Tag Archives: music

The Best Horror Movie Soundtracks: Our Top 5 List

October is the month that ends with Halloween, which means many of our minds will turn to all things scary. For many of us there is no better way to enjoy Halloween than with horror movies, and while the most memorable aspects of most horror movies are the terrifying visuals of gruesome deaths at the hands of famous movie monsters, of course, we like to focus on the sounds.

Music creates atmosphere, which means that a great horror movie soundtrack can scare the hell out of you before a single drop of blood is ever shed on screen. Whether you’re listening to these by themselves, or pumping them through your home theater on scary movie night, here are five horror movie soundtracks you should check out this Halloween.


While there are a couple of notes from this soundtrack that we all know, the shower scene soundtrack is only a slim part of a great sounding movie. Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho is chilling and brilliant from beginning to end. It’s what makes Psycho a horror movie from the start, even though the violence doesn’t start for quite some time. And the shower scene music is brilliant. Herrmann created it without direction from Alfred Hitchcock, because the director wasn’t planning on the scene having music at all. We can’t even conceive of such a thing.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

So, this one may not be a traditional “horror” movie, but there needed to be at least one scary movie the whole family could enjoy on this list, and the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas is just too good to ignore. Danny Elfman is one of the greatest modern composers and he’s in top form here. From “This is Halloween” to “Oogie Boogie’s Song” there’s plenty here to give you a legitimate fright. The music hits all the great notes of dread and tension that a true horror movie will give you, even if nobody actually dies.

It Follows

It Follows is the most modern film on this list and the man who scored the film, who goes by the name Disasterpiece, had never written music for a movie before. Some people just get it right the first time. The music feels like it’s a throwback to a 1980’s slasher movie, while being better than the music for most of those. The old school sound does its job of transporting you into the world of the film, which itself takes a lot of cues from classic horror movies. If you missed It Follows last year, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.


If there’s a single piece of music that instantly evokes Halloween, it is likely the theme from the movie of the same name. It’s repetitive piano is one of the most iconic sounds in all of movie music. Even if you had never seen Halloween we bet hearing those notes would instantly give you a sense of underlying dread. The fact that the music was actually written by John Carpenter, the same man who wrote and directed the film, just makes it all the more perfect. We know that music makes you feel exactly how the director wanted you to feel.


Suspiria is a film you may not be familiar with, but you owe it to yourself to fix that immediately. From the legendary horror director Dario Argento, it’s a 1977 Italian horror film that is one of the master’s best works. The soundtrack, from an artist known only as Goblin, is an equally great creation. This soundtrack was written in and recorded in a single day which is only one of the amazing things about it. The music absolutely drips with atmosphere. There’s literally no way to listen to it, even outside of the film, without beginning to feel somewhat scared.

Meet the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2016 Inductees

The performers who will be joining the music elite as inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 are: Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller and N.W.A. Bert Berns will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement for his contributions to rock and roll as a writer, producer and record executive. This talented and diverse group of artists will be honored during the 31st ceremony for their roles in creating music that have become part of rock and roll history.

Cheap Trick

Photo: RollingStone.com

Cheap Trick – 40 Years of Classic Rock

Since Cheap Trick released their first self-titled album in 1977, they have produced 17 more albums and are still playing shows today. In fact, they just released a new album: Bang, Zoom, Crazy … HelloTheir longevity is due to their passion for rock and roll, and also their catchy guitar riffs, memorable lyrics and their relentless touring.

Cheap Trick is best known for their song, “I want you to want me” off of their 1977 album “In Color.” The band’s core members, Robin Zander on lead vocals, Rick Nielsen on lead guitar, Bun E. Carlos on drums and Tom Petersson on bass, have remained consistent since the band was formed in Illinois in 1974.

Chicago the Band

Photo: RollingStone.com

Chicago – Revolutionizing Rock & Roll with Horns

The band Chicago is best known for incorporating horns into soft rock ballads. The founding members from 1967 are Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider and Danny Seraphine. However, many members have joined and left the band over the years.

The band won a Grammy for their best-known 1976 hit “If you leave me now.” Other hits include, “Make Me Smile”, the powerful “25 or 6 to 4” and the catchy “Saturday in the Park.” Chicago’s music is easily identifiable by the use of brass instruments, woodwinds and piano.

