Vinyl Record Day

Today is/was/forever will be remembered as: Vinyl Record Day. August 12th, the day Thomas Edison blessed us with the phonograph.

Vinyl Record Day is not limited to one age category, race, gender, ethnic background, or any other special group. Vinyl Record Day (VRD) is because we love vinyl. It's more than just the music. As Jimi Hendrix said, LPs are like our personal diaries. A primary goal of VRD is to establish a national day when we all enjoy the music most personally important to us. It's for our own individual enjoyment, and collectively, it is for society to have some balance to national news and personal challenges.

To celebrate, I have decided to buy a few albums from Important Records. The label offers a nearly breathtaking collection of limited editions, colored vinyl, picture discs, and other rare and [Not going to do it, can't make me do it…] important records [Oh, I did it!] from such innovative artists as Diane Cluck, Kimya Dawson (of Juno fame), John Fahey, Negativland, and my man Thurston Moore.

And—look!—they also sell Rega turntables. I love them even more.

Vinyl and hi-fi: perfect together.

You might also want to check out Chris Sommovigo's Big Black Disk. The site is up and running, and begins with a series of posts by several contributors offering their answers to the simple question, "Why buy vinyl?"

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COMMENTS
Jason Stroud's picture

What I do not understand about "vinyl" being the superior format is that if it was and is so much better than lps, tapes, cds, and ipods then why was it abandoned so readily by the music buying public?

Buddha's picture

AlexO!

Your journey is nearly complete. All you need to do now is come to the realization that all CD players sound the same, and it's mission accomplished.

;)

selfdivider's picture

Oops, the website left out my emoticon. Here you go:=D

Jared Gerlach's picture

Stephen, that's a cool photo! Nice use of brightly colored vinyl (in addition to the obvious, I should add).

tom collins's picture

i bought one of the original sony CD players way back in 1983, it was $1,000 then, back when that was real money. for 2 years, no one who visited my house know what it was. when you played it, however, it was truely shocking at the time. there was no noise; at all. the dynamics were so stunning. as has been debated ever since, other less desirable aspects were overlooked at that time because the positive aspects were so overwhelming. you had to buy cds at the stereo store then and they were about $20, which was a lot of money when an LP cost about $4.99. the CD went mainstream a few years later due to that fidelity, but also due to its perceived durability and portability. soon after came the sony "diskman". in this day of ipods, this thing would look very old school and bulky, but it was a very big deal in the mid-80s and helped to convert many people. remember, till then, if you wanted to transport your music, you had to use cassette tapes. the portable units were bulky and used batteri

tom collins's picture

continued. used batteries fast. new music was produced on both formats until the early 90s when the LP faded out except for a very few hold outs. now LP is back. for one thing, the turntables and electronics that are available at reasonable prices are all so much better than back then. there were some very high end turntables back then, but they were in the minority of homes. now, the weaknesses of cd are widely known (many of the positives still exist).so now, a person with $500-1000 in todays less valued currency can get much more music from the LP than you could have in the early 80s. now you can buy a vinyl system for that price range that will overcome many of the advantages CDs initially had when they were introduced.i hope this little history lesson from one who was there helps answer your question.

AlexO's picture

I was so happy when I heard my first CD player. It sounded leaps and bounds better than LPs. I still think they do and I still think that dollar for dollar, a good CD player will outperform a turntable. Turntables aren't cheap at all when you factor in all the ancillaries. Take Stephen for example: I think his turntable cost about $350, which one may think is a bargain, but wait, then he had to get a phono stage - I believe that was another $550 or so and then his record cleaning machine, a whopping $600. So, a bargain $350 turntable turned into a $1500 juggernaut. For $1500, he could have gotten a really good CD player that would run circles around his current setup. Of course, this is just my opinion for all it's worth.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Take Stephen for example...Just to clear things up: I haven't purchased a turntable or phono stage yet. The Rega P3 that I've been listening to belongs to Michael Lavorgna. A new P3-24 costs $895, including tonearm and cartridge. The P1 costs $350. Initially, I was using the phono stage in the Tangent AMP-50, included in the amp's $259 price. Now, I'm using the $219 plug-in for the Explosure 2010S integrated amp. The amp itself costs $1395, as does the matching CD player, which I also have on hand. That CD player, just a bit less than the $1500 you've noted, is a very good player. But I haven't used in it weeks because I've been so happy playing vinyl.I treated myself to the VPI HW-16.5 record cleaning machine, and I love it, but it's not a mandatory accessory. A vinyl lover can get by happily, easily with a $20 record brush and bottle of cleaning fluid.

