Back To Vinyl

In case you don’t know what I mean by vinyl, it’s what we used to call records – LPs, 45s and 78s – albums with big twelve inch square covers.  Vinyl sales are growing while CD sales are shrinking.  Why would a retro technology make a comeback?  Audiophiles have always claimed that vinyl had a superior sound, but many audio engineers also claimed that was silly too.  Who knows?  Who cares?  Well, enough people to keep a retro technology alive.  Enough people to entice me into thinking about moving into the future by returning to vinyl records.

I have a few friends that extoll the virtues of vinyl.  And on the web I’ve read many enticing essays about the superiority of vinyl.  These fans chronicle a never ending quest for the perfect sound, claiming they hear more than us pedestrian CD and MP3 listeners.  Their extreme love for music is infectious.  So I have to wonder, has music listening become too easy?  Has convenient and abundance ruined our passion for songs?  Maybe a rare 12” vinyl treat is the natural way to acquire new music.

Why I Gave Up LPs The First Time Around

I gave away all my LPs when I started listening to subscription music on Rhapsody.  I had over 1,500 CDs, and a four foot wide shelf of LPs left.  My LPs had survived several house moves, often never even getting listened to in some places.  When I moved to this house, I decided not even to unpack them.  Since a new generation of music technology was coming out, subscription music, I could get rid of albums that required technology two generations back to play.

I bought a USB turntable to convert my albums to mp3 that weren’t available on CD or Rhapsody, but that turned out to be too much work to be worthwhile.   Plus, the scratches, pops and skips got recorded and that only emphasized the lameness of vinyl.  LPs were out-of-date technology, so why not let it go?

Then I met a Katrina refuge and she lamented losing all her albums, so I offered her mine, and threw in the turntable.  That was about six years ago.

Also, there’s another “thing” that killed LPs a very long time ago.  We stopped listening to music together.  Digital music is great for personal music.  We’ve all retreated from reality with our noise cancelation earphones.  I wrote about this five years ago, “Why Has Listening to Music Become as Solitary as Masturbation?

Is It Crazy To Think About Going Back to Vinyl?

Recently a friend, Doug, mentioned a song he wanted to find, “Stoney End” by Linda Ronstadt.  I checked MusicStack for him and found the album it was on, Stoney End by Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys (Pickwick SPS-3298).  It turns out Doug already had this album but not the turntable to play it on.  I was tempted to order it for myself thinking it might be fun to listen to a record I can no longer buy from 1972.  There have been many times lately where I’ve wanted to hear a song I remember only to discover that it never made it to the CD world, and isn’t on any of the music subscription services.

ronstadt_linda_the_stone_poneys_stoney_end_lg

Now here’s the thing.  If I was willing to download illegal music I could probably find anything I wanted on the Internet because I’ll bet aficionados have ripped pretty much everything to .mp3, or so I would think.  However, I have no idea how to search for stolen music, nor do I want go down the dark alleys of the internet looking for out-of-print music.

What are my options if I want to hear long forgotten songs?  First, I could wait and eventually they might show up on subscription music sites.  Second, I could buy the original vinyl recordings used.  Or, third I could just let them stay forgotten.

On the Flip Side - Ricky Nelson

I used to own On the Flip Side LP but gave it away when I gave away all my LPs.  I’m starting to regret that, but at the time it was a pain to maintain LPs and the stereo equipment to support them.  I also figured one day everything would show up in digital on subscription music services.  Another album I just had to hear again was Never Going Back to Georgia by The Blue Magoos.  I tracked that one down about a year ago and my friend Lee gave me an old turntable to play it on.  I even had to buy a cheap pre-amp because my modern day receiver no longer supports turntables.  I now have a library of 1 LP.  Talking to Doug about albums that never made it to CD makes me want to buy more.

