Analog is the new pink

I work with a lot of "kids" in their 20's who seem to think analog is cool, so they are buying cheap turntables and used vinyl and acting like they know the difference between the sound of records vs. CDs. I think it is great that they are discovering analog in an age that has gone digital, but in my experience CDs actually sound better when using lower end equipment. I didn't truly fall in love with analog until I was able to afford a serious system costing thousands of dollars. My ears are older now so I understand that I am not as able to hear certain frequencies, but my old ears can definitely hear the difference between good and bad sounding systems.
I am not complaining, just making an observation here. I also enjoy the fashion side of vinyl, but I wouldn't be listening to vinyl if I didn't have the great system that I own. It would not be worth the trouble. Thoughts?
Its hard to take the younger demographic's interest in vinyl too seriously. I doubt most of them have ever heard a decent (let alone great) stereo system fronted by either analogue or digital. Remember, this is the same group that happily downloads low res videos from Netflix and listens to 128 MP3 on stock IPod buds. Not saying they wouldn't love it if they heard better, they just don't get exposed to the higher end stuff. And sadly, many are content to trade off cheap (or free) at the expense of quality.
I agree with Spinaker1, but then again a cheap vinyl set up might sound better than some MP3 setups. It is all a relative experience in the early ages of appreciation. They most likely do not know the true treasure that is in the analogue presentation, but in the 70s when I was first acquiring a "system" for my music most of my peers were happy with very low quality music sources even in the day. It is an affliction that sets in early and is uncurable. A very small percentage of this analogue "interested" group will go on to join our ranks and it is those few we should be watching for and nurturing when we are able to.

One issue I see is the physical space required for vinyl, not just the turntable, but the albums as well. Given a younger persons more limited financial resources, they are less likely to live in a house alone. And vinyl cant be played in the car. So they have to copy the albums to cd or Ipod. They are also more mobile, and it is a lot harder to move 1000 albums than it is to move a hardrive. Vinyl is kind of like books.

Even so, we did it in the 70s when we didnt have a choice, and a bunch of albums were somewhat of a status symbol, just like a kick ass system. Not so much these days
When people rave about their first, very low-end analog setup, I believe what they really mean is, "I'm shocked it doesn't sound bad."
It's hip to listen to vinyl. The attraction is only the "coolness" factor. It has nothing at all to do with sound quality or even music. If you don't understand this either you don't remember being cool, you never were cool or you don't have kids who are cool.
Will some of these new vinyl buyers become converts to hifi? We can hope.
I was going to disagree with some of the above comments point for point, but I think it's fair to say that there isn't much I can agree with at all. If by "taking younger people's interest in vinyl too seriously" you mean that they will abandon "easier" media, then you're probably correct, but I think some of you underestimate the impact of vinyl (analog) and young people in general.

As a present this past Xmas I gave my 20 yr old son a basic vinyl setup consisting of a '70's vintage DD table (SL something or other), AT cartridge, Cambridge Audio phono stage and decent IC. It was accompanied by original copies of Beatles "Sergeant Pepper's LHCB", Michael Jackson "Thriller", Miles Davis "Bitches Brew", Tokyo String Qt.'s "Bartok/String Quartets", and "The Godfather" soundtrack (he is an aspiring film maker/director). This is a young man who is already living on his own and supporting himself :-) , and not easily swayed by pressure and trends. His text message to me that night after going home and listening to his records: "Holy shit, this is the first time that I have really heard music in my apt.!"

He is now actively hunting vinyl on weekends.
I think vinyl on a "garage-sale" TT sounds better than most digital. Timrhu, perhaps I'm not "getting" you but, if you're serious, I wholeheartedly disagree with your comment about analog playback merely being "cool" rather than actually sounding better.
Frogman, good to hear your son is on the right track for life-long music listening and enjoyment. I will have to temper this by stating that I don't think he would be in the majority of the "younger people" crowd I was refering to-rather the exception. I was of course speaking in generalities. We audiophile denizens as a group are the 1/10 of 1% of the normal listening and music buying population. The other posters makes some excellent points as to how things have changed since our generation was first exposed to stereo systems back in the 60/70/80s. Timrhu's comments basically endorse my original statement. They like vinyl 'cause its cool. Nothing wrong with that, but I can't extrapolate this trend into the next generation's burgeoning interest in all things audiophile. As usual, the 1/10 of 1% of them will move into the twisted and demented ranks of "soundstage" grail chasers like us.
To echo here.

