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Will Vinyl Survive?
August 24, 2006 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Will Vinyl Survive? Is vinyl on its last legs? Or like Gloria Gaynor, will it survive? Most home listeners chucked out their turntables years ago, but are DJs finally giving in and following suit? DJs face off in a pair of articles discussing the merits of vinyl vs. digital...
posted by bunglin jones (68 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
That first link is like a turntable.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 6:04 PM on August 24, 2006


(cough)
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 6:05 PM on August 24, 2006


I've noticed a lot of folks buying vinyl and downloading the corresponding mp3s illicitly. Seems to work for them.
posted by shoepal at 6:08 PM on August 24, 2006


Funny, I was thinking about how most members of the class of 2010 would likely only know of turntable hiss and crackle as a backdrop for digital music, an audio patina of sorts...
posted by lekvar at 6:09 PM on August 24, 2006


A lot of my friends have been buying vintage record players recently. It's kind of a cult thing. Btw, I'm class of 2010, but I didn't bother to read that whole thread about my peers and me.
posted by notswedish at 6:13 PM on August 24, 2006


Vinyl was a pain in the ass. I always had to download, I mean record to tape so that I could play stuff on my walkman.
posted by snsranch at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2006


I buy albums that have not been converted to compact discs and then I convert them to MP3s. For my own use, of course. There's just not that much Blue-Eyed Calypso available for the old CD player.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:19 PM on August 24, 2006


Most DJs are just queuebots anyways, so I'm guessing that digital suits them perfectly fine. Mixing digital is antiseptic. You match the beats (or let your software do it), queue it up, press play, and begin the x-over fade.

I think that vinyl may always have a place, where the turntable is treated more as an instrument than a device that simply plays back the music. Just like synthesizers/samplers have not replaced analog instruments - supplemented yes, but not replaced.

As for sound quality/mytique... hahahaha... whatever. You want your rice crispies? Just add them in digitally to your mix (eg. Live has a built in vinyl hiss module that is quite respectable).
posted by C.Batt at 6:24 PM on August 24, 2006


The Pro-Vinyl Response. also a very good read.
posted by djdrue at 6:25 PM on August 24, 2006


Now that the first link doesn't link back here, my comment makes little sense, I apologize.

...I still listen to records, for the record.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 6:25 PM on August 24, 2006


I haven't bought vinyl in over fifteen years. I don't miss it. I can remember my sisters used to scratch up their vinyl records cuz they'd dance to them and bump up against the record player then they'd giggle incessantly and later whine about all the scratches on their LPs. Albums like Shawn Cassidy, Partridge Family, Andy Gibb, and the Grease Soundtrack. I was just growing out of my Sesame Street records at the time. The funny thing was we were Baptists back then, so they'd dance to their records and the scratches were like punishment from God. I shit you not. I hate religious dogma.

"A lot of DJs' selections turn to shit after they start using digital."

That's just bullshit. I can't bring myself to read the rest of the link. DJ selections suck on radio cuz radio is programmed by committee. DJs aren't making the selections. It has nothing to do with the lack of vinyl.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:26 PM on August 24, 2006


Erm, don't think we're talking about radio DJs, here.
posted by desuetude at 6:28 PM on August 24, 2006


Funny, I just got a USB turntable as a birthday present last week....
posted by geneablogy at 6:32 PM on August 24, 2006


You mean live DJs? At weddings people don't need DJs anymore. They can plug an ipod up to some speakers and be their own DJs. I think that's better than hiring a complete stranger to spin discs at your reception. Digital gives you more control, that you didn't have with vinyl. One thing the article got right: "You can’t make a rational case for choosing vinyl." It shoulda stopped right there.

Clinging to vinyl is like clinging to rotary dial phones. Sure you can, but why? I never understood stamp collecting either. Or taxidermy.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:34 PM on August 24, 2006


One thing the article got right: "You can’t make a rational case for choosing vinyl." It shoulda stopped right there.

Sure you can. If someone enjoys the experience of vinyl more than other media, it's a rational case for using it. Music itself is about enjoyment. It's enjoyable, as Pearl Jam once waxed (no pun intended), to pull the record out of its sleeve and handle it carefully and position the needle carefully and hear that wonderful crackling intro. It's musical foreplay at its best.

