snag is the youngsters are going to have to

buy a turn table, fortunately I've still got mine.

Long may they live.

In our neighbouring town, Chesterfield, they lost Hudsons music shop just over a year ago, and along with it there biggest music store selling records (can't stand that modern word "Vinyl", - they were NEVER called that in the 60s and 70s, - they were "records") For the last year the biggest record shop in Chesterfield was Oxfam!!!

However, in the last 2 weeks a new shop called Tallbird (Tallbird Records) has opened and sells all types of records, but specialising in 60s/70s rock & pop. Sounds good.

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If I think someone is having me on, lying to me or deliberately trying to mislead me my common reply is, -

"You'll be trying to tell me that CDs are better than gramophone records next!"

A little throwaway catchphrase I have picked up from Stuart.

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At work I was fed up with my school laptop computer which was forever playing me up. I got so fed up I converted into a lookalike record player using a record player designed document wallet (40p from Wilkinsons)

It looked quite good (see photo)


But I was amazed at how many people didn't recognise what it was supposed to be, - never seen a record player!!!

What is the world coming to?

Some of us got through the 60s with a Dansette record player fitted with either a BSR or a Garrard record deck and a pile of records by the top groups of the day, some of the best music ever produced.

Oh, - and I'd rather listen to some good music recorded in Mono, - than some rubbish music that just happens to be in Stereo




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Even converted my wifes iPad into a record player using the same method.

I'm not a fan of Apple products so this was a big improvement



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I bought some of those CD things once. They were no good because I couldn't get the needle to stay in the groove. :)

They make good beer mats though.

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History dude

It never really went away you know. Even when CD was all the rage, the 7inch 45prm was still being used by Independent acts. One of the problems with the LP though is that the makers didn't put much quality into the production of them, so they would warp easy etc. Then certain acts and vinyl buffs were wanting to put (or seeking) out decent LPs, so companies responded. Making high quality limited editions at first. These sold better than CD editions and stocks ran out so they put more out.

I think it also helped that many people had old records and that they wanted to put them onto a computer. So lots of people wanted turntables. In fact they are like gold dust on places like E-Bay. But I think many also enjoyed the sound of records. Plus loved the large size covers. Thus creating more demand. Judging by the number of sellers selling second hand records on E-Bay there was big demand for 45 and LP's. However recently, perhaps due to some policy on E-Bay, or the recession, the sellers seem to have died back.

A lot of the demand though is to do with the Rock Bands of the 70's and 80's. Their fans still want the material and they want it like it used to be.

We might live in a digital age, but amazingly a hell of a lot of old material has not been digitised and a lot of old records and singles are still not available on Digital download sites. The chances are that if you have a pile of old records lying around then you will have a number of them that don't have a digital counterpart on either CD or MP3.

I'm a member of FixYa, where people ask about how to fix electrical and other things. There's a much bigger demand for repairs and questions about record decks then there is on VCR's.

Lots of people seeking out "needles" when they mean stylus and trying to fit a new belt it has snapped or slipped off.

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Lots of people seeking out "needles" when they mean stylus and trying to fit a new belt it has snapped or slipped off.

As a child of the 60s and 70s I seem to remember that, -

1) Although 78s had gone, along with the long metal needles made by Songster that played them and officially the new replacements which played the 45s/33s that replaced them was a stylus we all still called them needles. (Needle means a pointed object, stylus means a pen)

2) Although 78s were made of shellac composite and the newer 45s/33s were made of PVC which was originally described as "shatterproof" or "unbreakable" we NEVER EVER referred to them as "vinyl" as the 60s term for "vinyl" was actually PVC. "Vinyl" is a horrible word when used to describe records and I think it dates from the 1980s when those horrible garish coloured discs and picture discs were all the rage. We always called them "records", "singles", "EPs", "LPs" or "albums" but NOT "vinyl" and, all proper records were black.

3) Only the most expensive hi fi decks had belt driven turntables, - sometimes with variable speed motors and stroboscopic markings on the turntable to get an exact speed. However, the majority of record player decks were not belt driven, they were driven from the inner rim of the turntable by an idler wheel and a stepped capstan (with 4 steps to give the 4 standard speeds) driven directly by a shaded pole induction motor which held an exact speed in phase with the mains frequency.

