Would vinyl even be invented today?


Records, cartridges and tonearms seem like such an unlikely method to play music--a bit of Rube Goldberg. Would anyone even dream of this today? It's like the typewriter keyboard--the version we have may not be the best, but it stays due to the path dependence effect. If vinyl evolved from some crude wax cylinder to a piece of rock careening off walls of vinyl, hasn't it reached the limits of the approach? Not trying to be critical--just trying to get my head around it.
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Showing 12 responses by scvan

So Jack White's Lazaretto set the record for sales of vinyl for 1 week at 40,000. Biggest one week sales of a LP ever. I wonder what the demographics on that album looked like?

If it is anything like the people that go to Jack White concerts, it is not 50 year old audiophiles.

more hipster irony explained
Is taking an analog signal, converting it into a bunch of 1's and 0's that can only exist in cyperspace, and then reassemble the digital bits in an attempt to restore the analog signal as close to the original as possible, so we can then use it to listen to music, any more plausible?

Has no one listened to any music that has been produced since '87? Somewhere it has gone digital in its chain before it hit your ears. A record off of those digital masters sounds "better" to many than listening to the original digital hi-res version. Why?
All analog is fun and does have a unique experience, but it would never be invented today. It is expensive and has many incredible flaws.

I think many people enjoy the sound of a record is partially because of the high noise floor, where digital can sometimes sound just a little to antiseptic.
If you have the opportunity, listen to a great pair of speakers in an anechoic chamber. Awful. Absolutely awful, but probably closer to perfect. Humans use all the background noises around us to give us a sense of space. Analog's noise duplicates that space, digital does not have it.
It is a feeling thing, but not a sound reproduction thing.
If someone woke today in a non vinyl world and dreamed it up today, they would certainly say "yeah, but there's no decent new music to record on it." Then rollover and go back to sleep.

Coming from a Wilco fan....
Kids these days. They don't understand that when I was young even the worst musician farted better sounds than people hear now.
Didn't Al Gore invent the LP?
No. He is clearly a digital guy.
i imagine he has hottter GF than most of us do know, but that is what happens with money, power, and inviting the internet ;)
Actually, high res formats brought vinyl back from the dead. When Sony disscontued support for SACD, and DVD-A didn't really go anywhere, they couldn't make TT's fast enough. What happened with those 2 formats is a direct cause as to why vinyl is doing so well today.

I'm not sure about that. From what I see at record stores it seems about 95% of record sales are people who have systems that would be better used for CD playback. A cheap CD player will almost always outperform a cheap TT with built in phono pre (numark/crosley).
The resurgence of vinyl is not about sound quality it is about hipsters being ironically cool.
Lazaretto is a DR10 per the dynamic compression rating. That is not bad for a rock album, I wish it were more like a DR12 to add a little to the subtlety but that won't happen for awhile I suppose. Louder i better, right?

It is a good album. It is also good to have a woman in Detroit, LA and Nashville, just like Jack.... ;)
That said, from the numbers that were supplied, we can say in excess of 300,000 turntables sold last year and that means if you add the Numarks, Ions, Audio-Technica sales, it is safe to say approximately 1,000,000 turntables sold last year. Add Crosley and the number would probably double. We claim it is "safe" to say 1,000,000 because a few years ago Ion did reveal that it sold that many turntables.
That is taken from an article on analog planet. The 300,000 number is of "high-grade" manufacturers, basically anybody whose name is not mentioned.

So assuming that at most 30% of sales are decent TT's and the rest are junk is the resurgence of vinyl a sound thing. Then if we add in Crosley it could be as little as 15% of TTs are decent stuff. Is that a vinyl sound loving resurgence or something else?

The highest selling LP of the year was Jack White's Lazaretto. These are the TTs Jack White sells on his website. http://thirdmanstore.com/merchandise/turntables Except for the pro-ject that is really really terrible stuff.

Then there is this from Urban Outfitters. http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/category.jsp?id=A_MUSIC_TURNTABLES#/ A store that is clearly targeted to younger people, but has a wider variety of TTs than any audio store I've been in recently.

Finally, how many people on the board have been to RSD which is easily the biggest day for record sales in the country (USA). People are lining up for hours outside before the stores open. I've done this and can easily say I was possibly the only person over 30 there.

Yes there are young people who have good systems and good turntables, but the majority of turntables that are being sold now are probably some of the worst ever produced. These people are not buying the TTs or vinyl for sound quality.

I think I have done a decent job of laying out my argument, for those that disagree please show me a similar story why I am wrong.
If it is not completely fad why have there been almost no new vinyl releases of classical? Is classical music over or are the current crop of musicians no good?

Sure there are more hi-fi tables but those came about because there is more material, the more material cam about because of the hipsters. If the market suddenly dropped ~80% would the hi-fi vendors continue to make as many turntable options as today? Probably not.

Go to the single largest independent music store in America, Ameoba. Look around and tell me what you see? A huge rock album section and tiny jazz and classical lp section (both new and used). Is vinyl making a comeback because it is the superior rock format?

BTW I've seen hipsters in Asia and Europe. They don't just live in Brooklyn, but the ones in Brooklyn surely have set the tone.
Go to computer audio dominated forums and look at the vast amount of posters who have obtained their first high res download and are completely unaware they need software that supports the format. These folks are not interested in quality sound reproduction. Afraid they are just hipsters.

Really? I don't think I've seen this. I doubt many hipsters but HD files, in fact I think very few people buy HD audio files. I imagine Chesky wishes HD Tracks annual sales were that of iTunes sales of Taylor Swift.

People that call themselves audiophiles are a strange group. There are those that love music and like it on good equipment and enjoy that, then there are those that have the "best" system and the rest are junk. Those are the ones that spend more on the equipment than the media that goes into. It seems like two very different camps.
Pkoegz,

For your pleasure. http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Hipster

These are the people solely responsible for the resurgance in vinyl. If it weren't the vinyl sales would still be what they were 10 or 15 years ago. Existing yes, but no way would there be as many choices as we have now. If you notice on the bottom of the page of things you need to be a hipster, turntable, followed by polaroid camera.

Should we have a discussion on the quality of polaroid photos or will we at least all agree they are pretty bad. And yes, sales of polaroid film packs is going through the roof, not by Polaroid though. The hipsters waited until they got out of the market before it became cool.