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Inside One Of the Last Vinyl Record Manufacturers 382

Posted by michael
from the play-it-again-sam dept.
jonerik writes "The Nashville Tennessean has this look at Nashville's United Record Pressing, one of the last vinyl record manufacturers left in the U.S. Although LPs and 12" and 7" singles make up a tiny portion of the American music market at this point, the article reports that United's business is booming, thanks to consolidation within Nashville's record pressing business community, steady orders for the jukebox market, techno, dance, reggae, and rap orders, and this year's 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. 'Elvis has been good to us. I can't complain,' says Cris Ashworth, the company's owner."
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Inside One Of the Last Vinyl Record Manufacturers

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  • Market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nevermore-Spoon (610798) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:50PM (#4863498)
    There doesn't have to be a huge market to support a business when there isn't much competition.

    The Demand for vinyl from the DJ industry (techno, trip hop, rap, and the like) shouldn't be slowing down too much, Especially with new prime time hits buy groups like the Gorillias (Produced by Dan the Automator).

  • by dan dan the dna man (461768) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:51PM (#4863506) Homepage Journal
    "Vinyl sales are also on the increase, thanks to exposure in films like High Fidelity and their popularity with dance music fans. Both single and album sales have increased in the past year. The vinyl market is now estimated to be worth £28.1m after growing 17 per cent."


    From here [independent.co.uk]

    All my friends are DJ's. I see a lot of vinyl...

    • The UK vinyl market is massive. Most major highstreet record stores stock vinyl, flagship stores like Virgin on Picadilly Circus and HMV on Oxford Street give over large percentages (read 15-20%) of total floor space to vinyl. There are only maybe 2 or 3 pressing firms but they are doing a roaring trade. I personally have something like 6 or 700 CDs and maybe only 2 or 300 12" singles, but I buy more of the latter than the former new. Most all of the music I want is on vinyl first, and as a DJ it's much more useful to me in that format. CDs are nice for when I'm at the day job, or just relaxing, or as samplers to give me ideas for tunes I might get on 12.
  • DJs (Score:3, Informative)

    by wattersa (629338) <andrew@andrewwat t e r s . com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:51PM (#4863507) Homepage
    This makes perfect sense that their business is booming. There's still no easy way for DJs to spin CDs on the fly. With a vinyl record, adjusting tempo is easily achieved by changing the speed of the turntable. And who could forget the popular "scratch." With a CD all you can do is fade the volume when it's time for the next song.
    • Re:DJs (Score:2, Informative)

      by cscx (541332)
      That's the farthest thing from the truth I've ever seen. You obviously haven't seen a DJ cd player in oh, the last 3-5 years. With my Pioneer CD decks I can do not only everything I can do on vinyl, but do tricks that are near impossible on a turntable.
    • Re:DJs (Score:4, Informative)

      by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:03PM (#4863623) Homepage Journal
      You are sadly mistaken. The technology to allow mixing and fading through software has been around for years. For that matter, you can scratch and mix CDs to your hearts content and have it sound pretty good. You can find beatmixing plugins to just about any MP3 player.

      The difference is the interface. The tactile involvement of vinyl is the biggest key. It's just not the same scratching with a mouse on a screen. There's just something that feels right and easy with two turntables and a crossfader in front of you. There has been progress with some of the newer simulated turntables that plug into a USB port of a computer, but it still doesn't come close to what is needed to spin at a professional level.

      It's just a matter of time before hardware designers come up with a proper interface to allow the flexibility and style required for a DJ. Until then, Technics turntables and vinyl record producers still have a place in the world.

      • by cscx (541332)
        Have you seen Denon's DN-S5000? [denon.com] Spins like a platter like a record, plays digital. Of course I distrust Denon anyway (anyone that's been in the DJ industry knows their entire goddamn 2x00 series leaves scratches on your CD's over time due to a poor drawer design) so I wouldn't buy one anyway.
      • It's just not the same scratching with a mouse on a screen.

        Actually, there are CD decks designed for DJs that have large rotary dials on them that you can use to similate scratches, and using various beat timers and sliders you can do a whole lot of things perfectly (without as much talent) using CDs.

