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Friday, 24 March 2017

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I recently set up my old turntable and pulled my records out of storage - I have a bunch of early 1960s folk that might or might not be available in digital form. (e.g. Joan Baez's first album at age 18: "Folk Singers Round Harvard Square"). I did have to plunge slightly down the rabbit hole to reorder a broken needle.

What I like about record albums is the ritual itself: getting the physical object out of the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, laying down the needle. These gestures focus and honor the experience of listening, and awaken memories of the first time I heard that record: Mile Davis "Kind of Blue" on a sunny, Sunday morning; Rahsaan Roland Kirk "The Case of the 5,000 Pound Man" late one night with the lights out.

"Here, listen to this great album" is different from "Check out this new track."

One of your comments worthy of expansion is the physical media of vinyl. Certain there is mass and cost, but the physical object can be shared, gifted or held privately without further obligation to the publisher or the creator. Books, works of art, photographs and other such physical expressions can easily be enjoyed and shared in a non-commercial context that fosters mutual benefit.

I heard a quote from David Crosby that back then We made music that people played and sat there and listened to it. Now everything is a video sound track". That sums it up for me.

"You may sue me, but sometimes I kinda like groove noise, and even, sometimes, pops and ticks."

You are not alone. These sounds have even been added to digital music on many occasions. Beck's album Odelay is a good example, and the crackles and pops made that album somehow more immersive for me, having grown up on vinyl. The song "Readymade" takes it the furthest:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBYftJYeurI

Here's an old article about adding vinyl surface noise for effect:

http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/amp/Musicians-add-crackly-vinyl-noises-to-CDs-to-2709068.php

I'm not sure if that's done much anymore, as those of us who grew up with vinyl become a proportionately smaller group.

Yes - vinyl is obviously not "better sound" but you prefer the packaging and presentation of the music. Many albums (Zappa especially) fall apart when they are separated into "singles".

But who buys "albums" when our tech is oriented to single files? As you say, much of the "album" structure was driven by vinyl limits. It's an artistic choice but is there still a market for long-form music?

Our audio recording is just one kludge after another, and each shapes the music we hear. Don't get me started on video...

I have the similar feelings about vinyl (and also film) despite, as a younger person, not being around to experience vinyl in its heyday (and only catching the very end of the film heyday). I personally put it down to the 'electro-mechanical' nature of the two technologies and the fact that it makes them more approachable and accessible.

I like the fact that it is possible to easily understand that the grooves in a record produce tiny vibrations in the stylus which is then converted into an electromagnetic signal which can be amplified (by tubes or transistors) and converted back into mechanical movement of the speakers. Film is similar - incident light causing a chemical reaction, etc.

Digital music and photography is a lot more convenient and portable and, indeed, much more accessible in other ways. However, it soon becomes complicated by circuitry, algorithms and software that are beyond my comprehension (and ability to fix).

Vinyl and film occupy a space between the more purely mechanical (live performance, wax cylinders, pianolas, drawing, painting, sculpture, camera obscura) and the more purely electrical/electronic (CD, mp3, jpg, mp4). I think it is the mix and the bridging of the mechanical and the electric that fascinates me.

I also think a lot about media archival and preserving cultural artifacts. The mechanical and electro-mechanical processes seem easier to reproduce and recover from scratch. As long as you shine a light through a motion picture reel, a negative or transparency (and it hasn't degraded too much), you can see the picture. What if you no longer have the hardware to read the storage (whether it be magnetic tape, CD, diskette, etc.) and the software to decode the bits and bytes (jpg, etc.).

I understand that this is something that archivists and Hollywood are working on. There are some who believe it's easier to store and preserve movies in film in climate controlled facilities than on hard disks.

Something to ponder. Future archaeologists or aliens discover a CD with a jpg on it (or SD card, hard disk, magnetic tape, whatever you choose) and a well-preserved negative. Which are they more likely to be able to decode and reproduce?

"Ever listened to a song on the radio, and, when it was over, immediately "heard" in your mind the opening bars of the song that followed it on the album you've listened to sixteen times?"

I had mix tapes that I made for bus rides before I had a car, and when I hear one of those songs now, over 20 years later, I can still hear the next song on the tape. Every single time.

Ditto. And I like that my turntable isn't a computer and only does what I tell it to do, without making it's own decisions.
Anthony

I suspect you may be preaching to the converted here.

