CDs Have Another Thing To Fear: Vinyl?

from the life-is-analog dept

There has been no doubt that CD sales have been declining due to the growth of digital music. Well, CDs are now being flanked by an old format: vinyl. Although vinyl LPs have always enjoyed a niche popularity with dance djs and indie rock fanatics, large mass-market retailers like Fred Meyer are starting to stock vinyl versions of albums in response to broad increasing consumer demand for the “obsolete” format. Though vinyl enthusiasts claim that the analog sound from records is of higher quality than that of their digital counterparts, audiophiles are not necessarily the ones leading this resurgence in vinyl demand. Consumers like the larger format’s liner notes and the nostalgic experience of owning and playing a vinyl LP — both things that cannot be replicated with the digital version of a song. Unlike the declining sales of CDs, Vinyl LP sales are expected to grow 60% this year over last year. However, the actual volume of vinyl sold (1 million albums sold versus 450 million for CDs) is very low, so clearly the resurgence is not an indication of a shift in consumer’s primary demand. That said, as more consumers are exposed to the music, the market for related non-digital goods will grow, and the increasing demand for vinyl albums is yet another indication of this trend.

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Comments on “CDs Have Another Thing To Fear: Vinyl?”

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Haywood says:

Re: Re: New "Old" Stuff

8 tracks had more problems than no rewind. The biggest of these the fact that the tape wore itself out by sliding off the end of the roll to be fed to the center. before long the lubricants were gone and they would drag & even break. Other than size though they were nice as you could search them easily. A dozen in a car was like carry on luggage. The short life span meant; if you really liked it, you would buy more than 1. I had several player/recorders so recording wasn’t a problem.

B says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s actually not necessary to get a USB turntable or adapter a lot of the time (as much as I love buying random ThinkGeek stuff).

Some bands are recognizing that the collector sorts of their merchandise really like Vinyl, so what they’ll do is sell the vinyl and give you a download card as part of the package so you can download high quality MP3s. A small band I’m a fan of distributed their last EP exactly that way. You could buy the download card by itself on the cheap ($5 I think), or you got it for “free” if you bought the vinyl.

Great idea, in my opinion.

CVPunk says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I’m not sure what band B is talking about but, I bought The Gaslight Anthem double 7″ EP and it came with a card with a code you enter online to download all the songs in MP3 format for free. So for the double 7″ EP and the MP3’s I paid a grand total of about $7. Found the EP at Hot Topic. Store sucks but once in a while they have a couple decent vinyl LP’s.

ehrichweiss says:

and vinyl is worth the price...

Dunno how many know this but vinyl is actually WORTH the $15(or whatever) that you pay because it can’t be pressed nearly as easily and cheaply as CD’s can. For one, if they really, really wanted to they could press a single CD in a session but vinyl requires that they use enough “wax” for 100-1000 records to get the mechanism working correctly so you usually press whatever you setup with. There ARE services where they will “cut” a single record for you but those are incredibly expensive($25-100 per copy) and don’t last as long as pressed vinyl.

snowburn14 says:

Re: and vinyl is worth the price...

I don’t generally find something to be worth more just because it cost them more to make it. If I have a choice between an 80 gig and a 40 gig hard drive (not even remotely supposed to be analogous in terms of vinyl vs cd capacity, so please don’t bring that up), and the 40 gig cost the company more to assemble for whatever reason, I really don’t see that as being worth more than the 80 gig… Now, if you find the audio quality to be better on vinyl than CD, then you’ve got an argument for it being WORTH more, same way the 40 gig could be worth more if it had a faster data transfer rate or something. But the cost of producing something has no bearing on what it’s worth, at least not to me.

PaulT (profile) says:

When I DJ, I prefer to use vinyl for the most part. I’m often torn between the convenience of MP3 (compared to the sheer weight of vinyl), but I prefer the feel of vinyl while I play out.

Overall, this isn’t really surprising. Vinyl retains a niche market, and as the CD market rapidly decreases the proportion of that niche market within physical sales will increase. If people are buying simply for the comfort of a physical format, vinyl is more intimate so its sales will grow.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

> Wow, Mike, nice way to scoop the late 90’s for this story.