Deep Purple

Photo: RollingStone.com

Deep Purple – Best Known Guitar Riff in the World

The opening chords of Deep Purple’s iconic hit “Smoke on the Water” defines heavy metal. Formed in 1968 in Hereford England, Deep Purple started as an orchestral band that quickly embraced a darker sound. The aggressive “Highway Star” and heavy bass of “Space Truckin'” off of their 1972 album “Machine Head” have inspired generations of hard rockers.

Steve Miller Band

Photo: RollingStone.com

Steve Miller – Infectious Pop Rock

Steve Miller is the singer, harmonica player and lead guitarist of the Steve Miller Band. As a child, Steve Miller was encouraged to experiment with music, especially by family friend Les Paul. The 1968 hit “Living in the USA” was inspired by the San Francisco’s psychedelic music scene.

Steve Miller found commercial success with his platinum 1973 album “The Joker.” The optimistic bluesy storytelling of the title track “The Joker” hit number one in the US and later in the UK. His other hits include “Take the Money and Run,” “Rock’n Me” and “Fly Like an Eagle” off of the 1976 album “Fly Like an Eagle.”


Photo: RollingStone.com

NWA – Bringing Gangster Rap to Mainstream America

The success of N.W.A. undeniably changed rock and roll history. Controversial, rude, even shocking, N.W.A. has inspired rap artists for generations, legitimizing and popularizing the genre Gangster Rap. Their first studio album “Straight Outta Compton,” featured the song “Fuck the Police” sending shockwaves through America. The album was one of the first to receive a parental advisory label for explicit content and even solicited a protest letter from the assistant director of the FBI.

Meanwhile, N.W.A.’s gritty, if not romanticized street tales, enthralled America’s youth. Beyond their success as a group, NWA members Eazy E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have become musical royalty. Their protégés, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Bone Thugs N Harmony, 2Pac, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar make up some of the most talented rap artists of the last 25 years, ensuring the legacy of N.W.A. for years to come.

Bert Berns

Photo: RollingStone.com

Bert Berns – Interpreting Cuban Rhythms into Pop Music Hits

Bert Berns put a lifetime of talent into the seven years that he worked as a writer, producer and record executive. Inspired by Cuban music, he wrote the hits “Cry to Me,” covered by Solomon Burke and the Rolling Stones and “Twist and Shout” covered by the Beatles. He also wrote “Cry Baby” and “Piece of my Heart,” both hits for Janis Joplin.

Berns became a producer for Atlantic in 1963 and started his own record label, BANG, in 1965. His love of rhythm and blues became his trademark, producing “Hang on Sloopy” performed by the McCoys and “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters. With an eye for talent, Berns recorded Neil Diamond’s hit “Cherry, Cherry,” as well as Van Morrison’s hit “Brown Eyed Girl.” Until his death in 1967, Bert Berns contributed classic songs that have made rock and roll history.


Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables and Klipsch speakers.

Five Bands Who Are Long Overdue For A New Album

While music fans generally expect a few years between albums for most bands, some of the world’s biggest and most creative bands have gone far too long without a new release. Although these delays are tough on fans of the bands, it is often expected that releasing a quality album can take a fair amount of time for songwriting, rehearsing, recording and production. Here is a list of five bands that are long overdue for a new album.

Radiohead social

Photo via Science-All


Last releasing the experimental rock opus “The King of Limbs” in February of 2011, the seminal alternative band has been unexpectedly quiet for the past few years. Although frontman Thom Yorke released a solo album in 2014, Radiohead fans are still thirsting for the next album, which the band has reportedly been working on since early 2015. As a small consolation, fans were treated to the release of the track “Spectre” on Christmas Day 2015, which was an unused track from the recent James Bond film of the same name.

LCD Soundsystem

Photo via The New Yorker

LCD Soundsystem

Just five years after the upbeat dance-punk band announced their breakup and played a raucous and high profile final show at Madison Square Garden, they have reunited and are hitting the road in 2016. The day after announcing the reunion tour, eccentric bandleader James Murphy also announced that a new album would be forthcoming. Fans of the band who brought us such infectious rump-shakers as “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” are already sporting their dancing shoes and patiently waiting.