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History dude

Not all "black" records are black. If you hold some black singles up to the light they are actually coloured!

The price of Shellac shot up in price in 1950 thanks to the Korean War. Though not made of them it include crushed Beetles in it.

By the late 70's there were 3 types of turntable. The oldest type being the pole driven idler type. Mostly made by British companies such as BSR, Gerrard and the Thorn group (such as Ferguson). Only Gerrard made the better quality types. These were not considered hi-fi, mostly due to the hum the motor made. A lot used crystal or ceramic cartridges. Again not hi-fi, but didn't need a separate pre-amp. The stylus used was often flipped over for 78 and 33/45. Whereas the older type gramophone Needle was just a sharp pointed piece of metal. Stylus would have a diamond or other type of stone on the end of the metal rod.

Belt driven turntables used magnetic cartridges, they also need a special pre-amp to amplify the sound. These were not that expensive as some cheaper versions were around. Sir Clive Sinclair's Amstrad range for example. Generally it was the magnetic cartridge and it's stylus that was costly. The stylus being often cheaper to buy with the cartridge then on it's own!

Lastly the Direct Drive turntable was electronically controlled on most of it's functions and so was the most expensive to buy. Both of these turntables tended to have only 45 and 33 speeds. Since the 78 wasn't hi-fi, and these turntables were designed for the hi-fi buffs, there wasn't any point fitting it.

These days many magnetic cartridges can be fitted with a 78 stylus. Even though the record can only be played back at 45/33 speed. Conversion software can change it back to 78 speed after the recording is complete.

Gerrard in the late 70's early 80's developed a device that eliminated record clicks and scratches. I remember seeing it being demonstrated at a Hallam Towers Hi-Fi show. It was really good. You could control the "click" level with like a volume control. It had a Red LED on it which flashed when a click was removed. One record they played was that bad the light never went off. But you couldn't hear a click, till the chap turned down the control. Sadly the device never took off and of course shortly after the CD got rid of clicks forever. Modern computer software can of course get rid of the clicks better than that hi-fi device.

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By the late 70's there were 3 types of turntable. The oldest type being the pole driven idler type. Mostly made by British companies such as BSR, Gerrard and the Thorn group (such as Ferguson). Only Gerrard made the better quality types. These were not considered hi-fi, mostly due to the hum the motor made. A lot used crystal or ceramic cartridges. Again not hi-fi, but didn't need a separate pre-amp. The stylus used was often flipped over for 78 and 33/45. Whereas the older type gramophone Needle was just a sharp pointed piece of metal. Stylus would have a diamond or other type of stone on the end of the metal rod.

The first group you describe as "not Hi-Fi" were by far the most common, being in every portable Dansette type of record player, most juke boxes and were even used by DJs at discoteques. The people you call "HiFi buffs" that I tend to call "HiFi snobs" but which are more properly called "audiophiles" will tell you that there is a standard for Hi Fi, which can be used to describe weather a piece of equipment is or isn't HiFi. However the term" HiFi", along with the word "stereo" is one of those terribly misused terms where people have tended to use the word to describe any old record player, "I'll just put the HiFi on" or "I'll play it on the stereo" when in fact they mean just an ordinary record player.

The standards of HiFi have also changed over the years as technology has improved, not just playing equipment, but recording equipment as well. Decca seemed to be at the leading edge of this, introducing as it did, first the FFRR recordings, then the FFSS recordings and the D-RAM recordings, later produced separately as DERAM records (No prizes quiz, but it will sort out the record people from the more modern digital ones, - what do FFRR and FFSS stand for?)

As someone who works with science and technology for once I must admit, that for me personally, the artistry of the performer comes before the technology of the recording. Personally I would rather hear a mono recording, complete with a bit of noise, hiss, clicks etc. on a poor recording medium but by a brilliant set of musicians than have to suffer listening to a full stereo, full HiFi, digital quality recording by a rubbish set of X-Factor here today gone tomorrow talentless boy bands that should have never been recorded in the first place. I also have the same attitude to film. I would rather watch a good film, well acted, good storyline etc. on 16mm black & white film than watch a load of crap on Blueray quality DVD with Dolby 5.3 surround sound.

