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Vinyl Records

October 5, 2021 (Last updated: November 7, 2021)


Vinyl Record

A useful guide to vinyl records

We live in the age of convenience; we have millions of songs available at the touch of a button on pocket-sized devices. Streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Prime, and YouTube Premium are the new normal. People want convenience, they get used to it, and if there's one thing a vinyl record isn't, it's convenient.

Not too long ago, only the most ardent collector cared about vinyl records. Luckily for us, vinyl records might have been down, but not out. Recent years we've seen a resurgence of vinyl records amongst fans, new and old. Music-lovers aren't ready or willing to let it go quite yet.

The consumer music industry has seen many formats come and go over the years. Whether talking about cassette tape, mini-disc, or CD, Vinyl has aged better than all of them. Streaming music may be the future, but many decades after its arrival, we are glad to say the vinyl record is here to stay.

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► Why people love vinyl

► Sound quality vs CD & Music Streaming

Advantages of Vinyl

Disadvantages of Vinyl

► Are all albums available on vinyl?

► Where to buy

► Record auctions

 

Why people love vinyl

Love for vinyl recordsVinyl records are more appealing to many people for various reasons, both tangible and superficial. Some people will argue that vinyl just sounds better, and that's often true. One reason it can sound better is that vinyl is the only fully analog and fully lossless playback format there is.

 

There's Something About Analog

When people talk about analog versus digital, they often refer to the warmth that comes with analog. Analog gear usually comes with some inconsistencies, but most would agree those inconsistencies are what makes it so desirable. It feels more natural and authentic, with character and delivers a sound that's closer to what the band intended, making it easier to close your eyes and imagine you're in the room, listening to them live. 

Technically, with a high-quality turntable, and great speakers, you could experience as close to full-fidelity listening as possible.

 

Nostalgia & Mindfulness

Nostalgia is one of the biggest reasons that people love vinyl records, and it comes in different forms.

People who grew up with vinyl before CD and streaming came along want to rekindle those memories. If your favorite bands were pressing vinyl when you were young, you'd like to hear it as you did for the very first time.

There are also those who have a passion for vintage items, even if they didn't Vinyl record playerpersonally experience their first time around. Vinyl records are retro, they're cool.

For vinyl enthusiasts, records also represent a completely different way to enjoy music. When you take the time to play a vinyl record, it's not as background noise while you do something else. It's the focus of your full attention and an opportunity to switch off from the rest of the world, listening in blissful ignorance.

 

Finding Perfection in the Imperfect

If you've ever listened to a vinyl record, you've likely heard it hiss, crackle, and pop. No other playback format creates the same emotional connection to the music; there's no experience like it.

 

People bought almost 27.5 million vinyl records in 2020. Around a 30x increase from 2006. Source: Statista.com

 

Sound quality vs Streaming & CDs

When analog to digital conversion is in play, we have to account for lossy compression. Lossy compression involves reducing the original bit-depth to remove data and lower the file size. The benefits of a smaller file size are obvious for streaming platforms like Spotify using MP3 and AAC formats. The downside is that the smaller file size and data loss come with degraded sound quality.

By the time an analog recording has been digitally converted and brought down to CD size, it will have lost some information. In that sense, creating a CD version from a digitally converted analog recording becomes a lossy process by default. So, it's pretty fair to say that vinyl is the only proper fully-lossless playback format.

  

AmazonIn addition to its large selection of records, Amazon offers the Vinyl of the Month Club subscription. Curated by experts at Amazon Music, the Vinyl subscription box brings you the greatest albums to come out of the 1960s and ’70s. Once joined, you'll receive one must-own record from the Golden Era of Vinyl each month. Perfect for the music lover who's just fallen for analog sound.

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Advantages Of Vinyl

 

The Physical Experience

Taking a CD out of its case doesn't compare to removing a vinyl record from its sleeve. Likewise, digital artwork online or CD covers don't even come close to vinyl artwork. There's also the collector aspect of vinyl. No one collects CDs or MP3s; Vinyl has the cool factor.

 

The Sound of VinylVinyl Record Player

We have discussed things like analog warmth, the sound, and imperfections. All we have to say here is that you can't match the sound of vinyl; it's unique.

 

Great Music

OK, so there's no guarantee, but music that is pressed to vinyl tends to have real substance.