Never-Going-Back-To-Georgia

Vinyl is a Costly Addiction

The trouble with returning to vinyl is it’s an addiction.  I was just reading on Amazon about a guy buying a $400 turntable and really loving it, and then his customer review had an update at the bottom saying he had just bought a $900 turntable.  He also warned buyers:  “$400 for the turntable is just a drop in the bucket, plan on spending double to triple that to get EVERYTHING you need. Nice phono preamp, carbon fiber brush, alignment tools, decent plastic lined sleeves for all that new vinyl you about to buy, tweaks, gadgets, cleaning supplies, etc…”  He also said, “Plan ahead and budget for a record cleaning machine, after you own a few albums you will want it. Even brand new sealed vinyl has dust and will crackle and pop” and “50 year old used records sound like………50 year old used records.…”

Reading reviews of turntables makes me wonder if I even have the technical skills to set one up, adjust it, and know if it’s playing correctly.  The audiophiles make it sound worse than rocket science.  And that knock against 50 year old records dings my enthusiasm because the records I want will all be 30-50 years old, or even older.  Another fear is getting addicted to 78s.

Collecting

I think buying vinyl also appeals to the collector in us.  When my friend John wrote about John Lennon’s Jukebox, I immediately wanted to track down and buy those 40 singles that were Lennon’s favorite songs.  Vinyl lovers often have whole walls of albums.  This isn’t a bad hobby, but it could become an obsession.  I can see myself getting up early to hit the garage sales every Saturday morning, and constantly visiting the used record stores, and Goodwills, hoping to find some elusive gem.  Or getting hooked on Ebay.

Nostalgia

I think the main appeal of wanting to return to vinyl is nostalgia – I want to go home again – to my teen years when I loved buying LPs.  Or I just want to hear songs again that I haven’t heard for 40-50 years.  I’ve done this a few times in my life already.  I first heard On The Flip Side when it was shown on Stage 67, a show from the 1966-1967 television season on ABC.  About twenty years ago I thought of that show and tracked down a used soundtrack of the show.  I actually loved the album, and played it several times, but eventually forgot about it.  I was into CDs then, and CDs were much easier to deal with.  But when I gave away my LPs, I did take the time to record On the Flip Side to MP3, and it’s playing while I type.  So I still have it as two long MP3s, each a whole recording of a side.

To be honest, hearing On the Flip Side playing now is a nostalgic rush, but I doubt I’d want to play it over and over.  Maybe once every five years.  And my mp3 recording reminds me clearly of the flaws of vinyl because I hear the pops, skips and clicks that disappeared with the invention of CDs and mp3 files.

Would On the Flip Side be more wonderful if I was playing it on a good turntable hooked up to a great stereo setup, with perfectly configured speaker spacing?  I don’t know.  I’d have to spend quite a bit of money to find out.  And if I spent all that money and I loved it, would it mean I’d start searching out more old albums?  How many are lost in my memories?

I have a complete set of The Rolling Stone magazine on DVD, and I’m amazed by all the albums reviewed that I never heard of, or played or have even seen since.  It might be great fun to start in 1968 and see how many albums I can find that deserved to be rediscovered.  Or is that bullshit?  Shouldn’t everything worth listening to already be reprinted and available today on CD or subscription music?

And would I end up like the other vinyl addicts, always wanting more expensive turntables, cartridges, styluses, pre-amps, receivers, and speakers?

man-from-uncle-1

Many of the albums I fondly remember did have CD reissues, but strangely enough some like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or Our Man Flint didn’t seem to have the exact cuts or cuts in the same order as my memory.

I think the urge to buy LPs is to hold the same cover and to listen to the same cuts in the same order that I played them 40-50 years ago.  Is capturing this past worth all the effort?  And if I was to be truly faithful to the past, shouldn’t I seek out an old console stereo like I had as a teenager, or even a portable record player like I started out listening to when I was 12?  Why spend hundreds for turntables that didn’t exist in 1965?

Getting Old and Sappy

I think what I miss the most is shopping at record stores and playing my new discovers for my buddies.  Or even going to record stores with my pals, and spending a couple hours deciding how to best spend the two dollars I had burning a hole in my pocket.  For $10 a month today I get access to more albums than any record store I’ve ever been in.  As a kid I could only afford to buy one or two albums a week.  When I first started buying albums, when I was 13-14, I had to mow lawns, babysit or go without lunch at school to get LP money.  Maybe those treasures that were so hard to come by back then, are now the same treasures I seek to find now?  Maybe they need to be just as hard to come by again to get the maximum fun?

