Vinyl records defined what became the album for decades. The analog technology was the highest quality medium for playing music at home until CDs were invented. Then came the MP3. There are so many reasons why vinyl records have become popular again.
Image by Tibor Janosi Mozes from Pixabay
They aren’t cheap, especially new, but they retain not only nostalgia but modern relevance also. While people are amazed at the comeback of vinyl, if they knew the reasons, they wouldn’t be so shocked by it. Whether you’re an audiophile and music fanatic or are just curious about the medium of vinyl records, below are why they are popular once again.
Most people assume that they need to commit to one style or size of turntables when playing vinyl. That’s simply not the case. Today, you can choose from a dizzying array of shapes, colors, and sizes. There are even portable turntables available today, so you can pack up your vinyl to any location and rock the night away. From vintage to ultra-modern, the options are limitless when selecting the right turntable for your vinyl tunes.
When CDs were invented, they came with digital WAV files. Digital files were already created on computers, but they were so large you needed a medium like a CD to hold them. You could also put these files on floppy disks and hard drives. MP3 files shortly followed. There are all kinds of compressed file formats now that degrade the sound. All this convenience removed one thing—high-quality analog sound.
Analog recordings and vinyl records sound different than digital files do. Most people call it a “warmth” but it’s more low-end frequency in the master of the recording. It creates a fuller, warmer, and more complex sound. They sound better. They don’t sound old; they sound fuller and more inviting. Analog recording keeps the low end and gets rid of some of that hissy high-end that MP3s produce. This is the number one reason that people like vinyl records.
Size & Artwork
Another huge reason that people like vinyl records is their size. With a 12” record, the packaging is larger and therefore so is the art. The artwork comes in a presentable size. It is better for displaying on a “now playing” spot near the turntable. The look and feel of vinyl records and packaging can’t be beat.
Beyond the art, the vinyl itself is now part of it. Vinyl can be creatively colored in just about any way you can imagine. You can produce a splash look, a swirl, multiple colors, even a picture disc. You can’t do this with a CD. You can only print onto it. The vinyl itself is beautiful no matter what color it is. The size and art that comes with vinyl is inarguably better than any other music format.
DJs began by spinning vinyl records, mixing them, “scratching” them, and then eventually rapping over them. Hip hop and rap vinyl are still incredibly popular for all these reasons. DJs and hip hop artists around the world are still spinning vinyl like this, but they aren’t the only ones.
Vinyl DJing has become popular for all kinds of styles and genres. This is especially true for anything old. There might be an oldies, soul, blues, or jazz night at your favorite bar with someone spinning vinyl. It’s a way to emphasize a side of an album. Mixing vinyl is also more difficult, requiring a skill level that people enjoy cultivating.
Emphasis on Albums & Sides
When you put on a vinyl record you are typically putting on the whole thing, at least the one side. You can find individual tracks if you’re savvy, but the album is emphasized with vinyl. People are encouraged to sit down, listen to the whole record, look at the liner notes, and read the lyrics.
Overall, it’s a more immersive experience. It’s a much more mindful way to listen to music. It’s a better way to do music therapy. When you are listening to something spiritual or atmospheric, the vinyl adds a pace and an emphasis on long-form. It’s another reason that vinyl has become so popular again, it forces you to listen.
Collecting & Enjoying It All
There isn’t a shortage of reasons why vinyl is popular. It is something people love to collect. A vinyl library is much more fun to look through than a CD library. The albums are larger and more beautiful. The music sounds better. You are expected to listen to all of it. Plus, with fun and funky turntable designs, your vinyl is sure to impress your guests as a tasteful design statement. You don’t have to be a collector to love vinyl records, but once you get started it can become a hobby or even an obsession for a lot of people. So, if you haven’t been bitten by the vinyl bug yet buy a turntable and your first record. You just may fall in love.