Point two is the most important part to me. Putting an LP on is conscious commitment to blocking time out to listen to music. All the other alternatives are rather more 'fire and forget' and don't have that extra demand for attentiveness prescribed by the requirement to listen out for the end of the side.

Each to his own, Mike. I put up with the agonies of plops, clicks, tracing distortion, deterioration of the vinyl as the play count grew, accidents, scratches, rumble, hiss and warping for over 25 years. Such blessed relief when CDs took over. I had Thorens, SME, Stanton and Ortofon so I was serious. I don't miss vinyl. I had over 500 records and I gave them away. In hindsight, I could have sold them.

Just recently I've digitised (ripped) my entire collection of around 900 CDs. It took me about two months and was strangely addictive, using excellent software called dBPowerAmp. I saved them all as .wav files so I have the original quality and they sound great. Now I'm rating tracks in a cataloguing program so that I can assemble lists. That's for the non-classical. Classical CDs (about half) tend to be played straight through, of course.

No, whenever people talk about the "warmth" of vinyl, I have to refrain from telling them that I could reproduce that sound by adding some distortion, LF rumble, restricted HF and some eq. Each to his own.

Regarding the listening of songs one after the other and the benefits of listening to whole albums, I agree. A couple of years ago I started converting my CDs to MP3 format, not as individual songs, but as whole albums. It started off as way to cut down on the work associated with converting and keeping track of MP3 files and transfering them to my phone to listen on the go, but an interesting thing happened as I listened to music on my way to work or at work: I enjoyed listening to the full albums more than individual songs. I don't know that most artists do it on purpose (I know some do), but working your way through all the tracks primes you to enjoy the album as you might enjoy a work of classical music, as a sonic journey with ups, downs, and sideways shifts of mood...like life itself.

On a more practical note, I also enjoy knowing that an album is 60-70 minutes long, and I use that as work session during which I have to accomplish a set of tasks, and when it's over I can take a break. I now organise my workday as a set of albums, which seems so sensible to me.

I don't have a record player anymore, but I still understand what you're saying here about the physical object. Still love CDs more than streams.

One more point why some music lovers prefer Vinyl over newer digital records: these LPs don't suffer from the "loudness war" - so in spite of being an inferior medium on a technical level, they make use of many more decibels of music, and they're not compressed and raised to almost square noise. Since understanding this, I never buy "digitally remastered" CDs anymore - the old ones are not as loud, but have much more dynamics. Like music should be.

Mountain dulcimer to the left of the album cover? Do you play it?

[I've tried. Not a lot of aptitude. When you don't have aptitude, determination alone won't do. Makes a beautiful decoration, though. And I like the way that musician friends will gravitate to it and start messing with it. --Mike]

Actually, I think that vinyl is better.

It is, of course, not better in any technical sense of 'lower distortion' or 'closer to what the instrument sounded like when it was played' or anything like that.

No, it is better in the sense of 'a more pleasing overall experience'. And that is the only sense that matters because listening to music is not something that serves a functional purpose, it is something that is done for pleasure and thus that is the only criterion that actually matters.

Obviously, in all this there is an implied '... for me' after 'better', and that's fine: since listening to music is done for pleasure, the only person's pleasure that matters is the listener's, and thus there is no single objective definition of 'better' which has any meaning at all. If you like listening to vinyl more, then it is better.

And, of course, since this is a photography blog this all goes through for photography as well. Photography is not about achieving some standard of technical quality: it's about making images which people want to look at. For amateur photographers it may also be important that the making of those images should be enjoyable.

So there is no useful absolute sense that one lens is better than another for photography, for instance: if it produces images you like more (or gives you more pleasure to use), then it's better. It doesn't matter at all if it's been dropped and the front element is covered in scratches and was never a 'good' lens to start with. Unless, of course, the optical qualities of lenses are one of the things you enjoy about photography, in which case a technically better lens is better, for you.

This is completely different than what would be true, for instance, of optical systems used for astronomy when there really is a definition of better which is not dependent on the person it is better for.

Two examples of this.

