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Music Hardware

Not All iPods — Vinyl and Turntables Gain Sales 405

Posted by timothy
from the thirty-three-and-a-third dept.
Says the New York Times: "With the curious resurgence of vinyl, a parallel revival has emerged: The turntable, once thought to have taken up obsolescence with eight-track tape players, has been reborn."
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Not All iPods — Vinyl and Turntables Gain Sales

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  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:43AM (#30350466) Homepage Journal

    You only have to sell a couple albums more than usual to claim huge percentage increases.

  • FTFA:

    Interest from younger listeners is what convinced music industry executives that vinyl had staying power this time around.

    Taking this at face value, it seems like the music industry execs aren't that stupid: the market wants something, let's give it to them.

    Don't they worry about piracy, though?

    Some are traditional analog record players; others are designed to connect to computers for converting music to digital files.

    Hmm...

    In any case...

    At a glance, the far corner of the main floor of J&R Music looks familiar to anybody old enough to have scratched a record by accident.

    I will not buy thees myoosic store. Eet is skrratshed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:52AM (#30350530)

    Every few months the media spits out a story or five about vinyl being more popular than ever. And they conveniently forget about it so they can do it again in another few months!

    CDs are naturally dying, because broadband is ubiquitous and digital files are good enough to make the format an annoyance.

    If you want to listen to music and have the physical media experience to go along with it, vinyl's a lot better than CDs IMO (and apparently in the opinions of quite a few others, too). Bigger art, more to play with, sounds better, etc.

    That's not even taking dance music culture into account. I just didn't like CDJs' and Traktor's downsides, audio quality, and quirks enough to trade the convenience they gain over vinyl turntables. Also, Technics are cooler, and they haven't made a little wind-up truck that plays CDs yet.

  • by FauxReal (653820) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:54AM (#30350534) Homepage
    Me and my friends have been talking about the resurgence of vinyl DJs for years. A friend who visits Japan every year to sell vintage jazz, soul and funk music (they love it out there) was telling me that DJ shops seemed to be catching up to guitar stores back in 1998. I almost think it's just about peaked myself. Then again maybe DJ Hero will cause a nice spike in sales.

    Personally, I prefer to buy my music on vinyl, I like the huge cover art and the tactile interaction of playing a record. The nature of vinyl also doesn't lend itself to the Loudness War [wikipedia.org]. The only things I don't like about vinyl is it weighs a ton when you're trying to get to a gig and when listening at home you gotta get up and flip the record.

    I kinda think digital DJing has been gaining a lot of ground lately... there are so many Serato [scratchlive.net] copycats) out there now (some are purely digital while Serto allows the use of timecoded vinyl for control. I've been a hardcore vinyl head and I'm finally considering going the digital route because of the convenience of weight saving and you can make your own remixes. Though it still pisses me off that I spent so much time and money collecting rare tracks when these days laptop DJs can just download them off the net. It's made it a lot harder to have an exclusive track.
  • Audiophiles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nithendil (1637041) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:03AM (#30350584)

    Before the anti-audiophile crowd comes in screaming about how digital is a more accurate reproduction vinyls are typically mastered for their audience so they often are not compressed to maximum loudness that you hear in modern CDs so you actually have some dynamic range.

