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Vinyl Records Come Back Around...And Around
If you're from the baby boomer generation, you remember vinyl records quite well. Probably your first experience with them was listening to Christmas records on your parents' floor model stereo...a huge four-five foot long box with a radio and turntable inside and enough room to store a big stack of records. Then you got older and started using your allowance money to buy some records of your own, 45's at first until you started saving up some real money and buying albums. You probably had a box style record player to begin with and then you graduated into a stereo with real speakers. Then if you were a real music lover, you got a component system with humongous speakers and a separate receiver, turntable, and cassette deck. You'd lie on your bed with your black light on and listen to bands like Yes or Styx or Moody Blues. You didn't know it then, but you were listening to the best music of your life...on a vinyl record.
Vinyl Sound Quality
For those of you who never owned a vinyl record, you truly don't know what you're missing...or maybe you do. Vinyl record sales have been steadily rising while CD sales have been steadily falling. Many of the people buying records now are in their teens or 20's and are recognizing that the sound quality of a MP3 or CD can't touch the quality of sound from a vinyl record. Some of today's artists are starting to recognize the importance of vinyl and are releasing their music to albums with an MP3 code inside the record, so people can have the album and still be able to download the music for portability. They realize vinyl records, with all their pops and crackles caught every sound, the squeak of fingers moving across the strings of a guitar, the intake of breath before a line was sung. That's because records weren't recorded digitally like music is now. The sound was analog and truly captured the music and all the instruments as they were played instead of today's music which is track laid on top of track and digitally mastered.
Vinyl Cover Art
Another plus to vinyl for people today that used to be a minus is its size. You can hold it in your hands, reverently of course, so as not to make any scratches, but you can hold it. More than you can say for a bunch of downloaded music. Granted, nothing will beat the convenience of downloaded music on an I-pod, but we're talking about a collector's item. And then there are the album covers and the cover art. Some of the cover art was truly amazing and generally, it didn't stop with the cover. Inside the cover, the album was encased in a paper sleeve with even more photographs or art work. If you were extremely lucky, the sleeve folded out into a full size poster. Name a CD that can do that! Some of the albums featured artwork done by the recording artists themselves, making it that much more valuable.
How Do Vinyl Records Play Music?
Vinyl records used to come in different sizes and thicknesses than the 33's and 45's that we're used to now. There were 78's and 16's as well, which were much thicker than the albums we're used to and not as big around. The number had to do with the speed that the turntable needed to turn to play the record correctly and was measured in RPM's, rotations or revolutions per minute. When albums are made, grooves are pressed into the vinyl by a very sensitive needle which picks up all the sound vibrations in the music. When the record is played, the needle on the record player hits the grooves, and electrical impulses are produced and transmitted to the speakers. Magnify that with an amplifier and you have sound quality you can't get on any MP3!
Vinyl Records Not Just Nostalgia
Original vinyl records are still available in music stores that have realized that real music purists are coming to buy. Albums have become collector's items, some of them commanding 100's or even thousands of dollars on e-bay or at auction. However, you can still stumble across albums for as little as 50 cents in thrift or antique stores. Some people say that the resurgence of vinyl record collecting has to do with nostalgia. There's no discounting the memories that come flooding back when dropping the needle on a treasured piece of vinyl from The Who, Pink Floyd, Van Morrison, or Janis Joplin. But there's more to it than just that. The pleasure of holding something solid and tangible in your hand, the ability to read the titles and lyrics without a magnifying glass, the beautiful art inside and out, and just the sheer sound quality are enough to make vinyl records a staple in everyone's home. If you've got them from your past, hang onto them, because they are truly treasures.