I don’t know if I’ll go back to vinyl or not.  I’m awful tempted to buy myself a $216 turntable at Amazon, a Audio-Technica AT-LP120 and give them a try.

Part II – The Subculture of Vinyl Record Fans

Part III – Audiophiles and the Quest for High Fidelity

JWH – 11/9/12

74 Responses

  1. Sounds like a good idea to me, if you like records why deny yourself? These days I feel old school for still wanting to get things on CDs.

    • I have to deny myself all the time, if I didn’t I’d have no savings and be in debt. I still haven’t decided about getting a new turntable. Maybe I should start shopping for records and if I find many, then buy the turntable. The thing is I want to retire in a year, and we’ll need to sell the house, so I’d be getting rid of stuff. I might want to travel and live out of an apartment. I wouldn’t carry much with me. That’s the great thing about digital music, my entire collection of 20,000 songs is always available online. Plus I have access to millions of songs through Rdio and Rhapsody.

      Getting a turntable and starting to collect records might change the direction of my retirement. I might make me want to keep the house and just become a hobbit and never leave home.

    • lol, yeah! I guess many kids don’t even know what to do with cds anymore – it’s just mp3s – d’you know, what I really, really adore…? tapes!!! 8) (I grew up with seattle grunge) ;)

      • Now tapes were a lot of work, especially when you wanted to play a song over and over again. I guess everyone has nostalgia for what they grew up with.

  2. I want to find the 45’s in John Lennon’s jukebox too.

    I already hit the garage sales and antique stores, but I don’t usually look at records or 45s but I’ve started to even though I don’t have a record player.

    I bought a couple of 45’s the other day and I put them up on the wall with push pins. They look great, but they are lonely. :) I’ll have to buy some more.

    • Are you going to get an old fashioned record player, the kind that everything is self contained in one box, turntable, amp, and speakers, or do you have a component stereo system and will add a turntable to it?

  3. I don’t think I’ll get one. My dad has one and it would be something to do when we visit him and mom.

  4. Here is a picture of my 45’s on either side of my Marilyn calendar.

    http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u64/chimeradave/P.jpg

    The one on the left is a Paul McCartney “Another Day” and and on the right is smokey Robinson “Special Occasion”

  5. Jim, you definitely do not need to spend $200+ on a decent turntable – unless you are heading down the ultra-serious audiophile-pinhead route, a decent belt-driven turntable can be had for well under $100 via Amazon. Even with built-n USB, so that you can burn that vinyl to crappy MP3 format! I have over 3K vinyl LPs, and occasionally purchase a new release on vinyl, and I cannot be considered a “casual” LP devotee – thus I may be the most impartial advocate for listening to vinyl recordings. So it it is never about some gut-wrenching, internal angst-driven rationalization over whether my records remind me of my youth – most of them do, because that’s when I bought most of them (with babysitting $$ in my case, and later after playing gigs). I can remember when I bought every LP I own, so there is always that twinge of memory when I take that still-fresh smelling vinyl out of the inner jacket, and as the first notes of, say, Burnt Weeny Sandwich start coming through the speakers. So, go ahead, I say! Indulge yourself in those long-ago moments of magic – after all, besides in physical appearance, how much have we REALLY changed…?

    • Lee, I think I’m seduced by all the audiophiles who claim to hear so much more with their expensive equipment and vinyl records. With nearly every turntable review I’ve read, the reviewer recommends replacing the stock cartridge and stylus with an upgrade claiming a quantum leap in sound quality. Is that true? Does spending $71 more get you twice the pleasure? I really don’t know, but if it’s true I’d be kicking myself for being penny wise and pound foolish. Wouldn’t I? Then again, I listened to those albums back in the 1960s on equipment that would be less than the cheapest crap I can buy today.

      I just got in a used copy of No Guru, No Method, No Teacher by Van Morrison on CD. It had disappeared from Rdio recently, and I realized I had never replaced it with a CD version before I gave away my albums. The copy I got was a 20-bit remastered edition. It sounded great. If I do get back into vinyl, I’m hoping to find a better listening experience like all the vinyl audiophiles claim that format offers. I don’t know if that will happen with the cheapest equipment.

