Nav: Home

Making vinyl records even groovier

June 15, 2016

Audiophiles have reason to celebrate. Vinyl records are experiencing a comeback, and scientists are working to make their sound quality even better. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, takes a look at how past inventions led to the classic vinyl record, or LP, and what the future might hold.

Matt Davenport, associate editor at C&EN, notes that early iterations of sound recording devices were actually tubular, dating back to Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877. His original cylinder wrapped in tin foil gave way to a wax version created in the lab of another great inventor, Alexander Graham Bell. New studies of wax cylinders suggest that the material is very stable over time when handled properly. But more convenient flat records eventually took over. Initially, they were made of celluloid and rubber, and then shellac became the industry standard until the more user-friendly format of vinyl records came along in the mid-20th century. Then came cassettes, CDs and then MP3s.

But rather than going the way of the wax cylinder, LPs have weathered the digital revolution. Sales in the U.S. last year exceeded $400 million. It was vinyl's best year since 1988, even beating out revenue from one of today's most popular forms of music consumption, free online streaming. Now chemists are experimenting with different vinyl formulations to create records with higher quality sound. If they succeed, even more listeners could migrate back to the old-school technology.
-end-
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: TwitterFacebook

American Chemical Society

Related Sound Quality Articles:

how the brain distinguishes between voice and sound
Is the brain capable of distinguishing a voice from phonemes?
How blindness shapes sound processing
Adults who lost their vision at an early age have more refined auditory cortex responses to simple sounds than sighted individuals, according to new neuroimaging research published in JNeurosci.
Birds' surprising sound source
Birds, although they have larynges, use a different organ to sing.
It's a one-way street for sound waves in this new technology
Imagine being able to hear people whispering in the next room, while the raucous party in your own room is inaudible to the whisperers.
Sound changes the way rodents sense touch
Researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) report how the somatosensory cortex interprets tactile and auditory stimulation in mice and rats.
Stop -- hey, what's that sound?
In a new study, researchers were able to see where in the brain, and how quickly -- in milliseconds -- the brain's neurons transition from processing the sound of speech to processing the language-based words of the speech.
Printing with sound
Harvard University researchers have developed a new printing technology that uses sound waves to control the size of liquid droplets independent of fluid viscosity.
That sound makes me dizzy
Researchers from the University of Utah have discovered why certain people experience dizziness when they hear a particular sound, such as a musical tone.
Guiding sound waves through a maze
Researchers at TU Wien are developing methods for manipulating waves in a targeted manner, so that they can move forward with almost no restriction.
What causes the sound of a dripping tap -- and how do you stop it?
Scientists have solved the riddle behind one of the most recognisable, and annoying, household sounds: the dripping tap.
More Sound Quality News and Sound Quality Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.