Really Listening

Managing Editor, Elizabeth Donovan, and I have spent all day in a training session for Adobe InDesign. We are finally switching over from Quark. It's going to be great, I think, but right now isn't the best time to spend an entire day in a training session. Elizabeth is also trying to ship the June issue.

Besides, I have so much to tell you.

So much has suddenly changed. I will try to get to it all, but right now I will just tell you a little. I will tell you this: I cannot make any comments regarding differences in sound quality. It is too soon. Does one format sound better than the other? I can't honestly say and, right now, I really don't care. However, I do already have a very strong opinion regarding something else, regarding the experience of it, regarding the thing of it.

I have to wonder if I was ever really listening to music. I was doing something, but it wasn't this. Vinyl LPs make their compact disc counterparts seem like second-rate facsimiles. I almost feel sorry for the poor, innocent compact discs. They didn't ask to be born.

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Ariel Bitran's picture

What I found to be the biggest change when I started listening to vinyl was how much I would listen to just one record for such a long. I would play Side One, and then it was just so damn good, I would play it again. Repeat process for Side 2. There's a breath of fresh air in between sides, that lets you rest, but revs you up for the next half. There's a certain exhaustive quality with CDs and their 70+ minute length. Don't get me wrong, I love CDs. I have plenty. But there really is a whole other world out there before 1992.

Erik Bobeda's picture

It's something, isn't it?! I'll tell you, Stephen, I haven't had my Brio off "phono" since I brought home my Planar 3/Sumiko Black Pearl on Friday. I only have 16 records down here at school (the ones I've acquired since I bought the table). I'm looking forward to Mom coming to visit me and bringing my collection (~150) with her. Speaking of Mom, she really should not have told me that the bookcase she lets me use (a little over 12" deep) came with LP dividers because I intend to fill it. *evil laugh*Sure, I'll still buy CDs. This is a new era, however: If it's on both formats, I'm opting for vinyl. In fact, I recently gave a friend of mine a CD I bought a couple months ago. The reason? I just picked up a copy on vinyl.

Stephen Mejias's picture

This is a new era, however: If it's on both formats, I'm opting for vinyl. In fact, I recently gave a friend of mine a CD I bought a couple months ago. The reason? I just picked up a copy on vinyl. I hear you, Erik. After just a couple of days of listening to vinyl, I can't see myself spending money on a CD when the vinyl exists. Vinyl will be my first choice. For those albums I most love, I can imagine maybe also buying a CD. Maybe. I love this era.

Doug Bowker's picture

Ahhh- Congrats to all. Now you KNOW. It's why tea is better fresh brewed in a pot and not from a bag. MP3s are the instant powdered variety I guess. I have a nice CD player but I still buy 8 out of 10 albums on vinyl. Plus, wait 'till you get in on the used action! You can pick up so many great records for easy money. It is indeed a good era and a lot of us have been waiting for years.

tom collins's picture

welcome aboard the vinyl express. aside from the sound, there is something in the ritual as well. it is kind of like golf, everyone has a different swing, but they try to use the same basic swing on every shot. in this case, you will have your cleaning and playing ritual. if you don't feel like making the effort, just plug in a cd. i play both, but the truth is when i really want to listen and not read a book at the same time, the LP is more absorbing to me. while some folks think it is just extra work and not worth the bother, i just think the handling part gets you closer to the experience by getting the sense of touch involved. i guess that makes me an uber-nerd, but so be it.