      • I truly do not believe that an extra $71 – or even $710 – will make a very noticeable difference in your listening experience. If you start heading down THAT path, then what about your amplifier? And speakers? Or, better yet, the absolute best audiophile headphones ever made (in limited edition) by Sennheiser ($15,000) or a $1500 pair by Unisone…? I mean, come on, we are talking about slapping on some vintage tunes while whipping up some grub in the kitchen – what effin’ audiophile experience are we talking about to accompany THAT?! I simply like having the readily available OPTION of playing an old LP on the stereo just as I always have – it seems that you may be in search of a much more rarefied experience, like sipping a $40 wine instead of busting open a $10 bottle of perfectly decent Chianti to go with your pasta…!

      • Lee, I guess I’m seduced by all the audiophile talk. The idea that my old favorite songs would sound way better is very enticing. Luckily I’m on the cheap side, which should protect me from go whole hog on the audiophile addiction. Deciding between a $80 turntable and a $400 turntable, is like when I bought the equipment to play Super Audio CDs or Blu-Ray videos. The extra sound and visual resolution is noticeable, but only when I concentrated on the extra details. CDs and DVDs still great, and if I’m not paying attention, I don’t notice the difference.

        My guess is there’s a minimum resolution to enjoy music, and it’s pretty minimum. Hell, I grew up on AM radio. On the other hand, if you’re used to something better it’s hard to go back. I can’t stand to listen to iPod/iPhone music with Apple’s standard earbuds. It’s just awful sounding to me. The same music with some old Sony Walkman headphones is enough jump in quality to let me enjoy portable digital music. What I’m wondering is if a $400 turntable will make another quantum jump in sound quality.

        I enjoy listening to music at work on the computer with some decent PC speakers turned down low. The same music sounds way better on my home PC through Klipsch THX speakers played loud. Then there’s another huge jump in sound quality when I go to the den and play the same music on my stereo on CDs through floor standing Infinity speakers. What the audiophiles seem to be claiming is I’ll experience another leap in quality if I add a good turntable and play vinyl. I find that very tempting. It’s not that I don’t love the music at work on the cheap speakers, its that when I sit in the den and listen to a CD played loud, it’s a whole different experience. I notice so many more details that went into creating the song. I’m paying attention to little fills, and the various textures that the background musicians add to the song.

        When listening to music intently on good speakers, it feels like the virtual stage it creates is much bigger. Listening to music on Apple’s earbuds makes the Beatles seem like they are a inch tall and the stage is about 8 inches across. Playing the same music in the den make them seem like 6 feet tall and the stage is 25 feet wide. I don’t expect audiophile quality will make them bigger, but it might make them realer. Of course, that might all be an illusion and I’m just bullshitting myself into spending money that I shouldn’t.

  6. I don’t know anything about expensive turn tables or what not, but we love our portable $100-ish one. My husband and I recently started getting each other vinyl as gifts. It’s the perfect $20 gift, and hunting down that favored album has been fun. We also think our record collection will be fun to share and pass down to our children. Good Luck with finding what is best for you :)

  7. I love vinyl, and it’s not nostalgia – CDs were already available when I was born. As a kid, I spend a lot of time cataloging my father’s extensive record collection for sale (we only ended up selling one crate). There was an LP of Life’s Rich Pageant which I dug back out when I discovered REM. Years later, I was brought back in by a musician friend who gave me a limited edition 45 of his latest singles.

    What I’ve discovered about digital music is that it has a higher tolerance for crap because of how easy it is to skip what you dislike. When I was listening to mp3s on my ridiculous, audiophile-grade Bose headphones, I found myself skipping tracks five and ten at a time to find what I really wanted to hear. How said is it that my hand-picked collection of music contains so much hollow space?

    So that’s why I love vinyl. It forces you to slow down and enjoy the music, rather than turning it into background noise which seems to happen with digital media.

    • I find it fascinating Andrew, when I read about young people that grew up after CDs, describing how they discovered LPs. I have access to millions of songs via Rdio and Rhapsody, yet 90% of the time, I play the same favorites from one playlist. That playlist does span decades of music. Music isn’t about convenience or technology, but discovering the songs we want to play over and over again – for our entire life. You remind of the novel King Dork, where the main character, discovers old books his father read from storage boxes in the garage. I guess for many young people today vinyl is like exploring history.

