I thought I would take a break from writing the usual type of posts regarding the election and other events to discuss something much more entertaining [and perhaps] more meaningful: the vinyl record.
For many years I adored records and played them happily on my department store all-in-one home stereo when I was a kid and eventually a bit nicer setup that was kinder to the vinyl and more enticing to the ears. Back sometime in the 80’s the compact disc appeared and eventually overtook sales of vinyl, driving it to what many [myself included] thought was extinction.
There were many who scoffed at the compact disc, such as Neil Young, thinking its sound was unnatural or “too perfect.” They claimed the warmth of the vinyl was not present in the digital format. Many accused them of being resistant to change and not knowing what they were talking about. Well, it turns out they were right! Younger people are flocking to vinyl in droves, discovering its warmth and the sheer fun of collecting it. The few used record shops around my area are flourishing, or at least doing much better these past two years than in previous times. I read that vinyl sales are at a 28 year high (fortune.com, April 16, 2016). I also read recently that Crosley (a large manufacturer of vintage style stereos, turntables and portable record players) has bought a formerly defunct vinyl plant with the intention of putting it back in business. Places like FYE and Newbury Comics are selling a lot of vinyl. In fact, I have bought several Newbury Comics exclusive LPs with various colored vinyl discs. I know, but it’s fun… I recently visited a Newbury Comics location in Warwick, Rhode Island that is about 45 minutes from my home to discover a considerable inventory of vinyl and especially some interesting collectibles. Obviously, for a chain store to invest in vinyl for retail like that shows a renewed interest in that market that was previously gone.
The stereo I have today is not as elaborate or ‘audiophile’ as that of many years ago, but it provides me with many hours of enjoyment as I spin the latest find from a record store or even a Salvation Army Family Store! I won’t say they always sound better than my CDs do to my aging ears — and I am not a militant “vinyl guy” as some are, but they are my preferred medium for music and are simply fun to collect and play.
There are a great many choices for turntables today that range from portables for around $50.00 to high end audiophile setups in the thousands. Any of them will allow you to experience the fun of spinning vinyl again and the better systems will present to you a sound you’ve not quite heard before if you’re new to the VINYL LP. Better systems will also be much easier on your vinyl collection. You can get as obsessed with the hobby as you like and can afford.