The Vinyl Resurgence: What's the Deal?

It was recently reported that vinyl record sales saw a 32% increase; the most sales the format has seen since 1991. [1]  What's the reason for this sudden revival?

Now, as a amateur vinyl collector (I just buy what music I like) I will be the first to admit that at its core this vinyl resurgence is irrational. But, as it is with many older technologies, there are pluses and minuses to consider. Usually the plus for these technologies is is that they convey a certain authenticity and improved experience that a digitally based program cannot possibly offer. Specifically with vinyl, there's just nothing like going through the record store, finding gems, conversing with other patrons on various records, and physically owning a aesthetically appealing copy of a piece of music.

While CD and digital both offer more sonically flawless pieces, they can't possibly compare in aesthetics. Many will tell you it's because vinyl sounds better. I'm not sure about that, but I'm positive with the right audiophile equipment that's true. Something this article doesn't mention is that the vast majority of these records were rock records. To me, there are certain kinds of music I would rather listen to on vinyl than a CD or online. For instance, I would rather hear jazz like "Mingus Ah Um" or country like Ray Price on vinyl, where I would rather hear Led Zeppelin or The Beatles on CD. There's just something about pre-1964 music that requires vinyl or shellac that the CD can't capture (unless I need to figure out what they're playing on my instrument, then I go digital), where with post-1964 most of the time I would rather hear the CD. Although I still enjoy hearing my 60's, 70's and 80's records on vinyl.

An aspect of vinyl that many find appealing is its focus on albums. A vinyl LP is not something you can skip around on easily like a CD, so the vinyl format is better suited to the album as a coherent whole rather than a couple of singles.  I'm not incredibly devoted to either, but overall if I was choosing between buying a brand new vinyl or brand new CD I would pick the former. Somehow, I want to get as physically close with the music as possible; I want to feel like I can hold the song in the palm of my hand. There's just something about holding that vinyl in your hand, setting the needle down on it, and letting the album play on that clicking "play" on a computer just doesn't do. 

Which format do you prefer, and why? Let me know in the comments!


Views: 1172

Tags: beatles, digital, led, mingus, price, ray, resurgence, shellac, vinyl, zeppelin

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 10, 2014 at 5:29am

Comment by TenLayers on January 11, 2014 at 4:29pm

And to my ears, a skipping record is way less annoying than a skipping CD.

Comment by Harrisonaphotos on January 12, 2014 at 1:32am

As a teen then a young man I loved buying albums; the whole aesthetic was a big part of the purchase, as was the sexy smell of the plastic as you slid the disc out of the inner sleeve.

     About  12 years ago I sold my collection to a dealer for £200 (a fraction of what it cost) simply because I hadn't actually played a record in over a year - CD'shad replaced them - better sound and convenience being the main reasons.

    I mainly review CD's but listen to the music on my i-pod/Blackberry/laptop as time dictates. The sound quality is more than adequate; and in the case of my i-pod - SUPERIOR than I remember my LP's (I had Technics gear).

      If album sales have increased I can only imagine it's middle-aged guys (it is usually guys) having a mid-life crisis; buying an expensive Hi-Fi and re-buying their original discs; which in the UK cost between £25 and £35 which is extortionate.

    So; while I still have romantic memories of buying LP's you can't play them in the car or on the move!

Comment by Jim Moulton on January 12, 2014 at 2:23am

The  pure analog sound of a good record or even hi quality cassette sounds  better and more musical. CDS are erratic, You have to be good to get a digital CD  to sound great, today, engineers are recording CDs above the 0 level which causes  distortion, It's a matter of taste, I like a good CD. Could never listen to downloads.

Comment by Sue Rarick on January 12, 2014 at 7:41am

I think one of the differences 'back in the day' was the fact you had close to a one to one situation where what was recorded on tape was transferred to vinyl. Today what you hear on CD or especially with downloads is no where near what the finished recorded files are. I record at 24/96 and when it's reduced to even 16/44.1 there is a substantial reduction in sound quality and that is a lot higher quality than the normal 256/320 mp3 downloads. Now add to that the fact that dynamic ranges have been squashed to bump up volume levels and it's no wonder some people prefer vinyl.

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 12, 2014 at 8:51am

 Now if I could just figure out how to strap by turntable to my bike........

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 12, 2014 at 9:05am

I just took this hearing test. No wonder I find these debates about vinyl>cd>mp3 quality insane. Go ahead. I dare you.

Comment by Sue Rarick on January 12, 2014 at 2:10pm

The test only includes frequencies over C9 on a piano (There are only 10 octaves on a piano).  The quality issue is how much clarity there is in the 250 to 2.5k range. This is the area where most music is and where most of the compression is. As a rule anything over 12k is mostly atmosphere sound (Unless your a big fan of the upper overtones of violins and piccolos). 

Comment by KW on January 13, 2014 at 5:23am

R.E. Alan Harrison's comment:

"If album sales have increased I can only imagine it's middle-aged guys (it is usually guys) having a mid-life crisis; buying an expensive Hi-Fi and re-buying their original discs.."

I don't know about your side of the pond, but when I go to our local store (Love Garden Sounds), the customers are primarily young folk. And, believe it or not, a lot of them are female. Urban Outfitters is selling records now, that ought to tell you something.

Comment by Will James on January 13, 2014 at 10:47am

Most of my collection happens to be in original vinyl in great condition, but there is no doubt it sounds better. Once I tested it (admittedly unscientifically) by removing the speaker covers and playing The Band's Up on Cripple Creek. With the CD the cones didn't move. With the vinyl they literally jumped. For what it's worth.

A small portion of my vinyl (covers may show the age, but disks do not).


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.