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  • Still got all my old skool vinyl from late 80s onwards; just need to find time and energy to start mixing it again (which is actually way more difficult than using the modern computerised controllers).

    Hopefully this will also encourage a resurgence in the use of proper hi fi equipment (doesn’t need to be the way overpriced “audiophile” stuff but anything with tried and tested 1980s era design from Japan or Malaysia is usually decent); and good loudspeakers make a whole load of difference too..

    Barnes and Nobles, which is the most common bookstore in America, has gone from having no vinyl to having tons of it within the past year or so. Crazy fast for them to overhaul all of their stores with shit tons of vinyl so quickly.

    TBH I think the vast majority of people are buying stuff they have already heard online [rather than the old style record shop atmosphere; you only get that in rich cities and suburbs around London today], it doesn’t surprise me the bigger businesses are moving back in.

    it does make some business sense as the logistics of sending vinyl by mail (and getting it there in one piece) and in a fit state for the end customer are really not trivial.

    That said I think a great deal of this stuff is reissues of older artists sold at premium prices, especially outside London. the remaining “true record shops” are likely to be run by middle aged men about 5-10 years older than myself; selling mostly to my age group and above.

    There are technical reasons why vinyl can sound more appealing (ironically due to the limitations of the physical formats used) but I’m not overly romantic for the old days; having had to laboriously clean multiple records of near 30 years of dust with a home-brewed solution of “snakeoil” made from best English rainwater; isopropyl alcohol and detergent and then being reminded that some of these were on cheap vinyl that didn’t track well even when I bought it in 1988/9. Worst offenders were UK reissues of USA techno labels, whereas the proper US pressings are much superior (but pricey, sold as “imports” which were about £7-8 when I was only earning £2.60 per hour at weekend job which was one of the best paid in the town (selling cigarettes to mostly middle aged and seniors from the supermarket kiosk).

    I do get tweeted loads of releases info from Juno (usually tech and tech house from USA and DE) and have been half tempted for old times sake (especially in late 80s I’d always look out for Detroit techno and acid house) but I’d either have to wait at home for the courier or get the tunes delivered to work; 12″ vinyl does not fit in my current panniers.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Germans have made panniers which are suitable for carting records about (for eco-aware DJ’s :laugh_at:) but they are likely to be about €100. And for EDM especially, vinyl is bulky and heavy and takes up a lot of space.

    Not so much that B&N is able to manage the logistics they have a distribution arm that rivals Amazon but rather that the market for vinyl rematerialized out of nowhere. I guess it can be chalked up to “hipsters” to an extent as well as those with disposable income on a nostalgia kick. Personally I’d prefer an MP3 file or perhaps a CD, but much vinyl sold directly from the artist includes a download as well. As long as there is a demand someone will fill the supply end.

    As far as DJ’s I’ve seen some folks start to get back into vinyl locally as opposed to tracking with a computer.

    I hope we don’t see a resurgence in vinyl DJs. Generally, it sounds shit in a club (give me a wav or a CD any day – I always sigh when I’m working a dance music event and the ‘vinyl DJ’ comes on and I have to put up with woolly, low-fi sound for 2 hours, usually while some floppy hipster spins worn-out, dirty records on blunt needles). To any ‘vinyl purists’ out there, I’d love to know how a track, produced on a computer (digital), bounced out as a wav (digital) and then mastered (digitally) before being sent to a pressing plant to be imprinted (often quite clumsily, in the case of dance records) as a groove on a piece of plastic and read by a small metal needle disrupting a magnetic field can possibly be more ‘pure’ than the original mastered wav, emailed straight to Beatport and downloaded to a laptop? Any sonic difference is, by definition, distortion. This distortion might add a certain character to certain types of music (with old-school hip-hop records, ingrained spliff ash and sweat only seem to add to the grittiness), but modern electronic music IMO deserves a format capable of reproducing its nuances – production has come a long way since I was a teenager buying records on Oldham Street in Manchester fifteen years ago.

