VINYL RECORD DAY: LOVE FOR THE LP

Vinyl Record Day: Love for the LP

By Shawn Ryan

On Saturday, the world — or at least some of it — will celebrate Vinyl Record Day, a day set aside to appreciate the wonders of the LP.

You remember the LP, right? That 12-inch-round slab of blackness that you put on a turntable then gently placed the stylus in the grooves. After a bit of shikshik-shik — if you weren’t properly cleaning the vinyl — the music started and, four or five songs later, you got up and flipped the record over for Side Two.

While listening, you probably gazed at the LP’s cardboard sleeve, especially if it was a really cool one, say by artist Roger Dean or the Hipgnosis company. You might read information on the back of the sleeve, such as who the producer was, who wrote what song, maybe the lyrics.

According to Nielsen, sales of vinyl records are higher now than any time since the late 1980s, when the newly created CD began shoving LPs out of the way. Still, vinyl only accounts for less than 6 percent of all music sales, Nielsen notes.

But sales are robust enough that Sony Music announced it would start producing vinyl records in-house, something it hasn’t done since 1989.

Many of us switched from albums to CDs in the late 1980s, sweet-talked by convenience — you don’t have to flip over a CD. Some said CDs sounded better than LPs but, if you just look at the science, technically they can’t. LPs are analog recordings; CDs are digital. The larger sound waves of analog can’t be completely contained in a digital recording; there’s literally not enough room.

Not to say CDs don’t sound good but, if you know someone who has a turntable and a decent sound system, put on an LP in a quiet room and just listen. There is a depth to the sound — the so-called “richness” — that is unmistakable. It’s the difference between Reddi-wip and handbeaten, homemade whipped cream.

No question, CDs are easier to use. The only way to carry your vinyl music around is to put it on an iPod or a smartphone. But to make the most of an LP’s sound, you’d have to use uncompressed versions, enormous sound files that severely reduce the number of songs you’d be able to use.

And we won’t even talk about the pure evil of converting an LP song into an mp3.

LPs aren’t for syncing to your iPod so you can listen while you’re mowing the lawn. They’re much more intimate. But for those who love music at its best, they’re a great relationship.

Contact Shawn Ryan at mshawnryan@gmail.com

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