Generally, digital media for audio and video has placed convenience over quality, given that the average consumer is most interested in this. I've observed, however, that quality of experience in my life has generally declined in favour of quantity of experience.

Being a photographer I notice this most with cameras. Most people have switched to compact digital cameras with tiny little sensors which are more convenient than 35mm film cameras but which have less dynamic range (there's that word again) and less resolution. My Canon 10D cost $1500 when I bought it, but it still can't match the equivalent film body with a good, fine-grained film such as Velvia or Provia - at a third of the price.

My cell phone is my only phone, and I feel like I don't have nearly as nice an aesthetic experience on the phone as I did when we had a land-line, classic rotary-dial telephone.

I could go on...
posted by jimmythefish at 6:51 PM on August 24, 2006


1) Re: Zach. Is it possible to get a wedding DJ who uses vinyl? I mean, I never see vinyl out "in the world" beyond the various scenes anymore.

2) As long as there are scratch DJs and beat jugglers there will be vinyl.

3) As long as there are shitty suburban "club" "DJs" looking to impress girls with their Mad Skillz by crab scratching there will be vinyl. Real DJs just use what works best for them and think the debate is silly. Its like berating a concert pianist for not Going Digital Already playing a Casio. They're just using what they think works best for them.
posted by ChasFile at 6:56 PM on August 24, 2006


I don’t recall every intricacy of what I did last week, but I can tell you almost without fail the circumstances surrounding each record I own, and explain the resonance it has, what it evokes. It’s an object of music and of memory, and to me that gives it the true aura of an artefact, and makes it deserving of respect, reverence. I also love the presence of the music in the scratch.

That for me completely nails my love of vinyl.
posted by Skygazer at 6:57 PM on August 24, 2006


Final Scratch 2.0 - Best of Both Worlds...
posted by SweetJesus at 7:02 PM on August 24, 2006


"I can tell you almost without fail the circumstances surrounding each record I own, and explain the resonance it has, what it evokes.."

I can tell you the circumstances surrounding each record I own too. They've been sitting at the bottom of my closet in the backroom gathering dust a couple decades, in a milk crate, taking up space. They're probably all warped by now and beyond repair. What do they evoke? Nothing unless I stub my toe on them while looking for something vaguely more useful.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:06 PM on August 24, 2006


Who wants vinyl when they can have leather?
posted by orthogonality at 7:12 PM on August 24, 2006


Clinging to vinyl is like clinging to rotary dial phones. Sure you can, but why?

Man, don't know know what you can get on vinyl? Where the hell else am I supposed to find my dusty, warped old Charley Pride and Hank Williams records, from the back room of a rural Australian charity shop? My promotional 7" for the new Hoover vacuum cleaner of 1970? Classic Acker Bilk? "Lush Strings: Music for the Whole Family!", "The Delightful Nana Mouskouri"?

They don't put that shit on iTunes.
posted by Jimbob at 7:14 PM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


I stopped reading after "A lot of DJs' selections turn to shit after they start using digital. Somehow - no, because of all those choices, they’re unable to make a single interesting one. This is no coincidence." what utter horseshit. he's a dying breed and he knows it. Keep that in mind as you read his essay.

music is what comes out of the speakers.

i remember very well when final scratch came out in 2001? whatever. and tons of people came out of the woodwork to express their distaste with this new technology ... in a genre named "techno" no less ... a genre started by guys fooling around with computers and music ... what exactly do you have to name a genre to imply that it should be technologically progressive and open to change?
posted by preauxx at 7:14 PM on August 24, 2006


(And if they do, they sure don't charge 50c an album.)
posted by Jimbob at 7:14 PM on August 24, 2006


I know that Jello Biafra's lable- Alternative Tentacles, releases a number of artisis on both vinyl and CD. I have been told that Jello however will only listen to vinyl.
posted by Gungho at 7:21 PM on August 24, 2006


There something difficult to explain about the aestethic of your favorite record on vinyl.

Listening to your favorite albums on vinyl is truly a wonderful thing. It sounds full, it rotates. Its very visceral.

Plus, there's something about waves versus bits that makes vinyl feel a little warmer.

