Ode To Vinyl: Enjoy Music the Old Fashioned Way

Welcome to the new wave of vinyl.

When I first started listening to music, I used to collect CDs. Obviously now, it’s all digital, but I’m here to tell you why digital music is losing out to vinyl. As more and more artists put new albums out on vinyl, that becomes the norm for a lot of teenagers who listen to music, myself included. When I first got into vinyl, it was for a home improvement project. I took a couple of huge boxes of old vinyl out of my garage and started to search through for my favorite covers to frame in my room. But as I searched through these albums, I realized that what was inside was waaaaay more important than the cover. I immediately became fascinated with the idea of listening to my music on vinyl. Once I finally begged my parents enough, I got myself a record player.

The sound quality on a record is actually better than the sound quality on an .mp3 file.

The feeling of putting a record on is unexplainable. For some reason, if you have a good sound system hooked up like I do, it gets more and more satisfying every time. Just the few seconds of quiet static before the music starts, the feeling of getting the needle into the exact right place to listen to the song you want to hear, and the sound it makes when one of the sides of the record is over are all experiences you’ll never get if you don’t listen to music on vinyl. Some people see it as archaic, but the sound quality on a record is actually better than the sound quality on an .mp3 file, which is how most music is distributed today. It may seem a little pretentious to say “it just sounds better on vinyl,” but it actually does.

There’s technically a reason it sounds better on vinyl. The way that vinyl is made, by stamping a metal mold onto some PVC, takes away some key elements that make mp3s more… aggressive. The loudness of mp3s doesn’t translate to vinyl. A record’s volume is dependent on the length of its sides and the depth of its grooves. So if you’re listening to your favorite album, a warm, relaxing volume level for vinyl beats the hyper-compressed mp3 files that try to exaggerate loudness.

There is a term in the audio industry is called “losses.” When an mp3 file is compressed, it loses some of the little touches made in recording. Hard work put together by an audio engineer can be lost when an mp3 file gets made. But, with a record, where the recording itself is made into a lacquer that gets made into a metal mold, someone listening will get the closest experience to hearing it recorded live. That’s one of the reasons that audio buffs hate mp3 files and love vinyl.

Another amazing aspect of listening to music on vinyl is actually the search.

Another amazing aspect of listening to music on vinyl is actually the search. It’s like a treasure hunt. Around where I live, places like Half-Price Books have actually okay selections. I remember on my first trip to a thrift store, I came back with albums from the Temptations and Duke Ellington, which for $2.00 total, isn’t bad at all. Going to thrift stores for vinyl is fun and all, but actual stores devoted to records are absolutely where it’s at. Places like Zia Records are my sanctuary. For me, walking in and sorting through amazing modern vinyl like Arctic Monkeys and Mac Demarco is one of the most satisfying feelings. Even if you don’t have a record player, a record store is one of the best places to be for a music lover.

Honestly, this is just me trying to convince everyone to buy a record player and give it a shot. Ask your parents if they have any albums hidden in boxes and closets, you never know what they might have! Imagine having original Beatles records from the 60’s, or Journey’s Escape, or Miles Davis. Try vinyl from thrift stores, start cheap on record players, work your way up, and enjoy. I promise it’s completely worth it. You won’t want to listen to music any other way once you start. Find your favorite album, and play it until the record is scratched to oblivion and skips every other minute, because that’s the purest way to listen to recorded music.

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Also published on Medium.

Vaughan Jones is an 18 year old graduate of Horizon High School in...