July 16, 2007

Just goes to show...

by Chris Randall

...that you never really know what the hell is gonna happen in this industry. Case in point. While this wouldn't come as a surprise to people that are actually interested in music, it is kind of humorous in a general sense.

It's worth noting that, as a format, vinyl kind of sucks, for the following reasons:

(A) It is incredibly delicate. "Kind of Blue" sounds better on vinyl, but "Kind of Blue" with a big fucking nick in the beginning of "So What" can ruin your day.

(B) Storage is annoying. Storage of any sort of quantity is really annoying. Trying to keep the records from destroying themselves is essentially impossible.

(C) The master for vinyl and the master for a CD have nothing to do with each other. That's why early CDs that didn't have their own master sounded like complete arse. And that's why a lot of vinyl released now sounds like complete arse.

(D) Aside from the inevitable "cool" factor, my digital music collection is quite a bit more versatile, easy to store, and permanent than my vinyl record collection.

But all that said, "Kind of Blue" on 180-gram vinyl on a good turntable, with a good preamp, a good amp, and a good set of speakers, makes life worth living, while an MP3 of "Kind of Blue" sounds not bad in the car. Discuss.



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Jul.16.2007 @ 2:45 PM
If it's actually more than a statistical blip, then perhaps it gets filed under "inevitable backlash."

Jul.16.2007 @ 3:08 PM
A lot has to happen before vinyl sounds better than a CD. People who buy a USB turntable expecting it to be TEH SHIT ZOMG are in for a surprise.

When vinyl was the only option, I don't remember a lot of audio pros extolling it's virtues. I remember people bitching about it. Most of the records released back then were stamped out on shitty paper-thin vinyl, mastered by-the-numbers and then stored in crummy conditions, like any other piece of consumer plastic. I think, if you take the sum total output on CDs v. LPs made in the 80's, CDs on average sound better.


Jul.16.2007 @ 3:10 PM
I never much cared for 7" singles. It's interesting that it's the singles that are selling and not vinyl albums. So the market trend toward singles rather than albums has not changed.

But I also wonder what music is on these singles. I doubt it's Freddie Freeloader. Or even major label stuff. How much of it is music that is only available as vinyl 7", or is it also available as mp3s?


Jul.16.2007 @ 3:11 PM
I wish Sony would stop being such buttheads and allow SACD mastering to go widespread and cheap. I'd replace half my CD collection with hybrid SACDs, especially if I could listen in surround in my car.

Jul.16.2007 @ 3:36 PM
"But I also wonder what music is on these singles."

According to the article, the White Stripes led 7" sales.


Jul.16.2007 @ 4:03 PM
Its the cover art stupid.

Singles are a $10 poster. Unless you DJ , it goes on the ipod - the vinyl is ripped once through a Stanton ScratchMaster cart, with too many grams of pressure on the headshell feading a NuMark battlemixer into an ungrounded Soundblaster card.

It's not sound quality they get, its the ritual of it all. The inconvenience is the self mortification we do in tribute to the bands we love. I won't reference that Jack Black movie everyone quotes about now.


Jul.16.2007 @ 4:24 PM
I've got the low-end Music Hall turntable and my buddy and I A/B'ed PiL's Metal Box, which he has on the pink and blue vinyl (in the film cannisters!).

I've got a "high-end-of-the-low-end" Sony amp and Energy speakers, which are probably really good bad speakers or really bad good speakers.

Anyway, there was an obvious difference between the two and the Vinyl sounded "better" to everyone listening (some critical listens, some not). The adjectives following were amusing, but gut reaction, the vinyl sounded better.

That being said, I rarely play records because it's a pain in the ass and I have to listen in my living room or turn it up really loud.


Jul.16.2007 @ 4:52 PM
I wonder what the average selling price of a single is, either in the UK or in the states?

When 7" were $2 or $3, they were a great way to check bands out. They had novelty, they were fun, and sometimes for $12 you could hear 4 bands you had never heard before.

Now most I see are $4, $5, or more. At that price it ain't worth it, not to me.


Jul.16.2007 @ 5:56 PM
Surely a huge part of this statistical blip is the fact that the White Stripes released the b-side to Icky Thump as a vinyl covermount with the NME (at least here in the UK). The covermount came with packaging for the a-side which had to be bought separately, thus even if the NME covermount doesn't count towards sales you'll still get thousands of people ordering the a-side just to complete the package, artificially forcing up sales.

Jul.16.2007 @ 6:22 PM
Chris Randall
I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I was trying to decide how the stats had been juked to make the premise stand, and now that I know the NME angle, that makes it all clear.

I just couldn't see vinyl making a "comeback" because the infrastructure isn't there to support it. There simply isn't enough pressing capability in the world; it took almost 20 years for the plants to be able to meet CD demand and have surplus manufacturing capability (largely, I believe, because the same plants were also used to press CD-ROMS. I mean, how much manufacturing capacity alone is dedicated to making AOL install disks?)



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