Mp3 Bloggers Celebrate Vinyl Record Day
August 12, 2007 7:39 PM   Subscribe

Happy Vinyl Record Day, everyone. On this date in 1877, Edison invented the phonograph. To commemorate the date, a blogswarm of 22 of the best vinyl sharity blogs out there have come together to celebrate the legacy of the dominant recorded music format of the 20th century, led by jb of The Hits Just Keep On Comin' and featuring Flea Market Funk, Echoes in the Wind, Funky 16 Corners, Davewillieradio, Good Rockin' Tonight, Py Korry, It's Great Shakes, (bonus!), Ickmusic, Jefitoblog, FuFu (bonus!), Lost in the 80's, Three-Sixty-Five 45s, Underground Vault of Records, AM then FM, The "B" Side, In Dangerous Rythm (bonus 1, bonus 2), You Must Be From Away, Got The Fever, Retro Remixes, Bloggerythms and finally The Stepfather of Soul.
posted by jonson (33 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Now this is news I can use. Great post, bacon.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:48 PM on August 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

In the future, vinyl will be the only kind of musical recording people pay money for.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:51 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am just going to suppress that cognitive dissonance and accept the premise that mp3-sharing somehow promotes vinyl appreciation. Good post, really.
posted by anazgnos at 7:56 PM on August 12, 2007

Woohoo Vinyl! This gives me an excuse to play my old records (which, in my opinion, even though they're well-worn, still have more ambience than CDs). I only have about 25 vinyl albums left, but I treasure them. Thanks for the post!
posted by amyms at 7:57 PM on August 12, 2007

even though they're well-worn, still have more ambience than CDs

amyms, that's called surface noise.

Jes' kiddin, of course. Vinyl sounds better than CDs, generally speaking. No mystery.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 PM on August 12, 2007

Well, then, I loves me some surface noise!
posted by amyms at 8:01 PM on August 12, 2007

Seriously, though, there's something about that vague "scritching" sound on vinyl that evokes a feeling of "this is real music."
posted by amyms at 8:03 PM on August 12, 2007

I just discovered today that the already awesome 4 Men With Beards imprint had reissued Tim Buckley's long out-of-print Starsailor today...I wholeheartedly recommend anything and everything they have put out. The quality of their pressings is tremendous, and their taste is impeccable to boot.
posted by anazgnos at 8:03 PM on August 12, 2007

Great post, bacon.

That made me snort.
posted by Poolio at 8:08 PM on August 12, 2007

One important point about vinyl vs. CD that seems to have gone unmentioned (though I'm sure somebody has mentioned it somewhere): you put your needle down on your vinyl, and you get a pause. Two, three, four seconds of silence before the music starts. With CDs, often the instant you push play, you're hearing music. I never liked that. Therefore, I've started adding a second or two of silence , whenever I'm doing a final mastering of one of my songs. That can also help in iTunes, where so many listeners have their crossfades set at minus whatever seconds. You have at least a breath, maybe, before your tune starts.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:11 PM on August 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Vinyl Record Day in celebrated in Anal Sex month? Hardly a coincidence.

It's also Middle Child's Day today, so QED.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:44 PM on August 12, 2007

I love records. Although I've enthusiastically embraced the wide, wonderful world of digital music, there's still something about the ritual of taking a record out of its sleeve, wiping the dust off and placing the needle upon it that just can't be beat. And vinyl sounds better, too, even if the difference is mostly in your head.

Plus, no-one has ever rolled a joint on an MP3.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2007

I listen to my thousands of LP's and 7-inches on a late-50s Silvertone portable hi-fi that my grandparents ordered from the Sears catalog when my mom was a kid. The sound quality's outstanding, and I have it serviced every year or so by a little old man who has spent his retirement years tinkering with old gadgets.

None of the high-end audiophile crap we've also got around the house even comes close.
posted by padraigin at 9:36 PM on August 12, 2007

My most divine musical moment (well, consuming it via recording) was when I took home Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band - I bought it in mono because it was one dollar cheaper, the last year so, I think - and I wanted to experience it in my room on my little record player rather than in the living room on my parents' fancy stereo.

Now, I am in the process of putting together the sad outdated parts of a couple of stereos in storage in order to play my THIRD LP collection, now that my fifteen-year old daughter has moved to the basement. It might take a year or so, but it will be hella fun.

(The first two LP collections were sold in moves to an ashram and a distant city, respectively.)

