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Music Hardware

Not All iPods — Vinyl and Turntables Gain Sales 405

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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  • Random fluctuation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:49AM (#30350508)
    Sales can't drop below zero, at some point sales bottom out and then increase slightly (which may represent a massive % increase even though sales are still modest).
  • by JohnBailey ( 1092697 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:17AM (#30350656)

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

    But a small part of a big market is still worth having. Any idea what 1% of the entire recorded music market is worth?

  • Re:HA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:29AM (#30350738)

    Possible, but in reality most vinyl discs are a direct transfer from the digital master used for the CD, including the brick-wall mix.

    Incorrect. You have to carefully master a recording before you can press it onto vinyl. Particularly bad masters sometimes won't even press, the material won't take it and it'll collapse. Not quite as bad but still worse masters will produce a groove that is unplayable. Bass-heavy records have a shorter running time due to the required groove size modifications. Certain stereo panning tricks can cause turntables to skip, so they have to be removed or reduced on vinyl masters.

    There's probably some vinyl discs mastered that are just a DAT shoved through to a presser, but they're not common.

  • Re:Pfft... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:47AM (#30350810) Journal
    You can keep your new fangled wax cylinder, give me Bach on a harpsichord.
  • Re:Fad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:00AM (#30350878)

    You touched on the actual reason why vinyl has a market, and that reason is here to stay: Vinyl is complicated. You can't just waltz into a store and buy the perfect turntable. A turntable is never perfect. You can always one-up "the competition". Then you have to add all sorts of fancy dampening widgets to your setup and let's not forget the rituals that surround playing a vinyl record: What you consider an annoying hassle is an audiophile's fetish and an opportunity to distinguish himself from his lesser peers.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:18AM (#30350966) Journal

    The number of shops selling physical CD's is steadily decreasing

    It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to buy bits pressed into a plastic disk, when you can get the same bits through your internet connection.

    In a few more years, people might realize that they have potable water available in their homes, and quit buying it in pretentious little bottles.


  • Re:Fad. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:55AM (#30351088) Homepage
    Yes! That's exactly what this is about. You can always upgrade your turntable, get a better cleaning cloth, better speakers. It's about having something that's deliberately mysterious.
  • by bfenton ( 171500 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:31AM (#30351228)

    But a small part of a big market is still worth having. Any idea what 1% of the entire recorded music market is worth?

    Vinyl didn't account for 1% of the entire recorded music market. It was 1% of full album sales, which have been dropping precipitously.

  • Re:Fad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drmpeg ( 1408305 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:32AM (#30351232)
    The only cogent post so far. Having grown up with vinyl, it's just about the worst format for daily use (except for 8-track tape). Each play causes deterioration, not matter how expensive the turntable/cartridge. At the time, it was thought that the acceleration force of the needle often exceeded the elasticity of the vinyl. When CD came out in 1983 or so, I welcomed it with open arms. Although many of the early CD's sounded pretty bad, at least they sounded the same after each play.
  • by trudyscousin ( 258684 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:00AM (#30353018)

    - 22-26 minutes maximum playing time per side.
    - Rumble. Especially when it came pressed into the record.
    - Scratches. A click or pop was forever. Often with the very first playing.
    - Warpage. This was especially a problem after 1969-1972, when records became thinner. (Thank you RCA, for that "Dynaflex" nonsense.)
    - Playing a phonograph record was a fiddly business. Extracting the record from its jacket and inner bag without getting fingerprints all over it (which could lead to more clicks and rumble). Cleaning the record surface with a brush before playing. You took all those precautions because you didn't want to make things worse, but it was rather like pissing in the wind, as the saying goes. No matter how great your cartridge was or how light your tracking force, your records would inevitably wear, especially your favorites.

    Obviously, I'm not in the demographic that wants vinyl today. I was never a DJ (not in the context of a dance club, anyway), and I have no nostalgia, false or otherwise, to bring me back to the medium.

    But I can't help but wonder if the problems that plague CDs today parallel the problems that vinyl in its heyday had. Everything I mentioned above were the reasons I was so quick to embrace CDs. (And if you've ever heard Ry Cooder's "Bop 'Til You Drop" or Dire Straits' "Brothers In Arms," you know exactly how wonderful CDs could sound.) But, it was a reaction, and I'm wondering if things like DRM and the "loudness wars" are the reaction people who are migrating to vinyl are having.

  • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:33AM (#30353478)

    Poor Sound Engineering is why CDs do not sound good enough; source recordings should be at least 48khz minimum and they downsample to CD - if done properly, the CD should sound just fine to everybody but the fanatics with good enough hardware, software, and/or imagination to find something wrong with it. My record player didn't have more dynamic range - and it wasn't the cheapest model either.... that is, excluding the pops and scratches which did give it a larger dynamic range.

    Besides, LP has many more flaws like how they lack BASS and need it reduced and then boosted on playback. It wouldn't matter if we had 96Khz 32bit sound on DVDs - sound engineers would continue try to wreak everything again. What is needed is an embedded volume code for the player's decoder / amplifier circuit to use to instantly raise or lower the volume so these sound engineers can continue to mess everything up to a ridiculous extreme without actually throwing away sound quality. This would also allow people to ignore the dynamic compression by telling the player to ignore the encoded volume/dynamic range track. []

  • by Reverberant ( 303566 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:02PM (#30354786) Homepage

    digital audio turns that smooth analog wave into a stair-step. again, it will never completely, truly and accurately reproduce the analog wave. we are stuck in a format with the CD that is 16-bit, 44.1KHz. higher bit-depths and sampling rates will create a stair-step that is a closer representation of the analog curve, but it will never be exactly there.

    There is no such thing as a "smooth" analog wave, the "smoothness" of an analog wave is limited by the size of the molecules of the media the music is stored on. In the case of vinyl, if you look at the size of a vinyl molecule (nevermind the size of the stylus tip) and the height/width of a typical vinyl grove, the number of "steps" in a vinyl recorded is far far less than the number of steps in a 16bit/44.1kHz CD.

    Of course referring to "steps" of a digital recording is misleading as well, those "steps" are not played back directly, they're used by the DAC to reconstruct a "smooth" analog waveform. It's like saying a blueprint can't ever be te same thing as a house because it's a on small piece of paper - the blueprint isn't meant to be the house, it's meant a series of instructions on how to construct the house.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:23PM (#30357930) Homepage Journal

    Humans have a range of 20Hz to 20kHz Even at 96Khz sampling would take you to 48 kHz which is twice human hearing

    The closer you get to the Nyquist limit, the worse the aliasing. You can't hear a 30 kHz tone, but you can tell the difference between a pure 1kHz tone and a 1kHz tone that's mixed with a 30 kHz tone; it affects the harmonics.

  • Re:Fad. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScottBob ( 244972 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @11:27PM (#30361218)
    My sentiments exactly... Vinyl records are to modern digital formats what a wood burning fireplace is to central gas/oil/electric heat. A wood fire has to be tended to; you have to chop, haul and stack wood, rake coals, empty ashes, etc., whereas central heat is easy, clean, convenient, and automatic. Yet wood fireplaces are still around. (There's nothing like sitting by a fire while listening to a record and reading a book, but when I want heat and want it NOW, I'm flipping the thermostat to my (noisy) two stage heat pump.) And yes, they do make high efficiency wood stoves that can compete with central heat, of course they are mighty expensive (think of an automatic catalytic pellet stove as being like a turntable with a laser stylus).

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!