  • Re:Yearly Dupe? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:07AM (#30350598) Homepage
    Technics are in the mass market business, and although vinyl is doing things it hasn't done for years, it's always going to be a niche. My uncle builds ridiculously high end record players [recordplayer.com] for a living and he's never been busier, recession or not.
  • Have seen it coming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RichLooker (556121) <richard@NosPAM.disputable.org> on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:14AM (#30350630)
    Living in Oslo, Norway, I have been watching this trend for some years. The number of shops selling physical CD's is steadily decreasing - either they close or they are converted to DVD- and/or game-shops. At the same time, the number of shops selling vinyl is increasing. Every self-respecting hifi-shop has turntables on display in their windows. And who even buys CD players anymore ? Some years ago, only niche-titles got a vinyl release. Now even chart-topping big names release on vinyl. This ain't a fad. We will all live to see the death of the music CD. The vinyl will live on, as the sole medium for physical distribution. It will serve a distinct market - people with a keen interest in music, sound/hifi and/or collecting records. For these customers, portability and convenience is not high priority. Cover art and lyric booklets are. The music industry will embrace the trend, as piracy / copying will not be an issue. Vinyl rips are too inconvenient to ever threaten digitally distributed music. The vinyl record has outlived the CD in all respects. Some of my oldest CD's - 20-25 years old - are being refused by my CD player. While I have vinyl records from '65 that sound just as fresh today. I buy 30-40 records a year, around 4 out of 5 on vinyl; I select the titles purely based on musical merit, and buy vinyl if available. Luckily bands within the genres I prefer almost always release on vinyl.
  • Fad. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dreamer.redeemer (1600257) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:15AM (#30350636) Homepage
    A few years ago I worked in a record store where we actually sold more records more than cds. I own a relatively large number of records, contemporary and otherwise. Despite all this, It's my opinion that this is just a fad, one strangely ambling along at a lazy pace. I think the only reason it has been able to gain traction is because people don't realize all the pitfalls of records. To start, yes, records can theoretically sound better, but there are Many things that can get in the way of that: virgin vs. recycled vinyl, cold pressings, warping, dirty or worn stylus, imbalanced tonearm, etc. Even under optimum conditions the quality advantage of a record is gone after 5-8 plays, as friction heat from the stylus literally melts the signal irreparably; from then on, the sound quality will continue to deteriorate with each play. Most people start out saying that they like records because analog sounds better. Then, after I tell them this, their reasoning changes--they like records because the hiss and pops are warm and soothing. The question of quality aside, records are a pain to deal with! You have to handle them carefully, clean them often with specific supplies. After a couple of songs have played, you have to stop what you're doing and flip the record over (don't try putting on a Barry White record, it may set the mood, but only for a few minutes... and hopefully that's regarded as a problem). Some people say they enjoy the whole process involved with records, that by having to do all that work they are able to appreciate the music more. Fine, but personally, having to constantly fidget with the record player interrupts the pleasure I get from listening. Also, consider the weight and space records take up: I estimate about 50 records occupy a cubic foot and weigh at least 25 lbs. On the other hand, you can fit thousands of digital albums in your pocket. Records do have a certain sense of novelty to them, but it wears off fast; digital music is and will remain an incredible thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:20AM (#30350674)

    It makes sense. Vinyl is not seen as distribution anymore but as artwork. The vinyl is going to get more and more popular because it is a presentable form of artwork that has far more class than the CD and a more tangible experience than a digital file. It's also way more fun than a CD to operate and creates a much more interactive environment, especially in a social setting. If every band released their albums in vinyl format, I would purchase everything that I could, simply because I would rather own a vinyl album as a piece of artwork over a CD any day.

    That doesn't mean that the CD should go away. I really hope that artists and labels alike see the value in both the CD and the digital file for what they are. Vinyl's resurgence is a guarantee, but the CD's value is not lost on the public if it can be sold as something that's more than just music on a piece of a plastic. Consumers value choice over all else and a CD can be a very inexpensive alternative to those looking for the experience of owning something similar to vinyl without the cost and space expenses of vinyl. Though I think the CD will probably go away after time, but hopefully only because something more appealing has taken its place.

  • Re:Wait a second.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:31AM (#30350750) Homepage
    I find it has everything to do with the artistic integrity of the musician, and almost nothing to do with money. Pickup a cd from a band like Mastodon [youtube.com] and you'll find it's exquisitely mixed and a real experience to listen to. The 10 minute song "The Czar" from their most recent cd is nothing short of amazing. Conversely, buy something from most big name bands with huge label contracts and it sounds like it's being played through a tin wall on guitars made out of a sponge.
  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:53AM (#30350842) Homepage Journal

    It's not really becoming popular because it is better to hear music off one. The vinyl turntable is a performance instrument all of its own.

    About a year back I ran into someone who had a vinyl turntable hooked into Ubuntu studio. He'd essentially use the turntable [flic.kr] hooked into the MIDI port(?) which lets him control any soundtrack with a touch of his finger.

    The guy was explaining how the user interface of a turntable supersedes anything else out there for what he's doing. That in some sense, it's the touch screen of the music man.

  • Re:Pfft... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:05AM (#30350902) Journal

    I like Mozart on the glass armonica [youtube.com], myself.

    -jcr

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:22AM (#30350978)

    At least for a long while. There now is in the form of Final Scratch. What it does is encode a timecode signal on a record, which you then feed to a soundcard. Final Scratch then interprets that timecode to tell what you are doing with the player and can control the speed and seeking of the digital files associated with it. Works great, I've seen it in action a number of times.

    Another factor was the processing power for good resampling. These days that is trivial but it wasn't when digital first came about. If you are going to stretch the sound a lot by slowing it down, you need to properly resample the data to make it sound smooth. You'll get nasty artifacts otherwise.

