Would vinyl even be invented today?


Records, cartridges and tonearms seem like such an unlikely method to play music--a bit of Rube Goldberg. Would anyone even dream of this today? It's like the typewriter keyboard--the version we have may not be the best, but it stays due to the path dependence effect. If vinyl evolved from some crude wax cylinder to a piece of rock careening off walls of vinyl, hasn't it reached the limits of the approach? Not trying to be critical--just trying to get my head around it.
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Well yes, I'd say it has pretty much reached the limits of what is possible using the existing phono playback technology.

I guess the only point you are missing is that vinyl playback offers some unique musical qualities that are unavailable with the digital formats (as good as they are, and are becoming).

So if you're curious, why don't you buy yourself a good entry level vinyl playback system and see what you may be missing??? Reading different opinions about it can only take you so far...

Happy Holidays!
There is a reason why many who have every media option available still prefer like vinyl. They can not all be masochists.
If it was it would be treated like a miracle.
As would a book, all that wisdom, no internet bill, no battery, no plug -OMG !
With $100K turntables and $15K cartridges you sure as shootin' better have vinyl. Besides digital still can't get their act together. Sounds like dead people playing.
It's 100 year old technology that peaked over 20 years ago already.

NEw records are being made but prices are high and quality control questionable. Nothing major new in site, though prices for new records and capable players continue to go up and newer alternatives get better and cheaper. So there you go.

I bought my turntable back in teh 80s to preserve my investment in records at that time and that has worked well. I still buy old vinyl in good shape on teh cheap from time to time and an occasional collectors Item that I must have for a premium, but if I was not an old guy who happened to colelct a lot of records over the year, I would not bother any more frankly.
No
If I was to start from scratch it would be Devialet or such like all the way.
Not only that byt new materials may mean that records/or the like will be made of something far more resilient - who knows - graphene or such like.
Not only that, but vinyl can only exist as it does with over 100 years technology behind it
Would the vacuum tube be invented today? I doubt it!
Would the wheel be invented today?
vinyl playback offers some unique musical qualities that are unavailable with the digital formats

You mean noise, pops and clicks?
"Records, cartridges and tonearms seem like such an unlikely method to play music--a bit of Rube Goldberg. Would anyone even dream of this today?"

Is taking an analog signal, converting it into a bunch of 1's and 0's that can only exist in cyperspace, and then reassemble the digital bits in an attempt to restore the analog signal as close to the original as possible, so we can then use it to listen to music, any more plausible?
Works for HDTV
Jafreeman, It's all about evolution. These technologies come and go (and come) in a natural order based on perceived need and science, and lately, nostalgia.

12-15-14: Mapman
It's 100 year old technology that peaked over 20 years ago already.

New records are being made but prices are high and quality control questionable.

The LP technology may have peaked 20 yrs ago (which I doubt), but turntables now are much better-sounding than the ones from the "golden age." Back then most TT mfrs were CLUELESS about resonance damping and vibration control.

Consider: a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (which sounds fabulous for its price) is $399. In 1969 my brother paid $79.95 for a 10" platter Garrard rim drive POS. Adjusted for inflation the Debut carbon would be a mere $61.67 including an Ortofon 2M Red, better than most carts we could get back then.

Speaking of inflation, I specifically remember that LPs in 1970 ran anywhere from $3.19 to about $4.77, depnding on the store and the particular record. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $19.52 to $29.19 today, in other words about the same as we pay today for a nice 180g pressing. When you consider that in 2014 the record makers don't have anywhere near the economy of scale working for them that they did in the '60s and early '70s, those prices today are pretty good. Also consider that when CDs got popular around 1987, the basic ones were $15.99, equivalent to $33.42 in 2014, so even by that standard current LPs are a good deal.