        So that "Matter of Time" you said it would take before hardware designers come up with the proper interface has already come and gone -- but at seveal thousands of dollars for a single CD deck, they're out of reach of most trunk-based DJs that do the dance clubs and private parties.
        • by radish (98371)
          Yeah you can hit a "mix" button, and the computer will do it all for you. But you know what? It sounds like a computer did it for you. There's no style, no originality and no feel. Forget wedding DJs - look at the world's professionals. These guys can afford CD decks, most use CD decks from time to time, ALL (well 99%!) prefer vinyl. It feels better, it's more fun, hell it's traditional. You will prise my 1210s from my cold dead hands ;)
      • No CD turntable has been able to accurately replicate the feel and sound of scratching a record (which I guess isnt' really important in a lot of electronic music, but that's a technicality). Nevertheless, I eagerly await the day when professional DJ's are willing to part with Technics SL1200 turntables for iPod's or CD turntables.
    • Yeah, the digital replacements for DJ turntables still have user interface problems. Feature creep results in something with zillions of modes and effects. See the ProScratch 2 [discountmusic.com], the VegiMatic of DJ equipment.

      There's one scheme where the DJ has turntables and records, but all the records have is timecode, which is used to address music stored elsewhere.

  • by callipygian-showsyst (631222) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:53PM (#4863528) Homepage
    I used to love when a _Mad Magazine_ or _National Geographic_ came with an Evatone Soundsheet. It would be great to see those again.
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:54PM (#4863529)
    I'm still wondering why the MPAA doesn't just go back to vinyl for everything. Much harder to rip an LP than a CD. They could bill it as the latest new technology. I mean most folks under 25 haven't even seen an LP...
    • Hmmm. Not really. Instead of plugging the turntable into the amp, you plug it into the sound card. Then you just play it. Most ripping programs have a way of detecting the breaks between songs. Many can clean up pops, hisses, and rumble. I've transferred some of my old LPs to CD.
      • One largish (say 13inch) dinner plate.
        Some candle wax
        Heat wax
        Poor onto plate
        Put vinal in waxy plate
        Allow to cool
        Peal off
        Maybe not a perfect copy, but it's the easiest way I know to play Iron Man backwards.
        • OK, I'm pretty sure you're joking, but I'll bite. Wouldn't that produce a negative image record consisting of peaks rather than troughs that was, therefore, unplayable? Wouldn't you just end up with something between silence and random noise if the peaks turned into grooves?
    • I'm still wondering why the MPAA doesn't just go back to vinyl for everything. Much harder to rip an LP than a CD. They could bill it as the latest new technology. I mean most folks under 25 haven't even seen an LP...

      Hint: use the tape recorder output connections on your amp (consult you manual or figure it out). Already set at the correct levels. Few (good) turntables can be plugged direct into your soundcard. RIAA equalisation and pre-amplification are required for the best sound.

      Yeah, I did find it quite amusing that the article had to explain what an LP was :)

    • A friend told me about a data transfer service that uses a very expensive device that plays vinyl with a laser. Supposed to eliminate almost all the hiss and pop associated with physical contact.

      It's not very hard to imagine something that can do this and play in real time also being able to do it at 2x or faster and output PCM digital audio files.

  • by cioxx (456323) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:54PM (#4863531) Homepage
    All thanks to the portable adaptation [consumerreports.org] recently.
  • I remember vinyl (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:54PM (#4863533) Journal
    Cleaning the LP before you played it, to get every bit of dust off of it. Spending $300 (so years ago) on a direct drive turntable+needle to get good sound. Hanging the turntable from the ceiling from chains and springs, so you and your friends could dance without making the needle skip.

    Nowadays you just stick a CD into a $50 player sitting on the table and get just as good a sound, and you don't have to worry about dust nearly as much.

    I don't miss LPs.

    I do miss the cover art, though. Cover art is why I still have about 50 of them.

    • Hanging the turntable from the ceiling from chains and springs, so you and your friends could dance without making the needle skip.

      Hey, nothing that a 500 pound piece of marble can't fix. :)

    • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:59PM (#4863586) Journal
      >> Cleaning the LP before you played it

      Thats a paddlin

      >> Spending $300 (so years ago) on a direct drive turntable+needle

      Thats a paddlin

      >> Hanging the turntable from the ceiling from chains and springs

      Thats a paddlin

      >> stick a CD into a $50 player sitting on the table

      You better believe thats a paddlin

    • Hanging the turntable from the ceiling from chains and springs, so you and your friends could dance without making the needle skip.
      Hey ! Didn't you read your record's EULA ? You're not supposed to listen to music with "friends" ! You are depriving the hard working record industry executive of hard earned money !