So many things wrong in one little sentence. First, the post wasn’t written by Mike (who needs facts?). Second, as the post makes clear (if you actually read it), this goes beyond the typical hipster return to vinyl in the 90s, but it’s now taking place in mainstream retail outlets.

It’s fun to insult people when you don’t read, huh?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sorry about getting the writer wrong, but usually Mike is the one who thinks old ideas are brilliant. But seriously, back in the late 90’s you could walk into many “mainstream” and buy vinyl. This is nothing new. It disappeared when mp3’s became popular, but if you were older than 13 you would know that.

b says:

vinyl rules

i stopped buying CD’s a decade ago but i never stopped buying vinyl. lately in the last year or two, every record i buy comes with a cd inside or a link to download the album. genius if you ask me. i get the songs for the ipod and the vinyl for my collection. for everyday use i listen to the digital version, special occasions the records come out. it leads to less wear and tear on the vinyl and the needle as well.

Mojo says:

But I want the MP3s FROM vinyl!

The idea of getting free MP3s with the album is great, but the source of the files are most likely digital.

One of the great things about vinyl is if you burn it to CD or MP3, you still retain that vinyl “sound” people like so much. If I like the sound of records enough to buy them, I certainly don’t want MP3s made from the CD!

CVPunk says:

Re: But I want the MP3s FROM vinyl!

the ION player connects direct to you pc and is only like $100 at Best Buy… you can also get the more pricey DJ turntables that have usb hooks ups. Stanton and others make them.
I record my vinyl to my Yamaha home cd burner and then rip that to mp3. Gives me a copy for my old stock cd player in my car and mp3 version for my Sansa mp3 player. Can still hear the “white noise” since they are recorded analog. 🙂

zcat says:

Re: But I want the MP3s FROM vinyl!

If you like the ‘sound’ of vinyl, there are filters that can recreate that sound from digital files pretty accurately (well enough that the ‘golden ears’ brigade consistently fail to tell the difference in double-blind tests)

Personally, I love vinyl just because it’s vinyl. Unfortunately I don’t have a turntable at the moment and this place is too small so my record collection (only a few dozen albums) is stowed away in the garage. 🙁

Rick says:

Vinyl has the neato retro feeling for sure. My problem is I never want to listen to a single album beginning to end. It is simple to make a mix CD or switch to the next random mp3. It’s a little more tedious to change records. Are there vinyl ‘burners’ available for consumers yet? It could be the wave of the future.

DJ Pulse (user link) says:

Not just for the DJs

In my 10 year run as a DJ, I’ve seen PLENTY of other people (ie. groups, bands, musicians) release their music on vinyl. The sound is so much better. Most won’t tell you that because they don’t have a good enough setup to hear the difference. Good sounding music going to $10 speakers isn’t going to sound all that great. Audiophiles like me buy records just to hear how it’s SUPPOSED to sound.

And call me old school, but I can’t STAND to use cd players or MP3s when I’m DJing. It’s like cheating to me. Prove your worth by using your hands to control the vinyl. Not by pushing a button. 🙂

freakengine says:

The 5000 albums I once had...

required their own custom-made cabinet, boxes that I kept under the bed for every move, and lots of muscle and sweat to move them around this earth with me. I eventually gave up and moved on. Now I see stories like this one and smile. While LPs are the current comfort food of the music biz, they certainly aren’t practical and they represent a big step backwards technologically. Why not simply work toward making digital files sound better?

Oh, and despite gooft opinions to the contrary, when you use a USB hookup from a turntable, you might as well listen to the digital files to begin with.

CVPunk says:

Re: The 5000 albums I once had...

Practicality and technology are not usually the basis for having and keeping a record collection… I would rather have a 12″ LP with a gatefold cover and lyrics sheet than a tiny cd reprint or the complete absence of with a digital file.
The whole “sounds better” is really subjective, as I know plenty of people who hate the sound of LP’s and vice versa.

Also, with regards to the USB hookup from a turntable… that is more about having a convenient way to back up your catalog and maybe have some music you can throw on an mp3 player.. that doesn’t mean people would “prefer” the digital track over the LP.