For example, listen to Autechre's Amber on vinyl and suddenly its not so cold. It's breathing.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:24 PM on August 24, 2006


What a pointless load of bullshit. "When you dig for vinyl and you find something you’re looking for, you don’t just uncover the music. There’s a sense of connectedness, both of your desire to the sound and the sound’s embodiment in the object." He might as well be speaking in tongues here, for all the coherent meaning I got out of that.

Vinyl will survive as long as dudes with too much free time, anachronistic technology fetishes, and apparently one too many bong hits want to feel they have a skill that sets them apart.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to oil my buggy-whip.
posted by adamrice at 7:25 PM on August 24, 2006


Vinyl still has advantages over digital. As long as that remains true vinyl will at least have an outlet with audiophiles. The latest generation of digital, like Blue-Ray, probably spells death for vinyl even for audiophiles. SACD is close, so very close and if Blue-Ray improves over that....? My dream is a new analog media which eliminates all the artifacts of analog/digital conversion yet provides super high resolution, high convenience, and low cost. All efforts have been applied to digital as of late (due to the predominance of computers in the technology), but there is hope. Some of the future technologies move beyond the limitations of 1 and 0 to a combined analog/digital system which might have carryover to music and video storage of incredibly realistic order. One can only hope. Of course pitched against this is the lowly, but plebeian, MP3. When digital storage and Internet 2 comes online for the masses, hopefully this awful format will die.
posted by caddis at 7:26 PM on August 24, 2006


Yeah but how many SACDs are there? the technology got lost in a struggle with Audio DVD. I have exactly one SACD (by my own limit I will only buy dual encoded SACDs but if something I wanted was SACD only I'd go for it.)
posted by Gungho at 7:33 PM on August 24, 2006


the thing about vinyl is that it becomes very personal, as each record has it's own unique sounds depending on what conditions it's been exposed to. Digital won't do that - not even the much touted Blue-Ray disks. It's a more organic sound that, even if it were ditched, marketers would probably re-introduce somewhere down the line.
It's too bad it has to be printed on vinyl though. I haven't found recyclable records anywhere (unless someone wants to teach me otherwise).
posted by wumpus at 7:41 PM on August 24, 2006


There are several thousand titles available on SACD. I have probably a few dozen SACDs but like you now buy only dual disc SACDs. My Marantz SA-8260 player wrings beautiful sound out of these discs. Nevertheless, I give the format at best another couple of years (can you say BetaMax?). I wish Sony would get a clue and when they come forward with a superior technology let others play in their sandbox, even if for a fee, so that the best technology becomes available to consumers.
posted by caddis at 7:43 PM on August 24, 2006


You mean live DJs? At weddings people don't need DJs anymore. They can plug an ipod up to some speakers and be their own DJs. I think that's better than hiring a complete stranger to spin discs at your reception. Digital gives you more control, that you didn't have with vinyl.

My sister hooked up her pink iPod mini at her wedding and had her own playlists and everything.

Another aspect for digital is portability and transferability. Another is durability. Records are heavy. Having a limited playlist sucks. Destroying your only copy of a record sucks. Getting dirt/drink/idiot falling over the turntables sucks. Records getting scratched or just plain worn out sucks.

Clinging to vinyl is like clinging to rotary dial phones. Sure you can, but why? I never understood stamp collecting either. Or taxidermy.

Vinyl is fun. You can do that DJing stuff with it. It does have a different sound, not always better. A well produced and engineered CD from studio session to glass and pressing gives most modern vinyl and vinyl playback environments a run for the money.

However. A really, really well done vinyl pressing of analog sources with analog recording and mastering techniques, with a sensible but proven turntable and stereo combo will spank the pants off of any CD or digital source - for about the first 100 - 1000 plays of said disc.

Even today you can get rather nice sound quality out of a number of different formats old and new that compete with CD and especially compressed digital audio. Get a fat 1/2" or 1" reel to reel. Hi res DAT. Use HiFi Super VHS or BetaMax video decks as audio recorders. There's all kinds of stuff.

