The Virtual House

Record Players / Gramophones


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A record player plays back the sound from a thin plastic disc. The disc is called a record. Sounds are recorded on it in a spiral groove.

Photograph of the WGC record department 1950s
WGC Record Department 1950

Sound recording was invented in 1877 and at first used cylindrical records made of wax. Flat records, invented in the 1880s, were moulded with early plastics. But PVC, or vinyl, available from the 1940s, were smoother, allowing finer grooves and a slower playing speed.

Record players, or gramophones as they were originally called, ruled the world of recorded music for almost fifty years.

Hi-fi is short for high fidelity. A hi-fi sound system, such as a record player or tape recorder, reproduces sound that is almost as good as the original sound.

advertisment for jonell mark 2 record player - click to view full imageJonell Mk3 - Model 64 Stereophonic Record Player

The first commercial use of stereo sound was for Walt Disney's Fantasia in 1940. Big banks of speakers were placed behind the screen and in the auditorium to surround the audience with sound.

In 1958, the first stereo LP records were released. By the late 1960s almost all new recorded music was stereophonic.

The first stereo FM radio broadcasts were in 1961, Ray Dolby developed his famous noise reduction system in 1967, and two years later, four-channel (Quadrophonic) stereo tapes and LPs were marketed. Records have mostly been replaced by CDs, though some DJs still use vinyl records.


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