There are other analog delivery systems that could be less hassle in certain ways, such as open reel tape. The miracle of LPs is how authentically they can recreate the original sound and emotional vibe while being stamped out at a rate of about one per minute. You can't do that with dubbed open reel tape.
Do you think the internal combustion engine is a model of simplicity and logic...❓👀
Yet here we are 120 years later with basically the same concept powering our vehicles.....because we can't do it better any other way...😎👅
Vinyl playback IMO.....is a similar example of sophisticated perfection which may not be equaled....let alone exceeded...in my lifetime...😍
For long term archiving of material vinyl is a superior medium. Assuming it's stored in a climate controlled environment a vinyl record can last for centuries. You cannot say the same for digital storage devices.
I think it a bit delusional to believe there is ANYTHING perfect about vinyl record playback, but it does not really matter as long as one likes the way things sound.

BTW, which part of the record is more perfect, the beginning or the end? They are not the ame so cannot be equally perfect. IT's a fair question then. :^)
"Works for HDTV"

How many guys who think digital is inherently inferior are willing to give up their HD TVs and go back to the old analog tube crap that preceeded it?

I hooked an antenna up to my old portable analog TV with one of those inexpensive video d/a converters. The picture on my old analog portable TV never looked so good.

Can't work for audio though of course.... :^)
No! But I'm glad it was yesterday so that it is here today.
Only if vinyl was invented by Steve Jobs.
"BTW, which part of the record is more perfect, the beginning or the end? They are not the ame so cannot be equally perfect. IT's a fair question then. :^)"

It depends on the record. Sometimes they put the good songs in the beginning, and sometimes at the end.
Who or what is Rube Goldberg? Sounds like a kid I went to Hebrew school with.
Rube Goldberg is a fellow who popularized the art of making something happen by way of the most outrageous means. Google him
Saw a Youtube video with the leading minds of audio on the cutting edge of digital audio exploring the limits of digital audio. Boy were they all into USB, Spdif, jitter, storage and the likes.
Turns out the most advanced of the group were long confirmed analog enthusiasts hell bent on getting that sound into digital formats. They have made considerable progress. No one on the panel claimed to have achieved it
On an interesting note, it seems there is approximately a terabyte of info on an LP. That may go some way in explaining why the analog format is a more complete experience.
The answer to the original question is probably no, unless someone really decided to think outside the box. It's just too simple.
That was a weird explanation of old Rube...but I like it. I also think the turntable thing is "weird science"...recently read about a French dude in the 1840s or so who "recorded" a voice on paper using some sort of dust and a megaphone device that was for a "visual" representation of sound for deaf people (!). There was no audio playback for this thing, but a restoration lab recently was able to "play" the dust pattern and actually heard the guy singing. Man...this was in an article from the New Yorker (I think) about using laser/digital tech to see what old, unplayable wax cylinders contain because you can't use a needle on them as they will be destroyed, or they're already cracked to shit...all cool stuff. Love LPs...my old faves are so damn interesting and engaging. How often do you stick an LP on to hear a little bit and wind up listening to the whole damn thing?
"Man...this was in an article from the New Yorker (I think) about using laser/digital tech to see what old, unplayable wax cylinders contain because you can't use a needle on them as they will be destroyed, or they're already cracked to shit...all cool stuff."

I don't know if they still make them anymore, but one company was making TT's that used a laser to read the record instead of a phono cart.
Digital would have worked for audio as well as it does for video only if there were as many consumers who appreciate audio as compared to those who appreciate video. Look at the number of big flatscreen TVs and projectors that are sold. How many of them would spend on good audio ? Hence the growth rate of audio quality in digital domain.
yea dood, we tryin' we're all obsessed with placing a needle, flipping a record that sometimes has only one song on each side or same song with different mixes, scratching it, then replacing this needle, upgrading, cleaning, shelving, storing... wtf? why?
Abucktwoeighty, I went to Wikipedia and it said basically what you said about Rube Goldberg. I always thought that Rube Goldberg was a fictitious name. I never knew it was actually a person. Thanks for the heads up.

