Vintage Vinyl

Here at Five Katz Antiques we have been selling vintage vinyl for nearly 5 years now. We wanted to add to our selection and service, so we are about to introduce new vinyl records and turntables to our inventory. If you haven’t noticed, vinyl records are making a comeback.

Vinyl records been around and popular for a long time. Some people frame and decorate with their favorite album covers, others reminisce about their youth because a certain group or song is embedded with a cherished memory. Still others have maintained a turntable and a collection of records as a viable mainstay in their music collections and listening habits.

So what it is about vinyl that keeps us coming back?

First off, vinyl is an unconverted format. The music goes from tape to vinyl master and then pressing the records and is the closest you can get to hearing the actual content the artist meant to be heard. This eliminates the digital conversion, so more information is translated to the actual output device be it speakers or headphones.

The amount of information on a vinyl LP is more because the spacing between the grooves as well as the depth of the cut can be adjusted to allow as much information as possible from the original taped source. (we have two channels in our devices, most music was recorded on 24 track tape machines – that is a lot of information!) So, when you start compressing music, especially to fit a digital format such as an MP3 or CD you start to lose data. That data here is musical notes.

Next, audiophiles will talk about the warmth of the sound. Vinyl records reproduce music closer to the way our ears actually hear sounds organically. However, this can sometimes be inconsistent between listeners as no one hears the same thing in the same way, but there are commonalities that we all share.

Vinyl is interactive. What does that mean? Your MP3 list is just there. You push play and it can play for days and days without stopping. Many digital song collections have thousands of songs. You press paly and it will play them all if you don’t stop it. With a record and a turn table, you have to take the album out, put it on the platter, put the needle down, and listen. This gives you time to enjoy the process and you can really take the time to be immersed in the sound. Take time to read the liner notes, the lyrics, and the cover art. It’s a slowed down moment in a busy, overcrowded day.

Listen in the order the artist meant it to be heard. With a CD you can shuffle, repeat and move around. With vinyl it’s a bit riskier because you don’t want to drop the stylus on the record as it can cause damage to both. We listen to LPs as the band or artist envisioned and how they planned the order of the songs. Track two was specifically designed to follow track one.

Value. Some vinyl records can be valuable in and of themselves. Factors such as the artist, the number of LPs pressed, the country they were released in, their age, condition, commercial versus promotional copies, and small label or large label can determine a record’s value.

Sometimes a records value is also influenced by the sound format. We have mono, stereo and for a short time quadrophonic. Also artist autographed copies, cover art changes and limited runs of picture disks or colored vinyl can affect a title’s value. A couple of examples would be very early Elvis titles on Sun Records or the first releases of “Street Survivors” by Lynyrd Skynyrd due to the graphic flames on the cover chosen before their tragic plane crash. This was removed on subsequent releases.

Downsides

Yes there are a few downsides to vinyl as opposed to CDs or digital files. Portability is a big one. You just can ‘t drive around with your turntable in your car. Records take up a lot more room too. I knew a collector who had upwards of 400,000 LPs in his home and had his entire basement dedicated to their storage.

Sometimes there are instances where some songs just can’t be reproduced well on vinyl because some high and low sounds are at an extreme range and can cause distortion. Also, as a record wears the grooves can stretch changing the sound slightly and we all know about damage and dirt causing clicks, pops and other noises. Some folks feel this just adds to the vinyl experience.

Remember too, that regardless of the number of songs on any record side, it’s all one long groove. As this groove is cut into the vinyl, if the content of the album runs a bit long, the grooves must be cut closer together to fit on the LP. This can be sometimes be detrimental to the overall sound. Also as the stylus gets to the closer of the center of the record, the speed can fluctuate a bit as the center spins a bit faster than the outer edge and some turntables cannot compensate for this which can affect sound quality.

Another factor that comes into play are room acoustics, speaker choice and placement as well as overall equipment selection. Good amplifiers have plenty of extra power in reserve, so the power used is as clean as possible. Platter weight, belt vs direct drive and stylus selection can also play a major part in how a turntable can reproduce the sound on your favorite record.

As you can see it’s not an easy answer to the question of what sounds better, vinyl or digital. It’s up to the listener. For me, for many reasons, I love my vinyl, but I also appreciate the convenience and versatility of digital formats. So whatever your delivery device, be it MP3 player, your phone, your PC or a retro old school turntable, amp & speakers, grab your favorite tunes and crank them up. The only thing you need to remember about music is if it’s too loud, you might be too old.

 

 

Published Florida Today online edition, 2/13/2020 – Florida Today print edition 2/18/2020

Featured image – Record grooves – Macro photo Five Katz Antiques