Marcus is to blame. (Hi Marcus!) He schooled me in the dark art of real music. He took me away from the mega brands of Sony and Sanyo, Bose and Bang and Olufsen, and introduced me to Linn. After that, I had to have one: a Linn record player.
Years pass, and despite the rush of technology, Linn is still at the leading edge, having adroitly moved with the times. They are masters of digital music. However, they no longer make CD players. But they do still make record players. Why?
Some music buffs believe the sound from a record player source is better than a digital source like a CD or MP3 (or MP4 or whatever). Marcus did tell me this, all those years ago, when CDs were first introduced. I think the words he used to describe analog record music included “warm” and “complete”.
So Marcus gets the blame for me keeping my record collection and my record player. Or, more honestly, Marcus gets the credit.
As a worthwhile aside, and although Marcus might blush if he ever reads this, that stance of his was only one of many where he railed against conventional wisdom and perceived truth. At time he was a lone voice. Yet, over time, he has often been proven correct. He has a track record of independent thought and terrific analysis. Oh, and he knows a thing or two about engineering and music.
Meantime, there are others who have discovered the beauty of vinyl. Not as a replacement for modern music delivery, but as a different experience.
From the BBC:
Vinyl is back. Steam may have gone the way of, well, steam. And we don’t use quills anymore. But vinyl is back.
Even in Germany, the home of “Vorsprung durch Technik” – Progress through Technology – the craving for what in ancient times was called ‘playing a record’ is growing. New record shops are springing up in trendy Berlin, selling only vinyl. German manufacturers, always alert to new possibilities, are scouring the world for the old machines that once pressed records to put them back into service to satisfy the cravings of a new generation of vinyl junkies…
A bit over the top, but you get the drift.
…Around the world, sales of vinyl records are at their highest since 1997. Last year, 4.6m vinyl records were sold in the United States, nearly 500 per cent more than five years earlier. In Britain, 389,000 vinyl albums were sold, a 50 per cent increase. Across the globe, the industry reckons that sales of vinyl added up to $171m, compared with $55m five years earlier. That is a good rise in anyone’s book.
More specific evidence comes in the way hard-nosed commercial enterprises are investing in vinyl. These aren’t sentimental, retro-nostalgics but companies that want to make money. Optimal Media is a classic German “mittelstand” company. It’s situated on the outskirts of the small town of Röbel in northeastern Germany and, in its ultra-modern factory, it specialises in producing books, making CDs and increasingly, vinyl records. Vinyl is where its big growth lies.
And here is part of the explanation offered:
More and more people like the vinyl experience. It’s not a digitally dead sound. There’s a warm sound.” He thinks part of the appeal of vinyl is that it is a more active way of listening to music. “Some people like the experience of having to get up from their chair and putting the record on the player and adjusting the stylus. These people are not nerds. They love vinyl. Some are spending a lot of money for the record players.”
See? I am not a nerd!
One enthusiast says:
“If you buy a vinyl record, you buy free time for yourself. You slow down. You hold the record and it needs time. You look at the cover. You read the lyrics. You can do all that, slowing down. If you do that on a computer it’s like being bombed with information. That’s the difference. With vinyl, you hold it in your hand. You take your time: put it on the record-player and listen to the music.”
Taking time out for yourself. Sounds good.
So far as the commercial viability of it all, note the following:
The industry is being canny in that it is often selling vinyl albums with a code to unlock a download – you buy the LP, so you can gaze at it and enjoy the ritual of playing it on the altar of a turntable, but you have a digital back-up, perhaps for use from your phone or in the car.
So what is behind the renewed love for the old format? It may be similar to the appeal of books. Who can doubt the convenience and logic of carrying a library around on a computer card? But books do persist – probably, in part, because people like the feel of them. It is a triumph of old technology.
Marcus was right.
You can read the whole thing, here.