1. One of the things that I like about photography is really nicely-made mechanical objects. I have a Zeiss Sonnar (one of the recent M-mount ones) which is significantly rattly: I hate using it. Does the rattliness affect the image quality? Well, perhaps it does, and I'm sure someone could spend a long time with a complicated machine telling me just how badly decentered the lens is and that it vignettes and generally is just rubbish. But I get photographs I really like out of it, and I don't care: I care that it's rattly (which is a downside), and I care that I get prints out of it that fill me with joy (which more than compensates for the downside), and that is all I care about. That tradeoff is worth it for me: it might not be worth it for anyone else, but that does not matter at all.

2. I have spent all my working life sitting in front of a computer. I make photographs so I don't have to do that, and so I make my prints with light, glass, water and chemicals. Are they better than digital prints: yes, they are better, because I like them more, and I like making them more. Are they 'technically' better? Well, the 35mm ones aren't, perhaps the LF ones are competitive, but who cares? that is not what photography is about, any more than it is what listening to music is about.

I currently have a funky, steampunky stereo system set up in my family room, ...

Don't you mean dieselpunky? Dieselpunk covers the interwar period until the 1950s,

You may enjoy The Difference Engine, my favorite steampunk novel https://www.amazon.com/Difference-Engine-William-Gibson/dp/0440423627/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490450662&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Difference+Engine

About ten years ago my Dual turntable/Shure cartridge went into the dumpster. I've grown tired of needlessly schlepping yesterdays technology.

What I'm listening to now https://www.amazon.com/Yes-I-Know/dp/B01KWF2ACI/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1490453487&sr=8-11&keywords=The+Pack+a.d. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can listen for free. If not her'e the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xb_ulhXyjw

One of the things that I like about being retired, is now I have more time to discover new things.

BTW Carroll Shelby rented space for his Goodyear tire store from Dean Moon. This is where the first Cobra was built. At the time I was working at Moon's machine shop, about a ½ mile away, so I wasn't involved.

Enjoy what you like, Mike. I embraced CDs in 1985 with gusto. Quantization noise and all. Whatever shortfalls those early releases suffered from, they were head and shoulders above the defects of commercially available vinyl records, especially after the latter had been played a few times.

I do understand an attraction to analog recording media. If one could have purchased music on 30ips half-track quarter inch tape, I'd have never spent a penny on CDs. In the world of photography, my ability to continue shooting large format film (a similarly detail-rich and defect-free counterpart to high speed analog tape) has dissuaded me from converting to digital capture for anything except snapshots.

It makes perfect sense that you, an enlarged TRI-X enthusiast, would like listening to groove noise, pops and ticks. Audible grain. Give me a contact print any day. :-)

"Not a lot of aptitude. When you don't have aptitude, determination alone won't do."

Yeah, me too. I love music, can hear all sorts of nuance, but I have a weird sort of tone deafness that makes me incapable of producing music or song. Back in the mid 60's, energized by both the Beatles and Peter, Paul, and Mary, I bought a guitar. Broke so many strings trying to tune it, because, s'help me, I could NOT tell whether the pitch was going up or down... when I was doing it. Different story listening to someone else ... no problem. Weird, huh?

Re vinyl, I still own the first LP I ever bought. Monaural. And apart from the tangible nature of the format, there's the cover art and the liner notes, which became unreadable in the CD format, except with a magnifier.

When I was a pre-teen, I had a tape-recorder and would tape favorite songs off the radio. I invariably got a few bars of the following song. None-of-your-business years later, if I hear the first song, I still hear the follow-up in my head when it's over.
I can also still tell you the side, and usually what song position, any song on any album I owned. (I didn't buy a CD player until the music stores literally pulled all of the vinyl and I couldn't buy music anymore.)

But, other than the cover art, I don't miss vinyl at all. I can (and do) listen to an album straight through if I want, just like vinyl. I can read lyrics while I'm listening, just like vinyl. I can repeat the album without lifting a finger, unlike vinyl. And, if I just want to play a lot of my favorite songs, I can do so with a tap instead of swapping out sixteen different records. And I definitely don't miss pops and clicks and all of the other sound issues that vinyl had and has.

I do still buy CD's, though, much to my wife's chagrin. I digitize them, but I usually buy used (I love music, but I'm thrifty), and if I want to sell them, I can.

Some years ago, I bought CDs to replace my vinyl albums. But I never got rid of the vinyl. So I have two copies of much of my collection.

I've ripped most of the CDs so that I can listen to them on my digital devices -- usually in "random" mode so that it's like listening to a radio station that only plays music that I like. But doing it this way means I miss out on the album format that a few artists used to their advantage to produce a stream of songs with a cohesive theme.