      And what's this "friends" thing anyway ? Isn't that, like other circumvention devices, prohibited under the DMCA ?

      You will hear from our lawyers !
    • by aderusha (32235) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:29PM (#4863882) Homepage
      i clearly came too late to suggest this to you, but there's plenty of ways of making your turntables not skip. mass is your friend. my fav is to bring 2 large empty plastic trays, fill them with sand, stack a couple cinder blocks in each tray full of sand, and lay a table surface across the top. you can dance yourself silly on stage with this setup and it won't miss a beat...
    • by DrCode (95839)
      I still have the same phonograph I bought as a kid (30 years ago), and needed to replace the cartridge (the device that holds the stylus and converts vibrations to electricity). Not only was it inexpensive, but it fit into the old spot perfectly.

      Meanwhile... I can't just upgrade the motherboard in my 3-year old case, because the case is an AT, and all the new MB's are ATX. Want to bet that as soon as I buy an ATX case, the manufacturers will move to a new "improved" standard?
  • Look at what else you can still buy: click me [microsalvage.com]

    I still have the 10 disk "Eye of the Beholder" game on these.

    • 10 disc?

      i didnt remember it taking that much.. more like 4 or something like that..

      but anyways.. we held a little lan/booze/ps2 party last weekend, and my friend brought a c64.

      c64 pron-intros... mmm...
  • Vinyl writers? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cheezycrust (138235) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:57PM (#4863563)
    Howhard would it be to make a device that could write LP's? I have no idea, but I think DJ's would love to have something like this - they could buy the music on CD (so you keep good quality backups), and write them when they need it.
    • Re:Vinyl writers? (Score:2, Informative)

      by brandorf (586083)
      Not technically difficult, though a "Blank" LP would need to be made of softer stuff that a normal pressed LP, as you need to carve the grooves in them. Because of this, they probbably wouldn't last very long, especially up to the kind of abuse a DJ would put on them.
    • Re:Vinyl writers? (Score:3, Informative)

      by gatekeep (122108)
      It exists, it's called acetate. Like the other poster said, it's softer than vinyl, so it degrades after being played repeatedly. Acetate recorders (or whatever the technical term is) don't come cheap either, I was looking into them briefly, the price scared me off in a hurry.
    • Re:Vinyl writers? (Score:4, Informative)

      by cscx (541332) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:04PM (#4863634) Homepage
      So hard, that such a device has existed [vestax.com] for at least a year now! :)
  • by C0CT3AU (595211) <cocteauNO@SPAMatlas.sk> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:57PM (#4863565)
    In United States that may be true. In Europe, the situation is not the same. Electronic music and DJ culture have strong influence on producers of vinyls. Factory in Czech republic, in the city Lodenice is known for one of the best qualities available on the market. Even Madonna's SPs made from coloured vinyl were produced there.
  • by dirvish (574948) <dirvish AT foundnews DOT com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:58PM (#4863573) Homepage Journal
    I best be goin' down there and git me some disks at hoe-sale prices so I can lay down the phat scratch! Aight!
  • by da3dAlus (20553) <dustin...grau@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:58PM (#4863574) Homepage Journal
    For today's FoxTrot [ucomics.com]
  • by Malcolm MacArthur (66309) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:59PM (#4863584) Journal
    you'll still be able to cut your own vinyl [vinylexchange.com]. A snip at only $10,000 and $7 a blank :)
  • by elbowdonkey (516197) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:02PM (#4863607) Homepage
    'Elvis has been good to us. I can't complain.'

    I have a hard time believing that, seeing as he's been working at the 7-11 on the corner of my neighborhood for the last 6 years. The most good he's ever done for me is push the button on the QuickPicks machine, winning me $5.00.
  • Must be all that DRM they've been putting on vinal now adays.
  • punk (Score:3, Informative)

    by blackmonday (607916) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:10PM (#4863696) Homepage
    There's still a lot of punk bands making vinyl. I like how it looks and how it sounds. Go into an independent record store and you just might find a punk vinyl section with some new stuff, even major punk bands like NOFX still put out vinyl releases. My band Black Monday [blackmonday.info] just did a run of 1000 7 inch vinyl singles (in red vinyl!) on a label named split seven records. Check out the site.
  • What is this re cord of which you speak? I have heard tales of the time before, the time of the turn table and the black scratchy circle. Is this your re cord? If so, how can the laser properly read the re cord?
  • Ok, this is as much of a whore as I can get here on /., but what the heck. This [slashdot.org] was my reply to recent article [slashdot.org] about downloading music. I made that post late in the game and I doubt many people saw it, but I think it's totally relevant to the discussion here... so here it is anyway....