Paul's picture

I dither on getting back into vinyl. I have a small collection of albums (currently stored in a box--I'm not even sure what shape they're in); maybe 30 or so in all. I got into CDs early (1985) and came to collecting albums late (a few years earlier, in high school and at that time, discretionary funds went into my car, not my music collection. Times have changed.).I will probably get back into it (my parents have a huge collection--a lot of it acquired when they bought an old console stereo from a neighbour and much of it music I did not appreciate years ago but would now) but I will need a 78rpm capable table as my parents have also recently inherited a huge collection of those from an elderly aunt. The thing holding me back most is entry cost. I already have the gear for my "shiny discs" whereas I would want a decent TT and I have other more immediate expenses. But I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, probably when I put together my next 2 channel (tube based) system in 2

Christian's picture

Looks sharp. A very romantic way to listen to music. For now I get my romance from my tubes, which I haven't even rolled yet. I have considered a turntable from time to time even if just to listen to jazz, but I worry about falling deeper into the abyss; becoming a slave to the ritual constantly tweeking, switching catridges, phono stages etc. etc. It all sounds so fun! I am looking forward to hearing about your vinyl travels.

rvance's picture

I am a little exasperated by the poor sound quality of my newer 180-200 gram vinyl acquisitions- Horrible surface noise and quality variations from side to side. Some of my older 60's and 70's albums sound so much better. Why?The cost of audiophile pressings is lewd. I've tried eBay and stopped- "mint" is the most abused word on the planet now. I live far away from any other sales outlets, so I depend on friends to unload their collections and hope I can be around/ arrange for shipping when they do.But when I get everything humming on the right track (say my original pressing of Abraxas), I grab the youngsters, crank it up and declare: That's vinyl! Old school!

john devore's picture

"That's vinyl! Old school!"YES!!!

Bob S. in Stokesdale NC's picture

Welcome to the club, Stephen. I never got rid of my LP's from growing up, I have a modest 2500 LP collection now. My daughter and her boyfriend send me with a shopping list for Amoeba Music when I go to San Francisco to visit my brother. Still, there's an excellent used record store here in Guilford County NC. I took them with me when I auditioned vinyl when buying my Vandersteen 2CE Sig IIs at Audio Advice in Raleigh NC, and they've since bought TT's, talked two of their friends into buying TT's and dragged *ME* to Record Shows! I surprised my daughter with LPs of DSOTM, Disintegration, Violator, and 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus last Christmas. And she was pleased I talked her into the Stone Roses first album at the last record show. She, her boyfriend, and their friends are all recently out of college: a new generation of audiophiles in the making.

john devore's picture

Excellent, that's a great thing Bob S.

I love Amoeba Records, though I always get a really sore wallet after I've been there.

AlexO's picture

It's great that all of you find pleasure in listening to records. I miss the huge artwork of an album. I miss the "special" aspect of a record that a CD doesn't have. I do prefer the sound of a CD. I was very happy when I got my first CD player. For the first time, I could concentrate on the music, rather than the clicks and the pops. The dynamic range and the blackness of silences pulled me in and involved me much more than a record ever did. I wish CDs had that special quality to them that records do so that I could have the tactile experience and the musical involvement as well that I can only get from a CD.

michaelavorgna's picture

I prefer the smell of vinyl and the sound of music.

Chris's picture

Enjoy StephenSecond hand vinyl is cheap. Despite all the obvious distortions with vinyl playback is still prefer it to CD and even SACD. Vinyl just sounds more like the real thing. This is not the artificial warmth people always site: My vinyl rig is more resolving than my high res digital playback. Proof is in the experience: I almost always sit through an entire record without moving (except to change sides of course). It is a very rare thing to be able to listen to a whole CD.

Jerry's picture

I just don't get it. Stephen, and everyone else: why, if there is no discernible difference, do you opt for vinyl? I get none of those same sensory pleasures, when I have to....1.spend a whole lot of money to get an acceptable turntable, cartridge, etc. 2.Listen as that same very fragile and expensive vinyl record WEARS OUT audibly over time, along with my investment 3. store them, with all their bulk.I'm happier knowing that with sacd, cd, and dvd audio, I'm getting easily as good, if not better an audio experience.Please, tell me WHY WOULD I WANT TO SWITCH???I am sincerely open to input.

