Fans of vinyl music are hard to persuade that any other form of music storage can hold a candle to it. For those that grew up with a single album, it was more than just listening to music. It was a cultural thing flicking through the album covers in record shops and going to a booth to listen to a couple of tracks. And it must be said that the satisfying clunk as the stylus hit the vinyl filled you with anticipation of what is to come. Small scratches on the vinyl identified that disc as specifically yours and became part of the music itself. And the resonance of a stylus physically touching the plastic gave a really warm sound filled with bass. But the question of what is better, vinyl or digital, rather depends on who you ask.
The Problems with Vinyl
It must be admitted that vinyl has some serious flaws that cannot really be rectified. The way that the music is recorded is in analog, which unfortunately means that the quality will degrade over time, especially your most played albums. And the analog format has less of a dynamic range to that of digital which leads to flutter and other distortions. The obvious drawback of vinyl is that you have to physically buy every album that you want to listen to. Digital music can be streamed from the internet and there is no space that you have to set aside in your house to physically store all the albums.
Digital Not Always the King
As mentioned before, listening and collecting vinyl albums is much more than picking a favorite tune out. Vinyl music is the pipe smokers’ version of music, it all takes time to set it up and normally lasts a few minutes before you have to tweak things. 1990s was a big decade for albums, the arrival of the compact disc all but destroyed the vinyl market and with the big production companies jumping on the CD bandwagon, vinyl was swept aside. Digital format made it easier to edit the music and there was no turning back.
Why Analog is Different
The dynamic range can be roughly explained by the difference between the loudest and quietest sounds. So, the wider that the dynamic range, the more you hear. Analog has a relatively restrictive dynamic range so what you hear is not expansive. Recording music on reels in analog had its difficulties, and especially that the recording was brittle. This means that the physical copy could easily be broken, and this can be seen when the studio recorded music that was too loud – you could often see your stylus bobbing around on the record.
Digital format has so many advantages to its vinyl counterpart. It is easy to obtain, store, and you can buy what you want from home. Vinyl purists will always oppose this and point out that many of the world’s top DJ’s have returned to vinyl. The debate will carry on, but fans of vinyl music are literally dying out.