Vinyl playback among the youth is not much different that when other gens were younger. Its about hip, cool and not really about or if analog sounds better. Of course back in the 60's and 70's there were less options in recorded music for the masses. You had vinyl which offed the most availability and best general quality of sound be it on a higher end setup or a more modest one. You had 8 tracks which had all sorts of reliability issues and less penetration at home. The audio cassette was still rather new and teething. It did not become a credible audio format until the 80's. Reel to Reel was too expensive and too fussy that only the most audiophile-like persons bothered.

Today the youth, well all of us if need be have numerous digital formats to which most are based on ease of use not quality. But again most people regardless of era did not listen to music only on quality of sound and did not buy high quality gear. The price to good gear relative to income was higher back in the day. Today, yes many youth will be fans of quality sound, they will invest in better gear be it new or search out good vintage gear. They like us and others before us will be a minority though.

Enjoy what they bring to it all and by making vinyl hip, cool they help keep it alive and for us, even those who are audiophile geeks it's a good thing.

Vinyl on modest gear can still sound great. The vinyl collection with the album art and liner notes are all a part of it all and that's why its special compared to digital especially downloads.,
Timrhu, perhaps I'm not "getting" you but, if you're serious, I wholeheartedly disagree with your comment about analog playback merely being "cool" rather than actually sounding better.

My post is not about which medium sounds better, it's about the attraction young people have toward vinyl.
As Frogman, I did a similar thing for my daughter when she expressed an interest in my albums. She bought a few albums to play on my system so I set up a vinyl system in her room. Her friends would come over and they'd spin the records. It lasted a few months. She went off to college and the fascination waned. Now she's graduated and has moved on, the lps are in a closet in a spare room.
I could be wrong but I believe that is a more typical scenario. Tim Tebow the current mainsteam vinyl renassaince is a fad...the 70s/80s experience is being marketed to youth in film, clothes, music...and yes medium...most of them buy a usb turntable at Target and rave how Warm vinyl sounds...similiar to underdeveloped kids will eat any thing...their sonic sensibilities are a decade or so from maturity
Like Frogman, I strongly disagree with much that has been said here. I have always found that young people, if exposed to a good vinyl set-up (and no, it doesn't have to cost thousands of dollars), do immediately hear the difference. Especially if they are young music students....
There seems to be two discussions going on here. 1:Are the kids listening to vinyl because they hear an inherant improvement over digital sources available (They don't and aren't-its a cool factor as mentioned) and 2: Would they appreciate a system that was high performing and well matched. (possibly, but there is no guarantee. Afterall most of our significant others listen to the systems we have and still could care less, why assume mere expoisure will create interest? In some small cases it might-that 1/10 of 1% again. But hearing a difference and actually caring about it are two different things. Face it, we are a obscure sector of an already niche market...
The thing I don't like about this trend is that it's driving up the cost of used vinyl. The Half-Price Books in my area used to have very good prices on used vinyl about 3-4 years ago. But in the last 1-2 years, their pricing has become ridiculous. This one retailer of course does not represent the entire market, but it seems this may be related.
Ditto on Half-Price Books. Their prices are ridiculous now. They don't clean the vinyl or put new outer sleeves on. They just slap a price on the jacket. The condition of their records are usually poor as well.
@ 01-16-12: Frogman

Right On! :-)
My son is a junior in college. He has heard my system for years and wanted a turntable. So I got him some old gear 2 years ago and now he has a collection of 100 albums. Over New Years he had 6 college friends over to stay and party. I invited them into my stereo room and they all said it sounded a lot better than digital. 3 of the kids also had turntables. One kid asked her parent for a turntable and got a "Crosley" for Xmas.

They all still use digital as their main source.

One of the kids told me that he liked listening to records because you "had to sit down and listen to it- with digital you just punch a button and skip around."

My take on it is that out of this group there were some who were definitely into the "better" sound and some who were just into the "cool" factor of having a turntable.

Not making any judgments here, just reporting what I observed.
In my scuffling days, I was not all that interested in the finer things in life because they were not a priority. It's a perfectly appropriate cognitive mechanism to not care for/want what you can't have or what is not important to you. As more important developmental issues are met, I'm hopeful that young folks who love music will figure out that sound matters. As for cheap analog vs cheap digital, in a visual analogy I much prefer the look of a 35mm snapshot to a 5MP image.
I think it's great that a new group of people are getting into vinyl and actually playing it. I'd be upset if they were buying it as a decoration.

