Vinyl Records Making A Comeback?

Really?

I have heard their sound is superior to that of cd’s???

That means I have to buy a turntable???

Go back to the old days of regular stereo?

Would they be the same size as they were before?

Thanks

Q

Vinyl records never went anywhere. They just greatly declined in popularity after CD’s were introduced but even some new bands offered vinyl distributions as well as CD’s. They aren’t superior to CD’s either, they just sound a little different and some say, “warmer”. Audiophiles are about the nuttiest bunch of nuts out there and they have some unprovable and sometimes contradictory ideas about what ideal music reproduction should be. The purest version of that is the idea that you can sit in your listening room and hear something almost identical to the concert hall it was originally played in. However, it isn’t always that simple. Audiophiles never heard most of the music they have played live but they do remember the way their vinyl albums sounded when they were teenagers and they want that sound back. It doesn’t matter if the CD is more accurate.

There are lots of new models of record players available, some of which can connect directly to your computer and convert vinyl to digital formats. You can get one as elaborate as you want including this $112,000 model: http://most-expensive.net/turntable-in-world. You can just buy more reasonably priced ones online or at large electronics stores.

Thanks, Shagnasty!

But link is broken?

I used to subscribe to a magazine called (IIRC) Hi-Fi and Stereo Review and used to read it cover to cover and wished like hell for a Bang and Olufsen system. :slight_smile:

Nat Hentoff was a favorite columnist of mine in that mag.

Not getting around much these days, but does that magazine still exist?

I am sorry to say I kept none of my DJ copies of the vinyl albums I once had (Moody Blues were a favorite and of course my beloved Beatles with that weird echo from the monaurals!;)).

A Neil Diamond album that was the BEST stereo I had ever heard in those days (The first Greatest Hits, maybe?) And then there was The Ramsey Lewis Trio and Brubeck! :wink:

Thanks again!

Quasi

Arguments about audio fidelity and quality aside, a lot of people simply value having an actual record collection. There is definitely something to flipping through a bunch of albums and the physical connection between needle and record that is not captured by sorting through a stack of CD’s, let alone a bunch of digital files. This is doubly so with bands that put a lot of effort into artwork and/or issue special picture-discs.

You also can’t copy the experience of owning a record-- I know a lot of folks who are shameless music pirates, but will plunk down 20 bucks for an album they really like on vinyl. For this reason alone, I think you’re going to see a lot more bands issuing stuff on vinyl.

GreasyJack,

Back in my “radio days” (God, I miss them!), I was always told that picture discs detracted from the audio.

Agree/Disagree?

I remember Sgt. Pepper on my 8-track, The Doors’ LA Woman and so many others!

I used to drive my car just to listen to the 8-Track!

And here again, I’m hijacking my own thread! :wink:

Quasi

As far as I know, they’re just as good new, but they wear out much faster than regular vinyl, which would make them less than ideal for a radio station. My girlfriend’s got a few we’re only allowed to play on special occasions.

Another thing to add to what I said above is that nowadays a lot of bands include passwords that let you download the album in digital form when you buy it on vinyl. So some people will just buy the record as a collector’s item and never play it (and sometimes this doesn’t even cost that much more than buying it on CD or on iTunes).

A lot of indie bands in particular are releasing singles on 7" again. There is definitely something about the 7" that a CD single will never compare to.

Picture disks use clear vinyl, which means no carbon black content. The reason carbon black is added is to act as a lubricant. So indeed, picture disks, or indeed any non-black vinyl has wear issues. There is some suggestion that the lack of lubricant can also increase the noise levels even for unworn LPs.

LPs and CDs will always sound different. The lack of dynamic range possible in the LP format, and limitation with extreme frequencies mean that the recording must be mastered differently. LPs intrinsically have worse dynamic range, worse frequency repsonse, and much greater distortion than CDs. But they can also be made to sound very nice indeed. Assuming you can afford a system that can replay them at this quality.

