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Can anyone explain the vinyl renaissance?

rDin

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To be clear, digital music has the *potential* to be better. Vinyl as a format is inherently limited.
This, I agree with. For me, digital has the *potential*, but the current implementation is flawed; mainly in the delivery and the reconstruction, but also in the original quantisation (particularly with 44.1). All areas which can impact final sound quality. Flawed enough that I prefer vinyl, with all it's limitations as my playback medium of choice. Digital will get there one day and this conversation will end.

And just to clarify; I'm primarily talking about all-analogue vinyl. Digitally mastered vinyl is much less interesting.
 
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freemansteve

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There is some truth to the first and last point; I'd disagree with anti-complexity due to the effort required to set up a turntable. Complexity is part of the experience. It's also part of the satisfaction; the effort required to set up a turntable - there is something deeply satisfying about being so involved in the process.

By "anti-complexity" I meant the array of quite sophisticated electronics, involving CPUs/DACs/DSPs/Internet and the like (as applicable), not any complexity to do with handling disks, tonearms etc. I didn't put it well.
 
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Cote Dazur

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I still have my LP 12 and use it regularly, I never stopped, as the music I can play with it is still very relevant. Is digital a better medium?, on many aspect it is, but on the aspect of giving better music when actively listening? some time yes, but not by much, to my ears.

Objectively, when mesuring, digital is superior, but when experienced on a good turntable set up, and turntables sound very different, as opposed to digital counterparts ( cd/dac/streamer), the music coming from vinyl disks can we very rewarding.

I am delighted that this format is still available for the younger generation to experience and enjoy. The renaissance makes perfect sense to me.

Setting up a good music reproduction system, when you go to the extend of having a dedicated music listening room, as I do, has nothing to do with practical and/or "easy", it is involving and demanding, Playing vinyl in there make perfect sense to me.

As the hobby is about music, or more precisely about enjoyment of music, cold technical measurement are only part of the answer.
We often see digital pitted against vinyl, as if we had to choose, use only one. it is not the case, we can enjoy both, if we elect to, to go back to car analogy, if you had both cars in your garage, would you only drive the one that measure better?

Shelby-CSX6000-Herobanner.jpg


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I can assure you, I would gladly use both and possibly enjoy them differently but equally. :D
 
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freemansteve

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In fundamental terms, the 2 cars are pretty much the same :)
Maybe ICE vs BEV would be more like Vinyl v Digital?
 

MattHooper

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Does the vinyl renaissance make sense to you because it sure doesn't to me

It makes tons of sense to me :)

First, if you are trying to make sense of the vinyl renaissance, you are least likely to get an accurate answer from someone who doesn't care for vinyl. We tend to be pretty poor at understanding why other people do things that we personally don't care for, and thus tend to resort to more facile "explanations" (e.g. "it's just a hipster thing" or whatever).

So...from someone who IS in to vinyl, here's my explanation (which I've given before since this question comes up every once in a while).

I was almost all digital music since the late 80's, and later ripped all my CDs to used a music server. I also added streaming. Now I could stream to my hi-fi system from the convenience of my listening sofa using my ipad or iphone. The world was my oyster! Endless choice at my finger tips. What could go wrong about that?

Well, human psychology can get in the way. It's like asking "Hey, you love the chocolate cake made by your favorite bakery, right? Well, how about having that EVERY DAY? Why wouldn't that be PERFECT?" It's a "seemed like a good idea at the time/be careful what you ask for" scenario.

I found myself constantly surfing music, as I would the internet, flicking to the next song, saving favourites I rarely re-visited, because there was always something new at my fingertips. I rarely listened to a full album. I had "Music ADD." I felt more disconnected from the music.

Further, digital music is absolutely ubiquitous: it's coming out of my desktop computer, my phone, from our smart speaker in the kitchen, our car. It's just constantly there and available and especially with streaming it's like music has become more like wallpaper, something in the background. Something cheap, endlessly available. Less special.

I found getting back in to vinyl solved my "music ADD." When I put on a record I feel more focused on the task of just listening to music. I virtually always get through an entire album side, and usually the full album. So while person A who isn't in to vinyl may find the "effort" a "distraction" to the music, person B may find it actually aids their focus on the music. I'm in the latter category.

