All That Vinyl


The LP, (long play) 33 1/3 RPM vinyl record was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 and revolutionized the music recording industry. By 1960 almost all music was recorded onto LP records in stereo. The LP record was the favored medium for recorded music for more than 3 decades.

The mid 60s introduced the 8 track tape and the audio cassette. Sony's introduction of the Walkman in the early 80s certainly helped to increase the popularity of the cassette tape but not enough to dethrone the LP. It was not until the late 80's that the compact disc sales exceeded the sales of vinyl records. Today the majority of music is either bought or stolen on line in some kind of compressed digital format.

Advantages to Vinyl

old fashioned Zenith stereo cabinet

The human voice produces analogue sound. Most instruments played by musicians also produce analogue sound. The human ear hears in analogue. Arguably, when converting a signal from analogue to digital and then back to analogue again, there will be some loss in sound resolution.

An LP record in near perfect condition played on high end equipment has a sound that is hard to beat. Because you can still buy new vinyl, this is something that is easily attainable for the regular guy.

Because you can buy 1/2 speed cut 180 gram vinyl and play it on today's very high end equipment, you can probably produce a better sound than you heard back in the day.

There are many purists out there who insist on playing their music on vinyl record albums. I would never claim to be a purist but I enjoy listening to my music on vinyl too. I think it's more the act of playing the record and not some perceived sound quality difference.

The Flip Side

As of yet, I have not acquired and ear for snaps, crackles and pops. It may sound fine coming from my breakfast cereal but it has no place coming out of my speakers. New records sound great but most old used records are not worth listening to.

People tend to price their used vinyl, way out of control. You can go to most any garage sale and see hordes of overpriced vinyl records. I generally see records in the $5 to $20 range. Just like most collectables, there are book values on LP records. The value has everything to do with condition.

For example: a typical classic rock album from the 70s is worth, let's say, $8.00. That is if it is in "near mint condition". The next grade down is VG+, (very good plus) and should expect to bring in half that price. The same album in very good condition is worth about $2.00. Very good means just that; very good. It means there are no audible sounds that detract from the listening experience. That means no snaps, crackles or pops.

How about CDs?

Ok, at the same garage sale, next to their prized album collection, you will see anywhere from a handful to several dozen CD's. As we all know, CD's are pass'e. They will be priced at a dollar or Two. The jewel cases are normally scratched up, cracked or broken. The hinge mechanism will also be broken.

Stay clear? Well, brand new jewel cases are about 10 cents each. Inside the broken jewel case you will find all the album art; normally in near perfect condition. You will also have a full uncompressed digital music file that plays flawlessly. In buying this CD you have also purchased the unquestionable right to reproduce this music for your own personal use in whatever file format you see fit.

I would really like to think that my 52 year old ears can discern the difference between a super high quality analogue recording and the full uncompressed digital .wav file found on a that $2.00 garage sale CD. I would really like to think I can.

I will continue to look for record albums in NM and VG+ condition. I will also continue to feel that slight elation when I find one that isn't overpriced. I will also continue to buy three CDs for every LP.

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lower Spokane Falls taken in the fall