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Thursday April 24th 2014

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Vinyl Rising

Why buy vinyl? For some, records may seem to be unwieldy relics of the past.

For others, the move toward an increasingly computer-centric music experience has created a near-recoil back toward receivers and records.

There are several reasons why people have a compulsion to buy vinyl:

#1: Sound Quality. Audiophiles can and have debated the Digital v. Analog question at length, since the time CDs emerged. These days, most hardcore audiophiles will claim MP3s are without a doubt compressed sonic messes suitable for background noise only. For those passionate about sound quality, high quality vinyl and a good stereo system are still the preferred way to go.

#2: Enthusiasm for the Art. Flipping through artwork that comes with a record is a different experience than staring at a digital copy of the cover that comes with some album downloads. For those who appreciate the long-standing relationship between musical artists and visual artists, album art is still something of a treat to see.

#3: Super-Fandom and/or Collectability. Super Fans purchasing new or reissued releases of their favorite bands often want them on every format. Many collectors are either focused on owning something rare for the sake of owning it, or for the chance that the value will go up and they can sell it for multiple times their original investment.

#4: The Experience. Numbers one through three all share a common element, which is appreciation of the experience of selecting, lovingly placing a record on a turntable, dropping the needle, and listening. In an on-the-go society, taking time to chill out and focus on what is playing is now a borderline novel experience.

Record labels have done a few smart things to encourage new vinyl purchases. Many new releases are pressed in 180 gram vinyl, which is considered audiophile-quality, as the heavier vinyl, vs. the previously more common 120 gram, doesn’t warp as easily.

Increasingly, albums include MP3 download codes to provide customers access to a portable format as well.  So while new vinyl prices can seem steep to some, in all actuality, shoppers are usually purchasing two formats in one.

And if you need further reason to feel good about buying vinyl, it is also a recyclable material. Records are produced from melted PVC pellets, and even though some claim recycled material can affect sound quality, plants like Florida’s Alpha Vinyl Record Pressing, Inc.—one of 16 vinyl plants in the U.S. as of November 2012, and the only one in this state—offers discounts to artists returning unused 45s to be melted and repressed. A win-win for Earth and your ears.