    Net result is non-degraded digital sound, with turntable controls. You can reuse the same timecode record quite a few times before ti becomes damaged to the point of having to get a new one.

    These days, however, if you aren't scratching and such, software can beat match way better than you can. Songs can be tagged with BPM (or measured) and you can visually set cut points. Not as much fun though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:58AM (#30351098)

    There's a number of apps (and gear) nowdays that use special vinyl records with an audio time-code cut into it. The audio signal (which is the time code) goes into a computer or hardware which then converts the time-code so that it controls wavs and MP3 via software. It started back in the late 90's with Final Scratch released by Stanton, and since then Serato Scratch and Traktor Scratch were released by competitors. There's also an open source app, Mixx, which is able to use the time-code vinyl of these products. I've never heard of anyone converting the audio-time code to straight midi, if that's what this guy was doing, but it sounds entirely feasible if that was what one wanted to do.

  • physicality of vinyl (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:52AM (#30351344)
    First of all, we need to keep this in perspective. TFA says that through November there had been 2.1 million vinyl records sold in the US. That's far less than individual albums once sold, so vinyl hasn't staged some glorious comeback, it's just establishing itself as a minor niche.

    That said, I'm a vinyl junkie and am happy for its continued survival, if only because it means that I'll be able to get new parts for my turntable for a long time yet. I think that the biggest advantage of vinyl is the physicality of the product. This includes of course the artwork and liner notes, which will be much larger and usually more attractive than with a CD. But there's more than this. Purchasing records often involves flipping through large bins of vinyl, something you sort of get with CDs, but instead of the clack or platic bins you have a nice soft thwap of cardboard album sleeves. Playing vinyl is also a much more physical act than playing a CD. With a CD you open the tray, put the disc on, then press a couple of buttons. With vinyl you have to open the lid, put the record on the turntable, line up the needle and plop it down, then come back and flip it over in twenty minutes or so. Choosing a specific track involves some pretty careful aligning of the needle. It forces you to become more engaged with what you're doing and promotes a more active listening; you can't so easily slap something on and ignore it, and the 6-disc changer (and, god help us, the random button) don't exist. You have to interact with your music because there will be a little bit of physical labor involved in keeping it going for more than 20 minutes at a time.

    Of course, playing 7" singles is even better for this, because you're hopping up every three minutes and constantly having to think, "What would sound good with this?" Vinyl is far better for an evening devoted to listening to music because it really encourages you to make the music the central part of the evening. Too much distraction and there's no more music. That contrasts with CDs, and is entirely different from mp3 listening. Banshee tells me that I can start playing my mp3 library and continue for 22.5 days. That sort of thing promotes an extremely passive kind of listening, music as just something that's there.

    A final thing to consider: I have a few CDs that have become scratched and are now unplayable. I have a bunch of LPs that have become scratched and now have a little scratch on them when you play them. My LPs are going to outlast my CDs.
  • Re:Wait a second.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Monday December 07, 2009 @09:01AM (#30351626)
    >In the UK, turntables never completely went out of the stores.
    Even more bizarrely, Linn, makers of very high end audio recently announced they are ceasing manufacture of CD players as sales have died compared to their multi-room, streaming audio systems.
  • Digital is superior (Score:3, Interesting)

    by magamiako1 (1026318) on Monday December 07, 2009 @10:18AM (#30352516)
    Is it just me, or do the people hyping up vinyl's superiority not really caring about the music?

    I am a "quality-phile" in that I have to have the highest quality of which I can afford.

    A) I can tell you the difference between Pandora radio and my ipod.
    B) I can tell you the difference between my 128kbps mp3s and my 224kbps AAC (itunes) files.
    C) I can do all of this on rather low end speaker systems (stock speakers in my Elantra).

    Digital audio is far superior to anything analog that can come before it. That said, of course, there's something to be said about live music in a concert hall.
  • Re:Cue the... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday December 07, 2009 @10:35AM (#30352736) Journal

    >>>Not until we have Vinyl ROMs..... The system takes 45 minutes to boot...

    Not even close. My computer used to store programs like that (by sound) on cassettes. It would take about 5 minutes to load a 40 kilobyte program. Assuming that same speed holds true for data stored as audio on a record, it would take 12,500 minutes, or just over 8 days to boot a modern Linux OS.

  • Loudness factor? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wing03 (654457) on Monday December 07, 2009 @10:41AM (#30352806)
    Not long ago, some people realized that CDs were being mastered so that everything was loud and noted that instruments or tracks that should be subtle were being turned up.... all in the name of competing with other noises, I believe. Do they do the same thing with the new vinyl?

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