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Ten Things You May Not Know About Vinyl Records

May 11, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Music News | By Rock Square

Researchers say vinyl records are on their way back to the forefront of the music world – but for us Audiophiles, have they ever really left?

A spike in recent popularity may have something to do with the physicality of spinning wax on a turntable, especially in an increasingly digital (and compressed) world.

Whatever the case, to celebrate the resurgence of vinyl, we wanted to put together a list of Ten Things You May Not Know About Vinyl Records – whether you’re a longtime enthusiast or just purchased your first turntable last week, there’s something for you in this piece, so enjoy!

1. The origin of the vinyl record can be traced to the 19th Century.

Way back in 1857, a French scientist named Leon Scott developed the “phonoautograph”, which used a vibrating diaphragm to record sound waves on paper. The initial intention for this was merely for visual analysis, but it laid the groundwork for what would eventually become the gramophone, or LP. (source)

2. The first commercially-available LP was more or less a failure.

RCA Victor released the first readily-available consumer LP in 1930, but the company’s timing was poor. The Great Depression caused potential consumers to be wary of spending money on what they deemed an unreliable or suspect new technology. (source

3. A Velvet Underground record sold for $25,000, making it one of the priciest ever sold.

In 2009, a rare acetate from the Velvet Underground (believed to be the only copy) sold for $25,000 online. The original disc, which was dated 4-25-66, was purchased at a New York street sale in 2002. The record contained early versions of many of the songs that would later appear on The Velvet Underground & Nico, one of the most celebrated rock 'n' roll records ever made. (source)

4. The largest record collection on file featured more than 1 million LPs.

A man named Paul Mawhinney is believed to have possessed the largest record collection in the world – stretching past the one million mark (and featuring 1.5 million singles!). Mawhinney had to close his record store, Record Rama, in 2008, and sought to sell the entire collection to someone that would be willing to continue what he had started – but the initial bid of $3 million turned out to be a fraud. (source)

5. There’s a difference in sound between black and clear/colored vinyl.

While clear/colored vinyl is extremely collectable and desired among fans of a particular band or act, in actuality there is a sonic difference between them. Clear and colored discs usually attain more pops and cracks (“surface noise”) over time than standard black vinyl records do. (source)

6. Vinyl sales figures have grown precipitously in the past few years.

2011 was a banner year for the resurgence of vinyl, with Nielsen Soundscan reporting that LP sales reached the 3.9 million mark in 2011. When compared to 2010’s end-of-year figures, that marked a 39.3% increase, prompting many to declare vinyl officially on the rebound. (source)

7. You can buy a turntable designed for cats.

This may be a bit of a stretch, but it’s fun – a British company manufactured a cat scratch post that resembles an LP turntable. The cat “scratches” the “record”, which is of course made of cardboard. It’s highly amusing, especially when imagining your cat playing DJ to a spinning cardboard disc. (source)

8. Got $2,500? Buy this blood-filled record. No, really.

For their 2012 Record Store Day album The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, TFL front man Wayne Coyne created 10 (just 10) blood-filled records. Each disc includes actual blood from some of the participants on the double-album: Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Ke$ha, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Sean Lennonare a few of the notable musicians who donated their blood to this eccentric cause. Sales of the records went directly to two charities in Oklahoma.

9. A recent trend has given new life to old, discarded LPs.

In the past few months, as LPs continue to charge back into popularity, many websites have spent time displaying cute little bowls crafted out of old, unwanted (or warped) records. If you have an oven and some free time in the afternoon, you can make yourself a few of these. It’s fun! Just make sure you aren’t ruining an extremely valuable first-edition Meet the Beatles… (source)

10. Ironically, vinyl may outlast the medium that replaced it the first time around.

In a climate where artists struggle to sell copies of albums yet single sales surge through the roof, the timing of vinyl’s resurgence may seem odd. What’s even odder is that, since LP sales have increased over the last few years, CD sales have declined each consecutive year – meaning that despite the obvious physical difference in CDs and LPs, the retro appeal of vinyl may have granted it the opportunity to overthrow the same medium that almost made it obsolete in the 1980s-1990s. (source)

So there you go, 10 Facts about vinyl records. It’s pretty cool that they’re becoming popular again, isn’t it?

Let us know if you have any other facts you’d want to share about LPs.

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