It’s been a whole century since the first vinyl records arrived to shock the world and revolutionise the recording industry. For most technologies, such an extensive period of time would no doubt render the original design extinct. Modern developments almost always replace old innovations, yet vinyl has managed to avoid an untimely demise time and time again. In fact, it’s kicking goals.
The vinyl revival is no secret. These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a household without a record collection gathering dust in the corner or taking pride of place beside a cherished turntable or two. Past generations have passed on the baton, encouraging a love for a technology that will never say die. The age-old argument that “vinyl sounds better” gains momentum with each indie musician looking to start a debate, and happily reignites a love for record collecting in past, current and future generations.
For every person who has valiantly defended the vinyl record, there’s another who vehemently denies its relevance. But to create a sense of harmony between both sides, it’s essential to understand the argument. Believe it or not, those who proclaim that vinyl is always better have actual points on which to base their opinion, and they’re difficult to ignore.
Is it an urban myth or a universal truth? Does vinyl actually sound better than CD/cassette/streaming/whatever Apple invents next? Chances are you’ll find a different answer from every music lover you ask, but it’s hard to deny there’s something there. Consider the fact that this form of listening which, by all accounts, should’ve been outdated years ago thanks to innumerable technological developments, is still going strong. Fundamentally, this can be chalked up to a superior – or at least, more authentic – sound quality.
The sound of a vinyl record is something all of its own. Sure, everyone loves the crisp polish of digital tracks, but when it comes to character, vinyl can’t be denied. When subtle nuances and pure authenticity are what you’re looking for, it’s difficult to look past the humble record.
Take a moment to consider the artists behind album artwork. To put your blood, sweat and tears into this one piece of art that will go on to define a collection of music for the rest of time is both a daunting and rewarding experience. Until somewhere along the course of music history, someone decided to shrink an LP to this tiny CD-sized casing and subsequently reduce the artist’s canvas. It’s a travesty.
Thankfully, all you need is some time to spare and a selection of vinyls to dive into for a chance to truly appreciate an album’s visual accompaniment. Artists have enough trouble with recognition as it is – a 12” record presents an opportunity CDs just can’t offer.
One of the greatest and most underrated aspects of record collecting is how accessible it is for anyone to pick up. Sure, if you’re hunting for the limited-run, deluxe track, colour-coded collector’s edition of your favourite album, chances are you’ll have to hand over half of your pay cheque to call it your own. But if you’re starting out small and simply wish to populate your collection with anything you can get your hands on, you’re in luck.
Vinyls from most record stores are generally quite affordable, but you can kick it up a notch and find some serious bargains at your local op shops. Spend some time in any second-hand store and you’ll find absolute gems hidden amongst the donations.
CREATING A COLLECTION
There’s something inherently satisfying about owning a complete set of one particular thing. Record collectors will place their time and money into curating the most comprehensive collection money can buy, searching for each piece of the puzzle with unrivalled determination. But the final product makes it all worthwhile.
Filling in the blanks of a collection is part of the appeal. You could be importing an incredibly rare release from overseas or digging through milk crates at a local market; whichever the case, the chase is part of the excitement. There’s no feeling quite like finding that one record you’ve been looking for – just ask any collector.
THE PERFECT GIFT
Gone are the days of snapping up an iTunes gift card and calling it a day. Gift-giving is an art and as such, it requires a bit of thought behind it. Tread a careful line between “easy” and “heartfelt” by diving into your local music store’s record collection. You’ll find the perfect choice in no time at all.
New technology will come and go. It will appear and fade like the ephemeral medium it is, yet it seems vinyl is immune to this life cycle. Its popularity endures long after the “best before” date and continues to thrive among its modern counterparts. Perhaps there will come a time when listeners proclaim cassettes or CDs to be the truly authentic forms of music, but it’s doubtful. There’s just something about vinyl. It’s here to stay.
Besides, it really does sound better.
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