LPs never fully died out, there was always a demand for them in the dance circuits, and for audiophile recordings - most noteably small jazz groups. But the recent resurgence is interesting. There are actually people building small pressing plants.

The old EMI record factory in North London (now with new owners) is still producing over a million vinyl pressings a year.

Sitting here with an open mouth!

I tried listening to cd’s when they first came out and took my son’s word that the sounds I was hearing to were purer than anything I had EVER heard, and in addition, they would not skip.

I even won the entire DOORS cd collection on a radio station in Atlanta by knowing all of Black Sabbath’s albums!

Now you’ve got me wondering…

My beloved Beatles again on vinyl?

Okay.

Well, okay.

After all, that is how I came to know them!

Jesus! Could this be a first?

Going retro in music (and not just for The Fabs!)???

Q

Yeah. The early CDs were often awful. One issue was that record companies didn’t appreciate the issue of mastering, and simply grabbed the master tapes used for LP pressings, digitised them and put them on the market. This was bad. The mastering included many decades of engineer experience about how to master for LP. And when the CD didn’t have the same set of frequency issues, dynamic range limitations, and distortion, that LPs had, it didn’t sound right. In fact it could sound downright bad. It took quite some time to get right, and one saw a lot of “remastered for CD” reissues of CDs in the early 90’s that finally got around to sorting this out. Pure sound, yes, good sound, no. Nowadays thesed arguments are (finally) long past. Pity about the not skipping bit.

There is something really warm and primal about an LP. Where you can see the music right before your eyes, and understand in a clear manner what it is that is happening in the playback process. And the wonderful (if insanely expensive) mechanical gadgetry that goes with that playback. Digital might have all the technology and absolute performance, but it won’t capture that aura. Me, the turntable is in the cellar and hasn’t been used in years. The only time I even touch a CD is when I rip it (lossless of course.) I should sell the turntable. I could get a reasonable amount of money for it. But something in me doesn’t actually want to.

There is something about the SIZE of LPs and their paper sleeves and packaging that makes them more of an experience to use than CDs, which have only small liner notes, or now MP3s and other digital files which have no associated art or content that go along with them. When you got an LP you were often getting a lot of stuff along with it. Both sides of a very large sleeve, plus inserts and stuff in the middle with lyrics and whatnot, and sometimes posters that would be in there. I’ve thought this ever since I would look through my dad’s record collection as a kid, like 5 or 6 years old. This would have been back in 1991 and most of the music for our day-to-day listening was in cassette form, so even then the LPs were sort of exotic to me.

I would look through all the records and stare at the trippy prog rock album art. And I thought that the woman on Badfinger’s No Dice cover, which folded out to show her whole body, was the most alluring-looking female in the world. I was also baffled by Todd Rundgren’s seemingly-mutated ears on the cover of A Wizard, A True Star. Again, this packaging was BIG, so looking through all of this was like looking at an art gallery. It really gave the band an opportunity to provide some visual content along with the music, a concept that would evolve (and then later devolve) into MTV. You weren’t just getting the songs on the record, you were also getting an expression of the band’s own unique aesthetic style. This kind of connection with the music is a very special thing and is, unfortunately, almost completely dead in the age of iTunes. Yeah, I know, you get album art on iTunes, but it really isn’t the same, for a whole plethora of reasons.

So I’m glad that vinyl is making a comeback.

And besides, Cds never have anything scratched into the runoff grooves!

(also, you can’t play them backwards, and you can’t do this with them.)

I still have my 45s from the 70s and early 80s. The first one I ever bought was “Bungle In the Jungle,” by Jethro Tull. I still love that song, too.

I agree with what has been said above about the tactile and other pleasures of the cover, sleeve, liner notes, etc. The original copy of “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” came with little punch-out moustaches and badges and stuff you could wear.

The inner sleeve of Led Zeppelin’s “In Through The Out Door” was printed with that dye-impregnated dot pattern stuff. You know, the kind you paint with water and the colors appear. I had heard about the fact that the record was released with five different covers, but the dots I figured out by myself. (and painted, of course!) Big fun!

