Sundays are for Playing Vinyl

Lazy Sundays are in fact opportunities: to tidy up the house, wax the car, replace a busted light bulb and, in my case, to listen to good old vinyl.

My Technics SL-1200 Mk3 with Ortofon OM30 Super needle cartridge.

So in this age of digital media, why would anyone still want to play records?  My answer in 3 simple points:

1. The Tangibility – Today we are used to tapping the shuffle “button” (if you would call it that) in a glossy iPod Touch, the music stored as bytes in a solid state device plays and we walk away. Such a cold, cold experience if you ask me. On the other hand, listening to LPs demands attention: You pull out the record from its sleeve and feel the fine grooves against your fingerprints. You place it on the platter, clean it with a brush and cue the needle by gently laying it on a groove. As the music plays you watch the needle gently glide in between the grooves which are the actual musical vibrations etched in vinyl. The sight of the needle playing the groove is hypnotic, somewhat like a car in a spiraling, endless and lonely highway… This level of involvement and tactile experience makes one appreciate music more. Cleaning, cueing and flipping records may be time consuming, but well worth it and as the blog title says, its best done on lazy Sundays.

2. The Sound – I will not say that music played through turntables sound better. Without an argument, uncompressed digital music is indeed cleaner as compared to vinyl that is prone to crackles, pops, skips, rumble, distortion and even speed fluctuations (the latter eliminated by the now legendary SL-1200 ‘tables). But somehow, it is actually these imperfections that add character to the music. And it ain’t that bad; if you have good clean copies of vinyl and your turntable is properly tweaked, the noises mentioned should be minimal. Inexplicably, music coming out of a black, rotating disc sounds more raw, dynamic, warm and emotional.

3. The Software – By default, a person’s vinyl collection is that of music in the heyday of the turntable. Depending how old that person is, his records will be from the ’50s to the ’80s. My personal collection includes Duran Duran, U2, and the like. (Dire Strait’s Your Latest Trick is my favorite track to listen to on vinyl!) As such, turntables are virtually time machines, and playing old records can bring back fond memories. Sure you can download Queen from iTunes, but retro music is still best reproduced on its rightful medium which is the record player (see #2).

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