We're Living In The Real Golden Age Of Vinyl Music

If you asked most people what they thought of vinyl 10 years ago, you'd almost certainly get an answer on how outdated it was as a technology — maybe tinged by a bit of nostalgia, but by and large an attitude that LPs belonged in the past. 2007 was the year of the iPod, and the year that digital music came into its own. Streaming music came not long after — Spotify was founded in 2008, and competitors were close on its heels.

In 2017, the answer you'd get could not be more different. Vinyl is cool again, as much as it ever has been if not moreso. The power of the internet, too, is changing the way that vinyl records are thought up and sold.

In Australia, vinyl represents almost 15 per cent of all physical music sales. This is massive for a format that, in so many ways, is inferior to the CD and the MP3. But there are reasons that vinyl is enjoying a second coming, and most of them have to do with the internet.

In 2014, vinyl sales were up 127 per cent on the previous year. In 2015, that dropped to (still impressive) 38 per cent growth and in 2016 reports so far, sales are up another 80 per cent. The same is true in the US and the UK. Retailers like JB Hi-Fi are devoting more floor space and digital presence than ever before to vinyl, despite average prices around the $40 mark and with Beatles and Bowie and Rolling Stones special editions pushing north of $500.

When the same store has hundreds of CDs under $10, that's a huge disparity in price for customers to bear. But they are, and they are loving the vinyl revival.

The rising resurgence of vinyl is innately tied to events like Record Store Day, celebrating a kind of counter-popular-culture that has sprung up over the last couple of years in Australia, and especially in the cultural hubs of Sydney and Melbourne. Independent labels and stockists are even pressing their own vinyl. Record stores are just as much social precincts as they are places to actually buy records — they're part of an imagined community, a community interested in celebrating music instead of just consuming it.

But at the same time, the internet is completely revolutionising the way that vinyl happens.

Playing vinyl is not like playing Spotify

It's an intensely tactile experience — especially in 2017, when we're used to tapping touchscreens — to actually play vinyl. You have to gently slide the record out of its protective slipcase, juggle that case out of the way without dropping the record and shattering it, then place the record on the spindle of the turntable. That's just the mechanics of the record itself, too — from there, you have to drop the turntable's tone arm onto the record — and they're all different, occupying some point on the complex spectrum between just pressing a button on an app and drawing a bow on a violin.

Playing vinyl can be an expensive exercise, too, for the uninitiated. There's a learning curve that doesn't exist with most pieces of technology in our modern age. It takes a little extra effort and care to carefully move a tone arm down onto a slice of vinyl without damaging it, and if you do damage that cartridge's stylus, you're shelling out more cash for a replacement. Eventually you'll have to replace one anyway. That's not something that happens with CDs or an iPod or your smartphone, outside of the normal yearly update lust that we all have — or unless you drop it. But perhaps that's part of the appeal.

Even understanding why a vinyl record looks like it does adds to the experience. A record's grooves are visible, with microscopic indentations that are read by the stylus cartridge, translating tiny holes into vibrations that themselves are converted into electrical signals and transported through circuit boards to amplifiers and speakers. Each track is separated — three to a side of a 331/3, and there are two sides on a record — by a few millimetres of blank space and silence. A 12-track album takes two separate records to play, and four trips back to the record player to actually make it happen.

There's no clunky Bluetooth handshake with vinyl — turn your little wireless speaker on, flick through the settings of your phone, tap the icon, wait a couple of seconds to hear an audible marker of a successful connection. Or worse, the just-as-likely wait, and the wait of a few seconds more, before you realise that the ever-finicky Bluetooth hasn't worked this time around. In an age where you can flip open the lid of Apple's AirPods and have them pair to your smartphone, it's equally satisfying to drop a tone arm onto a spinning platter and have music instantly burst into life from the speakers nearby.

Turntables are funkier than ever

Kickstarter opened huge opportunities to some crazy designs and off-the-wall gadgets — the Pebbles and the Ouyas and PonoPlayers and Fidget Cubes — and more and more, the same is true for record players. A levitating turntable pulled in $720,000. A portable vinyl player, a tiny mouse droid that rides around on the surface of a flat LP, has nearly $500,000 in funding.

