Watching Vinyl Records Get Made Is Like Meditation

A technological throwback, just like vinyl records themselves.

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Aug 24 2016, 4:45pm

Sure dads and hipsters are the main market for vinyl records, but the process of making the records is mesmerizing for just about everyone.

This video by Super Deluxe, a self-described "community of creative weirdos making videos," takes us through the vinyl record manufacturing process: everything from cleaning the materials in the preparation sink to the shiny end product spinning on a record player.

The process of making vinyl records is rooted in Thomas Edison's phonograph, invented in 1877. After the initial master recording is made in a studio, lacquer material goes on top of a rotating record-cutting machine that allows electric signals from the master recording to travel to a cutting head, or two small speakers reverberating a diamond, that holds the needle. The needle, otherwise known as a stylus, carves grooves in the lacquer in concentric circles toward the center of the disc, which then goes to a production company.

While in production, the lacquer is covered in a master metal, like silver or nickel, which is then separated from the lacquer. Instead of carved out grooves, the master metal has ridges. It's used to create a metal record or "mother," which then is used as a stamper—an inverse version of the original recording.

The stamper is attached to a 100-ton hydraulic press and a sheet of hot vinyl, called the biscuit, is pressed in between. To make the material more malleable, 300 degree (Fahrenheit) steam is applied to the biscuit, while the stamper makes an impression of the master recording on it and imprints the audio. The vinyl disc is later cooled and hardened in water, and then labeled.

When the vinyl record gets off the stamper, its edges are trimmed to make it a clean circle, and then it undergoes audio and visual inspection. This is the last step before sending it out to music retailers, or if it doesn't pass the test, melting it back down into a biscuit and starting again.

The process is nearly as fun to watch, as listening to the warm musical sounds of the end result.