    • It is very easy to accumulate sub-par digital music and spoil an otherwise great music collection. Any collection requires the hard work known as curation.

      I listen pretty much only to digital music, but I do not subscribe to any services. I have an extensive CD collection and a relatively small vinyl collection. I digitized my CD collection years ago and have just about digitized all my vinyl (and demo cassettes too). A year or 2 ago I had to empty out the room I kept my collection in and this really got me close into contact with my old collection. I decided to go through every CD and separate the ones I truly love and those I don’t. I found I had a lot oft cruft. Things from bands friends said were great but weren’t to me, random purchases that failed to live up to my hopes and so many compilation CDs. I ended up with two piles nearly equal in size. Now many of those comp CDs had the one or 2 tracks that lead me to a favorite band, so I don’t begrudge them, but they were nearly half of the cruft.

      Since had I digitized EVERYTHING, when I shuffled on my media device, I often had to skip tracks. But I did the same sorting digitally and now my skipping has more to do with what I am in the mood for rather than just flipping past the cruft.

      I haven’t gotten rid of the pile of not-so great CDs. And while I purged ,my device of the digital cruft, on my server I created a new folder “JustForCompleteness” to hold that cruft. I am unwilling to part with either it seems.

  8. My vinyl collection is in the loft – and I keep asking George to get it down. Trouble is, something else will have to be thrown out to make room for it – ah me. Perhaps I could lug the record player up to the loft – now there`s an idea!

  9. Reblogged this on filmcamera999 and commented:
    ..what a coincidence! my parents actually live quite near to a place in london, uk where vinyl records are still produced!

  10. Great post. I had a huge vinyl collection until about 8 years ago; long story, but all my LPs are gone. I had a few collectible items, plus maybe 20 albums that I can’t find on CD. Otherwise, I just don’t miss them like I thought I would. There was something about playing a record, even with the pops and scratches, to be sure. But bit by bit as I suck my CDs into my computer, which syncs to my phone, which I can play in my car…. wow, it feels so unshackled.

    • Digital music is so much easier to play. Think of a song, tap out its name, hit play. Except for telepathically thinking of a song and having it play all around me like in a musical, I can’t imagine anything easier. I don’t miss my LPs unless I read blogs by audiophiles claiming vinyl is musical nirvana and then I think, “What if they’re right?”

  11. Well they went a part of the good old days if they weren’t good…great post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  12. This post reminds me of this 50 some year old guy I saw in the resell shop who was looking at some dinosaur size, ugly ass speakers..u know the ones from the 70’s. I thought, why in the world would anyone want to pay to lug those things home not even knowing if the sound quality is up to par? All to say “Hey man I bought the speakers I used to have in high school.” But then I thought, maybe he was having a 70’s retro party and he had to have them for the theme..and maybe his goal was to blow the speakers playing Neil Diamond for the 5th time. Pure magic. FUN POST!

  13. I still have my collection of vinyls and turntable which still plays beautifully. My kids and grandkids enjoy listening to oldies like Peter, Paul and Mary and the Staccatos (remember them??). It’s a trip down memory lane that I just don’t get from CDs. Happy to hear they are making a comeback.

    • I bought 4 LPs today and I’m enjoying them immensely. It is a trip down memory lane. I don’t remember The Staccatos, I had to look them up on Wikipedia. They were a Canadian band. One of their singles sounds familiar, “Small Town Girl.” I’ll have to track it down.

  14. For me vinyl has nothing to do with nostalgia. I love the sound. I also particularly like that when you put on vinyl, you have made a sort of decision to actively listen to it or decide to stay in the room with the record player, and also pay enough attention to get up and flip it when the time comes.

    That can’t be said for CDS and mp3s where I get music ADD and just keep skipping through tracks or listen more passively. One of my favourite things is flipping the record while friends are over and we’re conversing.

    • I was thinking along these lines last night. I bought 4 used LPs yesterday, and I’d play them one side at a time while sitting in my La-Z-Boy devoting my full attention to them. I was enjoying songs I’d normally skip. I was taking them in as a whole. And I felt like I was just listening to music. And the sound did sound better.