There remain some vinyl albums with no CD replacement so once in a while I'll put these on the aging B+O turntable. And, then, sit back and LISTEN.

Glad to read this, I was worried about your audio lifestyle a bit. I don't play my Vinyl as often as I listen to the electronic versions-a little laziness on my part. But when I do, I am instantly transported to a wonderful time and place. At this point I make my wife promise not to let me go crazy and sell any audio stuff to support another photography purchase which is the only reason I ever consider it. Another thing is that my turntable and receiver set under the Jumbotron and I just like looking at them even when I'm not using them. Keep on!

My full manual turntable requires me to stay awake for the entire playing of one side of the LP so I may return the tonearm to its rest and turn the turntable off. Turn the LP over, run a duster over that side and repeat. Fun. Can not do that with a CD, MP3 or whatever is in vogue now.

Do you play the dulcimer? Or is it a bird in a cage?

Well for me the pleasure continues. My son and daughter sged 18 and 22 respectively both use a mixture of Spotify and Vinyl. We all have Rega 3 turntables ..
Robbie is away in Peru working but is collecting and I am slowly giving them my vinyl in lumps of three records at a time.
Pleasure to give and receive.
Records were an excitement and a majoy purchase. My friend Martin and I would walk from Alnmouth to Alnwick to buy the latest Rolling Stones or Dylan LP. We took turns as coulnt both buy it. I remember the 5 mile walk there and back. The excitement of the new LP ...what would the cover be like? Getting home. His room had a smell which I sometimes conjour up even now when listening to certsin Stones tracks..
Listening to the LP all the way trough on day 1. That odd thing where certain tracks which initially did not work ...becoming favourites.
Records were the single greatest excitement between 12-16 years of age. After that they had to share that title!

I like vinyl because it sounds better to my ears. There is a sense of presence to the sound that digital recordings can't emulate, and dynamics are vastly superior to CD and MP3.
At this point some will be thinking I have a shabby CD player. No, not at all. My Rega Planet can extract all the dynamics of a compact disc, but it can't do anything about a flat, unidimensional sound.
With a good turntable, the sound of an LP becomes almost palpable. Pops and clicks in an LP are the result of careless storage and/or poor cartridge alignment, though poor pressings can also account for some noise. It's not an issue if you take due care of your LP collection.
Artwork is important, but not if you're looking at Fausto Papetti's albums (which you won't be listening to anyway, unless you have real bad taste). Jazz listeners with a penchant for Hard Bop are more often rewarded with great artwork. And the physical aspect makes music less volatile. It's not about bits and bytes, it's something you can own.
Yes, vinyl is less practical than media storage and audio CD's. But what the hell - listening to music is a pleasure. Like most pleasures, we like to savour and prolong it. We don't want to consummate it in five minutes.

Though I'm now less susceptible to the exceptionalist thinking that lures some to old technologies like vinyl recordings (or film photography), one of your points about records rings true — they present tracks as a sequential body of work and thus encourage us to listen more than once to things we might otherwise ignore and eventually come to understand them.

This gets to problems at the heart of the modern "technology will customize everything for YOU" mantra. One is the deadly presumption that increasingly giving you only what you liked previously is a good thing. Another is the notion that things you come to like immediately define what you like.

On the latter point, we are fortunate to be able to afford (barely) season tickets (balcony) for a major American opera company. We once considered only buying the performances that we know we like, thus saving money by not paying for those we don't know we like. Then we realized that some of our best experiences came when we were surprised when performances we did not think would be interesting turned out to be utterly compelling.

We decided to continue the season tickets.

Two of my most cherished albums were "defective." I found a Santo and Johnny album baking in the sun in a yard sale. It was warped both laterally and radially. But if I put the right number of coins on the stylus, it would stay in the grooves and play. But the warping caused a most psychedelic wavering that blended bizarrely with the musicians'warbling steel guitar, creating a really wild sound. The other album was James Brown's rare first release of his first album. I bought it for the rare cover, as the album was trashed from all the frat parties it must have fuelled before it landed at the pawn shop I found it at. The surprise was that there was a particular scratch at a particular place on the "I Feel Good" track. When the needle hit that scratch, it jumped the groove to another groove, and it was in a perfect syncopation with the already incredible rhythm of that song. That altered rhythm of the song became the norm for me. Now, whenever I hear "I Feel Good" and the song comes to those "skip" spots, the song just sounds "wrong." 😊

"Feed your head" should link to this:

https://www.amazon.com/Surrealistic-Pillow/dp/B00AWTG8U0/ref=sr_1_4?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1490470759&sr=1-4&keywords=surrealistic+pillow

The Beatles: I have a number of original mono presings from my parents, bought when they were first released.