Bongofury's picture

I am 49, been in the music biz for 30 years, and still have my original vinyl collection. With that said, I much prefer to listen to music on my iPod and headphones then my stereo setup (pro studio setup with ATC gear).People forget the CDs and MP3 made music portable and I often enjoy music more outdoors then crammed into my studio. Vinyl is great, but it also is linked to cabin fever. I will take all the problems of digital compression to enjoy music walking by the beach with spray and scent of salt air.

struts's picture

Stephen, Get Jon to turn the picture on the homepage the right way up. It looks like you have made that common newbie mistake and hung your tt on the wall. Squirrel proof?

tom collins's picture

Jerry: speaking for myself only, there may not be a rational explaination to the vinyl question. for some people, it may be a comfortable old ritual that they don't want to part with. for the young, it may just be a cool old school thing. for some of us, we think it sounds better. very few people that i know use only a turntable. i have a fine cd player and a small ipod as well. i think the ipod is the coolest thing to come along in ages. i use it when cutting the grass or motorcycling. i don't need ultimate fidelity during those activities. i also have many cds that i don't have on vinyl and will listen to them on my good system and enjoy them. a fair amount of the time, i really enjoy sitting on the floor, staring at the albums, finally picking one out, cleaning it and then, finally, cuing it up. by the time i have done all of that, i am then in the right frame of mind to really listen.i know, i sound like some silly old fart. maybe so, but you asked for the opinion.tom

Jerry's picture

Thanks Tom Collins! And you dont sound like an old fart at all.I run my ipod with lossless, and I defy anyone to tell the difference between dig and vinyl.

Fearless Leader's picture

There are plenty of people like me who have yet to hear an LP that sounds "better" than a compact disc. It's a matter of extremely personal opinion and gross generalization to say that "CD < Vinyl" as a rule... because there are always exceptions, and they are dependent on many variables. There are good CDs and bad LPs just as there are bad CDs and good LPs.

CE's picture

But how come when teh CD was introduced in 1982, many people said CD sounded so much better than the obsolete LP' surface noise, no crack snap pop. Let's also get rid of digital cameras, since those old glass slide cameras from teh 1800's are so much more "natural". Total nonsense that LP's are soemhow sounding better or whatever. More audio nonsnese. Let's get rid of madern cars, those 1932 Fords where so great. SACD DVD-A smokes anything I have on Vinyl. Along with the ease of use, it doesn't wear out everytime ya play it. Those analog tv broadcast, yeah, so much better than DIGITAL HDTV.....why is there so much BS in audio, how come in teh video business, everything digital is considred better, cus it is!!! Let's go back to carbs on cars, those digital electronics controlling engines are just too well made, cars run too good, let's put some vacuum tubes in teh ckts. Are you people nuts? Incandescant lamps are so much better than CFL or LED with d

michaelavorgna's picture

Damn. A xenophobic forum spambot? Downright creepy.

tom collins's picture

can't fool me CE, you're really DUP in disguise, aren't ya? i'd recognize your prose anywhere, but it was the "teh" that gave you away.

jleo's picture

Speaking of technology, CE: WTF? did you write this post on a typewriter? Have you ever been introduced to SPELL CHECK?

Stephen Mejias's picture

Whoa. DUP strikes the blog! I don't know what people were thinking back in 1982, but I can tell you this: I love CDs, but I love vinyl more. More more more. If this hobby is about getting closer to the music, then, in my opinion, (in my room, through my system) vinyl is the best medium for the job. To me, vinyl feels as close as it gets to actually picking up an instrument and making music with a few good friends. Of course, I'm so very new to this, and I'm sure I have lots to learn and discover. And to AlexO, who said that he can't get beyond vinyl's clicks and pops: I have found that I have some records which are absolutely painful to listen to. They need to be seriously cleaned or something because listening to them is just awful. But, I find that with others, and especially with new vinyl, the pops and clicks just aren't there. They don't exist.

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