12-17-14: Czarivey
yea dood, we tryin' we're all obsessed with placing a needle, flipping a record that sometimes has only one song on each side or same song with different mixes, scratching it, then replacing this needle, upgrading, cleaning, shelving, storing... wtf? why?
... for the same reason that I long ago realized synthetic blend no-iron shirts weren't worth the convenience. I'll gladly spend 10 mins. ironing a nice all-cotton shirt that will feel good all day the same way I'll take a little time to make sure my records and stylus are clean to have a far more emotionally involving musical experience.

It's the listening, that's why.

BTW, there are many things based on old technology that continue to thrive. Somebody mentioned the internal combustion engine, but it's survived alternatives such as steam power, the Wankel rotary engine, and the turbine engine, all of which generated a lot of press but ultimately came to little in automobiles.

The grand piano of today was pretty much perfected around 120 years ago. A 1900 Steinway 9' grand is competitive with a new one made (the same old way) today. In fact, CBS Musical Instruments tried to improve the Steinway by replacing the 19th century-based felt bushings in the piano action with Teflon sleeves. It turned out the old technology (felt) was superior because the Teflon would make the action stick in humid weather.

The principle of sound energy etching a wax cylinder may be well over 100 years old, but the refinement into the stereo LP (itself now 56 years old) is capable of transporting you to the performance and achieving a great sense of musical satisfaction. It is also able to do it economically and provides a durable, space-efficient (relative to the data density it contains) medium.
A mechanical means of recording sound vibrations was bound to happen eventually in history. Who knows? Perhaps past civilizations discovered a way to record vibrations but the technology was lost. Vacuum tubes were an extension of the light bulb. Electronic amplification was sought after to both extend the range of the wired telegraph as well as the newfangled telephone.

Color television has always had the limitation of having a screen door effect. ie. the picture tube had discreet dots (and lines of resolution). The change from analog to digital was really just the means of conveying the signal. HDTVs have the same screen door effect- just more dots, like 4-5 million now versus thousands in the early color TVs. So comparing analog/digital TV to audio isn't really an equal comparison.
Is taking an analog signal, converting it into a bunch of 1's and 0's that can only exist in cyperspace, and then reassemble the digital bits in an attempt to restore the analog signal as close to the original as possible, so we can then use it to listen to music, any more plausible?

Has no one listened to any music that has been produced since '87? Somewhere it has gone digital in its chain before it hit your ears. A record off of those digital masters sounds "better" to many than listening to the original digital hi-res version. Why?
All analog is fun and does have a unique experience, but it would never be invented today. It is expensive and has many incredible flaws.

I think many people enjoy the sound of a record is partially because of the high noise floor, where digital can sometimes sound just a little to antiseptic.
If you have the opportunity, listen to a great pair of speakers in an anechoic chamber. Awful. Absolutely awful, but probably closer to perfect. Humans use all the background noises around us to give us a sense of space. Analog's noise duplicates that space, digital does not have it.
It is a feeling thing, but not a sound reproduction thing.
If I cover 3/4 of my 55" HDTV I will get even less pixels than my old Sony Triniton, but picture is still far, far superior. It is not amounts of dots but quality of the picture/process. HDTV uses the same amount of bandwidth as analog TV but delivers much more data (compression) not to mention accuracy of the colors (NTSC = Never Twice Same Color), no relections/double edges, no snow etc. If you really think that analog TV set with more pixels would perform as well as HDTV then you are in real denial.
@dentdog_a terabyte? Got a link you can share on that? Would love to read up on that.
Terabytes of digital data on an analog record....now there is some weird science.
Tubehead, I'll look around for it. It was Feickert or one of his buddies. Bottom line was that it would probably take north of 300-400 gigs before double blind testing vs a Terabyte would yield the difference undetectable. I still think it may be like being able to do time travel-only you lose your soul.
If someone woke today in a non vinyl world and dreamed it up today, they would certainly say "yeah, but there's no decent new music to record on it." Then rollover and go back to sleep.
If someone woke today in a non vinyl world and dreamed it up today, they would certainly say "yeah, but there's no decent new music to record on it." Then rollover and go back to sleep.

