Vinyl & CDs

All the way back in 1811 a movement began in England which lent its name to people who are accused of being opposed to technological developments: Luddites. So serious was the movement that it was a death penalty offense for anyone convicted of destroying lace-making machinery.

So, at the risk of sounding like a Luddite, I have to say, “I told you so.”

And what is the target of my joy: well, it seems that long-playing vinyl records are making such a comeback that major producers and distributors are starting to embrace this supposedly out-of-date technology. Amazon-dot-com, for example, has a vinyl-only store that boasts a catalog of more than 300-thousand titles.

Years ago a few of us said music recorded onto compact discs or stored as a compressed music file was missing something. And in fact, it is. It is missing music. Remember, digital music is sampled; sampled at a tremendously high rate of course, but sampling, by its very nature, leaves something out. That’s why audiophiles say they can tell a qualitative difference between a vinyl record and a music file. They almost universally complain that music on a C-D sound tinnier, and sounds even worse when compressed into file form.

So even with the hiss and pops, vinyl sounds warmer and more precise. Plus, look at all of the extras you get with a vinyl album: liner notes you can really read, posters, lyric sheets, booklets.

Certainly you have to treat vinyl with more care. But it was always something of a mystical experience to carefully wiping a record clean before you put it on the turntable.

The record companies are seeing another benefit to vinyl: you can’t copy a record the same as you can a disc. In fact, they are almost copy-proof. Oh, sure, you can transfer the sound to an electronic format, but then you end up with same inferior, sampled sound.

Everyone admits vinyl isn’t going to replace file-based music. But it’s good to know that sometimes we discover that maybe the old ways weren’t so bad after all.

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