Watch a Needle Ride Through LP Record Grooves Under an Electron Microscope

Last year, we high­light­ed a 1956 video from RCA Vic­tor which demon­strat­ed how vinyl records were made back in the good old days. If you have 23 free min­utes, you can get a pret­ty good look at the pro­duc­tion process — the live audio record­ing, the mak­ing of a mas­ter disc, the pro­duc­tion of a mold, the even­tu­al mass pro­duc­tion of vinyl records, etc.

Almost 60 years lat­er, vinyl is mak­ing a come­back. So why not let Ben Kras­now, a hard­ware engi­neer at Google X, give us a much more mod­ern per­spec­tive on the LP? Above, watch Kras­now’s stop motion ani­ma­tion, made with an elec­tron micro­scope, which shows us a phono­graph nee­dle rid­ing through grooves on an LP. Much of the 9‑minute video offers a fair­ly tech­ni­cal primer on what went into mak­ing this stop motion clip in the first place. So if you want to get to the action, fast for­ward to the 4:20 mark.

If you hang with Kras­now’s video, you can also see him take some micro­scop­ic looks at oth­er media for­mats — CD-ROMs, ear­ly forms of DVDs, and more.

via Devour

Fol­low us on Face­book, Twit­ter, Google Plus and LinkedIn and  share intel­li­gent media with your friends. Or bet­ter yet, sign up for our dai­ly email and get a dai­ly dose of Open Cul­ture in your inbox.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Vinyl Records Are Made: A Primer from 1956 (That’s Rel­e­vant in 2014)

How to Clean Your Vinyl Records with Wood Glue

World Records: New Pho­to Exhib­it Pays Trib­ute to the Era of Vinyl Records & Turnta­bles

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Monica MacKeachan says:

    #record #record­ing #vinyl #vinyl­records #nee­dle #work­out
    #groove #grooves #mod­ern #clas­sic #jux­ta­po­si­tion #mag­ni­fi­ca­tion #enhanced #vision under a #micro­scope

  • David Reaves says:

    Fas­ci­nat­ing! It might be inter­est­ing to show a scale of some sort, in order to com­pare the actu­al rel­a­tive sizes of the ‘grooves’ of the var­i­ous media. I’d bet the LP groove would hold many, many (hun­dreds, per­haps?) DVD grooves, for exam­ple.

  • Jahn Ghalt says:

    Mr. Reaves

    For “old school” guys there is lit­tle need to look up any­thing to get the scale.

    LP’s are nom­i­nal­ly 12″ — 6‑inch out­er radius. Esti­mate a 2.5 inner radius — which leaves 3.5 inch­es play­ing sur­face.

    Unlike CD (DVD, Blu-Ray) the rota­tion is con­stant at 33.3/minute.

    Use 20 min­utes as an aver­age:

    (33.3 rotations/minute)(20 min­utes) = 666 rota­tions.


    (3.5 inches)/(666 rota­tions) = rough­ly 0.005 inch­es groove-groove on aver­age — aka 5 mils.

    See, Mr. Reaves, you could have done this your­self.

    Now go look up CD and DVD “pitch”:

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.