Pro-Ject Audio's Debut range of record players are wildly popular in Australia, and JB Hi-Fi has its own exclusive variant called the Debut Classic. Pro-Ject sells turntables from as little as $299 to as much as $14,999 — there's one for any price point and level of commitment to the trend. Audio Technica makes a range of turntables with built-in Bluetooth and built-in phono amplifiers, making them easy for vinyl newbies to hook up to their modern technology — to UE Boom speakers and Beats headphones.

The barrier for entry to vinyl has never, ever been lower.

There's a turntable sold in Australia called the Gramovox Floating Record, hand-built by a company out of Chicago. It's a vertical turntable, that its creators say "combines the beauty and nostalgia of yesterday, with modern sound technology and contemporary design". It's a serious piece of equipment as non-professional turntables go, too — as well as built-in stereo speakers, it has an internal phono pre-amp and so can connect to a proper sound system with an external amplifier and powered or unpowered speakers. More than anything else, it looks gorgeous and shows off the record you're playing.

Vinyl records are weaponised nostalgia

Culture takes many forms in 2017; music doesn't just live on a single platform, and different platforms can create music. HBO made a TV series called Vinyl in 2016 about a '70s record company, and at the same time the media we know and love from the past is finding a new home on vinyl.

The internet also lets cashed-up buyers buy records more easily than they ever have before, and buy records that they can identify with on a level that's more than just about a musical composition. iam8bit — a "creative production company that refuses to be pigeonholed" — has dozens of vinyl records on its online store, designed and created in conjunction with brands like Nintendo and PlayStation and Disney and Capcom.

Those brands have their own particular kind of powerful nostalgia, from an era not so far off as vinyl's heyday, but from the age of the SNES and the original PlayStation and Lion King and Street Fighter. Now they're applying it to records, and it's paying off.

Late last year, iam8bit opened pre-orders for Hero of Time — a twin LP of the music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, one of the most loved and most widely respected video games of all time. It found attention from every corner of the 'net, despite not existing beyond a web page at the time. The album is currently being recorded by the 64-piece Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, and will be delivered to buyers some time in the first half of this year — the 30th anniversary of the first Zelda game.

The record itself, at least from the artwork and images suggested by iam8bit, looks exquisite. Everything from the slipcovers to the artwork has been meticulously designed — a commission from Bandito Design Co. — and the LPs themselves are colored in the green and purple of the Rupees from Ocarina of Time. An eight-minute preview of the record currently lives on Soundcloud.

Not long ago, I bought a two-LP issue of the original soundtrack from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. It doesn't have the fancy case of the Ocarina edition, but the records themselves are no less beautiful, with movie art of the Death Star and X-Wings. I wouldn't have known about it without the 'net.

Vinyl records now have a story to accompany them

Without Kickstarter, I would never have had the opportunity to get my hands on possibly the most incredible vinyl re-issue ever to exist, in my humble edition: a remastered version of the Golden Record, the discs originally pressed by NASA and created to represent Earth and its species to any alien race. The originals are currently travelling into interstellar space 20,650,000,000km and 17,080,000,000km from our planet, on Voyager 1 and 2.

Kickstarter's nearly $1.8 million of crowdfunding for the 40th anniversary edition of the Voyager Golden Record from nearly 11,000 backers meant that the team behind it could task the 1977 record's original producer to remaster the hours of audio tracks. 20 per cent of the net proceeds will be donated to the Carl Sagan Institute to further space research.

The 40th Anniversary Edition Golden Record will arrive on backers' doorsteps in a few months, and will arrive not just with a couple of LPs, but with a full box set including an artbook, full of images sent back to Earth from the Voyager probes, mission history, essays and other snippets of spacebound ephemera. And, of course, the Golden Record will arrive with a little slip of paper with a digital download code for high quality FLAC files — like so many of the records you can buy today, it also lives online.

Here's the most recent message that the Golden Record team sent out to backers, building the journey and the narrative around its records, months before the vinyl discs actually make their way across land and sea and into the hands of expectant listeners.

Dear backers,

In the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains above Pasadena, California lies a massive building marked with a sign that sparks the imagination of all who see it: Spacecraft Assembly Facility. This is Building 179 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where for 50 years, scientists and engineers have assembled the spacecraft, robots, and instruments that have made their way into space and taught us so much about what lies beyond Earth.