 

Vinyl Demands Attention

Vinyl demands attention is a statement that makes a lot of sense when you think about it. It all goes back to the vinyl experience that we keep mentioning. Most of us are guilty of putting on a CD, YouTube, or Spotify and letting our attention drift. We like to hear music in the background while we do other things. Listening to Vinyl, however, allows us to take a moment to focus on the music itself. A positive thing in an increasingly busy world.

 

Are all albums available on vinyl?

You're less likely to find a flash in the pan, one-hit-wonder on vinyl. You're more likely to find all-time greats or artists with those kinds of aspirations. At the very least, it's far more likely to find real musicians with real instruments and world-class production. Not too long ago, vinyl lovers were predominantly restricted to older music. But, the resurgence of vinyl popularity has seen modern artists like Charlie XCX and Tyler The Creator release vinyl albums. More and more artists are releasing their albums on vinyl. One reason is the increasing popularity of vinyl. We now have new, younger generations listening to vinyl, and that's a beautiful thing. There’s even a National Vinyl Records Day.

 

Tip

Listening quality, of course, also depends on the type of record player and your speakers. Whether you are a beginner or an avid hi-fi enthusiast, everything you need to know about choosing the best speakers can be found here. You know you want to listen to vinyl, but you aren't sure which record player you need? This simple guide to record players will help you make the right choice.

 

Disadvantages of vinyl

 

Maintenance

The one thing you can be sure of when streaming MP3s is that they will sound the same every time; unless your internet connection is stuck in the stone age. We can't say the same about vinyl. Vinyl needs far more care and attention; otherwise, the surface noise (crackle, etc) will go from charming to annoying, fast. That means storing them properly, cleaning them, and setting up and maintaining your turntable correctly. Owning a vinyl collection is a responsibility, but the reward is worth it.

 

Pressing Flaws and Tracking Errors

As we mentioned earlier, flaws that occur in the pressing process can cause extra surface noise. No amount of cleaning and maintenance will get rid of those flaws. Tracking errors are a result of misalignment that causes distortion on playback. As a record progresses, the linear resolution reduces. In simple terms, the amount of vinyl per second is greater at the beginning of a record than it is at the end. This problem is commonly referred to as inner-groove distortion.

 

Expensive

There's no way to get away from the fact that vinyl records aren't a cheap hobby. The start-up costs alone involved with buying a decent playback system far outweigh the price of a cheap CD player. Then, once you get into buying albums, you can expect to pay, on average, around four times what you'd pay for a CD album. Not to mention the cost relative to music streaming.

 

Storage

In an age when thousands of songs can be stored on a smartphone and taken anywhere at ease, storing/transporting a vinyl collection won't suit everyone.

 

Where to buy

Before getting into the best places to buy records online, you shouldn't discount physical record stores. Hitting the record store and physically digging through vinyl is part of the overall experience. It's this process that spawned the crate-digging culture that defined a generation of music-makers. Crate-Digging is the art of rummaging through record collections, whether it's in a store or an old attic, to find the hottest samples. It's the perfect example of how vinyl records changed how we make music as well as how we listen to it.

 

Amazon  Ad

In addition to its large selection of records, Amazon offers the Vinyl of the Month Club subscription. Curated by experts at Amazon Music, the Vinyl subscription box brings you the greatest albums to come out of the 1960s and ’70s. Once joined, you'll receive one must-own record from the Golden Era of Vinyl each month. Perfect for the music lover who's just fallen for analog sound.

 

Discogs

Discogs is first and foremost a discography and the aboslute number 1 place for vinyl. Their database is pure gold.

 

eBay Vinyl  Ad

Ebay is good for second hand releases, but you can find new ones as well.

 

Roughtrade

Rough Trade is a group of independent record shops in the UK and the US. They also have a pretty good online store with a great selection of records.

 
 

Vinyl Record auctions

In addition to the listening pleasure, people also buy vinyl records for collecting and the collector's value. If you think vinyl records can't mean big money, check out this list of the most expensive records ever sold. It's always worth keeping an eye out at garage sales and thrift stores. Visit the websites below for online auctions of unique collectible items.

 

Catawiki

Catawiki is a popular online marketplace. You can find weekly auctions of 65000 special and hard-to-find objects selected by experts. You can also go there to buy or sell rare and unique vinyl collections.

 

Invaluable

Invaluable offers a selection of Vinyl Records from the world's premier auctions and galleries.

 
 

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