I saw the Beatles in Harrogate, 8th of March 1963, the day before my 8th birthday. Later that year, Shirley (my wife and other half), and Janet, now and then, her best friend, came across the Beatles. They played in York four time in 1963. Anyway, Shirley and Janet were walking past the Beatles' little hotel on Tadcaster Road (demolished, now flats), and the fab four were on their balcony. "hello girls, how are you?" Then a five minute chat across the road, and back to school. It then turns out that Lulie, Shirley's business partner in their interior design company, used to work for the Beatles at EMI, in London, so was in daily contact.

Six separations is often litotes.

Kind of a meta-comment about your post's title:

Years ago, I was talking with a house-mate about vocalists, and I mentioned that I liked the male voice. She immediately interpreted my comment as meaning that I disliked female vocalists. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it took us a good half hour to get untangled on the conversational point. My casual observation is that we, many of us, seem programmed for binary oppositions. Vinyl = not CD; Silver Halide = not digital; male vocalists = not female vocalists. Thank heavens life is actually more interesting than that.

Personally, I am not an "either/or" sort of fellow, I am more of an "and/and" although the usual caveats about accounting for taste apply.

I agree with about 75% of what you wrote, but I never listen to vinyl and have no interest in doing so.

It's also worth mentioning that most digital alternatives are mastered with crushed dynamic range for loudness war marketing reasons, so the vinyl difference is very real. Personally I like more dynamics.

Over the last year I have been building a discography on a label that no one has assembled till now. Most of the releases in 45 and 78 form date from the 1950's. There also are some LPs. I have never liked the defects of vinyl. The 1/4 inch master tapes never had the pops and clicks of vinyl. Depending on the song and the record condition, it can take three days to three weeks to clean up a 2 to 3 minute song. I am not doing this for every song due to amount of time it takes. At least the music is in a digital form and can be listened to by a larger audience. Due to the research and music restoration time, my photography has fallen to almost zero. It is very satisfying to present these rare recordings and build a discography that preserves the knowledge of the music releases. One benefit is hearing songs I had never heard before. But finding the records is a real chore.

Sadly, both of my turntables are not currently in service. So can I bring down some LPs that I have purchased but not yet heard? In exchange come up for Record Store Day, I'll try and arrange for the Mrs. to have a doggie play day with yours and ours in the back yard. Then will have a nice dinner.

The artwork is based on a photo by Dave Friedman, one of those "people with interesting lives"

google Targa Florio, 1964 Photo by Dave Friedman

interesting stuff about him here.
https://www.dalnet.lib.mi.us/henryford/docs/DaveFriedmanCollection_Accession2009-158.pdf

Mike, I notice that the first six of your points, plus number eight, apply to CDs as well. And I usually listen to them in the same way I heard LPs back in the day, beginning to end. I see no charm in skips and pops, though. They're horribly distracting, like dust spots on B&W enlargements. Playing a new LP was always an exercise in masochism; after buying this costly, fragile plastic disc, you proceeded to drag a needle across its surface. Though I cleaned my LPs and replaced my stylus periodically, few LPs escaped damage.

But LPs were a superior graphic medium, I'll grant you that!

1) Play Led Zeppelin 2 album (amongst others) on poor quality music centre. Feel excited and happy with the novelty of being able to play LPs.

2) Become disenchanted with poor sound quality when listening to Led Zep 2 (amongst others).

3) Buy HiFI, and excitedly place Led Zep 2 album on the platter. Lower the needle. Raise the volume. Discover that it sounds no better; it's the album that has poor sound quality. Rats! Other records are fine.

A variation is:
3) buy a certain make of 'stack system' for about £110. Discover you've wasted £110; the quality is no better, for all your LPs. Rats! Put small ad in local paper offering the stack system for £90, 'as new'.