Last week, we were fortunate enough to make a brief visit to the awe-inspiring cleanroom of the Spacecraft Assembly Facility where engineers were constructing the Mars 2020 rover.

High on the walls above the workspace are huge emblems representing each of the missions that were assembled there, including Galileo, Cassini, Mariner, Viking, Spirit, and, the reason for our visit, Voyager 1 and 2. Indeed, before stopping at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, we paid our respects to JPL's magnificent full scale model of the Voyager and one of the few original Golden Records still on Earth.

This nostalgia, and this history, and this story are what vinyl — the most tactile and experiential and loaded of audio formats, and moreso than ever in 2017 — will turn on in the minds of anyone thinking of dipping their toes into the culture. This is something that vinyl hasn't had before, not at the scale that the internet and that crowdfunding and viral success offers. It's an exciting time to collect a technology that's more than a century old.



Comments

    I visited a friend of mine the other day and he has a high end system. I watched slightly bemused as he carefully took the LP out of its jacket; wiped it with a brush; laid it on the turntable; set it spinning; and, then carefully laid the stylus onto it. The sound that came out had crackles in it but the warmth of the music was like bumping into a long lost friend.

      The warmth of the sound is just the awful RIAA equalisation you need to apply to vinyl because the limitations of the format don't allow bass frequences to be recorded reliably at the same level as the rest of the sound. The crackling was probably static because your buddy with the high end system spent tree fiddy on his vinyl brush instead of buying a good one. I'm waiting for the CD revival where they wind back the compression so we can hear the damn music properly again. (wiki loudness wars)

    "Each track is separated — three to a side". Obviously the author didn't grow up with vinyl. There is no limitation on the number of tracks, only the space available.

    I grew up with vinyl, and used cassettes as a teenager too. Give me digital any day. I like the old covers though, maybe record companies could package CD's in replicas of the vinyl covers. Best of both worlds...

      Almost every record I've bought has come with a download code for a lossless version.

      Who wants a stack of CDs? It's not 1998.

        A stack of CDs is infinitely preferable to a stack of vinyl records. CDs are far more resistant to water and general wear and tear than vinyl. The first CD I ever bought - The The's Infected, still looks as good today as it did in 1985 when it was brand new, courtesy of a new jewel case (less than $1). OTOH, the last vinyl LP I bought, Wire's 1988 album A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck, looks awful, despite it having been kept in a zip-lock plastic sleeve and me never having played it, even once. The cardboard is all wobbly and the corners dog-eared.

          CDs are far more resistant to water and general wear and tear than vinyl.

          They are also the exact same product as digital files, which are even more resistant to both those things.

          CDs are not only obsolete, they are redundant.

          VInyl not only gets you a proper sized physical package, liner notes, art, etc, but in many cases you get a medium with different (and generally superior) mastering. As well as the lossless digital version.

          The only upside to a cd is that you can throw it kind of like a ninja star and/or use it to scare away magpies. Both of which are valuable.

            I suppose you've never noticed that CDs generally have exactly the same artwork as a vinyl album, only reduced in size and protected by a plastic case? And for some of my old vinyl that came with really interesting covers, the CD versions went to great pains to recreate it exactly. e.g. Test Dept's The Unacceptable Face of Freedom LP came in a sleeve that folded out into a nightmare crucifix and the CD booklet did exactly the same.

            Of course, there is 25 years of music that was never released on vinyl at all and much of that came with 16 and even 32 pages booklets crammed with more stuff than any vinyl album I ever bought. With a record, you mostly just got the front and back cover. If you were lucky there might have been a single page sheet with the lyrics printed on it. Big budget releases might have got a gate-fold sleeve with the lyrics inside the flap but nothing like a lot of the CDs I have.

            The problem with mastering is that the artist is almost never involved with it so it's some jackass's idea of how it should sound and, more often than you'd think, the artists hate the mastered version. Mastering is more about marketing than music. The one time we let someone else master our music, the result had a really brittle top-end and didn't sound as good as the rough masters we'd done for ourselves. Lesson learned, we do all our own mastering now and I can promise you that you'll never, ever hear any of our music on vinyl. It's marketing con-job and we'll have no part in it.

