Guest Blogs: Vinyl is Best. Discuss.

Guest Blog: 5 Reasons Why Vinyl Is Definitively Better Than Any Other Format

After several decades of being virtually absent from the music recording scene, vinyl records are making a huge comeback. Until recently, vinyl records were mostly in the purview of collectors as well as hip-hop and electronic dance music artists who ply their trade as purists. These days, however, vinyl records are making a passionate return to music stores, and listeners are rediscovering what makes this recording format so endearing.

Here are five reasons why vinyl is the best format for listening enjoyment:

1 – The Rich Vinyl Experience

There is more to playing vinyl records than just listening. When a new 12-inch long play album is pressed, the music label usually invests generously in the packaging for the benefit of record buyers. Vinyl sleeve artwork tends to be elaborate and attractive; in fact, album covers and back covers can often double as wall decoration. Double vinyl albums are special treats; they often include goodies such as interesting liner notes, lyrics sheets, photos, stickers, and stories. There’s something very special about taking the record out of the sleeve, placing in on the turntable and dropping the needle; waiting for one side of the record to finish before flipping it over is a very engaging experience that brings listeners closer to their favorite music.

2 – The Record Store Experience

One of the better news about vinyl’s return is that music fans are going back to record stores. The experience of spending hours at a record store and wandering through the aisles is something that has been lost in the MP3 and iTunes era. Even though online music stores have done their best to integrate social media features to their websites, such efforts are no match for the social experience of talking to music shoppers, getting opinions, discovering new music, and making friends.

3 – Enriching Your Taste in Music

Vinyl records may be enjoying a renaissance, but not all artists are rushing to issue their music on this lovable format. Going to a vinyl record store to look for the latest Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande single is an exercise in futility. Musicians who release their stuff exclusively on vinyl are more in tune with the underground, and they don’t usually follow formulas that will place them on the Top 40 hit parade. The production work involved in releasing an album on vinyl is a labor of love when compared to purely digital versions.

4 – The Digital Bonus

When music shoppers purchase new vinyl records, they are often pleasantly surprised to find a digital freebie inside the sleeve. Arcade Fire, Daft Punk and Jack White are some of the artists who are known to include courtesy digital downloads of the vinyl albums they release. In fact, online retail giant Amazon now extends its AutoRip service to vinyl records.

5 – Vinyl is Memorable and Tangible

There is more to vinyl records than just aesthetics and sonic warmth. Unlike audio streams and MP3 files, vinyl is tangible and can be passed down from one generation to another. There used to be a time when record collections were mentioned in the last will and testament of music lovers who wanted their heirs to enjoy music as much as they did in life. Unlike digital music files, vinyl records tend to evoke nostalgia and can bring catharsis when they are dusted off and played again after years in storage.

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.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.

2 thoughts on “Guest Blogs: Vinyl is Best. Discuss.

  • March 24, 2016 at 9:15 am
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    Ok so let’s see if I can come up with 5 reasons Vinyl is not the best. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very nice collection of vinyl started and will keep going till the roomie says no more! However I am an audio engineer/producer and know the downsides of the medium so here we go in no particular order:

    * Weight – one audiophile quality piece of vinyl is 180 grams, Standard is about 150gm. Add to that the bulky cardboard and paper inserts and maybe it’s a double alum and that’s a ton (literally) to be taking with you everywhere you move. Floor strength and shelving strength are also considerations for the LP collector.

    * Cost – A new piece of vinyl can cost you anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on what it is and how it’s being packaged. FOr some pieces I agree it’s worth it. I paid $30 for a pristine, albeit used copy of a King Crimson compilation this past week. I don’t regret it one bit but my grocery bill took the sacrifice that week

    * Sound quality – The inner 3 inches of an album have shorter revolutions than the outer tracks. This causes the needle to vibrate at higher rates than when on the outer tracks and thereby creates distortion. This was a reason that producers in the early days of vinyl would put “throw away” songs (meaning they weren’t projected to push the sales of the album) at the end of the sides. Sometimes this would be done for singles too as they would be pressed to the higher quality 45rpm – 7″ single.

    * Availability – cost comes into play again because frankly, Vinyl is damned expensive to produce, ship, store etc. It’s these factors that cause for limited runs of vinyl as opposed to the digital formats. When it comes down to it, it is very hard to make a profit on Vinyl sales. More often than not it’s a money losing proposition for bands, especially those without label support.

    * Longevity/Care/Maintenance – It’s no secret that vinyl needs TLC. You have to hold it a special way, you need to store it in perfect conditions and you need to clean it a lot. One good scratch/gouge and the whole experience is marred not to mention the expense of replacing it so that you can still have a pristine copy.

    Bonus reason:

    * Storage. – kind of covered this under weight but Vinyl LPs take up a lot of real estate and let me tell you from experience, guys with great vinyl collections have a lot less available friends come moving day.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am going vinyl hunting this weekend but I do love me some nice light FLAC files in 5.1 stereo (you won’t get a 5.1 mix on an LP < reason number 7?)

    Reply
  • March 24, 2016 at 10:05 pm
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    Very few people have, or had, or will have the hardware necessary to get anything close to the supposed fidelity and audiophile experience that vinyl boasts. Even the 90’s discman type portable personal cd players offered a better quality sound experience from Cds than most people could ever afford to replicate with a vinyl setup.

    And typically, you pick one side of a vinyl record as your go to for that album. Not many people listen to both sides in one sitting. More than one person listening? The question (or argument) was always ‘which side?’. If you have to get up to turn it over, you are more likely to put on a different record. The CD actually brought the full album listening experience to reality.

    My copy of David Bowie’s Station To Station was pressed with the spindle hole off-center. The inside track had an audible wobble in pitch (due to the shorter tighter groove as described in the post above). It took me a bit to notice, I couldn’t afford to rebuy the album, so that imperfection is my listening experience. The title song just doesn’t sound right without the wobble.

    Some records did have beautiful gatefolds and posters and booklets and inner sleeves, but a lot didn’t. Some CD’s have great packaging, a lot don’t. A total of zero 8-tracks had great packaging, maybe 1% of cassettes had interesting packaging. Digital is in the minus.

    Reply

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