How Record Players Work

        Tech | Audio

How a Vinyl Record is Made

The success of the gramophone to play recorded sounds was dependent on the ability to mass produce records.

The process of making records has its roots in Thomas Alva Edison's phonograph. First, a master recording is made, usually in a studio where engineers perfect the recorded sound. Then an object called a lacquer is placed on a record-cutting machine, and as it rotates, electric signals from the master recording travel to a cutting head, which holds a stylus, or needle. The needle etches a groove in the lacquer that spirals to the center of the circular disc. The imprinted lacquer is then sent to a production company.

There, the lacquer is coated in a metal, such as silver or nickel, to produce a metal master. When the metal master is separated from the lacquer, the resulting disc has ridges instead of grooves. The metal master is then used to create a metal record, also called the mother, which is then used to form the stamper. Stampers are just negative versions of the original recording that will be used to make the actual vinyl records.

Next, the stamper is placed in a hydraulic press, and vinyl is sandwiched in between. Steam from the press softens the plastic as the stampers push an impression of the master recording onto it. Finally, the disc is stiffened using cool water.

Once the record is ready to be played, it will need a proper machine to bring its sounds to life. Up next, we'll break down how exactly a record player's components work together to bring you the music.