      You're absolutely right. I was writing that as I was writing about the Star Wars soundtrack in an early draft, and conflated the two in my mind. And sure, there's no limitation the number of tracks -- as long as they're short enough!

    Having to physically change sides, or go to a different track........eh. Don't get the love at all. Going backwards

      The time it takes to turn over a record or change a track is about the same amount of time it takes to write a comment here

        Not even close. Campbell missed the most important part of playing vinyl - cleaning the record surface. It is really important that you do this every time to stop dust getting into the groove of teh record and to stop fluff from accumulating on your stylus. Doing that properly definitely takes longer than typing this comment out has taken. And I haven't had to get up and walk across teh room to type this comment.

        have fun playing a mix of 10 albums then whilst I hit shuffle and go about my day.

          Gee, it's almost like records arent designed so you can play a mix of your ten favourite version of Sandstorm.

      Better tech players changed sides for you. And could stack 10 records for 10hrs of continuous music.
      My laserdisc player plays both sides :-)

    I've always thought that digital music would mean the death of proper albums - carefully thought out sequences of tracks that might have to be listened-to from beginning to end (I say 'might' because not all albums were or are like that).
    I've use an MP3 player for years now and these days I very rarely listen to an album in sequence from start to finish and instead cherry-pick songs (a lot of the time I'm even just using the shuffle feature and then cherry-picking from that). I miss listening to entire albums and should get back into it.
    The thing is by doing that you're bypassing songs that may become favourites over the years and also missing the deliberate flow or feel of an album. It means listening to songs you may not particularly like much, but that's part of listening to whole albums.

      purely digital forms of music, streaming/mp3s feed and fuel the 'I want it now' generation; i.e. no patience to listen to a whole album.
      I still listen to CDs (ripped), but it'll be the whole album and not select tracks.

      So what if i dont listen to the whole album? I bought it, Ill listen to what songs i want.

      If I had my way, you would not be able to purchase any of our songs individually, it would be the whole album or nothing. Sadly, we don't have enough clout with iTunes to make those kinds of demands.

      Last edited 06/02/17 7:04 pm

    Nostalgia and history both exist, but don't forget the quality of analogue sound. A lot of folk think that when CD's were introduced, the marketing hype suggested they sounded 'better' - this isn't entirely accurate.. the promotional push was actually based on the fact they didn't scratch like records so you weren't going to experience pops, crackles, track jumps and skips.. and they could be abused in a way vinyl never could (accompanied to the images of CD exec's furiously scratching CDs with sandpaper then playing them to the astonishment of audiences)

    But pop a record on versus a CD through a decent analogue sound system and the differences became immediately apparent. People may scoff at the suggestion analogue has infinite progressions where digital is stepped, but it's a fact.. and for those with ears good enough to hear it, CD's were a compromise of convenience rather than quality.

    It's a different world now - those old stereos and large speakers have been replaced with bass boost and digital trickery, music is mastered digitally to sound best on digital systems.. with no frequencies clipped in the master, the music will sound great on digital systems and analogue alike - but for analogue mastered music then vinyl was king.

    Final note - needles. My old man had a good needle on his turntable and I busted it.. He demanded I replace it and to my shock, back in '83 yes it was possible to spend well over a weeks wages on a needle. Since then I've been lucky enough to grab some top of the line Shure cartridges thrown out by studios. A good needle can really make a difference !

      I'm sorry but all you are hearing in vinyl is compression. Audio needs to be heavily compressed for transfer to vinyl and that makes it soudn better. CD resolution wasn't randomly selected, it is designed to be inaudible to human hearing. You certainly aren't ever going to hear the stepping of volume - 16 bit audio provides 65,560 discrete steps from no sound to full volume and nobody's hearing is sensitive enough to notice it. Nobody's. And 44.1kHz is more than twice the frequency limit of human hearing so, again, nobody is going to notice the sampling. Nobody.

      Remember, too, that it will only sound really good the very first time you play it because it's a mechanical process - you are drawing a diamond-tipped stylus, one of the hardest susbstances known to mankind, across a piece of soft, brittle vinyl. Every time you play it, you lose fidelity. It's unavoidable.

      There are so many factors that have so much more influence on sound quality that choosing vinyl makes very little sense from an audiophile perspective.