I am with Peter Croft on this one. I had high-end stuff and a wall full of records. So glad it's out of the house. Now everything lives in a small box. And it sounds great through my Naim streamer. Especialy the high resolution 24bit / 96kHz recordings. Those files have a sound quality that vinyl and 8bit cd's don't have to my ear. Compare it to a large vs small camera sensor.

I have analogous feelings about books. I use a Kindle when I travel--it's hard to beat having access to pretty much any book I want anywhere in the world from a device that weighs only a few ounces. But I enjoy reading paper books much more. It has to do with the book as a physical object for which I have a lifetime of positive associations. Plus, when I am done with it I can pass it on to a friend.

My turntable has been stowed in my garage for nearly 20 years, but I completely get what you are saying about the effect of listening to complete sides of vinyl records. To this day, I will refer to side 2 of "Abbey Road" as the absolute high point of pop music, even though I realize that many younger listeners have no idea what I am talking about.

I still play my vinyl records occasionally, but I've also digitized many of them .... and they still sound like vinyl :) I think it may have something to do with the recording techniques of the era, as much as the recording medium. The modern recordings have more dynamic and frequency range the old vinyl recordings, but they lack a certain "feel", like real musicians playing real instruments. This effect seems to survive digitizing the vinyl recordings as well.

What really drives me nuts, is that albums in my iTunes insist on playing the tracks out of order, and I can't figure out how to stop the "shuffle"...

I have to at least mention Allison's Law: You will know a technology is really dead when non-crazy people will pay a premium price just to experience it.

The most obvious and immediate example of this are steam trains, which are so deeply embedded in our culture that, to any child, a train is still a "Choo Choo" nearly 60 years after the end of mainline steam.

I still mess with film cameras. But I'm not non-crazy.

I am endlessly enthralled by that sense of occasion and anticipation as the stylus hits the lead-in groove: the initial pop, then the hiss and the "grain" filling the air in the room, and only then the first note. Not quite the same sense as in a concert hall, where the final coughs and rustling rapidly fade to an excited hush, just as the conductor cues the first down beat. Still, for me, vinyl is somewhat evocative of the real thing. With digital, you get nothing but "darkness." The downside to the turntable is that after lowering the tone-arm I have to rush across the room to settle into my critical listening position. Without remote control, I so need a butler.

[...The ultimate audio accessory. "Carson, you may lower the needle." "Yes, your lordship." --Mike]

Still have a TT and from time to time it gets used. I imagine about six percent is close at our house too, OK make that more like three.
Before CDs came along Mrs Plews and I would take turns picking a side. I would play a side of an album I felt an urge to hear and Jacquie followed on with her choice and the night would roll out rather nicely.
We are looking to do a home theater system and it is nice to see that phono inputs are starting to reappear on HT amps.
A lot of what I know about music I learned from reading album covers and I'm not ashamed to say it.
I hated surface noise, clicks, scratches and seed craters and as soon as CDs arrived with their boring perfection I got over it.
Some time ago Lewis Thomas wrote an essay on the gold record on board the Voyager spacecraft. He suggested that all it needed to have on it was J.S. Bachs Art of the Fugue. He said that would be bragging but when first meeting another civilization it is wise to put ones best foot forward.
http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/spacecraft/goldenrec.html
I agree with every word in your piece. You pinned it this week Mike.

Though I have my share of them (they were cheap when I was in graduate school) I don't really think LPs are an ideal way to record sound. But they are a *great* way to package music. Those giant photos. The great liner notes.

CDs on the other hand are a terrible way to package music *and* to transport digital data. Those crappy little cases. Those awful booklets with the unreadable print. Those relatively giant disks that hardly hold any data.

Give me a bunch of files to download and a high res. scalable PDF to read any day. The takeover of downloads and streaming is all the proof you need that CD is crap as a digital medium.

Go to a concert of a local group and they have a whole box of vinyl for their 30 year anniversary. Decided not to. Vinyl player was kicked out to a far far away place. Then see your post. Bought it. That is bad. Very bad. I Your blog is bad. Now need to find a player.

I started buying records in 1982, at 16 years of age. I was in high school at the time. I still have my records, moved to CDs at around 1992.

I still buy CDs today, maybe I am old fashioned:) I too appreciate a physical medium.

"Ever listened to a song on the radio, and, when it was over, immediately "heard" in your mind the opening bars of the song that followed it on the album you've listened to sixteen times?"