I find I enjoy the physical aspects of actually holding the music in my hand when I pick up a record. Of seeing it transcribed in the grooves. Conceptually, it's really cool. A vinyl record in my hand can bring on nostalgia (e.g. one of the records I still own from my youth) or it can have "the thrill of the new" - a pristine, newly pressed, gorgeously packed just-released soundtrack in vinyl for instance. Holding a brand new beautifully designed album provides me FAR more pleasure than just tapping the screen yet again on my iphone.

And the fact it costs more for an album, as well as tracking down music on vinyl I want, means my music collection is more closely curated. I'm more connected to my music collection, I know it better, and I only have music I love.

I also like how buying new vinyl means more money going to the artist, rather than the pittance they get from streaming. It's one reason my brother, like so many musicians these days, is selling his music on vinyl. He can actually make a bit of money for his work. Most bands now want to release their music on vinyl. It's not only that they can make more money selling vinyl vs streaming. These days even many young musicians say that for them, holding their completed album in physical form, on a vinyl album, feels like the ultimate sense of "completion" and satisfaction. Rather than the music simply being sent off in to the digital ether. Humans have connections to physical things. Many young people who only ever interacted with music as 1s and 0s are discovering how this can change their relationship to their music.

And...turntables! Turntables are just COOL! (If you are in to them). I went all out and bought a neato turntable and it gives me an aesthetic, conceptual and tactile "kick" every time I use it. I get to interact with this cool object every time I spin music. Which, again, just pressing another button on my computer or swiping another "screen" is hardly a thrill these days.

In fact, playing vinyl allows me to unplug from the digital world. I'm on computers all day long, my phone tugging for attention all day long. Listening to a record is like taking a break from interacting with yet-more-god-damned-screens. Like reading a real book instead of picking up the ipad again.


Finally there is the sound.

Vinyl tends to sound different than digital. When I had my original modest turntable, I enjoyed the sound of vinyl as a different alternative to digital. When I upgraded my turntable vinyl sounded even better...fantastic actually. It sounded for the most part super clear and vivid, like my digital music, but also with a slight bit of "texture/tone" to the sound that I actually often preferred. Not always, but surprisingly often. (I have a good digital set up, Benchmark DAC 2L etc). PLUS, the way you can fiddle with the sound - different cartridges, cartridge settings, impedances and all that, scratches the "fun to tweak" audiophile itch in me, where my digital front end is just sort of set-and-forget.

So FOR ME, vinyl provides a significantly richer overall experience in terms of collecting and listening to music. I love the physical form, the art, holding albums in my hand, I love owning a neato turntable, I feel more connected to the music "physically" owning it, playing vinyl leads me to relax and focus better on just listening to music, and I get fantastic sound quality in the bargain.

Plus...I still have my digital to stream whenever I want to. (Which I still do).

As for the wider revival: yes there is a certain portion of "some people getting in to it because it's cool now." But for the most part you will find many elements of my experience repeated over and over from people who have got in to vinyl, whether it's long time audiophiles or young people who had become "dulled" by the ease and ubiquitous access to digital music, who find all sorts of pleasure from owning music in a physical form (and supporting artists, etc). If you go to, for instance, the reddit vinyl forums, you'll see posts every day by people just getting in to vinyl - often younger people - and how thrilled they are to own albums, to hunt them down, how much they like their newfangled turntable, etc.

This is why it's gone far past the point of "fad" and has been in an upward trajectory for around 15 years, with no signs of stopping.

Hope that helps you understand why other people are buying vinyl, even if it holds no appeal to you.

My turntable :)

TURNTABLE 2 SMALLER PIX.jpg
 
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Cote Dazur

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In fundamental terms, the 2 cars are pretty much the same :)
Maybe ICE vs BEV would be more like Vinyl v Digital?
Good point, but all I was trying to convey is that even if one option measure better does not mean that the other option cannot still be enjoyable. As with music enjoyment like driving, listen or drive what you enjoy most.
 
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JJB70

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The big problem in this type of debate is assuming others are looking for the same thing we are and getting into an apples and pears type scenario in which people are unable or unwilling to accept we are all different. I can understand the attraction of physical media, the ritual of vinyl, the potential for technical tinkering and most of all the sleeve art. The fact I have zero interest in it and think digital superior in every way ( except sleeve art) doesn't mean I don't see why others like vinyl.
 

