When I first got into the industry, I made a point of bringing up the reemergence of vinyl pressing with two friends who had truly experienced the Vinyl record era (I was born in 1979, so the new technology was already beginning to take over). I asked my friends to discuss what Vinyl meant to them, and talk about their own Vinyl LP collections, and I just sat there typing what I heard.
“Vinyls are just warm, they’re just better… it’s a rich, warm, big ass sound. MP3s just deplete the value of the music…. I have been giving my records away to people who helped me move, and now I’m really starting to regret it… Everytime I see a vinyl album at a garage sale I buy it. I have a ton of CD’s but I never listen to them, I only listen to my LPs. It’s good for me, as a person, to collect them, protect them, take good care of them. Sometimes somebody asks if I have a record and I don’t even recognize I have it until it’s requested.”
It was touching listening to their passion, hearing them reminisce and talk about different albums that brought back memories- music preserving experiences so they would never be lost. We all have that, but recreating the full experience on actual vinyl records, long lost in a move or a flood, is something one can’t possibly compare to CD or MP3.
I looked online to gather more insight into the love of vinyl and, between that and my own growing appreciation of the re-emergence, I compiled a list of why I think Vinyl records are making a comeback in a really big way.
- The Inheritance
I can relate to this. My late mom’s 12-inch Vinyl LP collection was ruined by- get this- TERMITES, so they are toast. The termites didn’t eat the actual vinyl, but they ate the labels, and left, well, the fruits of their labours rotting the vinyl itself. It was heartbreaking, but at least her collection of 45-records was salvaged just in time. I could NEVER get rid of them. They are such a big part of how she grew up, of who she was, of who she became. I may never have the space to store them close by, or to listen to each and every one, but for when I’m old and grey, too tired for the speed of technology, craving simplicity and memories, they might very well replace my bigscreen TV.
- The Actually Process of Collecting Vinyl Records
There is something calming about spending endless hours in a record store poring through old records, lost in your own little world, yet surrounded by like-minded vinyl freaks. Each flip brings anticipation, mystery, and the possibility of uncovering a rare and (even if it’s just in your humble opinion) magical discovery. It brings back songs, bands, times and people long forgotten- you get to relive moments, even years of of your life, back when it was, if not simpler, certainly different than it is now.
- The Simplicity
I personally find it daunting to have billions of songs to choose from when I’m sitting in front of a computer. It’s amazing that old, decaying collections have been preserved, and that we have so many options, but it can be overwhelming. I’m the kind of person who has eclectic musical taste, and an inherent and developed love of so many types of music that I just draw a complete blank.. There are too many options, so I can’t remember a single song I love and want to hear. With vinyl, it’s not like that. You can’t just pick 50+ songs you like in five minutes and press play. Sometimes being forced to sit and enjoy an entire album, even if the initial inspiration is little more than laziness, turns out to be a wonderful thing. You hear lesser knowns songs and discover you love them, and you actually sit and listen to the music instead of worrying about what to play next.
- The Sound
My friend really did say it best, so I have to quote him again here. “Vinyls are just better… it’s a rich, warm, big ass sound.”
Technology that stores a ton of music in a tiny place can do so because the industry literally shrunk the size of the music itself. That’s why there is such a marked difference between what you hear on vinyl records versus what you hear on CDs or Mp3s. We’ve managed to salvage and store the lyrics and melody of our favourite songs, and prevent songs from the past for being lost for good…There is no price that can be placed on that preservation, but it’s far too often been at the cost of the depth and the soul… the two things that got us hooked in the first place.
- The Process
This one is more personal to me, in light of what I’ve learned since I got into the vinyl pressing business. Upon discovering how many steps, how many machines and people, and how truly complicated it is to produce a single vinyl LP, I understood two things. The first is exactly why vinyl records became difficult to produce and find, and the second, why people take such good care of their vinyl record collections, and why vinyl records have always commanded so much love and respect. You can’t just jam a blank record into a machine and walk away with a new one minutes later. You can’t just download Vinyl and recreate the depth and sound of the original. They were created to preserve the WHOLE sound of the band/song- every little beat, every aspect of intonation, every bit of perfection and imperfection, and nobody has found a way to preserve music quite the same. Perfection isn’t born out of shortcuts, and there aren’t any when it comes to the process of creating a vinyl lp. It involves creating a master, a metal cast, and then a stamper. This is before a single piece of record vinyl can even come to fruition. It’s both daunting and impressive. Vinyl pressing became a thing of the past because Vinyl PRESSES were becoming a thing of the past. Try as you might to make them last forever, few things do. The creation of the first new press was as revolutionary as it was nostalgic, and there is magic in that alone. Unlike the new formats, the vinyl record takes up a fair bit of space, but it’s worth it, so people are making space. Are you one of them, because I am.
“Is it wrong, wanting to be at home with your record collection? It’s not like collecting records is like collecting stamps, or beermats, or antique thimbles. There’s a whole world in here, a nicer, dirtier, more violent, more peaceful, more colorful, sleazier, more dangerous, more loving world than the world I live in; there is history, and geography, and poetry, and countless other things I should have studied at school, including music.”
― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity