I shook my head and returned from my stupor to the record store. I left the establishment without purchase knowing I had overstayed my welcome. I felt the clerk’s condescending eyes burning holes in the back of my head as I let the plate glass door close behind me. I have come to the conclusion, since this encounter was not unique in my music buying experience, that I must point out to all the vinyl snobs (and anyone else reading this article) that you need to give yourself a swift push to the present state of technology. We who embrace new technology are not unwashed; we love music as much as you do!
There are only three reasons, two of which are valid, that anyone would use a record player or turntable to listen to music. The first is that you are a DJ and use it for work or recording. You might back a hip-hop outfit and use the turntable to scratch old school or you might work the tables at a local club and need them to earn your living.
The second reason is you have copies of albums on LP that have not been remastered onto CD. Like the two Love albums mentioned earlier, there are many albums, some obscure, others popular, that don’t have enough of a market for record companies to reissue them onto CD. If some of your favorite albums fall into this category, then, of course, a turntable is a must. You might also be a person who has collected records for a long period of time and find it too daunting and costly to replace them with CDs.
The third reason, and it holds no water in my opinion, is the nostalgia factor. Some people are in love with vinyl. They like the smell, the tactile sensation of placing the disc onto a turntable and touching the needle to the first groove. The underlying hiss and crackle are a soothing comfort to their aural experience. Even many indie bands have a love for it (although it is mostly for the “cool” factor that retro inspires) releasing their music on vinyl as well as compact disc.
Compact discs are superior to vinyl in so many ways. Personally, I couldn’t wait for CDs to come out. Once the technology was mastered I began replacing my small library (at the time) of vinyl with CDs at an alarming rate. Hell, even when I had the records I preferred to tape them onto 90 minute cassettes so I wouldn’t have to run to the record player every 20 minutes to flip the disc (you can record both sides of a 33 record onto one side of a cassette tape). I know of some friends that used to buy two of every album to save themselves the hassle of the flip (on many record players you had a center prong that allowed placement of platters above the turntable; they fell into place on top of the previous record when it finished playing). They would play Side A and place the second disc above on Side B, therefore, hearing the whole album uninterrupted.
Even if the quality of the sound was the same, which it is not, other conveniences make the turntable a dinosaur. With CD players a simple push of a button can replay an album (or any part of it) without having to touch the disc. With a bit of cash you can get CD players that hold whole libraries of compact discs and never have to change a disc again until you want to. Hell with the popularity of digital music you can rid yourself of discs altogether and have gigs of music playing out of any number of large storage devices. I have transferred my whole library of CDs (once in the thousands) into MP3 and play them through my computer (both desktop and laptop) or on my portable MP3 player.
In conclusion, it is easy to see why some hold onto vinyl. It’s not a crime to do so. But thinking it sounds better than compact disc is a blatant lie. And to place yourself above others who disagree with your preference seems such a small way of behaving. Come back down to Earth and get a grip on reality. Now if I could only convince another acquaintance that great music didn’t stop at the year 1977, everything would be right with the world.