    I do look back romantically on evenings spent hanging out in damp basements with my mates smoking weed and taking it in turns to spin hip-hop records; I liked looking at the cool artwork on the sleeves, and knowing that I’d still be able to do the same in thirty years time, as long as I hadn’t sold it. I liked the satisfaction of grabbing the spinning record and attempting to physically wrangle it into time with the tune playing on the other deck; Traktor doesn’t feel the same. Physical mediums do have their benefits. But coming from a purely sonic viewpoint, vinyl is an inferior format – the basic technology is 130 years old ffs!

    I agree with GL’s point about hi-fi equipment – you can’t play a record on a phone, or on tinny laptop speakers. I guess maybe this is partly why I meet all these people who think vinyl sounds so much better than digital formats – even the £50 worth of old-school hifi equipment from Ebay needed to interface with a turntable will likely sound better than the latest £300 whizz-bang speaker from Apple (I was in one of their stores a few weeks ago in America and had to ask the assistant whether the white orb in front of me was for playing music, ordering my shopping or doing the hoovering). I think there’s also a certain degree of ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ syndrome when it comes to audio, and vinyl in particular. In the same way that everyone thinks they are a better-than-average driver, I’d say that most people (or at least DJs, sound engineers and self-proclaimed ‘audiophiles’) think they have above-average hearing, and are reluctant to admit when they can’t hear a difference, or to say that vinyl (which as everyone knows is pure, analogue, and warm), actually sounds pretty fluffy compared to a high-bitrate, uncompressed digital format for fear of being labelled a cloth-eared philistine by their fellow audio-enthusiasts.

    TBH I think economic realities are going to deter vinyl from resurging as a DJ format – even if it remains a popular format for hipsters / “niche music fans”. And as you point out those who play it have to also pay attention to such things as tracking weights, needle alignment and quality either or it just sounds rough.In fact listening to old skool just reminds me how much 1970s/80s mastering equipment (such as open reel tape) was still in use and its limitations, including BPM of many tracks being all over the place compared to say a modern house track due to tape speed variations and sometimes physical cutting of tape loops as part of the editing/mastering process!

    On the community radio the only vinyl shows we get are one of prog rock and nederpop (surreal Dutch pop sung in English with a strong Dutch accent) from this middle aged stoner dude who used to be on Radio Caroline, and the now late 30s aged drum and bass and garage DJ’s remembering their youth, and at least they do all care about sound quality.

    I think some of the indie kids might buy new vinyl now and then but play their tracks from digital sources as setting up the needles, switching over the correct mixers and incoming sources is more effort than they want to deal with.

    Alas, too many young people have actually conditioned to listening on mobile phones, cheap PC speakers (not even decent ones) and other awful squawk-boxes some of which are worse than the mono radio cassette from 1980 I sometimes use for monitoring the community radio. Plus in this region you don’t even get the bedroom DJ’s and other musicians half as much as you used to; as its Middle England Tory central and any excessive noise is soon stamped out..

    That post was great to read GL. You bring up some good points about shitty speakers and the difficulties of vinyl.

    GL, did you ever DJ?

    Also I read that MP3 is dead and AAC will replace it as the digital format of choice soon.


    I did (starting with a pirate radio station in London in 1990) and various free parties for about half of that decade, and also got back into it in the late 2000s although with digital kit. Have also still got a set of direct drive vinyl decks (not quite Technics but not too bad either) but due to work hours and other life issues haven’t had the energy to do it as much but might start again one day..

    As for MP3s I don’t think the format is that dead (its the most common playout format on our community radio for instance). AAC does sound better especially at lower bitrates and is particularly good for online streaming/radio broadcasting but not every device plays it “out of the box” even though its hardly taxing in processor power/resources, there is some confusion as to whether its covered by patents..

    I just imported a CD to iTunes and the default was AAC, I think that is new.

    Itunes have used AAC for years, I think they were one of the first to do so. With this format although some patents are still valid I think the app designers or device manufacturers have to get the license, not the content producers (as was the case with MP3)






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Forums The Vibe Music, Movies & TV UK : Vinyl overtakes digital music sales in Britain