Speaking of digital DJing, blatant self promotion: Here's a techno/trance DJ set I did with MP3s in Traktor. (the musical selection is a bit mainstream/accessible for my tastes but folks seem to like it.)
posted by loquacious at 7:53 PM on August 24, 2006


As long as there are scratch DJs and beat jugglers there will be vinyl

Ehh, the Scratch Perverts are using CD decks these days and they are incredible. We're past the stage where "CD turntables" are an oxymoron.
posted by kableh at 7:59 PM on August 24, 2006


I think the best thing about viynl is that when you buy a record you buy a piece of art. It's so much more than the music pressed on wax, the cover is art. You can't appreciate a CD like you can a 12 x 12 record sleeve. Sure, I buy CD's. But, I buy records too. It depends on where I'm going to listen to it. If it is something I'd tend to listen to in the car, I get a CD. If it's something I'm going to mostly listen to while chilling around the house, I get the LP. And, many things I own on both formats. Long live records.
posted by trbrts at 8:05 PM on August 24, 2006


The latest generation of digital, like Blue-Ray, probably spells death for vinyl even for audiophiles. SACD is close, so very close and if Blue-Ray improves over that....?

But it's not always about how perfect the music sounds, some of us are anti-audiophiles, and like vinyl (and cassette tapes) for that very reason.

The first Weezer album, for instance, can't be truly understood until you've copied it from the CD to tape. Then high-speed-dubbed that onto another tape, then left that sitting on the dashboard of your car in the sun for a couple of weeks.

Most country music just plain sucks without the wow and flutter and pops and scratches.

I mean I'm really not that much of a vinyl obsessive, but rejecting it completely is a bit like hating on black-and-white photos because now we have colour and people should just get with the technology. A distinct disadvantage to vinyl, for instance, is the fact that you have to flip sides. Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation sounds great on vinyl, so does My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. But I don't know people can enjoy those albums if they have to get up off the couch and flip them half-way through. Where's the continuity?
posted by Jimbob at 8:17 PM on August 24, 2006


I for one hope "the vinyl craze" dies so that every DJ Dumbass moron will stop picking up everything that seems like it will have a beat while "digging" and leave it for me to take home. I've seen some amazing DJs use vinyl and CDs, so I'm not sure what the hubbub is. I'm guessing that this argument will once again (and again and again) become just another in a long line of waiting for the past to die.
posted by sleepy pete at 8:26 PM on August 24, 2006


I've always wanted to own Loveless on vinyl, just so i could frame the perfect album art.

But i don't own a record player anymore.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:35 PM on August 24, 2006


Jimbob: so does My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.

That record gives up something new in each medium. With headphones or on speakers. But these days I find it sleep inducing and a bit dated sounding except for Soon which is fantastic. I think the record before that Isn't Anything sounds more timeless and has better songs.

But I don't know people can enjoy those albums if they have to get up off the couch and flip them half-way through. Where's the continuity?

You're joking right? I mean Daydream Nation is a little annoying with the four sides but even still c'mon....flipping a record over takes all of what? 10 seconds and besides you get to feel up that beautiful round and sensual piece O heaven once again. Woohoo!
posted by Skygazer at 8:36 PM on August 24, 2006


Vinyl is fun. It's tangible. You have to interact with a record player. I listen to 99% of all my music digitally, but there's something still nice about hanging out with friends and switching up a 7".

Or for you ladies, a 12".
posted by yeti at 8:58 PM on August 24, 2006


Vinyl sounds fantastic, especially with strings, and sounds warmer altogether. Have you ever heard John Coltrane on high quality vinyl? If the answer is in the negative, you haven't lived. You gainsayers are philistines, all of you. Philistines!
posted by raysmj at 9:02 PM on August 24, 2006


I haven't listened to anything on vinyl since the early 90's, but a while back I was at a concert and the opening guy, William Elliot Whitmore, who was quite good, said that he was selling his "long play records." Those exact three words. That was pretty cool.

