It wasn’t too long ago that the Compact Disc revolution took hold, prompting everyone from the most ardent music lover to the casual listener to ditch their records and record players. Vinyl was out, CDs were in. The “better” sound quality of CDs made them the preferred way of listening to music. This was soon followed by maverick platforms such as Napster and legal platforms such as iTunes for those moving toward mp3 files. At this point, CDs were out, digital files were in.
One might think that the next revolution in listening to music would be some unheard-of technology. We were all fooled, as vinyl records have made a comeback and technology allows us to make the most of a platform that is now more than 100 years old.
Why vinyl is making a comeback
According to a Forbes, vinyl accounted for an estimated 9.7 million album sales in 2018. That’s an increase of 12% from 2017. In fact, Rolling Stone says that vinyl sales are now poised to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986. This is fascinating, considering how far we’ve come in terms of technology and convenience. The reason why vinyl is making such a strong comeback is due to two things; sound and nostalgia.
To many, the sound of a vinyl record captures and interprets music in a way that has nuances and character. In other words, it may not be perfect, but it carries more emotion and warmth. Digital music, on the other hand, is very precise since digital signals send audio signals at precise intervals. Perfect, but without the same emotion. The nostalgia factor comes into play because of the artwork associated with vinyl records. Album covers and liner notes are things that people seem to have a greater appreciation for. CDs are smaller and don’t convey the same sentiment.
New technology to maximize vinyl
So, if one is committed to diving back into or growing their vinyl record collection, there are a few things available that can maximize the experience.
The right turntable
The first thing you’ll need to enjoy vinyl is the right turntable. Either a belt drive or direct drive turntable will do, but enthusiasts prefer belt drive because of the decrease in noise. One of the best turntables for the money is the Audio-Technica LP60SPBT-BK. It features belt-drive capability and wireless connectivity. It can be paired with an optional Audio-Technica Bluetooth speaker (or third-party speaker) to enjoy music in the same room or in another room. If a full turntable, speaker, CD player system is of interest, then the TEAC MC-D800 is a nice choice. It features the ability to not only play records, but enables wireless or wired speaker play, a CD player, AM/FM tuner and memory settings.
The right speakers
Although there are “powered” speakers and “passive” speakers, the best kind to pair with turntables are of the “powered” variety. These speakers allow for direct connection between speaker and turntable and feature their own internal amp. The Audioengine A2+ Wireless Speaker System features fast connection with your turntable via Bluetooth as well as USB audio input.
Transferring vinyl to digital
For those who love the sound of a vinyl record but still want the convenience of digital (it’s difficult to listen to your favorite record on an iPod), there are solutions that address this option. The basic components of going this route include a turntable, a phono stage (an amplifier for the turntable), an analog to digital converter with a USB output and a computer with recording software. Any of the components on this list can be purchased from online retailers such as Guitar Center and What Hi-Fi. Roxio makes exceptional software to convert vinyl to digital. Keep in mind that when transferring music, the entire song or album must be played in real time in order to record and transfer it.
If making the decision to get back into vinyl music, there are a variety of options to choose from. These include the best equipment to play your records, the best sound options and solutions to convert those records to digital. This is the best way to make the most of the sound vinyl provides while also making the most of the latest technology.