Buddha's picture

Looking back, LP was tossed over for 8-track and cassette long before it was tossed over for CDs. It seems to be more about convenience than fidelity. Now, people are tossing over CDs for MP3s. Again, the higher fidelity medium losses out to a more convenient methodology.

I agree with AlexO that for 40 bucks, a Phillips DVD/CD player will slay a similarly priced LP playback system, but once you can find a proper analog rig, the magic starts. Yup, the magic is in the grooves, not the pits.

Word.

BHM's picture

If someone believes CDs sound "better" than vinyl its most likely because they have either a very low end turntable/cartridge or it is not set up properly. Or maybe they have just not been exposed to how good vinyl can sound. If one has a big investment in CD's I can understand staying with them and not putting up the money to get back to vinyl, but its not because CDs "sound better". They don't.

selfdivider's picture

I give AlexO props for coming in to the 'enemy territory' with guns blazin'. =) Still doesn't change the plain fact that he's wrong about CDs sounding better than vinyl, though. I'd take the $1K Rega over a $3K CDP any frickin' day. I'm not drinking the hatorade when it comes to digital, because I still listen to it with pleasure (in fact, I don't see why this always has to turn into a simplistic either/or thing...) but I had a $1600 digital player in my system (Cambridge Audio 840C) that was highly touted, but any proper $1K TT set-up would run circles around it SQ-wise AND cost less. Sure the upkeep is much easier with CDs, but most people love working on the analog system, cleaning records, getting the VTA right. I definitely enjoy that labor of love. I do see why people prefer the digital sound, and CD playback has definitely gotten awesome. But I think it's a futile enterprise proselytizing the superiority of digital sound when in fact, that ain't so. Nice try,

AlexO's picture

But I think it's a futile enterprise proselytizing the superiority of digital sound when in fact, that ain't so. Nice try, Ah, but it is so for me. In fact, I put my money where my mouth is: I don't own an analog rig. I can see why people like it: Bigger, better art work, big, tangible disk, the "process" of playing and cleaning, etc. However, all those things are exclusive of the sound quality. If vinyl rocks your boat, go for it. As for me, I rejoiced when I was able to get away from the annoying clicks and pops, flipping over from one side to another, stabilizing the TT, isolating it, and all that work that was associated with a turntable. When CDs came out, I was happy to be able to pop the disk in, sit back and immerse myself in the music. I do envy you guys because through what I consider to be the inferior medium, you discover the joys of music with the eyes of a child. There's something to be said for that.

ErikC's picture

I used to think that CD was superior to vinyl until about two years ago when I bought a Goldring 1.2 turntable for my girlfriend. The last time I'd heard anything on vinyl was in the late eighties, so it was a shock to the system to hear vinyl completely blow a CD away. Album after album I have heard an immense difference between the two formats, with the vinyl copy always being the superior version. I'm steadily replacing all of my CD's because of that. Though it may cost more than CD playback, what with all of the upgrades I've been making to the turntable, it's absolutely worth it once you hear the end result. If you're one of those people who sits and listens to the music rather than just having it on as background noise, vinyl is definitely the best.

AlexO's picture

"AlexO!Your journey is nearly complete. All you need to do now is come to the realization that all CD players sound the same, and it's mission accomplished." Talk about a can of worms! I think that would be a topic for another day. :DEric, I heard a number of record players ranging from about $2k to $20k recently and I can't say that I was impressed with any of them.

Jason Stroud's picture

I sure didn't mean to start a ping pong match about CD vs. lp sound. I was and remain curious about of the "public" that decided to stop buying lps for other formats.My thinking is more in line with Mr. Collins(thanks for the good reply). I have never heard a "modern" turntable with "modern" equipment. I do however, remember what I had when I was a much younger fellow in high school(75-79), and by today's standards it was awful. So when I got a CD player what I heard was much more appealing: no hiss, wobble, sticking, etc. The idea that it was lifelessly sterile never occurred to me. As I recall I never had more than three dozen lps, but I have at least 100 CDs and growing.The adherents of the lp are saying that the play back technology has finally caught up with its virtues if I understand them correctly?