    I recently got back into listening to vinyl... you know, those 12" black things that are (gasp!) analog. I'm finding this hobby really fun for a few reasons...

    First, there's an amazing amount of stuff that's out there and DIRT CHEAP. Scour around used record stores, record shows, yard sales, etc and there's a ton of material to be had for a buck or less if you're willing to look.

    Next, it sounds better than CD. No one is going to convince me otherwise. I can listen for hours and hours and enjoy every minute of it. Even the best CDs that I have are fatiguing to listen to after a while.

    And finally, even under the most assenine RIAA intupretation of the law, this is completely legal and the record companies don't see an additional penny from me.

    I just find it really funny that the industry gets all riled up over downloading, but my digging into used vinyl is actually worse for them yet there's not a damn thing they can complain about.

    (of course we know that the RIAA has tried to stop the sale of used CDs but was summarily shot down because the practice is protected by the "first sale" doctrine of federal copyright law).

    -S

  • by herrd0kt0r (585718) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:13PM (#4863722)
    NASHVILLE, TN (Reuters) - With the expansion of the vinyl industry, executives are looking towards technology to further their cause.

    It has been a long time since music aficionados flocked to the record stores for vinyl records. With the advent of digital media such as CDs, CD-Rs, and the internet, it is possible to get the music you want quickly and easily, without having to leave your home. Furthermore, fans can make their own mixed compilations of their favorite music.

    The vinyl industry here in Nashville is trying to capture that magic. Engineers are hard at work on the LP-R, and the LP-R drive. LP-R stands for Long Play Recorder, and is a throwback to the lingo vinyl enthusiasts used.

    "We were gonna try for 7"-R, but saying 'seven-inch-arrr' just wasn't catchy enough," Buckaroo Banzai said. "Instead, we're going for the behemoth of vinyl, the LP!"

    Here at the test labs of the Hong Kong Cavaliers, the press was introduced to the world's first LP-R drive. Fitting in the 5.25" bay of a personal computer, and expanding to a full-sized drive at the touch of a button, the LP-R drive can take blank LP-R media and burn LPs on the fly!

    "We've only got it recording at 2x speed right now, but pretty soon we're gonna introduce the same technology we used to make splat-proof watermelons, and up the burn rates to 52x," one engineer stated.

    The industry is buzzing with talk of LP-RW drives, and even a portable unit codenamed "the iLPod." Fan reaction has been phenomenal, with one fan exlaiming: "Holy CRAP! i've been waiting for this for YEARS! vinyl sounds so warm and smooth, and i can't WAIT to burn all my mp3s onto LP-Rs! Hell, even 32kbps mp3s sound MAGICAL!"

    Another fan bared her breasts in support of the Hong Kong Cavaliers.
  • Pearl Jam and Vinyl (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eclectric (528520) <bounce@junk.abels.us> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:19PM (#4863784)
    Pearl Jam (the band, not the... err... stuff) releases all of their albums on Vinyl first (a practice they've done at least since their second release in 1993.) The band members have a love of vinyl, and that's mainly the purpose.

    The fan club singles they release every year are also only put out on vinyl. An interesting note: it was a trip to the Library of Congress that sealed this decision: vinyl, unlike tape and CD is impervious to time and will not break down if it is protected from damage, unlike magnetic and optical formats (tapes and CDs)

    I have no idea who presses the Pearl Jam vinyls. I do know that PJ's album "Vitalogy" was the the last vinyl album to enter the billboard top 100 list.
    • A large number of punk bands (and yes, I fully acknowledge that Pearl Jam isn't punk) release their music on vinyl. It's just part of the tradition of punk...better cover art, full lyric tabs, and cheaper (about 10$ per LP, even online). I buy a large amount of new music on vinyl for these reasons, and I really wish that a lot of bigger bands like Pearl Jam would continue to press.
    • An interesting note: it was a trip to the Library of Congress that sealed this decision: vinyl, unlike tape and CD is impervious to time and will not break down if it is protected from damage, unlike magnetic and optical formats

      Hmmm - I have a little trouble believing this one. I know that magnetic media fade, and I don't doubt that CD-R and CD-RW could possibly degrade after time. But to say that grooves etched in vinyl are more permanent than pressed aluminum discs encased in plastic? Other than intense electromagnetic radiation (e.g. a microwave :-), exactly what process would degrade mass-produced CDs yet leave vinyl LPs unharmed?

