The Beauty Of Vinyl
Vinyl records are making something of a comeback in recent years. People are digging out their old records and music labels are releasing more and more contemporary music on the format and reissuing their back catalogues.
Why is this?
Firstly, let’s address whether music on vinyl actually sounds better than the equivalent music on a digital format.
A well mastered track played on a CD or a brand-new record should sound exactly the same and there are grounds to the argument that the vinyl version should actually sound worse as there will inevitably be some background surface noise even from a brand new, and impotently clean, record.
People say that the vinyl version somehow sounds warmer and richer. Ironically, this is partly down to the background sound, a sort of pink noise, that the brain filters out but still colours the music.
What is true is that music tends to be listened to ‘properly’ when being played from a record. By that I mean that as a record is essentially a non-random access medium (well, not without some work on the part of the listener) and is more of an effort to actual play in the first place – more time is given over to actually sitting and listening to what you have just made the effort to play.
A CD is simply placed in the player and a button is pressed and bingo, out comes the music. Don’t like a track? Tap a button and its gone. Want to hear the track again? Hit another button and there it is. Because of this, digital music tends to be thrown on and you get on with other things while it’s playing and, as a CD can last for up to 80 mins, you don’t have to keep nearby to turn the disc over part way through.
However, a lot of thought goes into making an album – the flow, the feeling and the overall sound. They are meant to be listened to and appreciated so an album on vinyl almost forces you to do this.
Then there’s the album cover – a foot square piece of cardboard (much more if you have a gatefold album) full of glorious artwork and text that you can actually read.
Yes, there is much more to getting music from a record but, in my opinion, so much more to be gained.
So, to go back to the original question – why is vinyl making a comeback? I believe it is that people have found it a great way to reconnect with their music again. Also, I believe that people want to actually own their music rather than an intangible download. One of the ways that many record companies are helping is by providing a free digital download of an album – that way you have all the joy of owning and playing the vinyl but still have a version to play on the go.
Whatever the reason, I can’t see vinyl going away any time soon.