It's not quite the same thing, but I had a tape of Ralph Towner's "Blue Sun" lp that skipped a bit on the first track. I wore that tape out over the years and recently replaced it with a digital copy that I enjoy as much. And I do have it set up in a play list to listen to it as I would that LP/tape.

But every time I listen to it, I still expect to hear that skip in at about 4 bars into the song and it disappoints me to instead hear it as it "should" be.

I have had some photos over the years that were technically flawed but better than I intended the shot for that flaw. This was like that in the end.

I started buying records when I was in high school in the mid-late 1990s to play on my dad's Dual 606, which I had commandeered. I still listen to records regularly for many of the reasons you mention. I have an Apple Music subscription and Sonos player but I find records to be a good prompt for deciding what to listen to, rather than staring at a search box on my phone or tablet.

One Sunday a few months ago I ran many records through a Spin Clean. A bit fussy but what a difference! My copy of "Dreaming With Alice" was all but unlistenable before.

Here is one fellow who uses vinyl in spite of tremendous adversity.

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2017/03/17/blogs/the-week-in-pictures-march-17-2017/s/20170317-WIP-slide-F2RK.html

I remember reading when CDs first appeared that they would never take of with the Hippy-er end of the market as you really need an LP sleeve to be able to roll a decent joint on. ;)


Just to add, never tried the stuff myself - I've been present when it's been smoked and it gave me sneezing fits - so I'm quite happy with my CD collection. Mind you, I do have a LOAD of vinyl, including a fair pile of Scandinavian live jazz albums - they had an interesting approach to copyright in them days.

I'm late to this party but still must comment, since I have probably spent more than 25 times on the entire vinyl scene over my life compared to photography. Yet photography has "lasted" in my life and vinyl hasn't. But very strong memories linger, especially in regards to my supreme turntable, tonearm and cartridge. I remember far less about the massive all tube audio "chain" after the cartridge or the 5 figure speaker system and cables that were fat as rattlesnakes.

But, man-oh-man, that turntable setup! I had a wood working friend build me a custom cabinet with 6 inch deep pit filled with sand. The turntable rested upon that and the height was designed to be just perfect for me to examine the cartridge and "drop" the stylus gently upon the LP, often in between cuts. I enjoyed all your discussion of "sides", "lesser" cuts, "sequence", "breaks", etc., but I actually fairly quickly determined my album "dislikes" and leapt out of my listening chair to lift the arm up before nary a note of the next "bad" cut had sounded! I should probably have been carted off to someplace by "white coats" - my obsessiveness was obvious :-) And doubtless, as you correctly observed, I missed developing an affection for many a song.

But there was one amazing thing that my turntable & tonearm did with a typical vinyl recording - it literally "lifted" the musical signal up in level and further above the "background" groove noise in a way that can't be explained or imagined. Brand new remastered LP's were virtually like CD's in quietness. The complete system was all manual with no remotes - I wonder how many "miles" I walked over the years?

Analog is still king to me but I play it even less than your 6% as interest in my remaining small collection wanes - all the high end gear is now replaced by my "funky" assortment. I've no interest in all the "fiddling" necessary to play them. Actually, I am carefully recording the LP's (and photographing the lovely cover artwork and text on a copy stand with polarized strobes which eliminates all glare) and will say goodbye to all things analog when finished. But I will remember that turntable "toy"...

Just listened to "Around the World with Three Dog Night" - an album never released on CD and one of my faves. Which is another benefit of vinyl - some great albums are only available in that format.

Yeah, the one expensive piece of exotic stereo gear I ever bought was an SAE 5000 Impulse Noise REduction unit, i.e. a click and pop remover. Luckily, less than 10 years after that the clicks and pops were gone forever.

I hate the ritual of playing vinyl; they're valuable (to me) and delicate and any time you have to handle them you're risking losing them, or at least doing some damage. Anything I actually liked got transferred to cassette tape, and I played that, which I could do casually and without fear. Also without having to get up every 15 minutes to change the album.

I've still got all the old vinyl, and there's some I probably should transfer (though most that I care about I have re-bought back before disk space got quite so cheap).

I just want to touch on the physical media aspect: When you live in a place where property averages at US$1500 per square foot, physical media can be expensive to store. I've been streamlining my physical possessions in general, and even seeing junk mail show up now irks me more than it should.

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