There is a big trend out there now, and it is one that many of my friends prescribe to, where people are insisting that vinyl records sound better than their digital counterparts.
I’ll say this, they sound different. Vinyl sounds warmer, especially if you use an amplifier that utilizes vacuum tubes, and it has a bunch of pops and hums and all that stuff that is a sign of how imperfect it is. People find that shit endearing apparently.
Here is the flat out truth: if the album is short, like 30 minutes or less, and pressed on a 12” LP, then that album can have better resolution than a CD, or even a high density audio file.
But there are a lot of factors. The main one is that it has to be a short album. Anything pushing an hour and the needle has a lot less room to track the song, giving up fidelity and volume (you can go read on your own why that happens). The needle, just through the act of playing the album, creates scratches on it that reduce the fidelity. And let’s not forget that most people today are using a solid state power amp or a digital receiver to amplify the sound that reduces the quality.
But this is the biggest and most hilarious fact: 99.99% of all music is recorded, edited, produced and mastered digitally. Some music is still recorded on analog reel to reel and edited using razor blades. But most of it is sent to the wax house on a CD, at CD quality. Which means the most resolution your vinyl record can have is the same as a CD. But because of the points I listed above, it is probably lower fidelity than a CD. Oh yeah, and records break down over time, digital copies don’t.
Now I have neglected completely the concept of super high resolution digital files. And sometimes these files are sent to make a wax out of, which is better than CD quality. But then again, you can still just get these digital files that will last forever.
I don’t get it. I don’t get most trends, though. I’m not really a trendy person. And I am not really a person who is part of a crowd. I don’t define myself that way, and I don’t think most people would define me that way. If you think I am, leave a comment, I would love to hear about it.
When I hang out in a group of people, I am almost always struggling to stay up with the conversation. Bands, and movies, and authors come up that not only have I never consumed, but I have never even heard of, or technology, especially Apple products, that I am completely unaware of. I am just completely lost at times.
I usually feel pretty bad about myself because of it. I am always curious how these people came to learn about this stuff, and how it could be so ubiquitous without my knowledge of it? A lot of the time I try to play out a conversation in my head where I know I will outshine everyone around me. Thinking to myself, ‘please someone bring up the intricacies of shifting an infield defense’, or ‘I have that story about post-war brutalist architecture locked and loaded’, or ‘how can I direct this conversation to the influence of the minimalist art movement on everyday culture’. I’ll even try to bring up something more relatable that I can at least participate in like parenthood, house ownership, playing guitar. It is really an immature thing on my part. I want to join in, I want to be heard, but I also want to impress people.
And while my interests are probably conversation at some party happening somewhere in the world, they aren’t where I want to be. So I am obliged to let other people outshine, confuse, and completely lose me in conversation. All while I sit back and wonder how I missed this trend, where is the information coming from, and how am I so efficiently avoiding it?
I guess I’m not too different from those people clutching to vinyl. I am stuck in the past, glorifying an outmoded technology because I can appreciate the pops and crackles. They make me feel warm inside.