MattHooper

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The big problem in this type of debate is assuming others are looking for the same thing we are and getting into an apples and pears type scenario in which people are unable or unwilling to accept we are all different. I can understand the attraction of physical media, the ritual of vinyl, the potential for technical tinkering and most of all the sleeve art. The fact I have zero interest in it and think digital superior in every way ( except sleeve art) doesn't mean I don't see why others like vinyl.

Exactly. There's a gazillion articles on the internet about the vinyl resurgence and if you read the comment sections there will always be some people saying things like "Vinyl is the most useless thing ever...bad sound quality, expensive, have to store it, all those pops and ticks and worse sound quality. There's just NO REASON for buying vinyl. I was glad to get rid of vinyl as fast as I could. Now people are PAYING for new vinyl? People are just suckers for fads like this."

And funny enough that level of invective or dismissiveness almost always comes from an older person who grew up with vinyl and embraced CD and digital music, who think it's all nonsense to "go backwards." . :). You generally don't see it from younger people.

As you say, a lot of it comes down to just understanding other people are different, and have different desires. I hate gardening and pay a gardener to do our garden. My friends love gardening and they find it enriches their appreciation for their garden. Plenty of people who can afford to eat out (or order in) every day nonetheless enjoy cooking. Everyone has their hobby, the things that bring them pleasure. Listening to music on vinyl is one of those for a lot of people these days.
 
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freemansteve

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I'm not sure anyone here is down on someone else because they like vinyl or not - that's a non-argument.

The Romans liked wine which they considered vastly superior, while the Germanic people liked beer. The Romans never took over, 'up north', and today, look at how different their cars are and their cooking is, but I digress whimsically again...

The key issue, especially on this site, is that comparative measurements between vinyl and digital media show a 'disparity', let's say, and so long as people don't get bogged down in that, it's all fine - I think digital will usually "measure better".

I notice a lot of people getting bogged down in arguments concerning some D-class versus some AB amps, in other threads, generally over measurement differences that are vanishingly small. It's good to measure, but it's not the only story.....

A lot of new people are getting into vinyl to avoid all the heated debate about electronic SOTA (which in itself is not very cool, and maybe best bypassed for some).
 

DWI

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There are lots of different reasons. In the 1970s and 1980s I went to and listened to lots of rock. My interest in classical music then took over and by the mid/late 1980s that's all I listened to. I used to go to hundreds of concerts each year from the late 70s as well. Still do. So no need for vinyl. I started to get interested in jazz about 15 years ago and that really lends itself to vinyl and so I bought a turntable. It also became more practical as my kids were older. My elder son also became a vinyl fiend, he now has a massive collection. That did not stop me being an early streaming adopter in 2009.

I have a good vinyl rig and a Loricraft to keep records spick and span. Vinyl in a seriously good set-up can be spectacularly good in terms of dynamics, putting digital into the naughty corner. Especially with jazz. I also like some ambient electronic music to fry my brain on occasion, on vinyl, plus stuff I used to listen in the 1970s.

Vinyl done well is also a money pit, but the basic point of a hobby is to spend money on something that is fun but essentially pointless and not have to justify it to anyone, not even your wife.

We still go to gigs several times a week, mostly opera, ballet, dance, jazz and chamber and solo recitals. That's a far bigger money pit, but it feeds artists more than buying music and ultimately all most musicians want to do is play in front of a live audience.

Measurements have their place and, strangely, you have to be more technically aware to get vinyl working properly than plug-n-play digital. Anyone who uses measurements to deny themselves the pleasure of vinyl is the loser in my experience.
 

Mojo Warrior

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I see the appeal as mostly, generational.

1) Baby Boomers are into vinyl because of nostalgia. Everything was better back in their youthful memory.

2) Millennials into vinyl tend to be collectors or hoarders. Many don't even own a turntable. There's one in the family.

3) There is a segment of every society that believes in aliens, the Deep State, Santa Claus, flat Earth, the Devil and so on.
 

dadregga

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It's a lot like retro muscle cars - they're objectively worse along every measured aspect than modern cars - slower, heavier, less safe, less efficient, worse handling.