Tool social

Photo via MetalInjection.net


It’s hard to believe that Tool’s last release was “10,000 Days” all the way back in the spring of 2006, but that is indeed the case. Perhaps with the album selling over 500,000 copies in its first week, Maynard James Keenan and his band of morbid hard rockers deservedly thought they could use an extended break. Though the band has cited family reasons and an ongoing lawsuit as primary reasons for the delay on a new album, Keenan has also been very active recording and touring with his experimental side project Puscifer, of which he is the only permanent member. Although Tool fans are as devoted as any fan base in music, a decade long wait is certainly a lot to ask.

The Shins social

Photo via The Consequence of Sound

The Shins

The Shins and the band’s only original member James Mercer have been relatively quiet since the spring 2012 release of the impressively successful “Port of Morrow.” Although Mercer has released an EP and full length album with side project Broken Bells, a collaboration with Danger Mouse, fans of The Shins’ jauntily adolescent pop-rock anthems are indeed itching for a new album. Mercer and his now rotating cast of band members did release the single “So Now What” in conjunction with the release of actor/director Zach Braff’s film “Wish I Was Here.” However, this little taste from The Shins just left fans aching for more, although hardcore fans of the band were excited with the 2014 remastered release of Flake Music’s “When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return,” which was essentially an early release by the founding members of The Shins.

Gorillaz social

Photo via conversationsabouther.net


Promoted as a “virtual band” made up of four animated members, the rock/pop/electronic/hip-hop quartet masterminded by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett has been incredibly quiet since the early 2011 release of fourth studio album “The Fall.” After arguably cranking out two unstoppable hits over the years with the contagiously optimistic stoner anthem “Clint Eastwood” and dance jam “Feel Good Inc.”, the pixelated tour de force has been incredibly quiet. Although Albarn has been quoted by numerous sources that he has been working on new Gorillaz material since 2014, he reported in the fall of 2015 that he is in the “early stages” of the songwriting process on any new Gorillaz material. Fans of the band are collectively holding their breath for the next update.


Jessica Kane is a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Turntables and Klipsch speakers.

Dads That Rock: Memories of Music

It is no great surprise that many of our life-long obsessions with music and great audio began with our fathers. The blog series “Dads That Rock” is an on-going Father’s Day tribute to these great men who helped inspire our passions. Cory from Paducah Home Theater (and “MetropolisLakeOutfitters” from the Klipsch forums) submitted the story below with minimal edits by the Klipsch editorial staff.

My dad (Kevin) introduced me to the world of classic rock as a boy.

We never had much money growing up, so for transportation he had to overhaul his old Dodge D-50 truck a total of four times, squeezing over 400,000 miles out of it while working a third shift. There were times when the only chance I had to see him was to walk a quarter mile down to my grandparents’ garage and hang out while he tore an engine apart.

The conversations we had usually ended up revolving around music while we listened to it. I didn’t understand much of it at the time but it makes more sense now.

While in that garage, he explained the meaning behind several Pink Floyd songs on many occasions. Any time Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” played, he would regurgitate memories about some crazy ex-girlfriend who was rumored to be a witch. He would describe in detail all the chaos that happened at Bull Island any time soemthing related to Woodstock came up since he was there.

I was even told about how my great-grandmother came from England, how she left behind a sister when she immigrated. Somehow, through this person, George Harrison of the Beatles was born and is technically my 5th cousin (I think?). Unfortunately, somebody stole the letter that explained it all.

I have no idea if it’s one true, but it’s a fun story nonetheless and his eyes light up every time he tells it.

Cory ZZ Top

Cory snapped this photo of ZZ Top.

My dad took me to my first concert at age 14, where we saw ZZ Top in their hey day. Their concerts were much different back then – trap doors, space ships, laser shows, conveyor belts, faux teleportation, etc. –really over the top. Nothing has topped it since then – it was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

For my 16th birthday, Santa brought my first subwoofers as well as a 4th edition The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook, which helped us manually design and build a fourth order tri-chambered bandpass box together for my 1988 Chevrolet Beretta. Due to the aforementioned lack of funds, the first version was the budget build from hell.

Working in an industry factory as an electrician, my dad had access to old wire. He smuggled home some discarded IBM networking wire for signal wires, some welding cable for power wires, smaller wire used as speaker wire, large capacitors to help the electrical system with dynamics and many other industrial parts like fuse boxes and terminals.

This is actually how I paid for the car itself, by stripping and recycling copper wire that was being thrown away, as copper prices weren’t what they are today so this was surprisingly pretty common. I found a [competitor] coaxial speaker in the trash and we used it as a center channel.