    • IIRC the last singel to hit #1 in the US which was only available on vinyl was 'Nothing Compares 2 U' by Sinead O'Connor.

      In the UK things of course are going back.... In 1992 'The Wedding Present' made a big thing by releasing a limited edition single every month for a year - these were vinyl only releases. They all entered the top 40 purely on vinyl sales. Ten years later, vinyl-only releases are starting to make an impact on the charts again. Nukleuz records - purveyors of harder dance music - are now probably the biggest vinyl producer in the UK and sveral of their releases are charting purely on vinyl.

  • by dbombarc (208030) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:22PM (#4863803) Homepage
    Although I have made proper vinyl here in the US (through United, Rainbow, and a couple other mom n'pops now extinct) for releases on my indie record label (shameless plug - http://deathbombarc.com) I have been much more fond of making LATHE CUTS. A fellow named Peter King in New Zealand cooks up his own version of vinyl (actualy some type of plastic he makes which is clear!) and then cuts each record by hand. It would be impossible to make thousands of records this way, but it a miracle for small bands that can only sell may 30-100 copies of their album/single while on brief weekend tours and whatnot. Besides this, Peter can shape the records in anyway you like. I made a lathe cut through Peter that was shaped like an X!!! If you are interested, his only website is a fan site, but it does have pretty accurate rate info. Fax or call him for a quote though, as the fellow doesn't have an internet connection... http://home.attbi.com/~cassetto/kingcontact.html
    • Peter King is a hero. I have bought more 'limited edition of 17, lathe cut clear polycarbonate 8"' singles than is strictly good for me.

      In the world of obscure and difficult music, vinyl has always been the medium of choice. I'm still an enthusuastic music buyer, and I'd say 7 out of every 10 things I buy are on vinyl.

      You can argue about frequency response and "warmth" and ripping all you want, but the simple fact is CDs and CD players just aren't cool. Records and record players are.

      Getting the appeal of vinyl is like getting the appeal of modern art or classic cars. You do, or you don't. It's not something you can reason out and justify.

      If you're remotely interested in what I have to say, I've been through this argument before on my website [thecatflap.co.uk].
  • Viable Backup Media? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by randomErr (172078) <ervin@kosch.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:22PM (#4863811) Homepage Journal
    Yesterday we were talking about using IDE drives [slashdot.org] as long term backup media. Why not vynal?

    They holdup well with reasonable care. Many jukeboxs are still playing records from the 50's. They are not effected by magnetic field. They also take stratched better the cd's and dvd's.

    I would love to backup a gig to a 45.

    If you think and 45 is a gun, your too young to understand this post.
    • Maybe it has something to do with:
      - It's hard to do (have you seen the process involved in making vinyl?)
      - It's an analog medium (perhaps you've heard of it - it's not the same as digital)

      What would be cheaper and more effective would be printing out reams of paper in a format like the bar code, then saving that.
  • Everyone's mentioning DJs as the primary consumers of modern-day vinyl. What about the independent music industry in general?

    I have a friend in a band whose fourth record, a LP, was just released last week (Mara'Akate [maraakate.com]). It will also be released as a CD, but their three previous records were vinyl-only (and have all sold out).

    In addition, take a look at any indie record store. For instance, look at Insound [insound.com]. They sell a TON of vinyl. These are new releases too.

    Collecting of new vinyl is strong as well. That is, in addition to collecting old stuff like Led Zeppelin. Take a look at some of the vinyl auctions at Skylab [skylabcommerce.com]. People pay $20 for a seven inch pressed two years ago.

    For some information about pressing vinyl (including a list of companies who do it) in the independent music world, check out Indie Centre [indiecentre.com].

    I know DJs search thrift stores and garage sales for their vinyl, and hip hop artists routinely release new record, but I think that the indie rock (including all of the sub-genres you can imagine) is what's REALLY keeping vinyl alive (and quite well).

