If you’ve noticed a growing number of beautiful, often vintage-style retro vinyl turntable designs in your local tech store or online, you’re not alone. As a buyer of music you’ll also have noticed a fast-increasing collection of contemporary artists releasing new music on old-style vinyl.
It’s a powerful trend and if, like us, you’ve long mourned the death of the record, you’ll be thrilled at the way time seems to have folded back on itself. Vinyl records are back with a vengeance, the youth market can’t get enough of them and older music lovers like us feel right at home. The Music on Vinyl website even provides an extensive list of shops where you can buy the stuff.
What’s going on and why? Read on…
Music Sounds so Much Better on Vinyl
Ask any dedicated music lover and they’ll tell you there’s a noticeable difference between digitally recorded music and tunes laid down on vinyl. They’re right. Vinyl does sounds better than a CD or MP3 ever could. In fact digital recording causes music to sound distorted as well as stripping out all the personality, depth and texture. Vinyl, being analogue, just doesn’t suffer the same issues. It’s crisp, clean, detailed and real-sounding.
Why The Return to Vinyl?
It isn’t just a perfectionist thing, nor is it simply a sound quality thing. It’s also an ownership thing. There’s an incredibly dramatic contrast between ‘owning’ an invisible string of ones and noughts downloaded onto a gadget, which you can neither see or feel, and a real, honest-to-god 3d item with a nice heft which comes inside a decorative sleeve, sometimes with cool extras like posters and booklets.
You can line up records on a shelf, take them to parties with you, spend time reading the sleeve notes, lend them to your mates… records are real. In a world where an increasing amount of our leisure time is spent online wandering around a binary world that doesn’t really exist, a real, solid item like a record feels entirely, totally, deliciously different. As such it’s also about rebellion.
Supermarkets Join The Love Train
The British supermarket giant Tesco agrees: vinyl is fabulous. In autumn 2015 they announced they were on course to become the first supermarket this side of the Atlantic to sell music in vinyl format. Back then Tesco’s decision was tipped to set off a chain reaction in other supermarkets, no surprise when in 2014 vinyl sales hit an impressive 1.3 million in the UK, the most since 1995, marking a massive 2% of the total 2014 music market.
Tesco’s vinyl adventure kicked off with the release of Iron Maiden’s album The Book of Souls, sold in 55 Tesco Extra stores. Sainsbury’s joined the party in autumn 2016, selling LPs for the first time since the 1980s thanks to a roaring success in the shape of Adele’s 25. Sainsbury’s sold an awesome 300,000 or more of Adele’s album, and they now sell a host of records including classics including the Beatles and Nirvana as well as contemporary artists. The price of an album? From around £12.
A Blend of Vintage Good Looks and Contemporary Guts
The last time vinyl was a big deal, you wouldn’t see a single vintage record turntable or retro turntable in the shops. If you found one, it’d be on sale for next to nothing. Now they’re climbing in value. A genuine 1960s retro vinyl player, the kind of thing that was made to look like a piece of trendy furniture, can cost hundreds in good working order.
A very simple turntable with internal speakers is one of the most popular of the new-breed machines, about as far from high tech as it gets. They look gorgeous, and their traditional vintage good looks are boosted thanks to USB ports and other neat yet basic modern electronics. From the outside it’s a vinyl record player, inside it features a range of tech functionality that makes even the simplest portable turntable perform beautifully.
The Electrohome record player is one of the best vinyl record player brands, a brand new retro record player that works brilliantly and looks really good, stylish and cool. Many of them are portable, which adds an extra dimension to playing your records. Pick up your player, head out the door and plug it in at a friend’s house for an instant house party.
So what can you play these days on the new breed of portable vinyl player? It’s actually hard to find a contemporary artist or band that doesn’t release tunes on vinyl. The same goes with old stock. David Bowie’s back catalogue is available on vinyl, as is more or less everything else that’s considered a classic that you care to mention.
For those of us who thought we’d never see records in the shops again, these are very happy days.