I'm not sure you have to spend a ton of money to get better sound than a CD player though...

I'm 35. I grew up with vinyl but didn't buy my own turntable until about 7 years ago. My father had his old Technics SL-BD2 (which isn't anything remotely close to high end, nor close to Technics' famous tables) and albums hidden in the basement, as he didn't have the heart to throw them out,nor did he want to listen to my mother's nagging. So I scooped them up. Put a $25 Audio Technica P-Mount cart from Circuit City (nothing like AT's famous carts) on the table to see if it still worked. As low end as that setup was,it did things that my NAD CDP couldn't do. The CDP was far better, but somehow, vinyl's soul came through and I could see what it was trying to do.

I've since upgraded to a Pro-Ject 1Xpression with acrylic platter, speed box 2, and Dynavector 10x5. No comparison between the tables. The turntable sounds different than my Rega DAC. Actually, I think the DAC sounds better overall, but not much. However, the turntable does something my DAC (nor any other digital player I've heard, regardless of price) can't do.

There's a difference. From the lowest end to the highest end. I'm not talking about nostalgia nor visualy swagger. Perhaps sonic swagger?

But then again, what are they connecting the turntables to?

There's a vinyl shop around the corner from U Albany. They sell a ton of vinyl to the students as well as audiophiles and non-audiophiles. They also sell some vintage receivers, vintage turntables, cartridges, and phono preamps. Speaking to the owner, he thinks a lot of them are using vintage gear to play the albums on - tables, receivers and speakers. Maybe this is what a lot of them are doing elsewhere? Digging up dad's old gear?

I have worked in a record store for over twenty years and I can assure you that kids are going with the trend of analog coolness AND getting into hi fi.

I hear the most dumb comments and the most smart comments daily.

As far as the trend of analog well it's true... we sell lots of records to kids who don't even have a TT - but realize a lot of records now come with download codes or a copy on CD included. Some kids buy them to frame!! Did you know a lot or retailers sell frames for just that purpose... this I don't like so much :) But I remember when the CD was new, I had a hundred before I bought my first CD player, because the last thing I wanted was a brand new CD player and 1 CD!

On the other hand, I'm always in conversation with the coolest kids about all things hi fi... Dynaco, Eico, Heathkit, Primaluna, Rogue Audio, Garrard 301's and 401's, Lenco 75, Pro-Ject, Rega, Clearaudio, MM VS. MC, interconnects, Nitty Gritty VS. Spin Clean, stylus cleaner, inner and outer sleeves, phono pre-amps... you get the picture. I hear these words daily - from kids. I assure you lots of them are interested and spending their bucks figuring out what they like. Most kids can't afford "high end" but some are trying.

My friend owns a hi fi store and he is truly busy. He has been in the business for over thirty years and has seen all the changes and can't believe how much things have picked up.

On my end too, I can tell you vinyl has saved my business! Vinyl sales are up by 77% in 2011 over 2010, and 64% of those records are sold in indie record stores. Record Store Day is a zoo!

We need to give the kids a break. Most of them are born with a computer that says music and movies are free. The kid who works with me has recently bought a Rotel integrated, a Clearaudio Emotion, Focal speakers, Kimber cable, and some other goodies and he has never owned a CD player!! He has always played music on his computer at home or on an iPod in his car! This is amazing to me as someone who is going on 50, but quite simply - he is a kid. For a great long while it has been uncool to be stacking actual copies up on your shelf when every ad tells you to stack in on a hard drive or a stick or a chip or a usb or whatever.

I don't think most of the people who post here spend too much time at the record shop anymore, because you would see the kids eating up the goodies, and for whatever reason - they are eating it up.

And for all you guys who complain about the price of used vinyl... your days of pillaging are over! They are the in thing and now you have to pay crazy prices for them, but you should be used to this by now anyway.. you are and audiophile after all, and price is no object:)

The kids are alright.
Time to go back to RTR tape and decks and stay there. Vinyl is a mass-market medium too, just better than cd.
I'd love a reel to reel player. Problem is what's available music-wise?

A year or so ago I was buying new vinyl regularly at Hot Topic of all places. Their prices were a bit cheaper than Music Direct, Acoustic Sounds, et al., plus no shipping to deal with.

Everytime I'd see someone different at the register I'd ask if they knew how many people buying vinyl their were actually listening to it. Every cashier said about 3/4 of the buyers listened it. I had a great conversation with one or two of them about turntables, gear, etc. The cashiers weren't really people I thought I could have a meaningful conversation with (ever been in that store?), but I was pleasantly surprised. I think they were surprised that a 30-something guy could be cool too.

