It’s hard to look at a 120-gram vinyl record and think it’s a practical way to listen to music. Having any piece of music you could want ready to stream on your phone can fill the room with music so much more conveniently than meticulously placing a needle on a record, having to listen to every song on the album and even having to flip the record over to listen to the second half. It begs the question, why have vinyl record sales made a comeback in recent years to the point where they began outselling CDs in 2019?
The answer can be boiled down to several things. For one, audio-heads will be pleased to hear that vinyl offers the least loss in quality from the original recording. While CDs and digital streaming compress the sound leading to a loss in quality, keeping it analog means there is no loss in data from the recording to the pressing.
Buying vinyl records can be a special experience. Think of it as a personality extension. Just as one would buy a collection of paintings to express themself, albums can also hold a lot of meaning. Perhaps the record’s artist fits their style, or the songs on the album define their taste in music, or maybe they just really like the cover art. Additionally, there’s something aesthetically pleasing about shelving and displaying those 12-inch sleeves. Just like any other trinket, once the collection has started amassing, it is hard to stop adding to it.
So how does one get into vinyl records? Obviously, a record player is needed first. Although any superstore might offer cheap record players that come with fun handles, these are not recommended. They are made with a poor build quality that might make a record sound worse and even damage it after a while. The right record player to look for is one with a sturdy needle and that has proper electronics. A lot of the fun can be lost if the first experience listening to vinyl sounds muddy so make sure the player does the record justice.
Then comes the actual vinyl records. These can be bought at some supermarkets, bookstores, or online shops, but there’s something more endearing about going to an actual record store to browse their selections. Often times they have everything from brand new albums to classic used ones. These records can go for as low as $0.99 USD and a lot of record stores have players available to try the records on, so there’s a huge advantage to shopping at one of these specialized stores. It can lead to new discoveries to add to a collection alongside the personal favorites.
There are also a lot of online tools to help discover new albums. Online forums contain a lot of discussion of underground works that may be just the thing worth looking for. Additionally, vinyl subscription services will hand-pick vinyl records to send to members each month just like a magazine subscription. These often come with extra perks such as additional album artwork or a special pressing of the record. Overall, these offer different options for adding fresh music to the collection.
Nowadays, vinyl is more than just a hobby for hipsters because it fits their retro aesthetic. Vinyl collecting can be very fun and personal as well as interpersonal as the discussion of music is furthered. Getting into vinyl records can be what turns the casual listener into a true music nerd or the music nerd into an even more pretentious one. In all seriousness, this is definitely a hobby worth giving a try.