      • NOW yer talkin’, Jim! Seems like I have been recommending such to you for some time…hmmm. (Glad to hear that the ol’ JVC tt is still bringing musical joy to ears, as well!)

        Nice to see so many apparently in the UK posting comments here… my vinyl collection really flourished when I was a teen in Europe, so maybe vinyl still carries more cuff overseas. Vinyl is enjoying a renaissance in the U.S., as well, these days. I now get emails from Amazon letting me know of new releases on vinyl – one recent reissue to check out is the Beatles complete boxed set on vinyl; many caveats there among the buyers!

    • I can’t remember which band it was now, but years ago I bought a CD where the band made the entire CD one track and put nearly 30 minutes of silence half way through their tracks to force you to get up and deal with their CD like you would to flip a record. It might not have worked on everybody but remote controls for CD players were not common in those days. The CD player I had at the time did come with a remote, but you could only skip track to track, you couldn’t skip inside tracks. I would have to get up, and press and hold the button on the front of the player for nearly 2 minutes to get to the “other side” of their their CD.

  15. We have a vinyl collection of about 200 records. My husband’s turntable is one of these hand precision made in the UK and the speakers are Italian. When I first heard tracks like Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’ and the Zombies ‘Time for a Season’ on his system I had to admit I heard depth to the music I’d never heard of CD’s …. I’t just wicked as my students would say……so my 40 albums I had stuck in the garage came to join my now husband’s! I must admit when I hear digital recordings after this, they sound a bit antiseptic:-)
    Good post…. get them down from the loft and enjoy……

  16. As much as turntables may cost, an iPod is close to the same amount and today’s phones and iPods seldom last longer than a couple of years and are extremely delicate. And while the old record may begin to sound old, I find that CDs get scratched and completely useless (though downloaded music may not, of course).
    I think the financial commitments required by today’s technology, between original purchase and upkeep/replacement can be very significant! I think you should go for the urge and enjoy the beautiful vinyl.

    • I bought 4 used LPs yesterday and they were in pretty good shape, the oldest, Peter Gunn, must be 50 years old, and the other three are 35-40 years old. The cover for Peter Gun was in such tatters I was afraid to buy it, but the disc looked pretty good. Even though it has some pops and crackles, it sounds fantastic and the music is wonderful. I’m playing it on a pretty old turntable too. So records aren’t necessarily fragile technology. I’m going to go back and buy 4 more albums tonight – Spin City is having a sale on used LPs, buy 3 get the 4th free.

      My major find was the first Blood, Sweat and Tears album with Al Kooper, something I’ve been wanting to hear for a long time and its out of print. I owned it when I was in high school in the 60s, but lost it and all my other teen year records when I sold my collection to make money to move away from home.

      • Oh, sounds fantastic–you are going to develop an enviable collection! I was thinking when I wrote my post that, yes, the records are fairly durable technology! Enjoy.

  17. Check out my friends site all about vinyl. Its his passion, I think you’ll appreciate it http://www.dustandgrooves.com/

    • Dust and Grooves is an impressive site. That photo of the old man who has 50,000 records is really impressive. Now that’s a collection! I’ll read this site regularly, thanks.

  18. Reblogged this on 0ReBlog0.

  19. Glad to see your blog and glad to see Vinyls come back.

  20. Great writing on vinyl. I grew up in the 50’s collecting records and of course graduated over the years to 8-tracks,cassettes, CD’s and the downloading on iPods. But, (sigh) it’s never the same. The feel of an actual 45 or the artwork on an LP is something I miss. I still have over 3,000 Lp’s and about 100 45’s. I have on occasion attempted to sell the entire bunch on eBay for a low price but no takers. Mostly because today’s record buyers want super collectables that they can make a killing off of. My collection is garden variety and mostly oldie LP collections. So, I hold on to them and occasionally, even though I’ve burned all of them on to CD;s, still play an occasional song on vinyl. Still love those LP covers.

  21. What a great thought! its very neat to see how the past is making a comeback.

  22. I’ve always felt there’s a romance about vinyl that CDs and other formats never really achieved.

    Where I live it’s possible to get mp3s and CDs and such on vinyl via bespoke companies, although it’s expensive. And some artists release vinyl pressings, too.

