Let me start with a personal, subjective statement: Although I love vinyl, I do believe that it sounds “worse” than cd and uncompressed digital audio in general… “worse” from a strictly technical point of view: limited dynamic range, excessive noise and a quite weird frequency response….all very natural facts for a purely mechanic reproduction system based on a working principle with at least twice my age…nevertheless these are physical limitations that definitely alter the audio content.
With that being said let’s move on… i grew up with vinyl records (and being born in this tiny part of the globe, not quality built vinyl records…) and despite the simple fact I mentioned in my opening statement I literals adore them. And as you can understand their actual sound is not the issue here… Vinyl records introduced people to auditioning, created a culture and taught us how to become passionate with the music we love…There are 10 main reasons that I would pick vinyl over any other audio medium:
They smell good!…no seriously there is something magic with the aroma of newly opened vinyl record…the combination of printed paper and fresh made vinyl create a deeply addictive essence and smell. Smelling the new vinyl record you just bought was something of a ritual…and it still is. I remember how disappointed I was with my first CD encounter….a nasty smell of plastic with no mystery and no vibe at all…
They look good! ….the mesmerising sight of a spinning vinyl record reflecting back the lamp’s light in a room is almost cinematic. Especially with slightly bended records creating the sense of a never ending wave….
The packaging… I can’t really tell the numerous hours I’ve spent just gazing in to the sleeve covers of LP records and 7” singles…what amazing pieces of art have been created to accompany all these great tunes! LP sleeves have the perfect size and proportions for an artist to create a masterpiece….and the material itself…this thick paper sleeve that compelled you to treat it with love and respect…fragile, elegant and classy!
The collective feeling… A vinyl record is not just the music, the artist or even the producer….it’s a result of a collective effort and that’s more than obvious in the credits list that could be usually found on any given album….from the cover designer, the studios and facilities were the album was recorded and all the people who took part or influenced by any means this creation, everything is there!
The unique marketing opportunities vinyl introduced…from various formats like LP.EP and singles with unreleased b-sides and the way they were introduced to the public all the way to different editions by country and strange formats like picture discs… vinyl has the ability to create a need to purchase!
The countless discussion topics that a single vinyl record can introduce…from audio quality of different versions to never-ending nonsense comparisons of every possible aspect.
The time limit…Even with the best possible manufacturing methods an LP record is limited to a certain time length…and in a way that obliged the music industry to be very selective with its content….fillers are not so common in the vinyl era because guess what….there is no time left for fillers!
The actual playback procedure…well, this is almost a ritual….cleaning the record and the head, carefully positioning the needle etc etc It is due to this procedure that people really listen to music…it is not just a background soundscape when you’re in front of the computer. With vinyl listening to music is a specific activity which demands focus and attention.
The interaction…with vinyl you learned to listen to albums. There is no “skip” button here….
The sense of value…Purchasing a vinyl record always felt like acquiring a valuable possession, many time regardless the actual content of the record itself!
So, I’ll guess that you get my point here…I am a big…no, huge fun of analog sound, however I do believe that analog sound lies in other aspects of the music production procedure and not in the mass replicated final format. I believe that vinyl sounds inferior to uncompressed digital audio… however I also do believe that vinyl records were the main reason behind the recording and musical culture that evolved during the years. If I could turn back time and interfere with past events I would definitely try to introduce digital audio in a much more vinyl like format…you know something with a certain smell!