        I'm sorry but go grab Rick Wakeman's 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' on both formats and you'll discover bass notes on the LP that are certainly not on any CD released since. In fact in the day there was a bloody great fuss over more than a few CD albums that could not replicate bass (and some lacked high notes). The buying public was told oh that's just noise you never needed to hear anyway.. yeah right, Merlin the Magician was driving close to DC at those low frequencies and sure it was responsible for more than a few shredded foam surrounds but the notes were there on the vinyl, they're not on CD..

        As to volume stepping, has anyone ever mentioned that ever ?

        I'm also well aware of how diamond needles work so let me share - it's rather starling to see just how little 'damage' these needles actually do when you bang a record under a microscope and have a look, you make it sound like you're using a chisel ! There was a reason some needles sold for $5 and some for $500 .. were you aware that a lot of needles did not have a sharp tip? Were you aware the reason they used diamond is to prevent the needle from wearing? Such a hard material was designed to be smooth, to reduce friction, to glide along the grooves resonating with the patterns, and if it were a soft material like the old steel needles, you would have needed to replace them often (as you did with steel needles) to stop the needles becoming scratched and in turn having damaged needles bugger up the record.

        This is like the guy who tells people 100 ppi prints are fine and no one needs better just because his lousy eyes can't see the flaws.. but sure, plenty of people mistake the printhead dpi for print ppi and just as these ill informed folk think they're printing at 4800 dpi, a lot of BS is attributed to records by enthusiasts.

          Depending on the applicaiton, 100 ppi prints can be perfectly acceptable. e.g. billboards. Similarly, if my mate couldn't definitively say that vinyl sounded better on his hi-fi that cost three times more than a new car, then vinyl didn't sound better.

          As for Rick Wakeman, I used to own that album on cassette but I haven't listened to it since 1978 so I'll take your word on the bassline, although it would be interesting to know what sort of set-up you used for the comparison. But what you are saying is that if you put that record on and made a high quality digital recording of it, you would lose some of the bass. That seems so incredibly unlikely to me as to be absurd because low frequencies will digitise more easily. If there is a difference, it is just as likely to be something like the CD having been taken from a degraded master tape, so the missing sound was never there to be recorded in the first place. A similar thing happened with Blade Runner - all early DVD versions were taken from a really bad master that had been done for VHS so they were uniformly awful. It took years for a fresh master to be made from an original source and a decent version of the film to be available.

        I should also say you're talking of amplitude instead of frequencies which is where the fuss is. Sure you'll not notice Jimmy Barnes bashing a guitar, but try a 63 piece orchestra with a 40 person choir, each instrument with resonance producing harmonics all over the shop. You have 16 bit in which to reproduce all that, you're gonna lose some. quite a bit in fact. Yeah it'll sound OK, but sure a photo of a Monet looks OK too - it's still going to miss a lot.

        What you're talking about with vinyl compression may be the case today but you're missing the point *it wasn't* back then. Analogue in, analogue mixed, analogue mastered and analogue cut. Play an instrument into a cone with a pointy thing at the end as they first did with records when they were cut one by one and not mass stamped and you'll understand the reproduction was limited by the curves, the constraints of the gear, much (as you say) analogue amps have flat bass and treble responses .. but then in the mixing it was subjectively amped to overcome that - played through reference speakers with known harmonic curves. Heck, even speakers matter depending on the audio being played. No rock & roll speakers ever played orchestral music well, no jazz speakers ever played metal well.

        You know a true audiophile when you see they have multiple speakers they switch through for different music.. As to what's heard, yeah - you're getting the point, CD's deliberately leave out frequencies 'people can't hear', so subsonics are gone, even the gentle ones that flutter a wide cone speaker making the air move. Not bass thump, just air movement, part of the sound that was recorded and clipped by CD digital audio.

        Oh a last thing about needles that most folk won't know, they don't use sapphire or moisonite even though they're 9 and 9.5 hardness, diamond is picked not just for hardness but because it's the best conductor of heat- good needles even have additional cooling sinks attached, fins - diamond draws heat better than anything meaning the record grooves won't suffer heat damage from the friction.. cool hey?

      There was certainly a lot of hype about audio quality when CDs came out, though you're right to note that longevity was also a big selling point.

