There’s nothing quite like the feeling of holding a brand new vinyl record in your hands after having gone to a shop and choosing it among many with the flick of your finger. Some may call this a material obsession, or even fetishism, but one thing holds true: buying music on vinyl will never die, and in this article we have some ideas why this…
A tactile medium in a digital era
Physical formats are a luxury these days so, for those who can afford it, it’s a treat in our digitally-dominated lives. The tactile grooves in a vinyl record, the look (and smell) of the paper album sleeve and the mechanics of the turntable that plays it can fascinate many individuals, especially those with a penchant for engineering or hands-on activities. After all, it’s important to take breaks from pixels and WIFI, right?
A collector’s investment
A lot of vinyl collectors don’t even open the plastic wrap of their vinyl records. You may ask why and say that it’s a waste of a record. Fair enough, but some collectors keep a collection in order to sell it later, in mint condition, at an inflated price. In the meantime they can at least enjoy the album’s cover art and even use their collection to decorate their homes.
Album art in large format
Continuing from the previous point, album art is often greatly valued either because of its meaning or its artistic merit. Having it fit in a 12-cm x 12-cm square, the dimensions of most CD sleeves, is considered a shame to some art-conscious people. Seeing it in its full glory is what the visual artist intended and getting immersed in a work of visual art can often make the listening experience all the more magical.
Some of our staff’s album art picks:
Uncompressed high fidelity (with imperfections)
Of course we need to mention the sound of music on vinyl. If mastered correctly for vinyl, a record can sound fantastic compared to any digital format. All the more because of its warm character and the barely-inaudible hiss that characterise analogue formats. You’re not going to get crystal clear sound like you do with a CD and a hi-fi stereo system, although you can get close. In fact the imperfections (crackles, pops and hiss from scratches and dust) are desirable by many. Lots of producers try to imitate these imperfections these days, digitally, in post production. This just goes to show that imperfection is perfect!
Taking the time to listen
But it’s not only the physicality and aesthetics that make vinyl so desirable, it’s also the ritual. Many people these days are constantly surrounded by (mostly digital) music. Whether it’s throughout their workday or afterwards, the Spotify playlists spew out music almost ceaselessly. What does this do to the value of a song? Some may argue that it makes songs disposable and puts their importance (literally) in the background.
With a vinyl record, on the other hand, one must take the time to remove the record from its sleeve, gently place the record on the turntable’s platter and then carefully position the needle down on the spinning record. What follows is often a more attentive listening session of an entire album, relaxed on the sofa or a comfy chair, enjoying the details of the music and then turning it over once Side A has finished playing. Isn’t that beautiful?
The Return of Vinyl
The return of vinyl is real, more people are trying to escape their digitised daily grind by consuming music in analogue formats. Vinyl sales can’t compete with digital sales and streaming service subscription purchases but they are not decreasing either. On the contrary, since 2006 global vinyl sales have significantly increased, from $36 million to over $700 million in 2019. This goes to show that there really is something magic about this historical analogue format!
For more proof that vinyl is back, check out the two videos below from Gibson TV: