Saturday, September 20, 2008

That Crackling Vinyl Sound

While the hunt for the perfect vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses has dominated the summer, the hunt for classic vinyl has also grown increasingly popular. Which raises the question: why do music aficionados scour consignment stores and Salvation Armys to find old, ratty albums? They could get the same thing at HMV without the excruciating search. The answer is simple­—it’s all about the music.

Even though CDs are more accessible and can be listened to more frequently than records, the sound quality and the flashback to the band’s original glory days encourages music lovers to roll up their tie-dyed sleeves and dig through the countless Tina Turner and Gloria Estefan albums to find just one classic Beatles record.

I think it’s the crackling sound the needle makes when it hits the groove of the record that sends chills up my spine. The music has more soul and depth to it when you listen to how it was originally packaged. In contrast, the cold, pre-stamped robotic sound of CDs leaves no soul to the music. Even artists today such as Lauryn Hill and k-os are putting in that scratchy sound effect to give their music that authentic vinyl sound.

Also, album covers alone motivate people to buy records. They can be works of art used for decoration rather than mere packaging. Before I saved enough money to buy myself a record player, I used to collect records and put them up on my walls, giving my room a chilled-out vintage vibe.

There is a definite personality, especially with used albums, that just is not present with CDs. It’s the crazy notion that someone was holding that exact Led Zeppelin record 20 or 30 years ago. Classic rock albums are such a unique hand-me-down because you can almost feel another fan’s passion for the music. It further legitimizes the band that you love and gives them a bit of street-cred, if you will, that their music was as relevant 30 years ago as it is today.

Classic albums are, for the lack of a better word, old. They can be passed down from parents to children, allowing for sentimental value to be found in music. Bonding over Led Zeppelin rather than argyle socks is not only more interesting but more rewarding as well. While my dad never had anything remotely cool to hand down to me, he did give me a mint condition copy of Abba Gold. That certainly made me understand him a bit more, to say the least.

You know that music is doing its job when you feel the room change while you’re listening to a particular song. You just can’t get another fan’s love for the band or such sentimental value from mass-produced CDs. In the end, it is all about the music. In fact, I challenge you to find anything better than spinning Rubber Soul and hearing that crackling vinyl sound as you let the music take you back to the 60s.


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