Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no, another music elitist who thinks MP3 sound quality is inferior to vinyl when, in all actuality, they sound the exact same.”
Blasphemy! Seriously though, it does sound better.
The recent resurgence in the world of vinyl collecting amongst younger adults has contributed to local record shops succeeding in the “digital age,” and it doesn’t seem like they’re going away anytime soon.
While digital formats such as MP3s have positives, the average vinyl collector gets much more out of their frisbee-esque device than “music lovers” get from their 2013 jukebox known as a computer.
1. Sounds Better
If you are one of the people mentioned above who doesn’t believe that the difference in sound quality between the two formats is noticeable, then it’s time I kick some knowledge.
Vinyl records are analog recordings while CDs are digital recordings. Digital recordings capture pieces of analog recordings at certain rates and try to measure each piece that it captures with certain accuracy.
Therefore, digital recordings don’t capture the complete sound wave that it copies, which causes certain sounds to get changed or distorted.
2. Looks Cooler
Sound quality aside, we can agree that vinyl looks much cooler than nothing, right?
Although the majority of vinyl records come in black, there are several pressings that have a wide range of colors and even some that are clear. Also, there are several different sizes of records such as 12 inches, 10 inches and 7 inches. Different sizes and colors of vinyl make the collecting experience much more obsessive.
3. Brings People Together
Similar to barbershop talk, record store dialogue allows for people with common interest to interact.
However, instead of talking about why in the hell Joe Dumars gave Charlie Villanueva the worst contract of all time, or which name Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are going to give their already famous baby, you talk about music.
When you begin going to the same record store on a constant basis, you get to see familiar faces, and people learn what kind of music you like. Often they recommend stuff for you. Sorry, digital lovers, but the iTunes store is in the virtual world, and unless you’re homies with Tron, I don’t see much social interacting going on.
4. Comes With Digital Downloads
A lot of today’s newer vinyl releases not only are pressed on wax — a slang term for vinyl — but they also come with digital downloads. This is something that record companies have started to do more of lately, and honestly, it’s one of the best parts of collecting vinyl records.
If you think that I don’t like MP3s, that’s certainly not the case. I have an iPod and an iTunes library, but vinyl does more for me as a music fan.
5. Comes With Extra Goodies
Along the same lines as readily available digital downloads, vinyl packaging often comes with cool extras such as posters and lyric sheets.
While it might not seem like much to the casual music fan, the music die-hard definitely appreciates when record companies give more than just the music because it enhances the experience.
6. More Value For Your Money
The other day I purchased GZA’s classic album, “Liquid Swords,” for $15. Not only did I get the album on vinyl, but I received a huge poster that now adds to the ambience of my musically driven bachelor pad and some inserts in the packaging as well. The same album is priced at $10 on iTunes and comes with nothing that adds to the experience.
7. Hard To Lose
As long as you don’t let your friends borrow your vinyl, then you shouldn’t have any problem losing them. It’s not like a CD, where it can get stolen out of your car or easily misplaced, and it’s not like an MP3, where all it takes is a hard drive crash to demolish your whole library.
If you use plastic sleeves and plastic inserts, keep your vinyl collection off the ground and wash your hands before handling the records, then there is no reason that your collection shouldn’t last you for several generations.
Digital has to be passed down and transferred multiple times to make it through generations. It will be interesting to see how that works in the future.
9. Rare Re-Releases
Often in the vinyl world, record companies will re-release classic albums with extra songs and remastering that helps enhance the experience. Some of these pressings are numbered and only have a certain number made. Being the owner of a classic reissuing of your favorite album can really put your record collection over the top.
I can remember the first vinyl I purchased (Blu’s “Below The Heavens.”) I can remember my first friend that I made at the record store (Mark), and I can remember each album I played when I bought my record player.
I couldn’t tell you for the life of me the first album I ever downloaded off of the computer.
James Edwards III is a guest columnist at The State News and a journalism senior. Reach him at email@example.com.