BTW, I remember the first time I heard digital music, on a sidewalk in Nagoya, Japan, and I thought it sounded like shit on a shingle. Now, CD's sound OK, although the music industry is at least as sucky as most MeFites say it is.
posted by kozad at 10:03 PM on August 12, 2007

Keepin' it real with vinyl. Great post jonson.
posted by caddis at 10:10 PM on August 12, 2007

Still listen to my music on vinyl. Tape deck in my car too. I do not own an iPod or digital music player although I have many Dead shows downloaded to my pc. I can still buy vinyl too. Many limited edition pressings of new music still going on. As important as the music was the art. The look and feel. Reading the liner notes on the album while the music plays is part of the experience of listening to music.

Great post.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:25 PM on August 12, 2007

posted by loquacious at 12:18 AM on August 13, 2007

Q: How many hipsters does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Ha! I've got that joke on vinyl!
posted by Mijo Bijo at 12:30 AM on August 13, 2007

Waxidermy is also an essential vinyl mp3 blog.
posted by jonp72 at 4:31 AM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

To be irritatingly nit-picky, vinyl records didn't appear until 1930. No matter. I loves my old vinyl.
I have several albums in both vinyl and CD versions. Every once in awhile, I'll do an A-B listening. Time after time, the vinyl wins the competition.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on August 13, 2007

...the first time I heard digital music, on a sidewalk in Nagoya, Japan, and I thought it sounded like shit on a shingle.

Sure, but Nagoya's such a drag that everything's like shit on a shingle. 'Cept maybe those noodles they make there, those aren't bad...

And what in the hell were you doing on the sidewalk? Everything's in those horrid underground shopping tunnels there anyway!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 AM on August 13, 2007

I'd love to better understand the psychology of vinyl. Specifically, how a medium with less dynamic range and more noise can sound "better". I grew up with vinyl records and analog cassettes. They were great at the time because they were all we had.
Digital was a godsend.
posted by rocket88 at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2007

Specifically, how a medium with less dynamic range and more noise can sound "better".

The modern CD uses almost none of its dynamic range. An Edison cylinder would suffice the way music is compressed into oblivion these days. That advantage lost, the only remaining trick up the CD's sleeve (other than convenience, which is huge) is less noise from pops and clicks. With a good turntable, and proper cleaning, you need never hear such noise. What hurts the CD, the artifacts that creep into the sound from the A/D and D/A conversions. Vinyl starts out analog and stays analog all through the chain. If you have a crappy sound system none of this matters, except convenience. On the right system vinyl really can outshine CDs. Todays high end CD players have nearly closed the gap though, and CDs are far more convenient.
posted by caddis at 9:23 AM on August 13, 2007

Here's a tip to those folks carefully maintaining their old record players: Last month I replaced my circa 1985 Technics turntable with a brand new turntable from ION Audio. The twist? This one's got a USB output. It even came bundled with easy-to-use recording software. Now I'm ripping my vinyl to my PC, then saving 'em as MP3s. My cost? $119. And it was damn close to a plug-and-play experience, too- I had to adjust some Control Panel settings so I could listen to what I was recording, but the manual had great directions for that.

This new turntable has brought new vitality to my records- I'm digging through my collection and listening to stuff that I haven't heard since the 1980s. This past weekend I went to several yard sales and bought twenty LPs to backfill my 1970s library- AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, J. Geils Band, The 5th Dimension, Harry Nilsson. Total cost: Seven dollars.

As a middle child and a vinyl record user, it's a double for me!
posted by Lord Kinbote at 10:48 AM on August 13, 2007

caddis, are you suggesting that vinyl is actually technicallly superior to CDs for accurate sound reproduction? Because that's a new one to me, and one that I think would be hard to back up. I was talking about the more common subjective "it sounds better/warmer/fuzzier" I usually hear from vinyl lovers.
posted by rocket88 at 11:35 AM on August 13, 2007

The debate about the technical superiority of one format over the other has been raging ever since the introduction of "perfect sound forever." On a good system I think vinyl beats CD, but not very many people have systems of that quality. You can read some articles here and here. Each medium has its weaknesses, so no, CDs are not perfect sound forever. There was a lot of hype surrounding the CD, and it certainly came to dominate the marketplace, until it met the mp3. I would argue that its market dominance springs more from convenience over LPs and marketing hype. mp3s certainly don't offer sonic benefits over CDs and they are gaining ground fast, but hey, the price is usually right and they are even more convenient in their own way. A lot of people bought the CD hype hook, line and sinker. The reality is much harder to discern.
posted by caddis at 12:20 PM on August 13, 2007

Now I'm ripping my vinyl to my PC, then saving 'em as MP3s.

On the one hand, anything that furthers one's ability to enjoy music is good.

On the other hand, the very thought of this scenario makes me weep.

Just my opinion, but an mp3 is to a vinyl LP as a photograph of the one you love is to the person themselves.

