Whether your choice of vinyl exists in the 200-gram form or as a tortilla, the magic that makes music play from an analog disc is one of the most impressive engineering feats ever conceived. But how exactly does a turntable convert those modulated spiral grooves into magic melodies?
As music writer Ned Lannaman once described, the way a turntable works isn’t just simple science – it opens the door to an entirely new dimension (and no, we haven’t been eating funny-tasting mushrooms):
“The needle (actually a microscopic and very sophisticated microphone) drags across a record’s infinitesimal grooves and incredible things begin to happen. The drums punch, the vocals breathe, the bass covers you like a blanket. It makes you start using vague, bullshitty descriptors like “warmth” and “presence.” The best analogy I can come up with is that listening to a good clean record is like looking at a painting in a museum versus referring to a reproduction—no matter how high quality—in a book.”
In this incredible video released by the Science Channel yesterday, we get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes those drums punch and vocals breathe:
Sadly, Record Store Day passed us last weekend, but few things beat a trip to the neighborhood shop any time of year.