We purchased his CD.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:31 PM on August 24, 2006


Without vinyl, we wouldn't have classics like Aerosmith's "Big 10 Inch...Record."
The big rumor is that I say, 'Suck on my big 10 inch' on the record. I don't. I'm saying 'cept'--as in except--not 'suck.' But no one in the whole world believes me."
--Steven Tyler
posted by kirkaracha at 9:31 PM on August 24, 2006


Ok time for a classic:

Woman: "Have you 'Hot Lips' on a 10-inch Decca?"
Clerk: "No, but I have hot nuts on a 10-inch pecker."
Woman: "I beg your pardon, is that a record?"
Clerk: "No, but it's well above average."
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:25 PM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Vinyl will live on for a long long time in the DJ subcultures, but it is going to continue to become a smaller slice. The leading guys in techno are going all digital, not only for convenience but also because of the power digital gives them. Look at what Hawtin does by picking and choosing sequences or even samples from many tracks and mixing them seamlessly, or what Chris Liebing does with the high powered effects you get from tools like Reaktor and Ableton Live. Sure, they still use vinyl too, and final scratch, but the writing is on the wall. The fact is that digital allows greater creativity for genres like techno and house, as you are no longer limited by beatmatching and being able to control 2 or 3 tables + effects at once.

Genres like house will be slower to follow, as the leading guys are less nerdy and not so technical, but it will tag along. Hip hop and battle djs will hold out for obvious reasons, but I think we'll see digital tables that look and feel just like vinyl w/i five to ten years.

The convenience thing is hard to overlook, speaking as someone who lugged around three crates of records to parties throughout college. They are heavy and a pain, and I can't imagine flying all over the world with thousands of dollars of records to check in at luggage.

I love the feel of 1200s as much as anyone, but mine sit in my basement mostly untouched now. That might be different if I had the and a copy of Ableton. =)
posted by rsanheim at 1:13 AM on August 25, 2006


There's no need for "photographers" now either, since anybody can buy a high quality camera and make good pictures with it. Why pay a professional?

(that's sarcasm)

I know as a working DJ, vinyl has become more expensive in the last year or two. There aren't as many quality pressing companies around anymore, I'm told. Shops that sold new releases at $10 USD are generally now selling them in the $12-13 range. It's driving more DJs I know to Final Scratch and places like Stompy.

Also there's all this travel crap now. I certainly never check my record bag on flights--always carryon, the standard Shure bag fits nicely under the seats. I remember when John B was touring the US awhile back; they lost his crate, and he had to rely on the CD backups he fortunately brought along, or else no show. It's easier to carry a CD wallet (or a laptop full of music) around than a flight case of records, after all.

Even so, I think there will be a boutique/niche market for vinyl that won't go away for a good while, even if the whole "more kids are buying turntables than guitars" boom seems to have subsided.
posted by First Post at 1:15 AM on August 25, 2006


Jello however will only listen to vinyl

but does vinyl listen to jello ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:19 AM on August 25, 2006


As a producer I love vinyl, and I'm sad that with each release I put out either less vinyl or in some cases no vinyl gets pressed. But that being said, like every other electronic music producer I use a computer and digital toys to make music. All masters that are sent to the vinyl plants are either CDs or now usually WAV files uploaded to FTP sites. It started in the digital domain either way, so why not just keep it there? All the cost and effort of pressing the disc is for nostalgia and the very small subset of guys that are willing to pay $13 instead of $1.99 for the same song.

I miss vinyl too, but things change, and as usual you either adapt or get left behind.
posted by cmicali at 5:48 AM on August 25, 2006


There's no need for "photographers" now either, since anybody can buy a high quality camera and make good pictures with it. Why pay a professional?

Well, yeah. I know you're snarking, but wedding photos and DJs both seem to me to be situations where you might be better off without professionals.

I've seen lots of official wedding photo albums that were outshone by what talented amateurs at the wedding took. And I've been to plenty of weddings where the bride and groom were rolling their eyes at the DJ's choices or upset about his refusal to play some song that was important to them, and the importance of which had been explained to Mr. DJ, but that never showed up at the reception.

Having someone doing the job for money is absolutely no guarantee that the job will be done better-than-carelessly or that the wishes of the couple will be notably adhered to.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:27 AM on August 25, 2006


Will vinyl survive? Oh yeah. C'mon. you can still buy tintype photograph materials, 8-track repair stuff, and cassette deck cleaners. Old media has a longer life than ever thanks to the internet age. It's an odd by-product of the electronic age that a greater appreciation of old tech keeps it running.

Has it been superseded? Definitely.