Gunnar says:

“Audiophiles like me buy records just to hear how it’s SUPPOSED to sound.”

That’s not really true. A lot of bands record in full digital and master albums for how they’ll sound coming off of a cd (and increasingly, how they’ll sound when compressed to an mp3). Yes, an album will sound different on vinyl, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it’s supposed to sound.

Drew says:

CD sales have definitely been dropping due to the increase in MP3 sales/downloading over the internet. But I think that it would be going too far to say they are in danger on another front due to increases in vinyl sales. Vinyls are on the rise, thats a fact. But I think that rather than being a practical movement, vinyls are a nostalgic or “retro” movement, just like clothing or anything else would be.

Anonymous Coward says:

@New "Old" Stuff

“I dunno if you know this but the 8-track has significantly better audio than your standard cassette tape and its only real problems were that recording wasn’t easy and it had no rewind mechanism. It was kinda the Betamax of the audio world.”

No. The only reason 8-track’s audio was superior to cassette was because it ran at twice the speed (3 3/4 IPS instead of 1 7/8). The mechanism was a real kludge: the endless loop (as somebody else pointed out) had tape sliding against tape the entire time it was playing, so needed extra lubrication. This tended to get onto the capstan pinch roller and make it less effective, and the tape wore out quickly. The tape was held against the capstan and the heads with a spring mechanism that needed to be able to release when pulled on. It was a tricky balance; my experience was that an 8-track player only lasted 6 months to a year before you started having real problems. You can’t rewind, yeah, well, you can fast-forward but not like a cassette — it was still driven by the capstan and you didn’t want to push that endless loop tape too quickly. Cassettes can FF/RW much more quickly because only the tape and the spindles are involved. The heads tended to go out of alignment easily. There were more tracks to switch between, yes (so faster track selection than cassette), but they tended to be half as long; a lot of commercial tapes would fade a song between tracks, which personally I found damned annoying. They were also physically much larger than cassettes.

Other than that, yeah, 8-tracks were better than cassettes.

Betamax? If you want to compare to a superior quality format, why not point out that reel-to-reel had none of the disadvantages of 8-track, all the advantages of cassette except cost and convenience, and your typical consumer deck would run at 7 1/2 IPS if not 15. (And you could choose to run at anything from 1 7/8 to 15 in steps of 2x, meaning you could choose between long recordings and quality.) It had wider tracks, too, so inherently had a higher S/N ratio than either of the other formats.

You know the real reason cassettes took over as the preferred format for decades? Because they were convenient and recordable and relatively reliable. Well, and cheap. For your average consumer the quality was Good Enough, and the convenience of being able to carry them around and use them in portable players trumped almost everything else. 8-tracks contained the seeds of their own destruction. R-R was too bulky and inconvenient. DAT was expensive and slow to load and, aside from quality, had no advantage over cassettes, and as I said earlier, the quality of cassettes was Good Enough for the masses. (And DAT was a late-comer in an entrenched market, too.)

And in the meantime, an awful lot of R&D was put into cassettes to the point where the quality actually exceeded the old reel-to-reel decks. Some audiophiles were actually starting to take them seriously, when suddenly CDs came out and basically blew them out of the water.

… And you can still get them, though they’re harder to find. I’ve still got a cassette deck in my car (mostly because I can’t afford a new player right now :). I can check out books on cassette at the local library (and video on VHS), I actually bought one recently (Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett). I still have a bunch of old music on cassette and I can record more — my home stereo tape deck still works, and I have blanks.

No, I’m not living in the past. I have a DVD recorder on top of my VHS deck, and CD and DVD burners, and I can rip and duplicate and convert with the best of them. I even have an MP3 player (which I can plug into my car stereo, which has an AUX input :). But this stuff still works, so I see no reason to throw it away.

Got rid of my last 8-track more than a decade ago. It was El Dorado by ELO. It was just hanging around in storage, taking up space.

Betamax was actually a superior format that lost due to marketing. Please don’t compare it to 8-track, which died because it was junk.

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