    I’d have thought it a bit moot to argue analogue sound quality in these cases or with remasters (assuming they get released on vinyl – all those Beatles records can’t predate remastering, surely…) because most of the recordings will have been made via digital equipment anyway, which lacks the warmth of analogue equipment. So yeah, a lot of bollocks spouted at you by vinyl snobs…

    That being said, I’m a massive philistine.

    Nevertheless there is a sense almost of nostalgia about it, about the feel of an LP, the artwork, about the relative scarcity and challenge of vinyl compared to digital formats – makes me a bigger music fan, blud. Style of thing.

    To quote Charlton Heston, you can have my 45s when you prise them from my cold, dead fingers. He was talking records, right?

    What do you mean .45?

  23. I miss those days too, flipping through the stacks in the record shops but I’ve found a new way in old op shops. I love them for the music, the artwork on covers and the quirky factor. Lately the quirky covers have revealed some interesting music. Plus I love that decision -do I listen to the other side? Or play another one? Cheers

  24. The best turntable I ever owned (and still own) was $5 at a garage sale.

    • What brand and model was it?

      • It’s a Pioneer…motor drive. Not sure of the model.

        All my previous turntables were belt drives, which eventual broke.

        I’m sure my model is not special, but it’s special to me…you know?

      • The turntable my friend gave me is a JVC and it’s a direct drive too. I was thinking just last night that motor driven turntables might last longer because belts deteriorate over time. So they might be better buys at garage sales.

        Last night I was comparing LPs to digital streams and the streaming music was actually higher definition. So now I’m worrying that that turntable fanatics might be right and I’ll need to upgrade my setup to hear what they are talking about. On the other hand, without comparing them, my old free turntable sounds great on its own.

  25. What comes around goes around

  26. I would expect the price of vinyl to go down, but no

  27. Hey Jim, great post on the real benefits of old tech. Speaking of that, these fancy horseless carriages sure have drawbacks–they are incredibly expensive to own, maintain and use, and look at the escalating environmental damage and co2 emissions from petroleum-based transportation. After mulling these issues I too have made a retro decision. Yes sir, it’s back to the horse and buggy for me!

  28. i also have a large collection of records and one of my favirate past times is looking through old charity shops and carboot sales. I have got some real classics, I dont like cds and i dont believe in illegal downloads, i like to have the physical cover and art work there

    • “Carboot” – I take it you’re from England. I went and looked that up on Google and found pictures. Looks fun. When I was growing up we’d have flea market sales like that at a drive in theater.

      The major appeal to LPs for me is the shopping. The hunt for a surprise or finding a long sought after rarity makes record shopping more fun than clicking a link online. And I too love the covers. As a substitute I’ve been searching out digital photos of album covers and making them my computer wallpaper.

  29. I just got two new Man or Astroman 7″‘s, ordered via the internet, but the package they arrived in had “Vinyl is Destroying the MP3 Industry” stamped on them. I played them and ripped them to ogg vorbis format, yet another danger to the mp3 industry.

    I couple of months ago I got my old stereo system out of storage and hooked it up only to find my beloved receiver died in its lonely box. If I turned the volume over 1/6th of the way up it started to distort and sound terrible. After pitching it, a friend gave me his old one since his cd and tape decks had died and he couldn’t find a replacement needle for his turntable. I have those big ugly, 70’s speakers (built in 1992, technically). And they just about blast the glass out of the windows. While my blueray/surround sound system sounds great and can rattle the windows, the old gear is much more powerful, even with a sub-par replacement receiver.

    • I love Man or Astroman music. That’s hilarious that the package had “Vinyl is Destroying the MP3 Industry” on it. I assume it’s vinyl fans boasting, but wouldn’t it be funny if it came from a disgruntled employee who actually hates vinyl and considers it a real threat to his much loved MP3s?

      To me, 90% of sound quality, not matter what the format is volume. Crank it up and it sounds great.

      • After reading the package, I had images of old-school factory workers with hammers and giant wrenches toiling in a hot factory forging shinny new mp3 files. With stacks belching smoke, giant machines slamming down to mold parts, spewing sparks….Then those poor getting laid off by heartless Big Vinyl.