Mark Fleischmann's picture

Calling it Vinyl Record Day and celebrating it on August 12 is a little wobbly. Edison's first phonograph used tinfoil cylinders. Vinyl didn't come till much later. While we're at it, we usually think of records as discs, but the disc phonograph was Emile Berliner's invention, not Edison's.

selfdivider's picture

I don't mind occasional clicks & pops. In fact, they don't bother me at all unless it's flagrant. I listen to historical recordings on CDs too, w/o irritation, for the same reason. So what if it has some tape hiss or clicks & pops from the worn master tapes? I guess for some people, they prefer the clinical, OCD-style cleaned up sound and that's hi-fi to them. That's fabulous. As for me, I'd take the emotionally rich & involving sound of vinyl any day over the digital sheen of CDs. And when the vinyl is in a pristine shape w/ no surface noise, played back on a properly set-up analog system? No CDP - regardless of price - can equal that sound, and I've heard dCS Scarlatti & Zanden digital systems, too. Clean vinyl played back on, let's say, Nottingham 294, a $4K TT, sounds exponentially more musical and involving than digital systems in 5-figure MSRP country. It IS a matter of preference, as AlexO says. It's just that my preference happens to be more right than AlexO's.

tom collins's picture

i have many LPs and many CDs. if i am sitting down to read a book or magazine, i definitely use the CD player. once in a while, something will grab my attention and i will back up and listen again, concentrating this time. that convenience is great, remember how much trouble it is to do so on an LP or cassette tape. oth, when i am ready for a good listen with no reading and lights low, especially late in the evening - i grab the big discs, unless what i want to hear is only available on CD.

BHM's picture

Alexo, you are missing out.This is definitely not an either/or thing. I have around 1200 LPs and the same number of Cds/SACDs. I also have more money into my digital playback than my vinyl (CD player is a $2000 Linn, and a $800 Marantz SACD player while my TT is a Rega P25 with Exact 2 cart which goes for about $1600 total). I listen to CDs all week, mostly as background music. However, when we want to really listen to music, on a weekend night, it is always vinyl. Smoother, fuller sound. Digital brings on listening fatigue much quicker. We can listen to vinyl all night at loud volumes without fatigue. And if you have LPs that have not been thrown around and handled correctly, the "pops" are very minimal. Don't even notice.

michaelavorgna's picture

Not to be too un-argumentative but maybe when discussing the enjoyment of a hobby we're actually talking about preferences. I prefer to listen to vinyl. There that didn't hurt at all.

Chris's picture

Y'all.
Vinyl.
Damn good stuff.
CD.
OK stuff, but the loudness wars screwed'em all up. No dynamic range, sound like crap unless you're in a Mustang 5.1 going 90MPH+
But what all you CD-loving technosnoots are missing is one huge point: Your CDs are going bye bye. In 10 years there won't be a new device on the planet that can play them. Why? Because digital technology creates orphans faster than rabbits pump.
Jason writes: "What I do not understand about "vinyl" being the superior format is that if it was and is so much better than lps, tapes, cds, and ipods then why was it abandoned so readily by the music buying public?"
BetaMax was the superior format, but it lost the promotion wars. And THAT is the reason CD dominated. Convenient, portable, cheap to produce, takes up WAY less space on the shelves ... everyone in the retail chain of things made more money per transaction. The two people who got screwed were the artist and th

Chris's picture

OK - got cut off by the limits of the text box doohickey.What I was saying was simply this - The two people who got screwed were the artist and the consumer.The artist got screwed because (1) they didn't make any more money per sale, but the labels were making more money per sale (due to the decrease in the cost of production and distribution) and (2) because they were corralled into what eventually wound up being the most pirate friendly technology yet invented.The consumer got screwed because they were promised something that was not delivered: Perfect Sound Forever. Perfect Sound was not delivered ... the first CDs were, at best, experiments in testing human tolerance for harshness. They eventually EQ'd the harshness out a bit, improved on perfection apparently, but the loudness wars killed whatever potential dynamic range there was. Want to hear the best CD has to offer? Check out M-A Recordings. Todd Garfinkle knows what he's doing.The "Forever" part is suspect, too.

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