I got one of them to buy a Pro-Ject Debut, NAD integrated, and Focal 705Vs from a local shop. He loved it. I was talking about how there's great gear out their for not much money, and he should check out the local shop to hear some stuff. A few months later when I went back in, he spotted me and told me what he bought. There's one person I got through to. Not that I preach hifi by any means though.
Guitarslimjunior, you made my point perfectly; thanks. As a follow up to my earlier post:

I think I have created a monster. My son, who showed NO interest in my stereo let alone my tt before being on his own, called me up a couple of days ago to ask for help troubleshooting what sounded from his description like a mild case of mistracking. He was very distraught that vocals on his new LP finds sounded a little "I don't know, just not right; a little staticky". And so it begins....
There is exactly nothing wrong with this little vinyl "fadlet" among hipsters or anybody else as the only result is good for vinyl...hard to fault newbie youngsters for "moving on" from what might have been a "closer brush with vinyl", as anybody who has one of these young people around can attest to the taste and style niches they need to own. My daughter was dragged (she seemed to like it) to several years of monthly "Folkie-esque singer/songwriter" concerts I mixed, until she got older and lost interest. Now she's a college kid and part of the DJ/Dubstep "dance 'till you drop" scene, and that's all she seems to listen to for now. She does like my guitar playing there's that at least. Vinyl has momentum pressing plants, etc., and many people does anyone know who really cares about HiFi? It's always been damn few, and that's fine with me.
In my are...exile in main st goes for 30 used...Cmon that's rape...we all know the seller got a stale cookie for it...that's just one example...there is tremendous profit with used sales...even on crap product...some indie stores are taking advantage if this
I have grown kids who have always enjoyed my system and expressed their admiration by asking their friends to listen. They recently accompanied me on a vinyl hunting trip and picked up several lp's of their own. Records shop owners in Philly and New York have told me that most of their clients are younger. Kids are easily attracted to the simplicity of mp3's but react positively to quality audio. Vinyl does things that digital can't and many who experience this will be permanently attracted. College kids will one day have lots of money to spend- that's the future of audio. BTW my kids and I have been to Brandi Carlisle concerts (their style)and now we're going to see Jane Monheit (my style). Quality sells!
When I was a kid back in the 70's, my father had a TT based system and so did my older brother.

I had a few crappy things to play some records on, radio etc. I mostly listened to radio, as media was pretty much unobtainable with no income. I could only hope to be gifted something, maybe an occasional allowance. If PC's and downloading were common then like they are now, you can bet I would have been downloading constantly, and files without too much compression would have sounded infinitely better then what I was experiencing on old worn out gear.

The point I'm trying to make is that I read everywhere that people think kids don't understand what good sound is and/or appreciate it. I think it's quite contrary. I think that kids do, and they have it a lot better then most of the kids did back in "the good ol' days". Sure I've heard them running around with iPods and headphones they came with, but I have often seen these kids try a different set of headphone and watch their eyes light up, adults too.

If vinyl IS a fad/trend, then so be it. I have to agree that if it's helping to keep the interest alive then that's good for us vinyl lovers. I do feel that there are so many things that can go with a basic TT setup, used or otherwise, that the "hip~ness" of it may be enough to keep some interested, but not over the long haul. Hopefully, there will be a few interested enough to get it right and I dont doubt that there will be.
I am putting together a bunch of jazz LPs of which I own duplicate copies to give to my 29-year-old nephew. Last time I visited his home in Michigan, I was happily surprised to see a turntable in a small cabinet system. He actually remarked that this particular tt was not nearly as good as the one he and his wife had owned in their previous home. He was thinking about an upgrade. One must encourage such behavior.
As a college "kid" myself, I'd like to chime in here. I own a Pro-Ject RPM 4, a Dynaco PAS-2, Dynaco ST-70, and A-25's, and I'd like to say that vinyl is indeed better. It does seem like my friends and people I talk to (the ones who wear silly sweaters and thick glasses) seem to be into vinyl only for the "cool" factor. They seem to be genuine, but when I ask them how they clean their LPs, or how they store them, they give me blank stares. I've been collecting for about 8 or 9 years, and I hope to continue for quite some time. The "Hipster" effect is certainly there, and its something to take into consideration, but in my opinion, let them do their thing, and let me stick with my vacuum tubes.