Why collect vinyl records? What makes old vinyl albums still so appealing?
Do they really sound better than other modern digital Medias such as CD, DAT, MP3?
These and other questions always surround minds and hearts of music lovers. Let’s consider some guidelines:
We strongly recommend adopting the followings items so that you can reach the sonic's Nirvana:
Fulfilling these conditions, vinyl records certainly will become your elected method of collecting and listening to music.
Everybody knows that vinyl records experience a crescent fever nowadays — even teenagers are craving for it. Why?
A) The Sound
The analog sound “printed” on the surface of the vinyl record is far more honest and natural than digital ones, such as DAT or CD. Bass sounds fuller, rounder and richer. Vocals are more present, providing a sense of “bodyness”. Cymbals sound bronzier. The “sound image” has a three-dimensional aspect that allows a more accurate sense of the space around the instruments, making each of them sound really like it is played on time. The overall sound of a record is open, wide and plenty of depth.
Another point concerning sound: The analog distortion, within some parameters, is pleasant. Many sound engineers, when mastering an album to vinyl media, used to record and cut it at the master allowing high SPL (sound pleasure levels) peaks of + 3 DB. This generated a tape/groove wonderfully enjoyable and a warm signal, well known as “musical distortion” (not an overall sounding).
On the other hand, when a digital signal surpasses 0 DB an awful distorted signal can be heard...
GOING BACK TO THE SOUND ITSELF
On the CD sound, the bass region tends to be more flat, like a two-dimensional aspect only, with less depth and breadth. The timbre is often less accurate and honest. Vocals have less “bodyness” and sound like a draft. Cymbals sound freeze, weak and splashy. The CD sound flattens the sonic image of the music.
Let’s make an analogy, by comparing two different motion picture formats:
The analog sound of a vinyl record is like the celluloid film, while the digital sound of a CD is similar to a video tape. Watching an actual celluloid film in a movie hall, projected by light on a big screen, it produces a strong three dimensional perception of the image on your senses. You’ll find more vividness in a motion picture revealed on celluloid. Images present more details, definition and the colors are more vibrating. Also the contrasts are highly perceptible and nuances are clearly more vivid. The videotape (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray or any new fantastic media to come) catches the essence of the film but doesn’t make the correct and accurate translation/conversation of all subtle interpretation and variations mentioned above.
B) The art-cover
The size of the vinyl album’s jacket has vital importance to stand out the graphic arts it contains. Such covers are truly artistic objects! They lend an essential support to the songs, something like a continuity of the artist’s project. They reflect and translate the “soul” of the songs into images. It’s easier to visualize details, so that new formats, materials, textures and other devices can be freely explored by the art-cover designer.
On CD, due to its limited size, details and aesthetic richness of the LP are lost, not to mention new formats. It reminds us of the comparison between cellulose film versus videotape, isn’t it?
Besides, often it becomes impossible to read the booklet with technical information and lyrics, due the tiny size of the type chosen.
Vinyl records have longer life than other Medias. Vinyl records don’t corrode like CDs. If you keep your records clean and properly stored, they will last a lifetime!
Vinyl records allow the user to live again old emotions, exactly as they were in the past.
And last but not least, ancient people have an opportunity to get into touch with the very same feelings they experienced when listening to this album/record in the past. The jacket, art-cover, photos, printing smell, the weight of the cardboard… Life is a sound track! This experience is plenty of rare emotions and good memories.
And younger people, who did not live at that period, have a chance to cross the tunnel of time and feel exactly what it was like there and then.
Now, if you got confused and feel like asking me whether I still listen to CD, I will answer… Sure, I do! Besides having a fantastic vinyl record collection, I do also have a large CD collection. We, music lovers, must feel free to decide when it is more appropriate to use a CD or LP. If, for instance, I’m going to pickup and make a transcription of some musical part as the harmony (chords), guitar riffs or solos from a tune, CD is by far the best media to do so. It’s easier to locate the passage by looping and repeating it as many times as I need. But if I want to listen to a song with its full richness, I choose vinyl — no doubt!!
Finally, I’d like to make one last and illustrative comparison between both Medias, CD and LP. The first could be compared to fast food, combining speed, convenience and nourishing. It’s made for those who have no time to loose when dealing with daily urgent demands.
The LP, on the other hand, plays the role of the meal faced as a refined and slow ritual, plenty of flavors, to be appreciated within other dimension of time — the one where connivances lays.
We wish you the best listening and, most of all: Be welcome to a Great Adventure!
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