For the record lover

Last time, I said I wasn’t going to go into the science of why vinyl is better because not everyone can relate to science but everyone can relate to the emotions of the human condition.

But let’s face it: if you’re a geek like me, science is cool.

The reason vinyl sounds better all comes down to analog versus digital. If you know anything about analog and digital wavelengths then you’ll know what I am referring to. If not, allow me to explain.

Analog wavelengths are as pure as it can get. Sound is, by nature, analog; it’s continuous. To better explain this, imagine a green-covered rolling hill in the countryside. Now take a pencil and trace the outside of that hill. You now have a bell curve, right? This represents what an analog wavelength looks like. With digital, the sound is not continuous; it consists of a series of shorter sounds.
Now, take that same green-covered hill, but this time, instead of tracing the hill accurately, draw stairs into the left side leading up to the top of the hill and back down the right side. This represents what a digital wavelength looks like. And, as you can see, it’s missing pieces of that hill, thus making the argument that analog captures a more organic, truer representation whereas, regarding digital, subtleties are absent.

Now I get that these days with all the latest advances in digital technology there’s the argument that no one can tell the difference anymore. That yeah, sure, if it was recorded on analog it’s a safe bet that it sounds best on analog. But who records on analog anymore? Well, you’d be surprised. Bands like the Black Keys, Bright Eyes, Death Cab For Cutie, Jack Johnson, among many, many others still choose to record using analog.

I know others would say if it was recorded digitally than it has to sound better on CD or MP3, so why buy it on record, you’re not missing anything? Point taken. But the truth, in short, is that it’s all subjective. How we interpret music, as we do with most things, is all personal preference. For me, I’m an audiophile at heart. I believe vinyl to sound full and warm and that it creates an atmosphere digital continues to lack. But that’s just me.

So I say go and conduct your own science experiments.

Go up into the attic, or down into that crawlspace, or out to the garage and get your parents’ (or any other family member’s) turntable that’s sitting there just collecting dust. If no one you know has one find one. Then just make your way down to Into The Music in the Exchange District and discover all the old, collectible and new LP’s they sell. Or you can stop by Music Trader on Osborne, head to the back of the store and pick up a record from one of today’s latest bands. Conduct your own science experiments, then go and find out for yourself why vinyl very may well be, in your own opinion, better.

So come on and discover your own little wonders.

Because you’re never too old to rediscover magic.

2 Comments on "For the record lover"

  1. caveat – i love vinyl.

    but bullshit. sorry. yes, analog is a smooth curve, if it were clean. it’s not. it’s littered with impurities.

    so just as a digital wave has to be by nature dithered to steps, a smooth analog curve is just as sullied by dirt, dust and other environment factors.

    just enjoy whatever medium you like the most, and leave the science alone.

  2. Hartmut Sager | October 9, 2011 at 4:34 am |

    Actually, when digital recording is done in a studio, they normally use a sampling rate and bits per sample several times that of a CD (and thus way more than that of an MP3), so the digital stepping comes very close to analog. And these digital masters are flawlessly preservable (and flawlessly copyable), thus enabling archives like never before. That’s why old analog masters are also being digitized, to ensure that further deterioration of the analog masters won’t matter.

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