There’s something about the shiny ribbed vinyl disc, the sharp needle that delicately follows the subtle lane of bumps and divots to create a delightful sound, the need to physically flip the album to hear the rest as it spins in circles upon circles. It’s more than just another way of playing music: it’s an experience. I may not have been alive when records were in their prime, but I am happy that I’m able to experience this resurgence today.
I have recently started collecting LPs, and it’s been invigorating. Everytime I walk into Barnes and Noble, I peruse the music section. Usually I already have some albums in mind, but it’s nice to find new things that surprise me.
According to many of the sources named throughout this article, there’s no difference between the sound quality of digital, CD, or records. The only difference is that of convenience. Popularity in vinyls decreased when more portable music emerged. It really all began with cassette tapes.
However, interest in vinyl remained and is beginning to grow again. According to abc7news.com, “[Vinyls] are back. Sales of records grew 52 percent in 2014. The increase in popularity has reignited a debate over which one is better — digital music or vinyl records.”
Vinyls are collected and traded. Who trades digital music? CDs? Maybe in the ‘90s. As of lately no one has really been using CDs, let alone trading, or collecting them. But vinyls, they can be sold for a lot more than what they’re worth, much like a comic book or a vintage item. According to gizmodo.com, “In 2013, vinyl sales increased 31 percent to about 6 million units [sold] year-over-year,” so it’s obvious that people have an interest in them. I just so happen to be one of those people.
A con of using vinyls is that there aren’t many places that you could take them. You can’t play them in your car or listen to them with headphones in the back of a car on a long road trip. Vinyls aren’t portable, but CDs and digital music are.
Digital does have its perks; the compact disc and an AUX cord are portable things that make life easier for those who want to listen to their music in the car. According to laweekly.com, “The CD revolutionized the music industry, but it was never cool. Even as CD sales eclipsed and nearly exterminated vinyl, the format was plagued by accusations that its sound was inferior, that it was merely a convenient alternative to the LP.”
You can have the same album on vinyl that you have in your iTunes music library. It’s not about ease of use. It’s about being able to go home after a long day, slip the vinyl out of its sleeve, place it on the record player, move the needle, and listen. You have to work for what you get out of it. And when it’s all said and done, you feel satisfied. No one is grateful for things that just get handed to them. It’s about the work it takes to get you there. Anyone can download a song or two; it’s become so easily accessible that we take it for granted.
But vinyls, I have to walk into a store and sift through multitudes of covers, until I finally find the one I’m looking for. It’s not easy. Sometimes I get discouraged, and walk out of the store empty-handed. That’s what life is; we don’t always get what we want. It makes me appreciate the true gems that I have found. A few of my favorite vinyls include:
- Blue Neighbourhood by Troye Sivan
- Beneath the Skin by Of Monsters and Men
- Long Way Down by Tom Odell
- Human by Aquilo
- Calling Me [EP] by Aquilo
Vinyls have a sense musical character, they get warped and wounded. They require care, whereas digital music doesn’t. If you take care of and value your things then vinyls will be a great investment for you. But if you can’t be bothered to clean them, then maybe you should stick with digital.
My grandfather has the biggest vinyl collection I’ve ever seen (mind you, I only know a few people personally who own vinyls). He has to have three to four hundred albums, and while they’re old, they look as if they were just recently purchased. He keeps his albums in pristine condition, just like the antique cars he restores to new.
His passion for vinyl ultimately started my desire for collecting the prized plates of music. But because I know he won’t want to part with his own collection, I’ve been building up my own. So far I have around ten albums.
Another thing I love is that they aren’t just black anymore! Vinyls come in many different colors nowadays. My All Time Low: Future Hearts album is bright blue, my Of Monsters and Men: Beneath the Skin album is clear, and my Two Door Cinema Club: Tourist History album is white.
Who knows how big my collection will become, but I hope that one day I will be able to pass along my love of vinyls to an interested grandchild just as my grandfather did for me.