Looking into the black box

A young man of my acquaintance was given a very special present for his 21st birthday: a good quality stereo turntable and an amplifier. I wasn’t there, but I heard a lovely story about it. While they were trying to get it going, at one point they had no sound out of the speakers yet he was startled to hear the music directly from the stylus. He was amazed, having had no idea that the music was held as vibrations in the groove. (That’s shorthand. Of course, the grooves are merely a moving track that imparts vibrations to the stylus.)

He isn’t of a technical bent, so he wouldn’t be expected to know. What’s interesting is that I get the sense that for people who have grown up in the digital era, the audio (and, presumably, video) is considered basically to go into an impenetrable black box at the recording studio, and extracted from another black box (aka CD, MP3 file or whatever) at the consumer’s end, with no knowledge of what’s inside it.

Using vinyl, the most immediate of the analogue audio conveyances, sheds some light into the interior of at least one kind of black box.

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