Will I give up my Thorens turntable and collection of Mo-Fi records, vintage 78's and earmuff headphones? No. Never. Let us not speak of this again.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:06 AM on August 25, 2006


I think I can speak with some authority here. I've played at one of the biggest clubs in the country and opened for some of the best djs in the world. I switched from vinyl to CD about 18 months ago, and i'm currently in the process of switching from CDs to Ableton Live. A lot of clubs are starting to have 2 or 3 cd mixers up front and putting turntables off to the side. There's no turning back at this point.

A few reasons: Vinyl is expensive ($10 per song vs $2.50 per song for digital)

Vinyl is slow. If someone finishes a new track or remix today, i can burn it and play it tonight.

Vinyl is inflexible. Without two copies of a vinyl record, your options for remixing it are pretty much nill. With mp3 and digital mixing, you can remix tracks on the fly.
posted by empath at 7:07 AM on August 25, 2006


oh -- and chris-- i just picked up your new single at beatport! hot track :)
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2006


first post -- what's your dj name?
posted by empath at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2006


Maybe I'm missing something, but to all those people talking about how vinyl sounds warmer, better, etc., it's all just sound in the 20-20khz range. You should be able to get exactly the same sound, and I mean exactly, by recording a turntable's output, digitizing it, and putting it on CD or digitizing in FLAC.

Furthermore, you should be able to reproduce the distinctive vinyl sound using eq, reverb/echo, compression and other effects. Also, a lot of older records are in mono, but get stereo-ized on CD, that difference could also be what you are hearing. But that can be reproduced as well.

And based on my own anecdotal experience with hearing led zeppelin on vinyl and on CD (both before and after remastering), I'll tell you that on vinyl there are instruments you can't hear that are present on CD.

I do appreciate the arguments about the physical relationship with music - turning the record, placing the needle etc. I think the same is true for the old rotary phones. As someone who is too young to remember them being in common use, I actually prefer talking on them. Cell phones are too tiny and cheap feeling. It somehow seems easier to have a substantive conversation on a substantive piece of equipment, but that's just me.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:31 AM on August 25, 2006


Ableton actually has a 'vinyl' plug in if you really want to emulate that sound.
posted by empath at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2006


My now ex-girlfriend bought me a record player on our last anniversary as I'd been begging her to get me one for a long, long time. The first thing I did was go down to my local Bookman's and buy a bunch of fuzzy classic rock and old country albums. Came home, got myself into the mood (ie; bong rips), flopped down on my Lovesac, and blissed out. So much better than the Ipod. I don't care what anyone says.
Plus, anyone who doesn't believe vinyl is better than digital hasn't seen any of the Tool limited-edition Lateralus records. Awesome!
posted by Bageena at 8:06 AM on August 25, 2006


PastaBagel (aka: Carb OD): Maybe I'm missing something, but to all those people talking about how vinyl sounds warmer, better, etc., it's all just sound in the 20-20khz range. You should be able to get exactly the same sound, and I mean exactly, by recording a turntable's output, digitizing it, and putting it on CD or digitizing in FLAC.

I'm convinced that the unheard frequencies effect crucial elements like the texture, depth and warmth of the heard frequencies.

Also, a lot of older records are in mono, but get stereo-ized on CD

There's definitely music that sounds better in mono, like old blues or Edith Piaf or billy holiday.

And based on my own anecdotal experience with hearing led zeppelin on vinyl and on CD (both before and after remastering), I'll tell you that on vinyl there are instruments you can't hear that are present on CD.


Regretfully, Instrument definition does not a great listening experience make.

Cell phones are too tiny and cheap feeling. It somehow seems easier to have a substantive conversation on a substantive piece of equipment, but that's just me.

I think you're totally right about cellphones (much like mp-3's and other digital media), never has so much been expressed and so little been communicated. I dislike using a cellphone conversation (or even VIoP) for anything but the "touching of base" call and utilitarian work-related discussions.
posted by Skygazer at 8:22 AM on August 25, 2006


There will always be Turntables. Vinyl isn't so much a need to even scratch DJs anymore, so I don't see it lasting much longer... except in very nitche circles. (haha)

The fact is, with setups like Final Scratch, you can treat your entire digital collection as if it were on vinyl, and in alot of ways it is just better then lugging around a crate of records. Cheaper too...