      There are some myths about vinyl that seem to keep popping up though. Even the best quality vinyls had a dynamic range peaking around 70dB, well below the 96dB dynamic range for Redbook CD audio.

      Likewise, the 'analogue data' advantage is also a myth. Thanks to the Nyquist-Shannon theorem, analogue bandwidth can be directly compared to digital bandwidth. A typical stereo vinyl comes out to around 24kHz. High end multichannel vinyls (eg. CD4) sat just over 45kHz but were expensive to produce, required specialised equipment to play back and degraded very quickly. Redbook CD sampling rate for comparison is 44kHz.

      As for the warm sound of vinyl, this is an artifact of noise introduced in the manufacturing process, and can be reproduced exactly on digital recordings if that's desired. There's also non-noise ways to approximate vinyl warmth with equalisation, but the absence of noise is noticeable.

      As you note, almost every studio recording has been through digital processing or storage since the 1970s, so any advantage of an all-analogue process that would have applied to earlier vinyls is essentially lost on almost all modern music.

      I understand this statement rubs some people the wrong way, but technologically CD is superior to vinyl in almost every measure, from dynamic range to bandwidth to longevity. That said, that only matters to people who want to argue technical specifications. Sound perception is a personal experience for everyone, and what 'sounds better' to one person often differs from the next person.

      If you prefer the sound (not to mention the tactile experience) of vinyl, you have my support. Some people prefer pixel graphics in video games over hyper-realism too - sure, pixel graphics are technically inferior, but if their aesthetic appeals to you more then they're better for you. Simple as that.

        I absolutely didn't want to get into the vinyl vs CD argument -- specifically around real or perceived sound quality -- myself, so I didn't mention it in my story. Mostly because I don't really think it matters! When I'm listening critically I'm listening with good headphones, and I think there are better sources than either CD or vinyl if you're doing that so it's all a bit of a wash anyway :)

          Agreed. My reply above wasn't meant to be critical of your article, it was more in response to Karlos' post. Like I said at the bottom, if you like it better then that's what matters.

        nyquist limitations & sample rates. you're referring to the sample rate needing to be 2x the frequency yes?

        That's on a linear scale. one dot one gap, you need to sample at 2x the frequency to know you have a dot or a gap .. but music isn't a single frequency event, in this case you've got not just an X axis (frequency), but a Y(amplitude) and a Z(time) as well, . In the case of an XY axis the nyquist limit without going into the math is not 2x but is roughly 3x.. add a Z axis and you're talking roughly 6x - you have to sample at 6x to ensure you get all the information.

        Digital audio doesn't set limits based on the amplitude, wavelength and rate in that way unless it's using fixed peak levels.

        think of it like a rip of a movie, it all looks fine and dandy 'till there's rain in a dark scene then it all goes to hell - the sample rate falls flat on it's face and just does the best it can, discarding heaps of data it cannot cope with. Same applies with digital conversion- once you exceed the available bandwidth for the digital file the rest is discarded .. how much? Up to 1/6th if you accept nyquist limits. So chucking away 1/6 of a rich orchestral piece may still leave you with something that sounds just fine and dandy, but the analogue version will sound better and more accurate with the right gear. the Rolling Stones however will sound fine either way.

          The Nyquist-Shannon theorem calculates the digital properties required to capture 100% of an analogue waveform. Double sample rate is a reasonable approximation. I'm not sure where you're getting 1/6 loss from but the reason 44.1kHz was chosen for CDs is specifically because it encompasses the full range of sound the ear can perceive through air conduction (20Hz-20kHz) with an additional 10% margin.

          There's no 3x or 6x factor required for sampling, and I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what digitising audio captures. Frequency, amplitude and time are all fully represented on a two-dimensional waveform, because frequency is a derived figure. At each sampling, the amplitude (Y axis) is measured and stored, and the Nyquist rate dictates how often (X axis) the sampling must occur to perfectly represent the frequency of the waveform at any given moment.

          Your story about 3x and 6x sampling rates required is misinformed, the Nyquist rate (2x) already factors in what's required for a full waveform capture.

    Vinyl is a nightmare, you'd have to have rocks in your head to even contemplate it. In the 1970s and early 80s, I bought all my music on vinyl but the one and only time I ever played the record was to record it to cassette. The record would then be placed in a zip-lock bag and never taken out again. When Cds took over I was the happiest man alive. I bought my last vinyl record in 1988 and i haven't looked back.