BUT people love the aesthetic and the experience and it connects with a (specific, temporal, cultural) nostalgia, so they enjoy it. And that's fine, and that's great.

It only devolves into arguments when you get people going "MY 1966 blabla will smoke your Ferrari in a straight line" on the one side, or "Why do you like these old bad cars, they're objectively worse" on the other.

Only idiots try to turn fundamentally aesthetic preferences into technical arguments - and that's true for both sides of the vinyl vs digital debate.
 
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JJB70

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I'm not sure anyone here is down on someone else because they like vinyl or not - that's a non-argument.

The Romans liked wine which they considered vastly superior, while the Germanic people liked beer. The Romans never took over, 'up north', and today, look at how different their cars are and their cooking is, but I digress whimsically again...

The key issue, especially on this site, is that comparative measurements between vinyl and digital media show a 'disparity', let's say, and so long as people don't get bogged down in that, it's all fine - I think digital will usually "measure better".

I notice a lot of people getting bogged down in arguments concerning some D-class versus some AB amps, in other threads, generally over measurement differences that are vanishingly small. It's good to measure, but it's not the only story.....

A lot of new people are getting into vinyl to avoid all the heated debate about electronic SOTA (which in itself is not very cool, and maybe best bypassed for some).

I don't think many people are that worried about SOTA measured performance. Even on ASR plenty of people who are interested in measurements and like to see gear which pushes that envelope are happy to acknowledge that amplifier and DAC performance went beyond the point of transparency many years ago unless spectacularly badly implemented or there is a mismatch between amplifier, load and desired volume. So I don't think many are turning to vinyl to avoid debate about measurement. If it was about that then just get a system you are happy with and ignore the audio hobby. I am interested in audio gear, at the same time I really think it doesn't matter, I can enjoy music (which is what it is all about) using virtually any audio gear. However that's just me, others differ and that's fine.
 

CinDyment

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The inconvenience forces you to accept the music and listen to it as opposed to simply hit "Next Song".

Turntables are cool. They look interesting.

The physical size of albums is substantial ... you feel like you have something.

7% of the population believe the world is flat.

20%+ of people are abject followers.
 

Leporello

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I recognise that, of course. But here's the thing: it doesn't matter. I'm describing my subjective response to what I hear, and that's all I'm interested in; maximising my subjective experience. The OP asked for perspectives on why there is a vinyl renaissance, and I gave mine. I respect your subjective experience too.
No, instead you elevated your own preferences to MUSIC.
 

Leporello

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This, I agree with. For me, digital has the *potential*, but the current implementation is flawed; mainly in the delivery and the reconstruction, but also in the original quantisation (particularly with 44.1). All areas which can impact final sound quality.
You do realise that your claims have no basis in reality at all? This is what many vinylphiles tend to believe without any kind of evidence.. If you have the evidence, please present it (n.b. preferring vinyl is not evidence for your claims).
 

Robin L

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Are you familiar with the work of Philip K. Dick? I guess his best-known work is the movie Blade Runner. The source material for the film is the novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". The book differs from the film in a number of ways. There's more of an emphasis on replicants and simulacra other than the skin jobs. One of the concepts PKD plays with is the notion of the simulacrum substituting for the "real". In the "future" of this novel, "real" pets are a thing of the past, people's pets in the novel are most likely to be replicants. There would be a special rarity for organically created animals in this environmentally depleted world, a special status. A window into the past, as it were. But people have the pet replicants because they too are a window into the past.

An LP is an antiquated simulacrum. While the simulacrum of digital record/replay is, at least in theory, superior as a reflection of the original musical event, there are flaws in LP reproduction that can be interpreted as more "organic", and more alive. The fact that LPs audibly decay if played frequently amplifies that sense of an LP as more "alive" even while it is clearly more distorted than its digital source. There are other aspects of LP replay that create the illusion of being more alive, particularly in the way a turntable acoustically interacts with its environment and itself [pre/post groove echo]. Even though LP replay and Digital replay are both limited by such things as microphones used, or the acoustics of the room the music was recorded in, for some LP replay feels more alive. Part is probably an illusion, but there is a generally observed sonic difference.
 
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