by Sophia Hernandez
Records have never left, they’ve just been packed away in garages for a while; that is, until digital downloads created enough nostalgia to break open the dusty boxes. Unquestionably, the growing number of audiophiles from big names to the average record collector agree that vinyl records hold a superiority over any other audio format.
“When I listen to [vinyl] records at home, they sound so much better than anything on CD or MP3. Particularly MP3 — it sounds so hard when you turn it up, compared to a record, where you hear the warmth of the process,” stated British singer/songwriter David Gray in an interview with Cleveland.com.
Legendary guitarist Jimmy Page described the same warmth in the March issue of Record Collector Magazine. “Vinyl just sounds so bloody good, doesn’t it? When I put on all these old records, they just don’t sound like that on CD, and I don’t know whether that’s just nostalgia. No, I actually think that the music sounds better and warmer on a record.”
Tangibility appears to be another prominently favored element of vinyl, both for the obvious physical placing of records on turntables, and the visual appeal. You can find fun, creative photos of album jackets throughout blogs such as Curious Photos
while others, like Threadbanger, feature creative DIY vinyl record art projects.
In another aspect, vinyl has created a lifestyle of its own as the establishment of subcultures, DJing in particular. The Ultimate Break and Beats tour, (coming to a city near you starting April 2010) highlights DJs old and new who are looking forward to reminding a new generation of spinners of the roots of hip hop. Of the tour, DJ Lord Finesse told Centric TV, ” “I want to take it back to vinyl, back to where it started, back to breaks, back to DJing, back to cutting and scratching. I don’t want that art form to get lost in technology and evolution; I want it to always be there.”
Sharing the same devotion to keep vinyl alive, Jack White – best known for his work with The White Stripes – told Rolling Stone earlier this year of how he’s taking the recording industry into his own hands. “It’s compelled me to open up my own record label this year… And if I’m going to teach you about the tangible nature of music and how digital is disposable and invisible, I want to have a place that we put out vinyl records and you can buy them right from us and take them on tour with us and sell them everywhere we go and sell them to the mom and pop record stores.”
Among avid hi-fi seekers, I found that many relate playing records to a full body experience. A San Franciscan record collector described, “You touch a record, the player, you hear authenticity of sound; the crackles, the pops… There’s nothing like the feeling you get sitting in a room, one-on-one with the music. It can totally take you into another dimension. You can try it with CDs, you can try it with cassettes, you can try it with MP3s, it’s just not the same.”
Public relations manager of The Mammoth Exploration Society , Grisel Torres agreed. She told us at Record Pressing that, “Buying records, finding the right record player, listening to the discs, getting your ass up and flipping it, it’s a commitment, definitely.”
So yes, as I’m sure you’ve read a gazillion times by now, vinyl records are regaining popularity. But, it’s about more than just LP sales charts. Vinyl records sustain a deeper, unique significance with each individual who has been exposed to them.