The first time we got it all connected after working on it for a long time, we sat there in the car in the middle of the night and listened to most of the Genesis “We Can’t Dance” album, which had recently come out and has some incredibly sweet midrange from percussion and keyboards, which sounded great on the flat Blaupunkt “honeycomb” midranges that I had. Soon afterwards we cranked up the engine and got to hear what the worst ground loop in the world sounds like, but dad got it fixed pretty quickly.

Cory Chevrolet Beretta

What we built would go on to win several trophies in halfway local International Auto Sound Challenge Association (IASCA) competitions. Overhearing a judge tell their buddies “that’s the best sounding car out here” was a big source of pride considering it was thrown away parts and Wal-Mart amps.

Plus (and most importantly), my dad and I worked on it together.

More than anything, my dad showed me what music could do to you emotionally. That really stuck with me, even nearly 30 years after hearing some of those stories in that garage.

We never had nice expensive equipment, but the memories associated with the music are worth much more than that.

Cory Doobie Brothers


Do you have a story about your dad that rocks, music and/or Klipsch speakers? Post it in the comments below and/or email it to alex.leopold@klipsch.com


Klipsch Rocks The Hall (Induction Ceremony Recap)

What a weekend it was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Klipsch Audio. Between the feedback we received from legendary musicians, intimate rehearsals, generosity of our partners, impassioned speeches and, of course, breath-taking performances, our weekend in Cleveland was one we will not forget.

As the first-ever presenting sponsor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, we took our branding implementation as a serious responsibility. We wanted an impactful presence but not one that overshadowed the occasion.

Joe Walsh backstage with Klipsch

Eagles guitarist/keyboardist Joe Walsh aka “The Clown Prince of Rock” dropped by to say hello to Klipsch and check out our gear.

During rehearsals, we were granted the opportunity to have the inductees and their presenters try out our Reference On-Ear headphones and Reference Premiere speakers. Some of these legendary musicians were already very familiar with our gear; however, for some of them, this was their first introduction and they were simply blown away. Out of respect, we won’t name names, but there is a certain degree of validation that arises when the world’s greatest musicians give you a big ol’ smile and a thumbs up.

Rehearsals were also enlightening, as you realize that many of these musicians fly in the day of the rehearsal without even knowing what song they are supposed to sing or what the words are even. Many of the artists actually had the words up on the teleprompter during the rehearsals and Induction Ceremony and still performed magnificently despite it being a kind of karaoke. Heck, John Legend actually flew to the White House in between rehearsals.

The staff at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum was truly first-class and we had a blast touring the museum. For first-timers and repeat visitors, there were a lot of interesting pieces on display and exhibits that were just plain cool. If you haven’t been yet, we certainly recommend stopping by Cleveland to take a tour or two.

Klipsch Reference Speakers at the Westin Hotel

Klipsch Reference Speakers looked great at the Westin Hotel, where many performers, inductees and guests were staying.


They also worked with us to outfit the Westin Hotel in Cleveland, where all the inductees were staying, and hotel’s décor seamlessly matched our Reference speakers and subwoofers. Furthermore, the live Reference R-28F speaker setup in the lobby resulted in hotel employees and guests asking us how much we wanted for the speakers right then and there. (Click here to see more photos of the Klipsch branding.)

The Induction Ceremony itself was everything you would expect and more with Cleveland’s Public Hall serving as a perfect backdrop for the evening with it’s classic architecture and cozy feel. You could tell how important the moment was to each person that spoke on stage, whether they were a presenter or an inductee.

John Mayer Speech at the Rock Hall

John Mayer inducted Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Mayer, a celebrated present-day musician and heartthrob, spoke in total reverence of inductee Stevie Ray Vaughan. This is a guy who is beloved by millions of people across the world and has made a gazillion dollars, and you could tell how emotional he was inducting someone he modeled himself after.

Legendary singer-songwriter Bill Withers had one of the best speeches of the night, remarking about how awesome it was to have a “Wonder and a Legend” induct him. That’s Stevie Wonder and John Legend, for those wondering.

From Joan Jett’s opening number to the closing ensemble performance with Ringo Starr, each musician’s tribute rocked the house. Inductees received three songs and it’s really difficult to pick favorites out of any of them.

Bill Withers and John Legend at the Rock Hall

Inductee Bill Withers (left) and John Legend (right) performed three of Withers’ most beloved songs.

