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But in my lifetime the ritual involved with everything to do with vinyl/LPs is without a doubt more involved and that meaning I actually have to be more involved to get the best sonic results compared to the digital disks. Does any of this make sense to you?
Absolutely. And well stated. This is why I often recommend buying the table and arm you like based on looks and feel as much as sound. Record playing is inherently hands-on in a way digital will never be able to match.
This is true even though a lot of the same things apply to both. CD has cleaners and buffers and trimmers and paint pens, anti-static and resonance and dark matter stickers. CDs sound better when demagnetized even though there is nothing to be demagnetized. The CD laser needs to be cleaned, the CDP responds to Cones and vibration control and on and on and on.
Yet still for all that it comes down to you push a button, plop it down, and away it goes. You could be brain dead for all the involvement CD provides. Or heck with streaming you can be a total zombie, not only brain dead but literally no brain, the stream just goes and goes and goes. Which is fitting, seeing as the way it sounds nobody ever really gonna listen anyway.
The closest records ever got to that is the juke box. But even that is more involving than the digital version, which is basically streaming. Zzzzzz. Pretty much all of us though, when we talk about records we mean turntables. Manual turntable. Not even semi-auto, usually. Which means you have to actually think about what you want, go and get it, pull it out, figure out which side you want, see if it looks okay or needs cleaning, and if so then how much, carefully place it on the platter, (hopefully) clamp it down in place, and with the right amount of tension on the clamp, start the thing running, cue the arm, lower the lift, un-mute the phono stage, and only then finally sit down to enjoy 15 or 20 minutes of wonderful music. Music no CD has or ever will approach in its majesty.
Then all the while its playing you have the satisfaction of knowing it was you, little old you, who brought this unlikely magic to life. Because unlike CD where nobody has the foggiest what is going on, playing a record involves easily understandable mechanical concepts like being level, angles, levers, magnets, grooves and needles. Things that are really hardly any different than a gramophone, only when done with careful precision are somehow able to transform your room to a whole other realm.
You do this. Every tiny little tweak and adjustment you make can be heard. You plop a CD down and yeah, it is nice if instead of a cheezy flimsy plastic tray it lands with a thunk on a nice solid surface. Mark Levinson overcharges people astronomical sums for just such an experience. Nice solid buttons, too. So its not like people totally lose their desire for the full tactile experience just because they prioritize convenience over quality. But in those terms its no contest. Only records give you the Full Monty.
I have a love/hate relationship with the rituals associated with vinyl, but I use vinyl as my music source because that medium elicits more of the same emotions as live music, compared to any digital source I have yet to experience. Yet, objectively, I would not argue that the very best modern digital (and only the very best) is "cleaner" sonically and easier to use. And the beat goes on.
I have often wondered if there is more of a ritual for the playing of vinyl, and even a CD for those people who have had some, or even a lot of musical training. While I have not played in a band or orchestra for years now, there was something about the setting up of chairs, getting one's instrument ready to play, the whole assembling of the orchestra, and those rituals that have carried over into my time with audio. I also like the fact that with vinyl and CD that I own the music whereas with streaming etc. I am just "renting". There is something satisfying about the physical touching, handling of the LPs and to a lesser degree, the CD. Call it a romance if you want. I tried streaming, did not like it. I felt "removed" from it all, as there was no real hands on. I like cars. When I work on a car, clean it myself, change the oil, do some mechanical work with it etc. I feel more a part of the car and more of an ownership. It makes me want to take better care of it. Perhaps there is that aspect of the whole LP thing as well. There will be those who get this, and those who don't. It works for me. As I said, I feel more of a connection to the music with this small "hands on" piece as opposed to how I felt with streaming just like I feel more like I am driving when I use my cars with manual transmissions as opposed to pushing a button or lever into "Drive".
My two cents...
And the anology with cars is very real. When I have gotten another sports car I always say to my mate that it will probably be the last manual transmission I will ever have....and I started saying that about 5 cars ago. My current vehicle is a sports sedan with a 5 speed manual....and as I told my family "probably my last manual transmission". And there is something about hand washing a car that is more satisfying than the car wash place.
Playing music is playing music by any means. Sometime vinyl sounds better, sometimes digital but there is a tradition with vinyl that is missing with digital and that is flipping through thousands of discs at a big store pulling a disc because it is an artist you read about elsewhere or a cover that speaks to you like Transatlanticism (Death Cab). Spending hours and coming up with perhaps 10 records you are dying to hear. Warm up the tubes! Handling a record is special. A CD not. A file not. I just got all four Kate Bush Remastered in Vinyl box sets. Gorgeous artwork, great pressings, fabulous mastering and of course Kate. I never get this rush buying files on line. Don't get me wrong I like the music it is the experience you have buying it that is missing with digital.
Of course this makes sense!
I have been a digital guy all my life, just by generation, not by choice I suppose. I recently purchased what I call my "mid-life" crisis stereo. All analog, all tubes. I’ve wanted something like this for 20 years.
I fell in love with tubes about 15-20 years ago, I am a guitar player, mostly acoustic, but when I heard a tube amp for the first time my ears were like "Hello Clarice..." Love at first listen. I finally got a stereo and It’s been a rough 5 months adapting to vinyl and I have phono stage issues, but I have met great people along the way and all I can say is this.
Vinyl is a bitch, no question about it. She demands your time and your attention, I really liken it to a beautiful women. You have to bring the best out of it for it to shine, and its not cheap. But when it is on point, WOW there is no substitute...the tangibility can’t be beat!
My post got pulled. I did not think it was all that controversial but someone must have had a problem with the word "erection."
I am married to the most beautiful woman and my problem is that she does not ignore me enough. You can only take so much Viagra:)
whatjd, I would say cheaper and less reliable. I can't predict what a Ferrari will do but I sure can predict what my wife will do.
You know, if you need a ritual to enjoy music, you should do it right.
Set up an altar to Apollo and Euterpe. Before you play a song, album, vinyl, disc or file, light some incense, bow before the altar, say a prayer for good listening, etc., etc.
You can add as many rituals as you require to fully enjoy a piece of music. I mean, sliding a piece of plastic out of a cardboard sleeve and brushing it off is pretty weak as rituals go.
I personally do not condone any animal or human sacrifice. You do not need to do that to enjoy music or anything else.