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Craig’s List - 5 Reasons Why Vinyl Is Here to Stay

 A hipster fad tidal wave ...


by Craig Anderton



So you think vinyl is just a fad for hipsters, and that the current surge in popularity will end up being an inconsequential footnote in the glorious history of sound reproduction? Ha! You're so very, very wrong.



Vinyl’s fidelity is outstanding. After all, how could you ever reproduce music more accurately than by dragging a rock through yards and yards of plastic?



They’re great for the environment. Album covers are made of cardboard, a renewable resource that can be recycled, while evil CD jewel cases are made of polyvinyl chloride, which is extremely toxic. Oh wait…records are made of polyvinyl chloride, too. Ooopsies! Never mind.



Vinyl is fearless in the face of filters made with Radio Shack parts. Vinyl boosts the high frequencies on records by +20 dB, and cuts low frequencies by -20 dB—and then on playback, the phono preamp cuts the high frequencies by -20 dB, and boosts the low frequencies by +20 dB using analog filters that exhibit non-linearities, phase shifts, and passband ripple. What could possibly go wrong?



Vinyl generously gives you all kinds of free bonus sounds. When you buy a CD, all you get is music…booooring. With vinyl, you’re gifted with the relaxing sound of hiss, the gripping excitement of crackles and pops, the gentle vibrato of off-center holes, the spaceship-like low frequency drone of turntable rumble, and the thrill of skipping—which was remixing records long before digital audio was invented. Take that, Mr. Compact Disc!



Vinyl keeps mastering engineers from becoming drug dealers...or even worse, politicians. Ever since plug-ins were invented, everyone thinks they’re a mastering engineer. This is why you see all those veteran mastering engineers on Music Row, holding signs saying “Will master for food. Or maybe beer.” But they’re the only surviving humans who know how to master for vinyl! Revenge is not only sweet…it rolls off all the low frequencies. And charges top dollar.




 Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.


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herbernst  |  September 26, 2017 at 2:42 pm
Regarding CD vs. vinyl media, I have to say that at long last I’ve FINALLY found an article that is utterly, completely, totally, entirely, incontrovertibly, undeniably, relentlessly, inexorably, unceasingly, inexhaustibly perfect in every humanly possible way – and I feel redeemed, knowing that I am not the only one on this planet who feels that vinyl records need to go the way of buggy whips and hand-cranked car engines.   Let us also not forget that the retail price of a vinyl phonograph record is much higher than its corresponding compact disc recording.  Nor let us forget that a vinyl record will warp inside the cardboard jacket if the album is left in the original plastic wrap since, over time, the plastic wrap slowly shrinks, eventually causing the album to bend.  For this reason, loosely fitting plastic sleeves were sold that would slip over the cardboard jackets after the plastic wrap had been removed so that the jackets would still be protected.  (Usually – but not always for bargain-priced records – the phonograph record was slipped into a paper sleeve before it was placed into the cardboard jacket, and for better records, the paper sleeve was lined with a – gasp! – plastic coating that generated massive amounts of static cling that would pull pet hair from the neighbor’s living room across the street and place it directly onto the surface of the record.)   The static fields that were generated as the record was pulled out of the paper/plastic sleeve (not altogether different from static charges generated when walking across a carpet) were a real problem for people who didn’t enjoy the sound of hearing music played through a clothes dryer’s wad of accumulated lint.   So, to thwart the laws of electrostatic physics, anti-static "guns" were sold that generated negative ions that neutralized static cling.  Available from Radio Shack, these devices were called "Discotrons" that were made by a company called "Adcom" in Great Britain.  And yes, they actually worked.  (It looks like its latest incarnation still exists in some form – and, like All Things Vinyl, it’s not exactly inexpensive:  https://www.amazon.ca/Milty-Zerostat-Anti-Static-Gun-Blue/dp/B0033SHDSS.)   I will confess that sometimes I do miss the delightful process of wiping off dust from the surface of a record with a velvet-like cloth dampened with a rubbing-alcohol-like fluid, reminiscent of a doctor wiping a patient's arm with an alcohol pad before administering a shot.  I almost swooned as a feeling of meticulous audiophile professionalism washed over me as I wiped the record clean.   The final-vinyl irony is that there are now plugins for digital audio workstations that will actually add grunge to a pristine digital recording to make it sound like a phonograph record (yes, really:  https://www.izotope.com/en/products/create-and-design/vinyl.html).   Unfortunately, I still do not know of a convenient way to convert a 2017 Lamborghini into a 1945 Volkswagen, but I’m sure somebody’s working on that as we speak.   After all, progress comes in many forms.
Dakota100  |  September 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm
Conversion of sound to digital formats loses some of the sound's quality though it varies by format. Consider the difference between MP3s and CD.  The sound could be improved as it is in the case of Blu-Ray video versus DVD but I don't see that happening soon.

Pick up a copy of the direct-to-disk recording of Lincoln Mayorga and His Distinguished Colleagues if you want to be amazed. The direct-to-disk process skips the magnetic tape recording and goes directly to master disk cutting machines. The musicians must perform each side of an LP without interruption so you'll likely find longer pauses between the tracks on the record so that they can perform tasks such as switching sheet music without the sounds being heard on the final product.

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