Green Day brought in a large fan contingent for the evening, who roared at their every move and for good reason, as the band was absolutely on point. On the flip side of the timeline, 80-year-old Sam Lay from The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was dazzling in his own right. He had to be physically helped into the drummer’s seat, but once he was there he belted those lyrics and played the drums like it was 1965 again. (Click here to view more photos.)

Below is a Spotify playlist of the original tracks that were performed during the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Rock on.

Have you been to the Induction Ceremony? What are your favorite songs from these inductees? Let us know in the comments.

Iconic Music Couples: Muses for Better or Worse

When Paul W. Klipsch began his quest for live music in his living room, the person seated beside him in that room was his wife, Belle. It has been said that behind every great man is a great woman. The same might be said about a great song. Melody certainly matters. A memorable hook helps, along with clever or compelling lyrics to stick with us. But even if a song has all this going for it, it will fall flat if it’s missing authentic passion.

What do singers and songwriters draw upon to create this passion? Frequently, from their own life experience. Phil Collins’ famous break-up song “Against All Odds” begins with the line: “How can I let you just walk away / Just let you leave without a trace?” The song told the story of Collins’ own failing marriage, and in 1984 the crash and burn story resonated with music fans enough to see it hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 U.K. and spent three weeks at number one in the U.S.

Hit songs about love and relationships get even more interesting when the song is about another musician. Iconic music couples have clashed and harmonized to create some of our best-loved songs throughout history. For example…

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock albums of the 1970s, if not of all-time. Producing hits such as “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way,” Rumours won the 1978 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album’s greatness was born, however, from simultaneous meltdowns in the intertwined romantic relationships of several band members:

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were Fleetwood Mac’s American members. Long-time lovers, their relationship was crumbling by the late 1970s. In “Go Your Own Way,” Buckingham expressed his anger with Nicks, even including the line “Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do” despite her strong objections. The line stayed in the song and the beleaguered couple recorded it together as bandmates. To be a fly on that wall…

Two other members of the band, Christine and John McVie, were going through their own break-up while Rumours was being written. In the other best-known song from the album, “Don’t Stop,” Christine tells her ex-husband repeatedly, “Yesterday’s gone.” Although the song sounds cheery and optimistic, it was Christine’s way of telling John that their relationship was over, and it was time to move on.

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac 05 DEC 1977

Sonny and Cher

Cher was a tender 16 years old when she met Salvatore “Sonny” Bono in a coffee shop. Sonny was 27 and working for legendary music producer Phil Spector. Before long, he had Cher singing backup for acts like The Righteous Brothers and The Crystals.

The couple’s romantic relationship began in 1962; their marriage in 1964. Their career-making song about one another: “I Got You Babe” was a hit in 1965. Ten years after singing the foreshadowing lyrics, “They say we’re young and we don’t know / We won’t find out until we grow,” Sonny and Cher divorced. Despite Cher having very few kind words about Sonny after the divorce, their relationship was the springboard that launched both their careers, and propelled her ultimately into super-stardom.

I Got You Babe – Sonny and Cher Top of the Pops 1965

Johnny Cash and June Carter

Thankfully, not all iconic match ups end in disaster. For Johnny Cash and June Carter, their 35 year-marriage weathered hard times with the couple staying together through it all. Johnny Cash, Jr. would subsequently write in memoirs about his parents that they “accepted each other unconditionally” and stayed in love until the end of their lives.

Before she met Johnny, June was a musical star in her own right as a performer with her family’s group, The Carter Sisters. Johnny started performing with the family and fell in love with June almost right away. He insisted that he would marry her one day, but she cited his drug addiction as the reason she’d never be with him. Biographers of Cash claim that it was largely his love for June providing the motivation to get his addiction under control. The two married in 1968 and stayed married until their deaths in 2003. Over the years, they sung a multitude of duets together, including hits such as “Jackson.”

Johnny and June Carter Cash sing Jackson

Who is your favorite musical power couple? Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale? Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood? Marc Anthony and J-Lo? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Anatomy of a Record Player

Before there were MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes — heck, even before eight-track tapes — there was the record player. Although today, unless we have an affinity for vinyl, we think of record players as “old-school”, often forgetting they revolutionized music and the music industry as much as MP3s have today. Record players allowed for listening to music at home for the first time; before the record player, it was live or nothing. It made such an impression, we still call music releases “records” and “albums,” and the spinning album phrase “getting rotation” still means a song is heard on the radio.