Two turntables and a laptop... that is the future.

Audiophiles are also finding 24bit 96khz digital audio to be, well, pretty nice... you get the headroom of vinyl without the fuss. If the labels could just settle on a format, and if they weren't trying to treat customers like criminals with DRM, then we would already have a great next gen format... but I digress.
posted by LoopSouth at 8:25 AM on August 25, 2006


I recently received an iPod nano as a gift from my workplace for finishing a project - man, damnit does this little thing sound sooo crappy no matter what I do - straight .wav files, clean the suckers up as much as possible, try different headphone sets ... it just consistantly sounds like listening to music from inside a tin can. Now, putting on a shellac of Shellac on my AstonQ, cranking up the Rotel and positioning the B&W speakers just right and blammo! - that's HEAVEN! Perfect Sound Forever.
posted by mctsonic at 8:31 AM on August 25, 2006


Comparing CDs to LPs

What is also relevant here is the discussion yesterday about CD dynamic range. Many remasters sound lousy because they were engineered to sound lousy.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:39 AM on August 25, 2006


I'm convinced that the unheard frequencies effect crucial elements like the texture, depth and warmth of the heard frequencies.

Technically this is impossible because sound behaves linearly. Each frequency can be isolated and then they can all be added together again to recreate exactly the original signal. (fourier transform). So ultrasonic frequencies cannot affect anything you hear.

However, this paper seems to indicate that the brain is somehow affected by hypersonic sounds even if you cannot hear them. But the mechanism is not hearing.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:50 AM on August 25, 2006


It's interesting how often MBV's Loveless is mentioned as the definitive vinyl album. Each to their own copy (mine is on vinyl), but I remember Shields saying he preferred the CD version (interview probably in Melody Maker or NME, possibly Select).

Of course, he could have been aiming to surprise some of their feeeble imitators, who all seemed to have the same vintage gear fed through a bunch of pedals (which Shields also claimed to dislike, at least for studio work).
posted by GeorgeBickham at 9:15 AM on August 25, 2006


just to add a few things here...

1. to be honest, i don't know a single dj out there that uses final scratch anymore. it's buggy, noisy, and just not all that great. serato really has taken the market these days.

2. i'm another one of those annoying vinyl djs -- i own a bit more than 20k records. that said, i switched over to serato about 6 months ago and haven't looked back. it feels great and allows me to travel without a ton of records weighing me down. setup/teardown takes a few minutes, but, honestly, i'm rarely the only guy on the bill using serato these days. it's everywhere.

as for flying with wax, here's my favorite story. on the thanksgiving after 9/11, i was flying to the midwest to visit family and play at a couple of clubs. on both legs, i had my records searched. all of them. one by one. i brought a crate and a bag, and both were poured through. the tsa guy/gal actually pulled each record (probably about 150-170 total) out of the sleeve, looked in the sleeve, and moved over to the next one. it took well over 30 minutes each time.

now, with my laptop, an external drive, and a breakout box (as well as 2 controller records), i can fly all over and never worry about it.

and yes, i bring a backup drive, just in case.

anyway, i'm all about going virtual. it hasn't changed my sets at all -- other than make them more dynamic (instant doubles!) and faster. for a bit there, i was really getting bored of my music, as getting new wax was a pain -- and most of the stuff that i really liked wasn't even coming out on vinyl. now i can build a set out of great tracks easily.

djing is exciting again.
posted by mrballistic at 9:52 AM on August 25, 2006


My attachment to vinyl is part daft romanticism, I'll admit, but a large proportion of the new music I buy only comes out on vinyl (various types of electronic/dance music, everything Jamaican) and a large proportion of the old music I buy hasn't yet been released on CD. In fact I find it difficult to believe that anyone with more than a passing interest in music could do without a turntable for purely practical reasons.

It does lead to an odd arbitrary division of music though: indoors and outdoors (ie the stuff I listen to walking around with my iPod is completely different to the stuff I play at home or in nightclubs).

That said, I hope that'll change - I bought a record today that came with a voucher that let me download a high quality MP3 copy of the album from the label's website. Best of both worlds.
posted by jack_mo at 10:46 AM on August 25, 2006


Pasta: However, this paper seems to indicate that the brain is somehow affected by hypersonic sounds even if you cannot hear them. But the mechanism is not hearing.