Good article on USB turntables at Perfect Sound Forever's (the mag, not the slogan) Vinyl Anachronist column...
posted by anazgnos at 4:12 PM on August 13, 2007

Well I certainly wouldn't say I bought the CD hype. I (as an EE) understand enough about the technical priciples involved to know that the numbers favor CDs. Every objective measurement we commonly use for audio quality favors digital over analog (on $ for $ comparable systems). So where does the "it sounds better" come from? It's the psychological aspect I'm interested in knowing. Are the non-linearities of vinyl really creating a more pleasing sound?
Or is it a sentimentality for older technologies? In 10 or 20 years will we have people collecting analog videotapes and standard definition televisions because they think they "look better"?
posted by rocket88 at 6:55 PM on August 13, 2007

The articles I posted refute your assertions rocket88. What numbers are you talking about? The hype pretty much centered on dynamic range and the lack of pops and clicks from dirty records. CDs reproduce highs far less well than records or tapes, they introduce all sorts of noise artifacts from the D/A and A/D conversions, employ filters with aliasing problems, have dither issues and don't even get me started on how horrible the first digital recordings were due to engineers not understanding all these limitations (that issue has disappeared in the last ten years or so). On a crappy system though I would agree with you as it is easier for a $50 CD player to reach a reasonable level of fidelity than a $50 turntable, cartridge combo. Multiply by ten or more though and the game changes with the technological limitations of the CD technology becoming audible. Quality record pressing also make a big difference (another area in which CDs excel as you can cheaply spit out millions of high quality CDs far more cheaply than high quality LPs).

Just for the record, I listen mostly to CDs as the difference seems small, the convenience is an issue and my turntable isn't really up to snuff with my CD player. Now if we move up the quality to SACD or DVD-audio many of these digital foibles become much, much harder to hear. There it is close enough that the quality of the transfer to disc matters more, and then the SACD won't pop or click over time, etc. Digital is not inherently less high quality than analog, it just has its own limitations. Upping the word size and sampling rate is inherently easier than getting a perfect analog transfer without background noise etc. In the end, digital will provide better sound for less money, unless some really unique analog solution is invented, but in the meantime the CD is not perfect sound forever, and not necessarily even better than a good LP.
posted by caddis at 8:11 PM on August 13, 2007

Both articles you posted confirmed higher dynamic range from CDs. Re-reading the wikipedia article did answer my original question, however.
Some audio enthusiasts prefer the sound of vinyl records over that of CD, this despite the apparent technical advantages of the digital format. Founder and editor Harry Pearson of The Absolute Sound journal says that "LPs are decisively more musical. CDs drain the soul from music. The emotional involvement disappears" [5]. Dub producer Adrian Sherwood has similar feelings about the analog cassette tape, which he prefers because of its warm sound [6].

Those who favour the digital format point to the results of blind tests, which demonstrate the high performance possible with digital recorders [7], [8]. The assertion is that the 'analog sound' is more a product of analog format inaccuracies than anything else. One early supporter of digital audio was the classical conductor Herbert von Karajan, who said that digital recording was "definitely superior to any other form of recording we know".

posted by rocket88 at 7:12 AM on August 14, 2007

Unfortunately the possible is not the purchasable. On the only real audio advantage, dynamic range, the industry has conspired to cripple the CD. As for life in the music, listen to cymbals on CD and LP and you see what Pearson is talking about. The CD ones sound like they were run through a fuzz box, as in fact they essentially were. CD samples at 44 kHz. At 11 KHz you get exactly four samples, thus chopping your nice sine wave into ragged bits (no pun intended). It gets worse at higher frequencies, although so do one's ears. An LP will spit that sine wave out unaltered. The life in the cymbals is sucked out by the CD's clumsy reproduction of the highs. (As for von Karajan, he made some great recordings in which the dynamic range was not compressed out and which sound magnificent indeed on CD and you can listen to Beethoven's entire 9th Symphony without having to flip the damn record.)
posted by caddis at 7:52 AM on August 14, 2007 do realize that the audio output from a CD player is analog, right? Those four digital samples of 11kHz becomes a nice sine wave again after D/A conversion. And at 4x sampling, a very accurate one when compared to the analog original.
And yes, everyone's compressing the hell out of music these days. It sucks, but has nothing to do with CDs vs vinyl.
I agree that vinyl can sound very good on a quality system and with proper care & cleaning. The issue is with people preferring analog on technical terms (which are very much arguable) rather than on subjective terms (which I accept but am seeking to understand exactly what gives it "life", "warmth", and "soul". (other than anti-digital luddite-ism)
posted by rocket88 at 9:08 AM on August 14, 2007

it's not subjective, it's objective, but believe what you want, and it's not warmth, because folks who care will take accuracy over warmth; being lifelike comes from accuracy, it's just that good LP playback is more accurate, with the possible exception of great dynamic range if the recording engineer makes it so
posted by caddis at 10:35 AM on August 14, 2007

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