As Paul McCartney once said when asked about 45rpm records and digital CD recordings (at the time the Beatles recordings first became available on CD) "Well the sound quality is a lot better on CD but I like the old records, some people say that they scratch and hiss a bit but I like that because when you hear that scratch and hiss you know there's a record coming on"

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Belt driven turntables used magnetic cartridges, they also need a special pre-amp to amplify the sound. These were not that expensive as some cheaper versions were around. Sir Clive Sinclair's Amstrad range for example. Generally it was the magnetic cartridge and it's stylus that was costly. The stylus being often cheaper to buy with the cartridge then on it's own!

Lastly the Direct Drive turntable was electronically controlled on most of it's functions and so was the most expensive to buy. Both of these turntables tended to have only 45 and 33 speeds. Since the 78 wasn't hi-fi, and these turntables were designed for the hi-fi buffs, there wasn't any point fitting it.

These days many magnetic cartridges can be fitted with a 78 stylus. Even though the record can only be played back at 45/33 speed. Conversion software can change it back to 78 speed after the recording is complete.

To be fair here, most turntables were just that, turntable units, and the tone arm could be taken off and replaced with a better "HiFi" one, like the ones made by Shure and SME, which I am sure many "HiFi buffs" did. After that the tone the tone arm could be fitted with one of several pick up cartridges, - be it magnetic or otherwise. The use of a pre-amp, as History Dude states, was crucial and a cartridge pre amp was not the same as an ordinary preamplifier as it had to allow for the compression and equalisation applied to records during their recording. Crystal cartridges had a higher output, allowing the pre amp to be done away with, but also had a non-linear response curve which made them difficult to adjust to HiFi standards (but not impossible), hence a very strong preference for the magnetic cartridge.

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Both of these turntables tended to have only 45 and 33 speeds.

For most people these were the only 2 speeds you would ever need.

By the 1960s the 78 speed was already obsolete and unless you had a big collection of older records you wanted to play you wouldn't actually need it.

The 4th speed, 16rpm, sometimes called ELP (Extended Long Play) was rare, many people have never seen 16rpm discs. They were not considered HiFi as the slower speed limited the highest recordable frequency to below the full audible range. They were considered only suitable for the spoken word and not for music. There main advantage was the longer playing time and so were ideal for talking books for children, recited poetry and the speeches of Winston Churchill. Not the sort of thing most people have in their record collections.

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Gerrard in the late 70's early 80's developed a device that eliminated record clicks and scratches. I remember seeing it being demonstrated at a Hallam Towers Hi-Fi show. It was really good. You could control the "click" level with like a volume control. It had a Red LED on it which flashed when a click was removed. One record they played was that bad the light never went off. But you couldn't hear a click, till the chap turned down the control. Sadly the device never took off and of course shortly after the CD got rid of clicks forever. Modern computer software can of course get rid of the clicks better than that hi-fi device.

The device you are describing is called a frequency notch filter. The technology for them was developed and used very effectively from 1969 onwards to clean up and remove noise from NASA video of men on the moon which had been beamed directly back to Earth. Look at the Apollo 11 TV broadcast stuff and compare it to say the Apollo 17 stuff done 3 years later and the difference is obvious.

In 1973 I made an audio notch filter from plans supplied by Practical Wireless and components from Bardwells. It was intended to remove heterodyne whistles from shortwave radio broadcasts when used between the AF amplifier and headphones. It was very effective at this. I also tried to use it on a record player, where it only worked at low volumes as the higher power AF output tended to overload it. Interestingly, it wasn't that effective at removing clicks and hiss at the high frequency end, - but if you notched it at low frequencies you could almost completely eliminate turntable rumble and any AC mains hum (50Hz notch) from that shaded pole induction motor.

