Phonograph Vs Gramophone Vs Record Player – The Differences - Vita Audio

Phonograph Vs Gramophone Vs Record Player – The Differences

While audio equipment continues to develop it is important to take time to remember and learn about the earliest types of audio equipment that were made.

The earliest equipment used to either play or record music were the phonograph, gramophone, and record player.

Phonograph Vs Gramophone Vs Record Player – The Differences

These three machines hold huge importance in the history of music and influenced how we record and listen to music in modern times.

Each machine is often confused with each other and so in this piece, we explain what a phonograph, gramophone, and record player are and highlight the differences between each piece of machinery.

What Is A Phonograph?

A phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison. He made this invention on November 21st, 1877.

It had a metal roll with tinfoil wrapped around it. It recorded sound using a needle that moved along the record.

This device recorded sound on a cylinder and played it back through an amplifier. It was the first successful recording device.

As the sound recorded was recorded in vertical movements often there were tracking issues on phonograph recordings during playback which was a reason they ultimately became less popular.

They also only had the ability to capture one voice or musical instrument as if there were too many sources of music the track could not be recorded properly.

What Is A Gramophone?

The gramophone was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. He named his invention after Greek philosopher Aristotle who believed that sounds should have a fixed pitch.

A gramophone is a machine that is used for playing music. The gramophone has a horn and a needle-fitted membrane.

The sound is recorded from left to right, creating a better audio quality than a phonograph. The metal discs were replaced by shellac discs.

A gramophones record likely refers to either a metal or shellac disc.

In 1900, the gramophone had become popular throughout Europe. In fact, some people thought that the gramophone sounded better than the phonograph.

By 1903, the phonograph had become popular in America as well. The phonograph was cheaper than the gramophone.

And it was easier to find places to buy one.

However, the gramophone still held an important place in American culture. Many famous musicians performed on the gramophone.

For example, Louis Armstrong played trumpet on the gramophone. And Bing Crosby sang on the gramophone.

The gramophone became even more popular after Thomas Edison died. By 1925, there were over 100 million gramophones being sold every year.

Why Did People Switch From The Phonograph To The Gramophone?

In the early 20th century, there were two main types of record players: the gramophone and the phonograph.

Both devices used discs made of wax or celluloid to store information about music but the gramophone had one major advantage over the phonograph, it could be connected directly to an amplifier.

In 1902, the gramophone company Victrola introduced the Model 10, which included a horn-shaped speaker.

This design allowed listeners to hear better than previous models. At the same time, the Victor Company also developed a new type of disc called the “Blue Amberol” disc.

This disc contained more grooves per inch than the earlier discs. This meant that the Blue Amberol discs sounded clearer than their predecessors.

In 1907, the Victor Company released the Model 11, which featured a flat speaker cone. This model looked like a gramophone but could be plugged into an amplifier.

By 1910, both companies had produced discs containing enough information to make recordings of entire symphony orchestras.

In addition, the Victor Company began selling a portable version of the Model 11.

However, the gramophone still held advantages over the phonograph. For example, the gramophone could be connected directly to a radio receiver.

And because the gramophone could be amplified, musicians could perform without having to worry about how loud the audience would be able to hear them.

The gramophone won the popularity contest. By 1920, most Americans owned a gramophone instead of a phonograph.

What Is A Record Player?

What Is A Record Player

A record player is a device that plays long-playing records. Records are discs that contain music. Record players are devices that play records.

A modern record player must be equipped with a cartridge to play vinyl records.

Even though vinyl and shellac records use the same recording technology, there are significant differences between them.

Vinyl records have wider grooves than shellac records. Universal record player needles are made by different companies.

Some companies make them for certain types of records, while others make them for any type of record.

Record players are still manufactured and used in modern times and continue to grow in popularity due to their rustic appearance and rich sound.

What Are The Differences Between A Phonograph, Gramophone, And Record Player?


Phonographs, gramophones, and record players were all invented at different times and by different people.

Phonographs were first invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. He used them to make copies of music.

Gramophones were invented in 1906 by Emile Berliner. This was the first device that could reproduce sound.

Record players were invented in 1927 by Edwin Howard Armstrong. These devices played vinyl records.


A record player differs from phonographs and gramophones in that it only plays music. Record players cannot record sound.

Both phonographs and gramophones can record sound but do so using different methods.

Types Of Records

Each of these machines uses different types of records for playing music and for recording sound.

A phonograph uses a metal roll that is wrapped in foil to play and record sound.

A gramophone can record and play sound using a metal or shellac record that is approximately 10 inches in size and has 78RPM.

A record player uses vinyl records to play music.

Vinyl records are still available to buy today and come in three different sizes being 7-inches, 10-inches, and 12-inches. These records play music at 33 to 45 RPM.

Final Thoughts

While all three of these historical musical machines can easily be confused, it is important that we remember the history of musical audio equipment to take stock of how far we have come but also to respect and pay credit to those that paved the way for how music and sound is recorded and listened to today.

Jacob Stable
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