Happy Record Store Day! Here's why I'm an LP fan in a digital world
It’s Record Store Day, everybody! In honor of this annual celebration of vinyl, one of our contributors perfectly explains why records will never go out of style.
My musical format of choice is, was and will probably always be, vinyl. Now I don’t necessarily mean this in some music-elitist, pretentious way; a large part of my love for vinyl is sentimental.
One of my favorite things to do as a kid with my grandma was to go through her record collection. I would pull out my favorites and we would listen and sing along to them; we called it “solid gold”. Clearly, my grandma assisted on naming that one. However, I am so grateful for this time because that is when my love for music (and vinyl) was born. Obviously, vinyl is still very popular today and not everyone has a sentimental attachment to it. In fact, vinyl sales just hit an 18-year high last year, so I know this is a love shared by many.
So I may be preaching to the converted, but if you’re not a true record fan, here’s a case for living the LP life
Vinyl Just Sounds Better
This is one of those statements that will surely divide a crowd, but I believe it does. Personally it just feels warmer; the music surrounds me in a way that digital versions of songs never have. There are so many instrumental nuances that are lost with digital. Listen to guitar buzz from some old rock-n-roll album on vinyl and then digitally and judge for yourself. I suggest Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, which is pure vinyl heaven to me.
I am in good company; some music engineers say that analog is much closer to the way that the artist intended the music to be heard. Converting music from magnetic tape (the format many artists record on) to analog eliminates complications that arise from a conversion to digital. Analog is by definition the form of the original sound, whereas a digital recording is really just snapshots of the analog signal at a certain rate. Did I convince you yet? Wait, there’s more. . .
Records Can Be Dirt Cheap
I don’t mind investing in music, but sometimes it is exhilarating to hunt through a thrift store and find some great tunes, at good price. You can also afford to take more risks, or try music you haven’t heard of, just based off a really cool cover. Aside from the thrill of the score and savings, purchasing older vinyl is thought to be preferable to buying brand new vinyl. This is because some new releases are suspected to not always be 100% analog, despite the fact that the music is on a vinyl record.
Surface Noise Is Gorgeous
This is a reason than many people actually don’t like vinyl, but I love that hum or occasional pop and crackle right before the music begins. It is oh so lovely.
You Can’t Beat That Tangible Music Experience
This was the hardest transition for me when the move from CDs to mp3s happened. I loved leafing through CD booklets, checking out band photos and reading their lyrics and musings. It made me feel more personally connected to the creators and that is lost on a digital file. With vinyl, many album covers are almost like a piece of art. Not to mention the ability to physically showcase my collection makes it more a part of my world and easier to visibly share with others.
It’s Super Cathartic
As much as vinyl engages all five of my senses, the process of listening to vinyl is one I find quite soothing. You have to be present. You can’t overly curate or let an endless list of songs play. You get to hear the album in full, and the fact that you have to flip the record makes the experience all the more engaging. Listening to an LP requires a lot more effort and perhaps for me it unknowingly transports me back to that quality time I would spend with my grandma. Or maybe like any ritual, I find comfort in the expectant tasks. Either way, it is a surefire route to my happy place when I have a rough day.
You can find some really rare tunes
Like most people, something that is hard-won or unique carries a little extra importance to me. Finding an album or band that is only available on vinyl and perhaps not something everyone and has heard or knows about, makes me feel a little special and unique myself.
Obviously for me, vinyl goes beyond a better sound quality or even just the music; it’s about a connection. Here’s to the tangible things that transport us to our past and link us to each other.