Written by ANGUS RANDALL
Records are cool. They will be cool when cassettes have been forgotten and CDs are only remembered as those shiny things that people stopped paying for. But is it time to invest in a record player, and is the vinyl culture for you? Here’s three ways they differ from MP3s to help you decide.
Buying a record is a journey. Downloading a CD is just a few clicks away. While this means you can find new music without having to wear pants, you never get the satisfaction of flicking through hundreds of old records to find the one you want. Some record stores make this even more fun by having no discernable filing system; meaning when you do find something you can’t let it out of your sight or it will disappear forever. You also get that lovely feeling of ownership with records, and you can’t kill a zombie with an MP3.
MP3s have won this without even firing a shot. As a bus-goer there’s nothing better than sitting down and tuning out the little voice in your head that’s telling you to use this time for course readings. When you place the needle on a record you’re making a pledge to see this through for the next forty minutes. Your musical loyalty cannot waver through the weaker songs on the album and you can’t skip to your favourite. For some this may be too much of a commitment. As a counterpoint you’re less likely to damage your hearing due to a record player, or walk in front of a bus. Also, no one will come home with you to listen to this great MP3 you just downloaded, whereas records, I may have mentioned, are cool.
You will hear record fans argue that vinyl sounds ‘warmer’, and while you do get a different sound, what really matters is what you are placing on the turntable. If you have decided to take the step back towards vinyl, do not make the mistake of finding all your favourite songs to play on your new toy. I saw a Katy Perry record recently, and the only difference I can see with this and a CD is that on vinyl you get those few blissful moments of silence when you turn it over. On the other side of the spectrum Dark Side Of The Moon should only ever be listened to on vinyl, as no other medium gives it justice. And no, pot is not a medium. But it’s not just old music that suits vinyl – anything a little rough around the edges sounds excellent.
Vinyl may ebb and flow in popularity, but the culture will always be there. It can be a pricey hobby, but whether you choose the latest DJ kit or borrow something from an older relative the novelty never wears off. It makes music special again, instead of a just a distraction. By detaching yourself from headphones once in a while you can truly appreciate greatness in sound.
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