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History dude

As Paul McCartney once said when asked about 45rpm records and digital CD recordings (at the time the Beatles recordings first became available on CD) "Well the sound quality is a lot better on CD but I like the old records, some people say that they scratch and hiss a bit but I like that because when you hear that scratch and hiss you know there's a record coming on"

Of course it didn't stop him from putting in for more money when the CD's of Beatles albums came out. That's why they are even more expensive than an ordinary CD album. Mind you can't really blame him, they had been shafted by EMI when they signed up. They got 1 penny between the 5 of them (including Epstein) for every disc sold. And that would have applied to the CD, though John and Paul would have got more money if they had the rights to the songs they had written.

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History dude

The device you are describing is called a frequency notch filter. The technology for them was developed and used very effectively from 1969 onwards to clean up and remove noise from NASA video of men on the moon which had been beamed directly back to Earth. Look at the Apollo 11 TV broadcast stuff and compare it to say the Apollo 17 stuff done 3 years later and the difference is obvious.

In 1973 I made an audio notch filter from plans supplied by Practical Wireless and components from Bardwells. It was intended to remove heterodyne whistles from shortwave radio broadcasts when used between the AF amplifier and headphones. It was very effective at this. I also tried to use it on a record player, where it only worked at low volumes as the higher power AF output tended to overload it. Interestingly, it wasn't that effective at removing clicks and hiss at the high frequency end, - but if you notched it at low frequencies you could almost completely eliminate turntable rumble and any AC mains hum (50Hz notch) from that shaded pole induction motor.

It was a bit more complex than the device you built.

After a bit of searching around it came up on the net:

It's called the: The Garrard MRM-101 Music Recovery Module. And there's a picture too

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Of course it didn't stop him from putting in for more money when the CD's of Beatles albums came out. That's why they are even more expensive than an ordinary CD album. Mind you can't really blame him, they had been shafted by EMI when they signed up. They got 1 penny between the 5 of them (including Epstein) for every disc sold. And that would have applied to the CD, though John and Paul would have got more money if they had the rights to the songs they had written.

Paul was on Graham Norton's show recently (week before last) and said that as he no longer owns the rights to any of The Beatles back catalogue he has to pay royalties on his own songs every time he performs them, - which I think is wrong but there you go! he also had something to say about Michael Jackson who bought the rights to the Beatles songs, almost behind his back, after Paul had recorded a record with him in the 1980's.

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It was a bit more complex than the device you built.

After a bit of searching around it came up on the net:

It's called the: The Garrard MRM-101 Music Recovery Module. And there's a picture too

attachicon.gifThe Garrard MRM-101 Music Recovery Module.JPG

The one I made was from plans in a magazine in the 1970s and cost me between £10 and £15 to build. It was an experimental design aimed at radio amateurs and people interested in amateur electronics so the circuitry wasn't that sophisticated even by 1970s standards. It was, as I said previously, intended for radio amateurs to get rid of those horrible whistling and howling sounds that blight long distance (DX) shortwave radio reception. A good radio ham would easily be able to modify and alter this design to suit themselves and improve on it. for me, it worked on SW radio. It was only through a sense of experiment that I tried it on a record player to see what it would do. Again as I said previously, it wasn't much good at HF hiss and scratch, but was surprisingly good at LF hum and rumble, although you would need to listen on headphones to notice the difference as being a pass through unit between amplifier output and speakers / phones it was only rated with an input power of 300mW, - not really enough to drive large speakers at a high volume.

The unit you show is obviously of later design, and had records (vinyl!!!! uurgggh) not been outsold by digital formats I am sure that the current, mass market, record players would incorporate it as standard in much the same way that all later audio cassette players had Dolby as standard to improve sound quality as the price of these units in a mass market would have quickly fallen. what a pity that didn't happen.

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A record is made out of PVC (Polyvinylchloride) plastic so it is called "Vinyl"

What if we named other recording media after the materials they were made of?

Magnetic recording tape is made of iron oxide, so why not call it "Rust"

Proper photographic and cinema film is made of silver halides so why not call it "Silver"

Electronic digital media is made of silicon chips. Most of the Worlds silicon, the 2nd most abundant element is in the form of sand, so why not call it "Sand"

In the early days of records, and certainly in the days of phonograph cylinder recordings the maser copy was cut in wax and the term "Wax" (which sounds better than "Vinyl") was used.

