It’s 2018 and the turntable revolution continues. What was once thought to be a trend in the mid 90’s is still extremely popular today. While most of us have heard of some of the most popular DJ’s like Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Tiesto, and Calvin Harris who’s net worth is upwards of 45 million dollars, most people have no clue about the history of the turntable and how important it’s been throughout the last 100 years.
Let’s mosey on back to the 1800’s. Did you know that it was Thomas Edison who first showed off the phonograph back in 1877. Yep, that’s right. Looks like the light bulb wasn’t the only invention one of the greatest American inventors was interested in. Now if your really not sure what a phonograph is, it’s device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound. In other words, the phonograph could record sound and replay it. Pretty cool right? How it actually work seems a bit complicated so we won’t venture down that road now but you can always learn more about the history of the phonograph if your interested.
This invention was so exciting and life changing that other inventors helped create flat discs called records, needles and a drive system to create what would be known as a record player. No need to go into all of the technical stuff but let’s just say this “record player” was so popular that it was the main form of audio recording throughout most of the 20th century. In fact, the most earliest accounts of how the record player was used was more social. People would gather together at various venues and simply dance and listen to music. After the industrial revolution and the transformation to mass production, many families purchased a record player for their homes to see first hand how they work. Next, audio equipment corporations and record companies came into existence thus shifting the entire paradigm of the record player.
As the turntable revolution continues, let’s fast forward to 1972 when Matsushita Corp. (now Panasonic) created the first direct drive turntable for playing your vinyl; the Technics SL 1200. Not only did the SL 1200 go on to achieve iconic status among DJ’s but it also became the worlds most popular turntable. How’s that for a memorable soundbite? People forget that the Technics SL 1200 was ahead of it’s time. Old school DJ’s such as Frankie Kuckles and Grandmaster Flash didn’t have a lot of choices back then but they did have the SL 1200 which was fast, precise and made of high quality parts. It was an instant hit with musicians, studios, radio stations and well of course DJ’s. Over 3 million SL 1200’s have been sold to date.
Other aspiring DJ’s during this era that couldn’t afford the SL 1200 had to learn the ropes and basics from whatever turntable was available. Using a turntable also required the right turntable speakers so everyone could here your amazing performance.
It’s also really important to understand that while turntable sales were increasing and becoming more popular, audio technology in general was advancing faster than DJ’s, consumers and party goers could keep up with. That being said, the reality is that some audio formats were merely fads or trends with short life cycles like the 8 track tape which were no longer sold after 1990 or the super popular cassette tapes that most music companies discontinued entirely by 2003. Do you know what recording format is still in existence today right along side CD’s, DVD Audio, SD cards and USB drives? VINYL. Yes, you guessed correctly and what exactly is it you need in order to play vinyl? Ah, you guessed correctly again. A record player and thus the turntable revolution continues.
This revolution has been trending upwards now since 2010 and despite a super competitive market, Panasonic realized this and started production of it’s infamous turntable again in 2015. Was it just the upwards trend in vinyl sales that caused them to fire up production or was it the results of a petition that collected over 25,000 signatures demanding its return that sealed the deal? We might not know for certain but one thing we do know is that in 2018, the turntable revolution continues……… one record spin at at time.
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