A friend just forwarded this article about the vinyl comeback from Boston.com. It’s worth a read. Apparently vinyl and turntable sales are sky rocketing compared to CD sales.
That kind of invalidates the title of my last post; Turntables No More. On the other hand, that post was specifically directed at DJs, whereas the sales boom in question is being driven by non-DJ consumers of indie-rock, pop, etc. releases with pressings of 10,000 and over.
I do think it’s an incredibly interesting phenomenon that vinyl continues to survive. DJ and punk rock (mainly 7-inch pressings) culture held the record pressing plants afloat through the past couple of decades, while CD sales soared. Now, as soon as all but the last few vinyl dance music distributors have closed up shop while DJs, labels and artists go online, there’s this resurgence which seems to be tied to the death of the CD.
This is great for the vinyl pressing plants but sadly it’s horrible for the environment. Not only does the manufacturing of vinyl leach all sorts of nasty byproducts, but shipping the heavy little buggers all over the world with diesel and jet fuel ain’t so cool either (global warming anyone?).
One of the best aspects of vinyl is that it will last so long that archaeologists from future civilizations will probably discover records and easily figure out that they can stick a needle in the groove and hear what’s up. You can’t say that for ones and zeros.
The article also touches briefly on the argument that vinyl sounds better. While this may be the case for certain individuals on an emotional level, it’s more a placebo effect than anything. Folks like looking at the big artwork, removing the record from the sleeve, and even hearing the crackle and pop when they place the needle on the record. I relate. I like all that too, but it doesn’t mean the record actually sounds better. Every record I’ve ever been involved in has been pressed from a digital file, most often a .wav or a CD, sometimes even an MP3. It’s all about the production and mastering of the tracks, no matter what format you’re working with, that’s how you get things sounding good. The argument that CDs, or even high quality MP3s are missing frequencies that can be found in vinyl is so funny. CDs contain frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, basically the full spectrum of human hearing. Vinyl records can generally only be cut with frequencies down to about 40 Hz in order to keep the needle from jumping the groove, or creating rumble. In addition, each time a vinyl record is played it loses a small amount of the high frequencies and soon your record doesn’t get much above 10 kHz.