    Finally... someone mentioned those Evatone [evatone.com] sound sheets (the flimsy, paper-thin records formerly included in magazines and happy meals...)... they were still being pressed as recently as five years ago.

  • Not the last.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unorthod0x (263821) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:23PM (#4863826)
    United Record Pressing is not "one of the last" places that presses vinyl; though there are DJs that have switched to mixing MP3s and CDs, vinyl is still the primary media used in those circles. There's a bunch of smaller operations scattered throughout the world, and most producers (at least of electronic music, and certainly more genres) still strive to get to the point where they can get 1000+ pieces pressed and sent out around the globe.

    Check out The Scratch Free Press [scratchfree.ca] for just one of many great examples of people still pushing the vinyl thang.. It is very far from being dead.. Here's a google on Vinyl Mastering [google.ca] and Vinyl Pressing [google.ca]
  • Vinyl (Score:3, Informative)

    by tezzery (549213) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:32PM (#4863918)

    Since cassettes came out, Vinyl has always had somewhat of a cult following. From audiophiles who liked the 'warm' vinyl sound better than hissy cassettes to the punk-rock scene, and of course nowadays, hip hop and techno dj's..

    Sure, there's new digital equipment that lets you mix and even scratch .. but nothing better than putting your finger over the record, adjusting the pitch control and mixing a perfect beat.. As far as scratching goes, you can see the influence this has made in a lot of today's music. From rock bands with dj's (limp bizkit, incubus, linkin' park) to even jazz artists (courtney pine, herbie hancock). The turntable has turned into an instrument with the help of turntablists like q-bert, dj shadow, kid koala, etc.

    As far as record pressers go, there's plenty of places out there cutting vinyl for hip hop/club/and techno producers. There's also a lot of independent places that do it for a lot less..

    Recently, Vestax introduced a Vinyl cutter for under $10,000 [hollywooddj.com] (about 8400).

    Overall, I'm glad vinyl is still around after all these years. I doubt it will go away anytime soon.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:34PM (#4863938) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how much breakage they have in the production line for vinyl records.

    After all, the RIAA subtracts an 11% 'laquer breakage' allowance from artists' royalties. They don't do laquer any more, but I wonder what the breakage is for vinyl, or even for CDs.

    I know, pointless barb, but I'd like to see a lawyer go after this one. No doubt the padding would appear somewhere else.
  • analog (Score:4, Informative)

    by farnsworth (558449) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:34PM (#4863941)
    Reasons that analog is better than digital:

    Frequency Response: digital music *must* filter out everything above half its sample rate (plus or minus a few hertz for data). Conventional CD's filter out everything above 22kHz. some people can hear a 25kHz pitch, some cannot. but nearly everyone can hear the interaction of 24 and 25, which can manifest itself within their hearing range. recording techniques improve this situation, and higher sampling rates are coming, but this is still a fundamental limit.

    Dynamic Range: analog music naturally compresses from the quietest to the loudest portions in much the same way the human ears work. when you go to a really loud concert, does the sound clip? no, your ears compress the sound. digital music can emulate this with algorithms, and some of them are quite good, but again, all decent analog equipment does this as a side effect, and no digital recorder will ever get this excatly right (although digital recordings can best the 96dB range that good tape machines can offer, does anyone listen to music in a *totally silent* environment?)

    Simplicity: no processing is required to record/play analog. the medium is a physical imprint of the sound waves in the room as a function of time. all you need is a magnet and some energy.

    Of course, analog media is not as convienient as modern digital media, but since I have a home with the space in my home, I will keep listening to my big, bulky, dusty records because they just sound better.

    • Re:analog (Score:5, Informative)

      by sunspot42 (455706) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @04:20PM (#4865060)
      Why do uninformed ramblings keep getting moderated as "Insightful" here at Slashdot?

      First, farnsworth's post asserts that some people can hear a 25kHz pitch. Yeah. Right. Maybe if they're six months old. The reality is, there are probably a handful of adults on the planet who can hear a 25kHz pitch, and I doubt any of them live in the noise-drenched environments of western civilization. Most adults are lucky if they can still hear anything out past 18kHz, especially if they listened to a lot of loud music at any point in their lives.