    When CDs had been around for a year or two, I remember my friend bringing home Sony's latest and greatest CD player and hooking it up to his hi-fi. This wasn't just any hi-fi, it was assembled from the finest components available - a Linn Sondek turntable, separate pre- and power amplifiers hand made (rated in the top 3 in the world) and hand-made speaker enclosures with individually hand-lacquered drivers (so each pair sounded perfect). When a new Commodore was $7000, this hi-fi was worth more than $20,000. Yes, you could hear a difference between the vinyl and the CD but there was no measure by which either my mate or I could definitively say that one was better than the other, which really annoyed him because he so wanted the vinyl to be better. But it just wasn't and it still isn't today. If anything, CD players have gotten even better.

    Last edited 06/02/17 3:36 pm

      I'm hearing you. I'm 41, bought my fair share of records in my time but CD's were a godsend and even more so, digital downloads and 256g iphones LOL. I have every single bit of music I've ever attained on my phone. Everything.

      Just don't get the vinyl resurgence thing. I think it's more of a mixture of pining for the days of giant covers to look at, the nostalgia of using a record player and just being different than everyone else, which lets face it, most people want in this day and age. I wonder how long it'll be before cassette tapes rear their ugly head and you get a free pencil to rewind it with or something. While that sounds like a joke....... I believe it's just a matter of time.

      Last edited 06/02/17 4:06 pm

        Tapes have already become a thing again. Both as alternate versions of releases, and in some dank corners of the musical world, the sole distribution medium.

        For about 10 years, the only way you could listen to the output of one of my favourite artists was via tape (in very limited numbers). Makes it both inconvenient and kvlt.

    The resurgance of Vinyl is just the result of the rise of hipsterdom. I like to take my music with me were i go. I dont give a crap about the "Warmth" of the sound or whatever that means. I just want to listen to music while im sitting on the train.

    There were so many parts of the article I could have picked on, but I needed not to as my fellow educated commentators came to my relief.

      Genuinely, I want to hear what you have to say! I wrote about what the internet can do for vinyl, not about the technological advantages of the format (which is a rare lack of geekery for me). I don't think it's a *technically superior* format, but it sure as hell is more fun than CD or streaming.

        For an enthusiast yeah. But even besides the technology it's expensive, time consuming, high maintenance.

        Comparing vinyl to Bluetooth? That's apples and oranges. Bluetooth is just a data transfer medium, you can even get Bluetooth connected players. Streaming music doesn't need to use Bluetooth so I feel it's irrelevant to the discussion. It's used as a negative of more modern formats but it isn't a nessisarily item, it's a feature.

        You mention a lot of the benefits over vinyl the emotions behind it, but miss the con's needle wear, you fart and it skips and the worst the records themselves where out.
        Where you so mention some of the cons, which to some I'll admit are pro's for some. Such as the time and care needed it's written in a positive light only, where over time it can just turn into an annoyance.

        But you did get it exactly correct with its about nostalgia and the theatre of what's involved in playing a vinyl.

        I'll be the first to admit I am biased against the format, I am an audiophile amd know a lot of the pros and cons of vinyl and like everything people spend a lot of money on the feel the need to justify It, part reasoning for a lot of the myths surrounding the format. So my comment may have come off a little more harsh than it probably should have. I will also apologise for any spelling or Grammer mistakes in my reply as I've quickly smashed this reply out on my phone.

        Lastly, in your reply you say it's more fun, going through that whole procedure, will it be fun in 5 years time? In the past it was a necessity.
        As far as what the Internet is doing for it? Flogging a dead horse. It is and always will be an enthusiast format. I fear the nostalgia scene will see a lot of cheap immense made for it that will turn people off the format, further pushing it into obscurity rather than a peice of history to be cherished.

    It's all about nostalgia in much the same way as folks restore old cars. It's fun to go for a drive on a nice weekend in a 1950's/60's car, but do you really want to commute in one with all the maintenance issues that go with it?

    All I miss about vinyl is the cover art and foldouts. Some were just brilliant. CDs just don't cut it from that point of view.

