I have 1200 vinyl LPs and around 100 7" and 10" discs, and two turntables (which cost about $450 and $740 when they were new)... down in the garage.
Vinyl sounds different
, no question. Does it sound better?
A lot depends on the mastering of the vinyl as well as the digital recordings... certainly I have vinyl copies of records that sound better than some CD versions I've heard. (Lately, the plague of "remastering" has metastasized into a near-systemic assault on catalogs of classic recordings. I'll take a scratchy old record [I bought some used] any
day over some ballooned out sqaushed to full scale "remaster.")
But as far as the medium
goes, I'll take an optimally mastered digital recording over vinyl.
Maybe I've gotten lazy -- I used to eschew even auto-liftoff on turntables -- but I don't feel like jumping up every 15 or 20 minutes to flip sides or go through the stacks looking for the next play. For me, high quality mp3s and my subscription service have taken the place of my stereo old reel to reel as a source of continuous music. Being able to quickly search for a specific song or album out of tens of thousands of albums is huge
And, frequently -- not always but frequently -- I find myself listening to one of the subscription service's 192 kbps WMA streams of an album I have on vinyl and thinking -- man, this sounds
so much better than the vinyl.
Think about that.
A specific example that rally slammed into me: I own the original vinyl of Cal Tjader's exotic, heavily produced/orchestrated Several Shades of Jade.
It's a wonderful record, filled with supremely well recorded fully orchestrated tracks. The vinyl, I always thought, sounds really good
. But when I dialed it up on my subscription service (it was released on a 'double' CD with another album), I was set back by the increased delicacy of the high end. Nothing strident, harsh, or shrill there.
There are some resined bow effects on one track that produce really complex overtones... the improvement over the vinyl version was a bit shocking. Strings and double reeds (which there are a lot of on the album) come off with more defnition and complexity. Cymbals shimmer appropriately. Tjader's vibes [and I'm listening now] have a clear, rich definition with complex harmonic definition.
Admittedly, that's one
case -- but it was an LP that I considered one of the best recorded, most hi fi albums I owned back when I was a teen-aged "audiophile" (loved the word because back then almost no one knew what it meant -- and that was (mostly) well before the flood of know-nothings who throw enormous amounts of money into voo-doodoo like $3000 interconnects and Clever Little Clocks).
Anyhow, I think it's fine that folks are getting into vinyl, and I, for one, am not parting with my LPs (or at least the core of them -- I have some early punk records I haven't listened to since the early 80s that are apparently worth some serious bank).
Still, I think it's good for people to keep the ears open, keep a broad perspective, and really listen and think about what it is they like
about vinyl and and the experience of using it on a day-in, day-out basis (which I did for the better part of four decades).
I mean... besides the smell...