  30. I bought a restored Pioneer direct drive turntable a few years back for $150. Works great! Only other thing I had to do was get a little preamp box from Radio Shack (new receivers don’t support old turntables without one).

  31. I had a bit of an odd childhood musically. I was born in the mid to late 80s to parents who were in their mid 20s. We had records at home and tapes in the car as CDs were an unnecessary expense. 90s music on the radio, 70s and 80s on tape and anything older was on records. It was great for my musical education as records were cheap from opshops. I’d listen to wonderful 50s, 60s music, classical music, jazz at at a young age. Records made me appreciate good music.

  32. Reading all these comments about how you don’t need a high-quality turntable/just get a USB one…yikes.

    USB turntables sound like GARBAGE okay? They use cheap needles, can’t be configured properly, and typically generate a ton of audio interference because they have shoddy craftmanship. The ATLP-120 is a lousy deck with no real anti-skate and really bad electronic shielding. Don’t buy it unless you don’t mind picking up the radio in your recordings.

    Get a used 1200. Get a USB pre-amp. Problems solved.

    • Well, I’ve already ordered the AT LP120. For it’s price it got wonderful reviews everywhere. Even used a 1200 runs more. I’m just getting into vinyl, so the LP120 will be fine for me.

  33. Why re-discovering vinyl, it s never been away, not in this part of the world, Asd, NL, with quite some Record Fairs regularly, every town 1 or more V Shops ( used…) and me possessing Records for 50+ yrs. (my oldest 45s were by B Holly and B Vee, Everlys too) Many of my friends own and use “vinyl collections’, me too, I cldnt listen to Beatles or any pre080s group w.o. a Record PLUS Sleeve!. Of course I use CDs too, great for compilations and overviews, plus the CD revo gave us all the re-opened archives of everybody. ( Box Sets). MP3 I only have for car use, some recent recording or Rap for at-the-wheel. Even the use of “burnt”stolen music CDs in the car makes it hard to find any track,s without the covers, etc. Finally to my amazement the Beatles LPs haven been re-issued for the umpteenth time now, 180 grams, any shop is flooded with the old ones still !!
    Regards from former magic centre, now dull-town, Amsterdam
    Adolf .

    • For me vinyl is a rediscovery because I quit playing LPs for 25-30 years. When CDs came out I pretty much stopped playing my records. I stored them for decades and finally game them away.

  34. I love vinyl. I have bought a few myself of the past few years and have a great time browsing through my grandparents collection. I would love to see it make a comeback!

  35. Great post! I’m in love with the vinyl sound and I’m glad to see it is making a comeback. Even with all of the scratching and popping, I still prefer the “warm” sound of vinyl to the “cold” sound of MP3. I buy vinyl, inherit albums from family members and have even bartered with LPs for turntables and more. I visited a bar not long ago and they had a “Bring Your Own Vinyl Night” and I got to listen to Ray Charles and Bob Dylan over a delicious draught. Long live the 33 1/3rd!

  36. [...] Now I can listen to a lifetime of music anywhere I have network access.  When I got back into LPs I found I enjoyed the old ritual of playing albums on my stereo system.  That was very [...]

  37. I would not recommend the AT LP 120. Its is a poor turntable. The anti skate is fake. The pin assembly will not stay in contact with head shell. It has a lot of rumble . The wow and flutter is very noticeable. The pre amp is gaited so it can filter out the hum from the poor shielding. It will also cut out on quiet passages of a record do to the gaiting circuit. Even if you cut out the pre amp and re wire it there will still be hum. It is also very thin cheap ABS plastic. This will go for any DJ turntable on the market accept for Vestex and Technics because they all come from the same factory. If you by this with any critical listening you will be disappointed. It sounds as bad as the BSR of the 70s.

    • What low cost turntable would you recommend instead Keith?

      I did get the AT LP120 – and it was a step up from my other turntable in sound quality, but it has given me problems. Records from the late 1970s and 1980s do tend to skate, even when I make lots of adjustments. But what I really dislike is its entirely manual. I have to get up to shut it off, which means I can’t fall asleep while playing a record side.

      I like playing records, but using Rdio is so much more convenient. Usually I find CDs to be the best in terms of overall sound quality, and LPs and streaming come in second, but again, 95% of the time it’s easier to just use Rdio.

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