      Don't get me started on old cars! I have these complete idiots trying to tell me their fully restored Austin Healey Sprites are a way better drive than a new MX5. They have no idea. A Sprite had 43 BHP and did 0-97 (0-60mph) in 20.5 seconds. Even the 1.5 litre MX5 is more than twice as fast. The Sprite also had leaf spring suspension on the rear, like a horse and cart, not the multi-link independent rear suspension of an MX5. The first version didn't even have disc brakes and later models only had 'em on the front.

        And then you compare a NA MX-5 to the new NDs, and see the difference between those... I loved the NA of my mate's that I used to drive, but if you were asking me today I know which I'd buy.

    "This is massive for a format that, in so many ways, is inferior to the CD and the MP3." The only way it vinyl is inferior to CD and MP3 is in the aspect of mobility. Superior sound (digital is compressed, meaning small parts of the song are removed); Superior technology (my 1973 turntable is still operating with it's original direct drive motor, platter and tonearm); My 1965 mono pressing of Rolling Stones' Out of our Heads plays just as good today as it did the day it was pressed. Show me a CD, CD Player or iPod with that level longevity.

    "despite average prices around the $40 mark"; My average price paid for my collection of 723 records (currently in my collection) is $2.05 (USD) for each record. With an average of 8 songs per album, that equates to $0.25 (USD) per song. Try finding that price on iTunes.

    "without dropping the record and shattering it"; A record is not a Ming Dynasty vase. Records aren't like the fragile feelings of a snowflake. Use care with them sure, but you make it sound like they will just disintegrate by looking at them.

    "...you have to drop the turntable's tone arm onto the record — and they're all different, occupying some point on the complex spectrum between just pressing a button on an app and drawing a bow on a violin."; Seriously... you are comparing "dropping a needle" on a turntable to the difficulty of playing a violin? I think you just offended every violinist on the planet.

    "It takes a little extra effort and care to carefully move a tone arm down onto a slice of vinyl without damaging it;" Again with the fragility of vinyl. Vinyl is not like the coddled emotional state of mind of a millennial after Trump was elected.

    "...if you do damage that cartridge's stylus, you're shelling out more cash for a replacement. Eventually you'll have to replace one anyway."; I have owned a turntable for a majority of my 47 years on this planet and have never had to replace a stylus except in the rare case when I wanted to upgrade to a better quality stylus.

    "Not long ago, I bought a two-LP issue of the original soundtrack from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. It doesn't have the fancy case of the Ocarina edition, but the records themselves are no less beautiful, with movie art of the Death Star and X-Wings. I wouldn't have known about it without the 'net."; Try going to a record shop any day that isn't Record Store Day and talking to the owners and staff... I can find a lot more information about what's coming by talking to my local record shop than I can online.

    "Pro-Ject sells turntables from as little as $299 to as much as $14,999"; If you paid that much, $299, for your turntable (just your turntable) you deserve to be ripped off. My entire stereo set up didn't cost that much. My setup which includes a modern amp Technics SA-DX950 ($20), a Technics M205 Cassette Player ($20), Technics SL-1350 turntable ($20), a pair of Technics SB-A35 speakers ($30) and a pair of Series 3311 Accoustic speakers ($20) only cost $110 to put together and it sounds 1000x better than any blue tooth/USB build-out that my friends own today, so much so that they are looking to replace theirs.

    "turntables with built-in Bluetooth" If you are using Bluetooth you may as well stick to your iPod... once again fidelity is lost through compression, sound is inferior.

    I understand that you are likely new to this "vinyl fad", but for those of us who have been around the block, growing up with vinyl, we know better.

    why do none of those super kewl hip phono's have lids? Dust was the LPs biggest enemy..

    When CD's came out, I gave my LP collection away.
    When MP3's were a thing, I gave my CD's away.
    Now I'm FLAC's.

    Growing up in largely the digital era, I think myself and many younger people yearn to have that physical element to the music they love that older generations had. CDs just come off as sterile, while vinyl is a larger, tangible experience. I totally understand how older generations would love to embrace digital in particular, vinyl was a necessity for them. For myself in particular, however, it's an expression of my love for a particular artist that I'm willing to donate a good amount of space to their art-form.

      "it's an expression of my love for a particular artist that I'm willing to donate a good amount of space to their art-form"
      Nailed it. This is all you need to know about enjoying music on vinyl.

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