There is no denying that vinyl records have made a most improbable comeback in the world of Consumer Electronics. Vinyl LP playback of music is a nearly 100 year old technology and ripe with issues but in 2023, consumers are spending on the legacy format at a time when nearly every recording ever made in the history of the world can be had with monthly, digital, streaming access for about the $15 cost of a single Compact Disc. Does this make sense? Not really, but let us explain.
For many people the world is a complicated, overly distracted, overly digital place. Text, email, cell calls, land-line calls and carrier pigeons all harass us all day long. It causes the creation of cortisol which makes us fat. It causes anxiety. It doesn’t allow for any real relaxation or down time.
The modern appeal of vinyl records is a return to a more simple time. There is a ritual of playing a record. You open the album cover and remove the record. Often, you clean or brush the record to remove any dust or lint. You play the record in the order that the artists, engineers and producers intended. Gone is shuffle. Gone is flashing lights. Gone are the distractions of the digital world.
What you do get is an “organic sound” that while full of distortion and very poor at reproducing dynamic range (as compared to a simple Compact Disc let alone a 24/192 HD file which is basically the quality of either the analog or digital master tape) but that doesn’t seem to bother people. That “warmth” that audiophiles rave about is actually distortion. They don’t like to hear that but it is true. They find the distorted audio to be calming and if so – good on them.
Music has powers to heal. Music can provide joy. This is why audiophiles spend the money that they do on their often-exotic or complicated systems. If people want to listen to vinyl or if they want to collect vinyl – then let them as long as it makes them happy!