Vinyl Records

Written by Charles Peacock
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Some people probably don't understand why vinyl records won't die. They're about 20 years past their prime, but for some reason you still see and hear more records than you do cassette tapes or eight tracks. What's so special about vinyl? I recently got back into buying music on vinyl records, and I have to admit there are quite a few advantages (as well as some obvious disadvantages). Trust me; it's about more than just feeling retro.

Why Vinyl Records Are Better (and Worse)

In terms of technology, CDs and digital music are far more advanced than records. But they're still not better. How, you ask, is this possible? Put simply: digital recordings are simply not able to capture every last bit of a sound wave. They work by "sampling" a sound--that is, taking snapshots at specific intervals. Granted, these intervals are very small, but they are still intervals. That means that some sound is being missed every time the digital recorder stops recording.

Records, on the other hand, are analog. Because sound waves are also analog, record recordings are able to exactly record the shape of the sound waves in grooves on the vinyl disc. When you play a record back, you're getting an exact reproduction (with some minor exceptions) of the sound that was recorded. Many people can't tell the difference, but for a true music lover, it's very easy to hear how much fuller a record sounds than a CD.

Another great thing about records is their size (which is also one of their biggest problems). I happen to love cover art, and nothing beats the huge canvas of a 12" LP album cover. Tiny CD cases simply don't cut it for me. Obviously, CDs and digital music are far more convenient for moving around and storing, but their inferior quality makes it worthwhile to keep vinyl around until we figure out something better.


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