Tag Archives: LPs

Hipsters, audiophiles, and young people like vinyl, but why? 🤔

A friend has been raving about Spotify (or other streaming music services) for several years.

It’s hugely convenient, you have access to TONS of music whenever you want, and the quality is “digital”. Can’t argue the first two points, but as for the “quality”—at least when I had Sirius some years ago—I was frequently annoyed with the “flanging” distortion in streamed music. Same with Pandora, which I gave up due to the ads. Maybe it’s better now? Anyway, this same friend is now getting into vinyl mostly because his daughters are into it. 😎

Hipsters, audiophiles, and young people like vinyl, but why? Me? I’m old enough to have had three or four hundred LPs, and a selection of stackable equipment and big speakers. None of which I miss much. I sometimes miss the aesthetic. With LPs you take time to listen. It’s not immediate or convenient. And there is, the…

  • Visual —large print liner notes, and cover art
  • Tactile —the process of removing a disc from the sleeve, wiping the dust from it, placing it on the turntable, lowering the tonearm
  • Auditory—that first moment when the needle catches music in the groove

Great, and Do you remember these?

  • Scratches
  • Warping
  • Skips
  • Turntable rumble
  • Inter-groove modulation
  • Needle issues—especially proper tonearm weight and balancing

    Only some of this may be resolved with expensive, high end equipment. For others, you have to replace your precious vinyl!

Is it the sound?—Is the appeal the retro-aesthetics of mid-century music reproduction? Or is it the sound? If it’s the sound, it’s not that it is “more realistic” or “genuine”. Because it can’t be. Not if you understand the analog fundamentals of how LPs and tape work. I won’t bloviate about that here, (although I could.) To keep it simple: the specs of most audio equipment don’t even match the range of human hearing – usually 20Hz-20kHz. More pertinent to my point, the alleged analog “warmth” of LP sound has more to do with the “RIAA Rolloff”—a standard process by which the sound is filtered and equalized as it is recorded and played back. It’s not just pure “analog”, unmodified sound. If you want the details, this is a really good article that explains it.—> https://ledgernote.com/columns/mixing-mastering/riaa-curve/

Theoretically, you could use an equalizer to tweak your Music or iTunes player to make all your CDs sound more like vinyl. Or, if you still think an LP sounds “better” than a CD, try this experiment—If you have the equipment, cables, etc., (again, this is your DIY project, not mine). Record one of your favorite LPs on your computer, and then play it back, on your computer (if that’s the only way), but preferably through the same amplifier and speakers you use for your LP. You could even record it onto a CD (If you still have that ability. These days, those are fading fast!) Play that vinyl album from the CD. Is the sound different between the source LP and the digital copy? I’d contend that the digital recording can capture and reproduce all the “warmth” of the LP. Try it. I have.

I’m not against vinyl, I’m just against dumb reasons for justifying its use. Hang onto those LPs, enjoy everything about them that is different, but don’t tell me it’s about the sound unless you can definitively prove that you can always tell, “Is it Ella? Or is it Memorex?”

Cheers!

— TechWite