There is nothing quite like the sound of vinyl. Yes, I call it vinyl… I’m one of those people. My dad basically said it like this – “If you actually lived through the era of vinyl records, you simply call them records, only people your age call them vinyl.” (90’s kid here. By the time I was old enough to buy music, records were well and truly out. Though thankfully there has been a resurgence in recent years. vinyl now outsells CD)
While he doesn’t see it as a bad thing that I have gotten into vinyl (it’s actually been kind of a bonding experience for us – going to record fairs and going through both of our collections together) I have begun to notice that there is some kind of weird stigma attached to someone in my age group liking vinyl.
That somehow, I’m not worthy, not a true fan, an annoying ‘hipster’ who is trying just a bit too hard to seem cool. I’ve even had people roll their eyes at me when I get excited about a hard to come by record making its way into my collection.
All of this has made me think – why do I like vinyl records? I certainly don’t think they sound better than digital. I’ve gone from listening to CD’s and digital downloads to listening to the same album on record – it doesn’t sound better. It just sounds different.
So, what is the draw?
1. I have always been fascinated by how it all works. I remember looking through Dad’s collection and looking at the record player and really not understanding HOW this thing could produce sound. How did that little needle dropping down onto those grooves produce the sound that comes out of the speakers? Though I understand how it all works now, I am no less fascinated.
2. I feel that there is something more satisfying about having an actual physical copy of something (this goes for CD too) We tend to develop emotional connections with music and that connection is even stronger when you are literally holding it in your hands! It’s very easy to press play on your playlist (Which I still do, I don’t ONLY listen to vinyl) but there is something very special about actively going through your collection, picking a specific album, getting the record from its sleeve, placing it on the turntable – all these steps make the music all the more rewarding in some way… at least to me.
3.It also makes you stop and really listen. Instead of flying through a playlist of a hundred different artists and songs (sometimes mere background noise), you are completely focused on this one particular artist, this one particular album.
4. The sound. As I said before, I don’t believe that vinyl necessarily sounds better than digital, but there is definitely something unique about the way it sounds. I know I’m going to sound like a total cliche but there really is a certain ‘warmth’ to vinyl. It never sounds exactly the same, I feel like it’s always changing, and you hear different things within each time you listen.
5. The fun social aspect to record collections. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent just going through collections with friends, talking about the music, the cover artwork. I love second hand shops and record fairs and as someone who doesn’t get out much it’s a great opportunity to socialize with people (of all age groups)) who share the same hobby and interests.
5. Aesthetics. Let’s be real here, records look cool. I’m not going to lie and say that the aesthetic aspect of vinyl isn’t a factor in why I like them. I enjoy the way they look, the art, the big crate I keep my collection in – I love it all.
6. I’m a collector by nature.(though my mama would call it hoarding rather than collecting) I have a habit of collecting things that interest me. For example, I also collect classic films, some of which are very hard to get here in Australia. I collect books, I collect figurines and toys. Music is one of my biggest obsessions so it’s only natural that I would find a way to collect that too – what better way than collecting records?
I guess most of the reasons why I love vinyl are the same reasons every other collector loves vinyl. They’re awesome – what other reason does a person need?