Fans turn to vinyls for old school flair
It’s time to dust off the ol’ vinyl.
As new record stores pop up around East Lansing, Hodge Heckaman, a professional writing junior working at The Record Lounge/Scavenger Hunt, 503 E. Grand River Ave., said the younger audience is gaining an appreciation for vinyl through its dream-like vision of the past.
“We kind of idealize the ’60s, the ’70s and the ’80s and we try to embrace what we see as different parts of that generation,” Heckaman said.
More about vinyl
The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, and a way to amplify sounds was born. Around the turn of the century, cylindrical disc records began to see the light of day.Electrical amplification arrived in 1925, which helped flesh out the record sound. Five years later, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) released the first vinyl long-playing record.
The record works by transmitting audio vibrations to a needle. This needle cuts grooves into the vinyl, recording each vibration in its entirety. Later, when played, the needle travels along each groove as the record rotates on the turntable. If you have a vinyl player, you can turn off your speakers and still hear the faint audio of the record.
RPM – Rotations per minute. If someone refers to RPM, they’re referring to the number of rotations the record completes in a minute.
78s – (78 records run at 78 RPM) and are the first vinyl format. Able to contain about one song on each side, these large discs are rarely used anymore. In fact, most record players sold today do not support their playback.
45s – 45s (45 RPM) are approximately seven inches in diameter — quite smaller than 78s and 33s. They are capable of holding the same amount of music as the 78, sometimes more.
33s – Also referred to as 12-inch records. These vinyls run at 33 1/3 RPM and are the standard for the format.
Nostalgia is definitely a part of the vinyl legacy and records are definitely the “grandpa” of the music listening ages. They’ve watched other audio formats come and go, but vinyl has a new enemy with the arrival of digital music.
But have no fear, record enthusiasts. With record stores planted along Grand River Avenue, including Flat, Black and Circular, 541 E. Grand River Ave., The Record Lounge and Replay Entertainment Exchange, 319 E. Grand River Ave., records seem to have struck a chord with younger audiences around the East Lansing area.
Steve King, an employee at Replay Entertainment Exchange, has noticed a shift in customers in East Lansing.
“I’ve noticed the older generation knows more about vinyl, but it is catching on with the younger generation,” King said.
Evidence of this can be seen in The Record Lounge’s recent pairing with Scavenger Hunt, a vintage clothing store targeted at college students and eccentric styles.
The Record Lounge owner Heather Frarey is excited to join forces with Scavenger Hunt, hoping the location and target audience will increase traffic.
“Scavenger Hunt asked (The Record Lounge) to move in with them and things have been great. It’s kind of like what I’ve always wanted,” Frarey said.
Another arrow pointing toward college students as a target audience of vinyl is the fact local bands are embracing the format.
Michigan-based acts such as Frontier Ruckus, Chris Bathgate, Great Lakes Myth Society, Spitzer Space Telescope and Flatfoot have turned to vinyl as a means of music publication.
Both The Record Lounge and Replay Entertainment Exchange have sections dedicated to records of local bands. King said local bands might print vinyls for a feeling of accomplishment.
“Being in a band and everything, I know that it feels like more of an accomplishment to have music on vinyl; it feels more permanent and official,” King said.
For vinyl junkies, it boils down to the topic of sound quality. King and Heckaman both agree vinyl’s sound is superior to digital music.
“MP3 encoding is actually geared to omit certain frequencies, because your ear and brain are tuned to fill in those frequencies. The analog, vinyl sound is a full analogous range of sound.
“You don’t miss anything and that’s why people say it sounds warmer — people say it sounds better,” Heckaman said.