Coming from a Wilco fan....
Lots of good jazz and classical music to record, there never was any good rock music to record.
Imagine a stylus rigged with cables tied directly to speaker cones through a system of levers and pulleys. No electronics to color the sound. Then we would have discussions about the advantages of different cable sizes, tension and materials and the affects of various bearing grades used in the pulleys. Oh, I just realized that I just described the first player pianos...
Gdoddle, You got it,......
Kids these days. They don't understand that when I was young even the worst musician farted better sounds than people hear now.
Probably not...the era of actually dedicating time to listen to an Lp side uninterrupted not to mention physically playing a record...although not extinct...is a somewhat forgotten, nostalgic time for most... even with those that grew up with lps...time constraints, lifestyle changes, portability, etc have changed the landscape a bit...although vinyl is holding on...we live in a different world then the 70s as far as entertainment choices...internet, gaming, HDTV, sports galore
There are many things that endure today that were invented in another time, things that might not be conceived of today that were borne of the best technology of that particular time. The LP is the culmination of Edison's original invention 137 years ago. The piano evolved out of other keyboard instruments 200 years ago and developed about as far as it can go around 1910.

If the automobile were invented today, the government would almost certainly deem it too dangerous for public use and prevent it from being licensed and sold, except perhaps to an elite few.

I lived in Boston for about a year, and one particularly cold, blustery day, a co-worker arrived in the morning and announced, "I swear, if the Pilgrims had landed in California, New England would still be uninhabited."

Often situations and things are the result of a mindset, a need, a time, and a place. Change any of those things and the "thing" probably wouldn't have happened that way. The LP is just one of those many things.
The Lp stemmed from an era where individuals set aside time to listen to music...and not just audiophiles...folks with meager systems as well...it morphed a bit in the 70s when classic rock ruled the airwaves...and music became more social than solitary...the huge live concerts aimed...at partying youth...boomboxes at the beach blasting FM...I was bit too young to really enjoy this era...I came in at the tail end so I'm more of an 80s child (gasp)....but it was fun!
As a young lad growing up part of my life in Southern California in the mid 1960s many had a transistor radio and a portable suit case style record player in their bedrooms, stacks of 45s and Lps galore,.it was the same for the older generation of kids growing up in the 1950s, portable battery operated vacuum tube radios and early versions of the compact record player for 78 rpm,.
But these technologies can be traced further back,...

Going to the beach on the weekends was a memorable sight , bleach blondes in skimpy bikinis , the surf and the top ten blaring over radios.
music was everywhere and the World bought vinyl, 100s of billions of vinyl records...."...
There are many items we use today or variations of ,some of which changed very little like the slot head screw,,centuries old ,one use and maybe first delveloped to dress in armour .
Didn't Al Gore invent the LP?
Didn't Al Gore invent the LP?
No. He is clearly a digital guy.
Well, let's look at the market for sound reproduction and make an educated, clean-sheet-of-paper guess. Hi-res digital, available as either download, stream, or SACD/DVD audio is out there already. It offers the essentially "perfect sound forever" promised, but not delivered, by CD. Hardware is expensive, but quite good examples may be had for non-stratospheric prices. IMHO, the combination of high quality sonics plus convenience plus affordability would doom the LP record to instant obsolescence should it come to market brand new today. Sad but in all probability true. Think back: remember the El cassette? How about digital audiotape? Those didn't work out so good, as I recall. LPs wouldn't either if brought to market now for the first time.
If I had to guess, I'd say ol Al rocks out to mp3s pushed through his bose wave ;-)
i imagine he has hottter GF than most of us do know, but that is what happens with money, power, and inviting the internet ;)