Thoughts: Vinyl Records and Why I Prefer Them

When I tell people I buy records chances are their first response is ‘why?’ and it’s a fair reply. What is the appeal of vinyl as opposed to CD’s and digital downloads? It’s a question I ask myself every time I consider splashing out on a record and it’s one I don’t dwell on for very long, but maybe I should.

I’ve been buying vinyl instead of CD’s for around 9 months now, having bought my Pioneer record player in January. I didn’t go into 2013 expecting to finish it as a vinyl junkie, and I probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for Twitter. I follow a lot of people who talk about music, and a lot of them collect records, and as a result I found myself fascinated by them, as odd as it sounds. I bought ‘Moving Home’ by Moose Blood on 7” on a whim when browsing their merchandise and convinced myself I should probably invest in a record player to listen to it. I didn’t plan on splashing out on equipment but did, and didn’t plan on buying too many records afterwards but did. I got sucked into spending money on records, even some I rarely listen to, just for the benefit of owning them. It sounds mad, but anyone else who buys vinyl can sympathise. I’ve eased on my buying now, but that’s only because I own the majority of what I consider to be essential releases. I started to take pride in the music I listened to, and ultimately, buying a release on vinyl is the highest form of appreciation, for me anyway. I signed up to Deadformat, and keep it updated regularly, and there isn’t a day goes by when I don’t utilise my record player. If I have 45 minutes to kill I just spin a record, sit back and let the time pass by. It’s a home comfort and remedy of sorts, but I expect the rest of my family would disagree.

Obviously the main disadvantage to buying records is the price, often costing more than CD’s and digital releases. If you know the right places to buy from (I’ll link some down below) it isn’t a massive issue, but it is what puts most people off. Understandable, but then what are the benefits of vinyl, when digital releases and CD’s are much more accessible? The exclusivity of vinyl is one of the main pluses – with every vinyl bought you join a new elite club of people who own that record, in that variant, that press etc. Rarity of releases plays a part, and some people see owning the rarest variants as a sign of their support and dedication to an artist, while some people just buy vinyl for the ‘pretty colours’ and what-not. For me, it was always the more personal side to record collecting, taking pride in what I own and listen to and doing so in what I consider to be its best format. Again, it’s an odd concept, because at the end of the day it is just a material possession, but I value my records more than anything else I own. It’s partly because there’s an intimacy to vinyl records that sets them apart, in my eyes anyway. Be it the crackle of a record or the dull thump when the needle makes contact with the surface, there’s a warmth that resonates from vinyl records that simply doesn’t exist on CD’s. You can put it down to a more nostalgic and retro feel that seems more natural; that seems to offer more of an experience than that provided by other methods.

Then you’ve got the main argument, sound quality. I’ll be blunt and say that the sound quality of vinyl records is superior to CD or digital releases. Some would disagree; all vinyl buyers would agree. Vinyl sounds sharper, clearer and more polished. They just sound better as a whole. I own hundreds of CD’s and I haven’t listened to them since I bought my record player, because they’re obsolete in comparison. You can analyse the difference between analogue (vinyl) and digital (CD) recordings but I won’t, because I don’t have a clue in regards to either. I made my most extravagant vinyl purchase a few weeks back and bought the 2nd press of ‘Deja Entendu’ by Brand New, one of my favourite albums of all time. I’m listening to it now, and in all honesty it’s never sounded better.

Admittedly, there is an air of pretentiousness to vinyl collecting, but vinyl sales are the highest they’ve ever been with figures rising in a digital age. There’s a reason they’re competing and surviving in an industry that’s becoming increasingly digitised, even if it isn’t blatantly obvious. People prefer the extra bonuses that vinyl has to offer, and I’m all for a revival of the format.

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