The Gestalt of Vinyl, Part 2

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Growth of vinyl sales as shown in Billboard’s article, “Just How Big Is the Vinyl Resurgence?” (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Vinyl isn’t dead, it was only waylaid by the convenience of iPods, iTunes, MP3’s, and computer audio. Over the past 5 years, over 4.6 million LP’s have been sold, a nearly 500% surge from 2007. Not only are LP sales brisk at brick and mortar stores such as Amoeba, but audiophile reissues by Mobile Fidelity, Analogue Productions, Impex, and Speakers Corner have demonstrated the superiority of LP sound when properly mastered and pressed on quality vinyl.

Neil Young once said that digital, at least in the early phase, sounded like nails being driven into his head. That’s why he teamed up with the late Steve Jobs in a project to bring better sound to digital files. Steve Jobs, the man who revolutionized the way we consume and listen to music, ironically only listened to vinyl at home. Supreme irony.

It’s also interesting that musicians and bands like vinyl because it’s difficult and time-consuming to copy or do any kind of file sharing. Reminds me of the 1970’s campaign “Home Taping Is Killing Music”. Cassette taping never did it, but digital destroyed the music business and the artists it supported.

Now the trend is back to 2 channel audio, which started with vinyl. Some purists even prefer older monophonic recordings–nobody mixing on a 16 or 24 track board or messing around with the mix.  Many people prefer 2 channel to multi-channel stuff and home theater mixes. It’s more like the live event.  I have old lp’s by Nina Simone and many other artists put down on 2 track reel to reel tape machines, captured by classic tube microphones carefully placed, that beat the pants off of bigger productions.  Roy DuNann’s fabulous 2 track lp’s on the Contemporary label were recorded in a shipping room but very very carefully and simply.  Finally, I would add that some current cd’s are being compressed and mastered for ipods, mp3, & computers.  They don’t sound good on a decent system, believe me.

Click here to read a USA Today article on the resurgence of vinyl–it’s an interesting read for anybody who loves music and better sound. Make sure you watch the video in the article! It shows how the pros at Mobile Fidelity master high quality vinyl.