The whole thing is incredibly interesting. There's something at work. It reminds me of a J.G. Ballard short story I read long ago (I think it's in Vermilion Sands), where music is no longer heard, but rather felt. Thanks for pointing out that paper.


Jack_moMy attachment to vinyl is part daft romanticism

I'll admit to this as well, but sometimes daft romanticism is a good thing.
posted by Skygazer at 11:00 AM on August 25, 2006


Jimbob: But I don't know people can enjoy those albums if they have to get up off the couch and flip them half-way through. Where's the continuity?

I just want to know how people listen to Abbey Road on CD, personally. The needle lift and long pauses are as ingrained into me as any note on that album. One of my friends complained that his CD of it was corrupt because "I Want You/She's so Heavy" cut off suddenly. I just gave him a long hard stare.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:53 PM on August 25, 2006


empath: what do you play and what is your dj name? any sets posted anywhere?
posted by rsanheim at 12:59 PM on August 25, 2006


"I can tell you the circumstances surrounding each record I own too. They've been sitting at the bottom of my closet in the backroom gathering dust a couple decades, in a milk crate, taking up space. They're probably all warped by now and beyond repair. What do they evoke? Nothing unless I stub my toe on them while looking for something vaguely more useful."

Give 'em to me. I'll make sure they're loved.

"It's interesting how often MBV's Loveless is mentioned as the definitive vinyl album. Each to their own copy (mine is on vinyl), but I remember Shields saying he preferred the CD version (interview probably in Melody Maker or NME, possibly Select)."

I thought it was Spiderland that was definitive. I mean, it says right on the damn thing that it's meant for vinyl.

"now, with my laptop, an external drive, and a breakout box (as well as 2 controller records), i can fly all over and never worry about it."

There's been talk of not allowing laptops on flights due to the liquid terrorism bullshit, which'd throw you right back to your crate.


This debate is interesting for me, having signed on to work for an all-vinyl record store. There's just so much stuff that you can't get anywhere else. And I'll admit that a large part of vinyl's continued appeal is the exclusivity of it— you can have a million copies of an mp3, but only so many copies of an album will ever be pressed. And there are assloads of albums that will never make the jump to digital, out of confusing rights issues, lack of commercial interest or just plain obscurity.

I dunno. I love vinyl, but my primary music collection is all digital. And I do think that influences people and how they think about music, but it's a lot broader than just, say, song selection. It also has to do with how you're raised to view music. Vinyl encourages music as artifact, where as digital encourages an endless buffet with no real connection to each song. I'll admit that, especially after I started getting paid to write about music and getting promos, I've been overwhelmed with the amount of music that's out there. I average about 15-20 new albums listened to each week, and that just wouldn't be possible without digital copies for the most part (they're an incredible boon in digital press packs). But some of those are also old vinyl singles that'll never be converted (Ric Tic label's still in litigation hell, etc.). And I can definitely yearn for a time when each of those little 7"s meant something special.

There's also the punk scene here, where having a computer for media is still a bit odd. 7"s are traded like mad, along with tapes, but mp3s are hard to find. I think there will always be pseudo-luddite pockets like that, and that may be a good thing, especially for off-the-grid punk.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on August 25, 2006


I like the fact that I can go to the used record store and pick up a dozen vinyl albums for a song and try some stuff I might never have heard otherwise. Of course, mp3s make this even easier, but on a good system it is hard to beat the sound of vinyl.
posted by caddis at 1:48 PM on August 25, 2006


rsanheim:

I used to be a trance dj, and that was how I got my biggest gigs (opening for tiesto, eddie halliwell, etc), but I recently took a haitus for about 6 months and completely changed to electro, techno and house.

dj name is empath, my most recent mix is:

Nothing New

Not that great, actually. I was still trying to figure out my new sound when I did it so there is still some left over trance in there, but not much. I'm actually basically a nobody local who has some good connections with local promoters. 'Cmicali', who posted earlier in the thread is a much, much, much bigger name in EDM than me.
posted by empath at 7:53 PM on August 25, 2006


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