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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

What about vinyl?

Vinyl records would seem obsolete and outdated in this new age of technology. This is actually not the case – rather, quite the opposite for a certain select group of audiophiles.

What is it about vinyl records that keep the beat going? It’s certainly not less hassle – downloads and MP3s are a much more convenient and accessible format of music. No, the undeniable nostalgic essence of a vinyl record is what collectors and young audiophiles love.

“We’re going to see a continuation of vinyl,” said Jordan Smart, manager of local record store Armadillo Music. “There is a swell of people who want vinyl.”

Even though gramophone records had been around since the late 1800s, record sales went skyrocketing around the late ’30s when labels started producing them onto vinyl. Thus began the new era of records.

Up until the late ’70s, a vinyl record was the most common music format. Like all forms of technology, records have seen their fair share of adaptation, redesign and alteration.

Depending on the era, the diameter of a vinyl record could range from 7 to 12 inches – 12 inches being the most common. RPM (revolutions per minute) also underwent rapid adjustment ranging from 78 to 45 and 33 and a half.

However, the introduction of the eight track cassette player, and later the compact disc, led music labels to believe there would no longer be a place or a need for the vinyl record.

Matt Mamuzich, an employee at Dimple Records, said, “That’s what people thought before, but it’s not likely to happen because vinyl is tangible and raw. That won’t go away.”

Collectors avidly continue to find new or old releases of their favorite bands of the good old days, while younger generations genuinely enjoy the tangibility and sound of vinyl.

“There is this resurgence because people love the sound of vinyl,” said Devon Coats, manager of Davis’ Dimple Records – a music store that actively stocks and sells vinyl records. “It’s fun and satisfying.”

Because of this, many believe it is unlikely that vinyl records will vanish from existence any time in the near or even distant future. People will never stop collecting, and young music lovers will insist on having something to interact with besides the buttons on their iPods.

In fact, some say vinyls will become even more popular than CDs at some point. Labels are even including digital codes on the cover for a downloadable version of the record. Moreover, CD sales have gone down at an enormous rate due to digital methods.

“There’s nothing nostalgic about a CD,” Smart said. “It’s just very impersonal, and vinyl sounds better.”

Even modern artists have taken to recording a “specialty” or “collectible” vinyl record, along with a CD version, or simply by itself. Bands also release certain songs or bonus material on different colored labels, so fans can enjoy the experience of collecting.

“Indie bands may produce a blue label or a red label, which makes it more fun for the fans to collect,” Smart said.

Popular bands who have released albums onto vinyl include Fleet Foxes, Neutral and the L Michael’s Affair.

“These artists recognize and understand that their fans are ‘vinyl’ people,” Smart said.

Indie musicians aren’t the only ones on vinyl. Many DJs prefer R&B artists to record onto vinyl so they can manipulate the music while disc jockeying.

Unfortunately, the older classic albums of artists such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and hundreds of others are no longer printing new releases, making each album a precious antiquity.

Coats said, “[Dimple Records] only [has] a few pressings of single albums that are out of print, and they immediately sell out.”

The unavailability never curbs the enthusiasm of the true collector, but seems to encourage the fever and desire of the treasured album.

“The older demographic who have working turntables admire the look and feel of the vinyl,” Smart said. “It’s a more active listening experience.”

BRITTANY PEARLMAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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