here has been a massive resurgence in the sales of vinyl records recently – last year saw LP sales reaching a 20-year high in the UK. I find this revival rather puzzling – why are people suddenly nostalgic for vinyl records? Isn’t this musical elitism pointlessly sentimental?
I am by no means an ‘audiophile’, but even basic research (or actually listening to an LP) verifies that vinyl is worse quality than CD. Many claim that vinyl produces a more accurate sound than digital formats. They talk of the “warmth” and the “pleasing crackle” adding to the recordings – when of course this is nothing but an extra layer of unwanted hiss. When The Beatles recorded their songs, that annoying crackle was not present in their instruments or Paul McCartney’s voice. After all, isn’t the aim of an audio format to accurately replicate its source recording?
Imagine a world where CDs were released before vinyl – I’m sure the same hipsters and sentimentalists who champion vinyl today would criticise this new LP format – the way it crackles, distorts, degrades and utterly fails to reproduce low bass sounds would be viewed as the flaws that they are, not as charming attributes.
Admittedly, some of this is personal preference, and I understand the collectable, tactile appeal of a vinyl record – the big album sleeves, their satisfying feel, the cool limited-edition colours – this is all fine, but to claim they are a superior format is just wrong.
The reason this (admittedly trivial) matter irks me so much is that it represents two underlying problems within modern society – our luddite tendency to avoid change, and our inclination to believe things, despite evidence to the contrary, just because we are told them. Can we all just accept that what makes music great is the music itself – why listen to it through a distorted, sentimental haze?