Watch a Vinyl Record Play Through an Electron Microscope

Ever wonder what it looks like when you get really down into the grooves of a vinyl record as it’s being played with a stylus? Thanks to electron microscope technology, we can.

The principle behind a stereo record is quite simple. A spiral groove is pressed into plastic which stores the audio as a series of bumps on either side of a V-shaped trench. The bumps are essentially frozen sound.

Material for the left channel is stored on one side of the V and the right on the other. These cause pertubations in the stylus as it’s dragged through the groove.

Electron view of vinyl copy

Those pertubations are turned into electrical energy, sent to an ampifier where they’re turned back acoustic energy. That’s what we hear. Learn more at

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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