Once record players came onto the scene in 1877, they didn’t leave until almost a century later — although they never fully left. Nostalgia as well as preference for the sound quality has kept vinyl alive, and DJs and hip hop artists still use turntables as part of their music-making. We celebrate the beauty of albums with our recent collaboration with Classic Album Sundays – monthly active listening sessions of entire albums in a studio setting with the best equipment available. It’s a truly unique experience.

So how does a record player work? What are the different components, and how do they work together to produce sound? Let’s take a closer look at this amazing game-changing contraption.

The Turntable

Although “turntable” and “record player” today are used almost synonymously, a turntable is technically the part of the record player where the record sits. Sometimes the turntable is also called the “revolving platter.”

The center of the turntable includes a metal rod, holding the record in the center as it turns. The plate of the turntable itself is generally metal, typically covered with plastic or rubber so the record isn’t inadvertently scratched.

The least expensive record players use steel for the turntable. The steel plates used in record players are light and cheap to produce, however, the consequence is that these plates have a low inertia, meaning any instability with the motor speed are quite pronounced.

A more expensive turntable plate is aluminum. Aluminum plates have better balance, reduce vibration, and don’t accentuate motor speed instabilities.

The turntable’s rotation is controlled by the turntable drive system. The two main types of drive systems are the belt-drive system and the direct-drive system. The belt-drive system goes a long way in reducing noise heard from the motor, because the elastometric belt helps to absorb vibrations and other low-frequency sounds. A direct-drive system, by contrast, doesn’t use intermediary gears, wheels, and belts. The advantage of a direct-drive system is later models had stronger motors and pitch control sliders. For this reason, direct-drive turntables were favored by disc jockeys for decades.

The Stylus

turntableThe stylus is the needle that rests against the record. Ideally, a stylus is a cone-shaped component made from diamond, which is the hardest natural material on Earth. Besides diamonds, sapphires are also commonly used for record needles. The stylus is connected to the tone arm by a flexible strip of metal. The flexibility in the middle allows for the stylus to ride up and down within the record grooves.

The stylus can be either spherical or elliptical. Elliptical styli have the advantage of increasing the fidelity of the music by allowing for more contact with the record groove. A spherical stylus provides less fidelity but is more sensitive.

Even a diamond-tipped stylus will need to be replaced after a while. Experts recommend changing the stylus after every 1,000 to 2,500 hours of listening pleasure.

The Tone Arm and the Cartridge

The tone arm is the arm of the record player that holds the stylus and, together with the cartridge, it is responsible for actually producing the sounds. Tone arms can be straight or curved. Which one is better? It depends who you ask. Some people insist curved tone arms produce better sound, but DJs and hip hop artists usually prefer straight arms because they’re easier to scratch with.

As the stylus follows the grooves of the record, vibrations travel through the metal wires inside the tone arm and arrive at the cartridge at the tone arm’s end. The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals. These electrical signals can be amplified and broadcasted through the speakers.

Amplifiers and Preamplifiers

Today, most audio receivers are designed for the signals that come out of a CD, DVD, or MP3 player. That means that they are not well-equipped to play the audio signal coming out of a traditional record player. Older audio receivers included what was called a phono preamplifier (also known as a preamp or phono stage) to boost record player signals to appropriate levels, but modern receivers lack phono preamps. Some record players include built-in preamps to solve this problem; talk to a true audiophile, however, and they will insist that you get a dedicated preamplifier for the best sound quality.

The right preamp depends upon the cartridge. Modern cartridges will play well with preamps at the 100pf to 150pf level; older cartridges, such as those from the 1980s, work better with preamps of the 200pf level. It should be noted, though, that if your cartridge hasn’t been changed since the 1980s, you should go ahead and replace it anyway!


In short, the vinyl record is placed upon the revolving platter. As the record revolves, the stylus bumps up and down within the groove, sending its vibrations along metal wires within the tone arm and into the cartridge. The cartridge converts these vibrations into an electrical current using a magnetic field. This current is sent into the preamp, which boosts the signal on its way to the speaker. When the amplified current hits the speaker — presto! — we hear music or whatever is recorded onto the vinyl.

We hope you enjoyed this short tour of the anatomy of a record player. Did we leave out anything crucially important? Do you still listen to vinyl? Let us know in the comments section below.