In addition, I strongly feel that pre-digital recordings have a warmth and sweetness that is really evident in comparison to digital media. I think maybe it’s subsonics involved.

Do you mean media, or recording technology? Pre-digital recording means tape, and tape started to die by the 90’s. There are enthusiasts that buy, for peanuts, old tape machines that initially cost many tens of thousands of dollars and use them, just for the sound. Tape has a sound, and good recording engineers knew how to use it. How to push the tape just the right amount to get the bloom they wanted. However even the best tape machine, with the best in support equipment, could only just begin to approximate what digital could achieve in terms of accuracy, signal to noise, and utility. But a desire for the sound of tape has never gone away. Digital signal processing systems that emulate the sound of particular tape systems exist. Some engineers have been known to record to digital, record that to tape and then take it back back to digital, just to get the sound. Not just the sound of tape however. The sound of old microphones is prized. Microphone pre-amps also have a sound of their own. A Neve 1073 is, to some, the sound of rock and roll. Transformers are especially important, and you see specific audio transformers selected for their sound in mic preamps. And processing gear. Things like the Fairchild 670 compressor, which is a frighteningly complex 1960’s tube based unit, can go for over $5000, and even a set of tubes for $1000, simply due to their rareity, and almost cult like status as a magic sonic device, or the Teletronix LA2A leveling amplifier.

Sadly, the next thing that happens is the the recording company demands that it be mastered to sound good in a car, so they compress the hell out of it, and the music sounds terrible. This has been the fate for well over the last decade of almost any popular recording, and many remastered reissues of older recordings. http://www.turnmeup.org/

The thing is analog records are better than digital records. Can you hear the difference? Most people cannot. If you can’t hear it, then the fact that vinyl is better is totally lost.

The real problem with vinyl is you have to take care of it well. And each time you play it a little bit of the quality is lost. This is because the needle touches the records. In a CD the laser doesn’t touch the CD.

I know somene that works in a record store and they have a sophisticated vinyl to digital system and I am totally shocked at how well you can put vinyl on digital. BUT the thing is the original source vinyl must be in near perfect conditon. Few people can really mange to do this.

CDs are not always better, I bought a CD by the late Laura Branigan “Remember Me,” which was some recordings she did but not put out on CDs. The CD is awful. It was obvious they put absolutely no effort at all into trying to make it sound good. I would bet an ameteur person with a home computer could have put out a better CD. Clearly they put it out to capitalize off her death.

The best advice is when you hear these type of debates, go with what you like and your ear likes and everyone else, can… :slight_smile:

All these stories are vinyl returning are pure hype. It is not even one percent of the market and never will be. The problems, as everybody has mentioned, is that vinyl may be great if they are in perfect condition but they never stay that way in the real world. Nobody today is willing to accept skips, scratches, and hiss in their music.

I do have a Beogram 4002 turntable, as it happens. It is a great turntable. Yes, you can still get cartridges for it. But modern CDs (not the very first ones, which were awful) are remixed so that I can hear things in the music that I’ve never heard before, and it sure can’t be because my hearing is improving with age. Will anyone take the trouble to do that with all the music that already exists for new vinyl? Not likely. Forecasts are that all physical forms of recording, except for the tiny collectors and extremophiles markets, will disappear within the next few years.

Vinyl is dead. Except for cover art, I’m not in the least sorry.

A lot of stereo amps and receivers now do not have an input for a turntable. I guess you might be able to buy an external preamp if you buy a new stereo amp.

Yeah, my current receiver is a Sony just because it was the only one in my price range with a turntable input. And I had to endure the heavy scorn of the nerds for buying something as low-class as a Sony.

This needs to be emphasized. And watch the video.

Wikipedia has an article on the loudness war, and the image right at the top gives a great visual. I think this is a large cause of vinyl still being sought after, and why it does often sound better than CD.

It still exists under the name “Sound and Vision” to reflect a merger with a video magazine. They review audio and visual equipment. Not much in the way of actual LP/CD reviews…only a handful nowadays