And it’s coming back. With a veng … no passion … no … actually I can’t think of a good word to fit in here. Blast.
I’m talking about the veritable old record. The LP. That fantastic big black disc (or coloured/artistically pictured disc) that I’m sure you’ve seen someone at least once put on a big turntable and set it spinning while gently lowering a stylus onto the disc to play back the glory stored within. It has long been considered by oldies, and more importantly those who create these sounds to be the best medium to really enjoy your music the way it was supposed to be.
And I agree with them.
I have to say upfront that it now actually pains me that our up and coming generation is being mass fed a rubbish music experience. Putting aside the mass-produced-send-Simon-Cowell-wanking-all-the-way-to-the-bank garbage out there like One Direction, so many are jumping on the Digital Media bandwagon thanks to the convenience and cheaper pricing popularised by devices like the iPod. It has a place in the world, won’t lie. I often have this digital media handy on my smartphone while walking to and from the salt mines (read: place of employment), but it doesn’t mean I like it. So much of the sound is lost thanks to the lossy compression formats used like MP3 and AAC. These are supposed to trim down the digital file sizes by actually cutting out frequency blocks and elements we supposedly can’t hear.
Now here’s where I have to call bullshit on that claim. Not so long ago (and by actually asking my local music retailer in town) I’ve found a source of the vinyl LP record, and it turns out that while most artists are still pushing out digital crap, there are a growing number releasing music on vinyl LPs! Even Lady Gaga! Some of them are a little costly thanks to having to import from overseas, but some are available locally and are still at a decent price. I was fortunate enough to pick up the 2LP release of Newsted’s latest album, Heavy Metal Music, which came with a version of it on CD that you can play in the car or easily transform into a file to go onto your smartphone or MP3 player (and you get that alot these days apparently). This was a perfect time to actually put all 3 side-by-side and give them a play, comparing differences in the sound.
Between the CD and the MP3, when encoded using a higher bitrate the difference was very minimal. The MP3’s higher frequencies were a little muted and the cymbals off the drums sounded a bit dull, but when you’re out and about enjoying the outdoors with some music in your ears, it’s a minor thing you really wouldn’t notice. However the difference between the vinyl and the CD was astounding. The clean sound of the CD was completely blown out of the water by the more human sounding vinyl LP. There were little nuances that you could pick up lightly in the background that just don’t translate properly into a digital format. It’s what happens when you turn a nice analog waveform and dissect it into a stream of 1’s and 0’s – you LOSE information. Little things that define the recording and the feeling of the band’s music are destroyed.
That is why vinyl kicks ass, why analog still wins, and is still relevant today to me, to many others, and thankfully to those artists that actually give a shit!