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History dude

Paul was on Graham Norton's show recently (week before last) and said that as he no longer owns the rights to any of The Beatles back catalogue he has to pay royalties on his own songs every time he performs them, - which I think is wrong but there you go! he also had something to say about Michael Jackson who bought the rights to the Beatles songs, almost behind his back, after Paul had recorded a record with him in the 1980's.

However in the next 10 years he should get them back

http://www.uncut.co.uk/paul-mccartney/mccartney-gets-back-the-beatles-songs-news

Here's another bit of information on how the Beatles catalogue ended up in Jackson's hands then to Sony.

Northern Songs was a limited company founded in 1963, by music publisher wee pipe James, Brian Epstein, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, to publish songs written by Lennon and McCartney, as well as songs written by George Harrison and Ringo Starr, who were all members of the Beatles. Their producer, George Martin, was offered a stake in the company but turned it down, as he believed that his position at EMI made it a potential conflict of interest. In 1965, it was decided to make Northern Songs a public company, to save on capital gains tax.

After Epstein died in 1967, Lennon and McCartney sought to renegotiate their publishing deal with James, but early in 1969 James and his partner sold their shares in Northern Songs to Britain's Associated Television (ATV), giving no warning to the four Beatles and their record company, Apple Corps. Lennon and McCartney attempted to gain ownership of the publishing rights, but their bid to gain control failed, as the financial power of Lew Grade ensured that Northern Songs passed into the control of ATV. Allen Klein (then de facto Beatles' manager) attempted to set up a deal for Apple Corps to buy out ATV, but this also failed, after Lennon said, "I'm sick to death of being un-workable about by men in suits sitting on their fat arses in the City!",[1] which pushed other investors to ATV's bid.

McCartney once informed Michael Jackson about the financial value of music publishing, as Jackson had enquired about the process of acquiring songs and how songs were used. According to McCartney, Jackson then said, "I'm going to get yours [beatles' songs]".[2] Northern Songs was later purchased by Jackson, although McCartney and Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, were notified of the sale, but did not bid themselves. Jackson later merged his published catalogue with Sony Corporation of America's to form Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Northern Songs was dissolved in 1995 after the merger, and is now a part of Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

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History dude

It's very interesting how the 33 and 45 came about.

Bakelite had been invented by Leo Bakeland in 1907. But that company was taken over by Union Carbide and they came up with Polyvinyl Chloride and Vinyl Acetate called Vinylite in 1930.

In 1927 Western Electric Vitaphone had produced a 20" disc which ran at 33 for the movies. Each disc held 11 minutes of sound, the same length as a reel of film. These were not much use to the public as the stylus pressure wore the disc out. However Columbia developed a lower pressure system making the LP possible.

In April of 1948 William S Paley of CBS showed David Sarnoff the head of RCA, the new disc called "Vinylite". CBS had spent a quarter of a million dollars perfecting the microgroove disc 10 and 12 inch 33 discs .

RCA themselves was working on the 7 inch 45 disc in secret calling it the code name of "Madame X" also saying that they were working on developing a home tape system as a cover story.

Columbia records and RCA Records had been arguing for years and when Paley showed Sarnoff the 33 LP that escalated the argument further. He had only done so to get RCA to use Columbia to press RCA records!

So CBS brought out the 33 LP and RCA brought out the 7 inch 45. This became a battle of the speeds. It was thought that only one would emerge as the winner. In the UK this battle continued, as record companies did not want to layout on plant for one speed in case the other won. In fact EMI was one of the last to adopt the 45, thinking the 33 would win.

RCA also tried to win the battle of the album argument when it developed the EP in 1951. The EP started when they wanted to put Benny Goodman's 1936 track "Sing Sing Sing" which ran for 8 minutes on to a 45. They did so in the end!

But it was the Jukebox that helped settle the speed battle also the Radio DJ's liked the 45 better than 78's and the LP. In fact the term "oldies but goodies" still said by DJ's was originally about the 78.

In the end the LP became an easy way to store lots of tracks and stayed that way till the Beatles Sargent Pepper album.

Young kids could have a portable "dansette" record player and the 45 for them was the king. Dad could have the classical music playing in the front room on LP's and the kids upstairs with the 45! So the two developed into two markets. And so record companies could turn out both.

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