      It's also vital to note that even then, the sensitivity of our ears to sound at high frequencies is extraordinarily low. In other words, a sound at 20kHz would have to be phenomenally loud for us to hear it compared to a sound at, say, 5,000Hz, where our hearing is much, much more sensitive. Few musical instruments produce loud sounds at or above 20kHz as a result - at least, not intentionally. There could be harmonics at frequencies in excess of 20kHz (for example, perhaps cymbals produce such harmonics), but by their very nature, those harmonics are going to be soft in relation to the rest of the signal - and again, most adults don't stand a snowball's chance of hearing them anyhow, even if they were deafeningly loud, which they're not.

      Worse, vinyl doesn't stand a snowball's chance of reproducing such ultrasonic information with any kind of accuracy. The format was never designed to record high frequency signals - engineers have enough trouble squeezing 60Hz - 15,000Hz out of them reliably, let alone with any kind of fidelity when compared to CDs. I have no doubt that LPs produce a fair amount of ultrasonic signal, but again, most of that is going to be unintentional - clicks and pops, surface noise, electrical noise, and harmonic distortion generated by the stylus and cartridge as they vibrate. Any "real" ultrasonic information on the record would be swamped by all the fake ultrasonic garbage. You also seem to be assuming that the master tapes contain such ultrasonic information. They don't. The usable frequency response of even the best analog tape decks used historically for studio recording typically topped out at around 25kHz. Beyond that the levels fall off so rapidly as to be useless, and even there, the levels are going to be pretty low. And this assumes the deck doesn't employ filtering beyond around 22kHz, to eliminate unwanted ultrasonic noise that can impinge on the bias signal. Many do. Older or lower-quality equipment (and/or tapes) won't even make it to 25kHz (except for all the hiss!).

      Even if the decks can record 25kHz sounds, in order to get them onto the tape the microphones would have to be capable of picking up such ultrasonics to begin with, which of course they can't. 99.9% of the microphones used over the past 60 years to record audio in the studio or concert hall are lucky to have a usable frequency response out to as far as 20kHz - most begin a pretty severe rolloff at 15kHz, and by 20kHz only a handful manage to maintain a flat response, with performance dropping off rapidly thereafter. Anything they're picking up beyond 20kHz is going to be so faint as to be inaudible once it passes through the gauntlet of noise and distortion inherent in the vinyl format. Here's a sales listing [digitalvillage.co.uk] for the legendary Neumann U87, a mic that's been the studio standard for vocal recording since the '60s - the Beatles used this mic, and singers & engineers continue to choose this mic over all others even to this day. Its frequency response tops out at 20kHz. So much for recording ultrasonics. And the instrument probably most likely to produce ultrasonics - the cymbal - is typically recorded using a mic like the Shure SM57, which has been a standard for recording percussion since its introduction over thirty years ago. Its frequency response tops out at a measly 15kHz. What ultrasonics?

      Of course, it's all utterly inconsequential compared to the trashing of the original waveform caused by all of vinyl's other numerous limitations, including the damage done in the crucial 50Hz-5,000Hz range where human hearing and perception is so much more sensitive, and accuracy therefore so much more important. You're lucky if you can get a flat 50Hz - 15,000kHz response out of vinyl. Most signal above and below those limits is likely to be noise (rumble and hum below 50-60Hz, clicks, pops, hiss and harmonics above 15,000kHz).

      Next, you make the ludicrous assertion that, "analog music naturally compresses from the quietest to the loudest portions in much the same way the human ears work." Eh? Human hearing most certainly does not "compress" the audio signal, and even if it did, what could possibly be "natural" about adding an external layer of compression to the signal? The only time our hearing "compresses" is when a really loud sound (think thunderclap) happens nearby - IIRC, the hammer will be temporarily pulled away from the eardrum, but that's a reflex that lasts only moments. With a dynamic range well in excess of 90dB (far greater than vinyl's pathetic 60dB under absolutely ideal circumstances), CD's and DVD's don't need to utilize any compression, unless they're recording the sound of a jet taking off six feet away or something. Nor do vinyl records magically compress the natural dynamic range of recorded music into their paltry 60dB of dynamic range (more like 40dB for virtually all consumer vinyl) - that compression is done by mastering engineers. You could perform the same signal-degrading compression before mastering the sound to a CD if you wanted, but what kind of an idiot would do such a thing?

      Finally, this statement of yours the kicker: " Simplicity: no processing is required to record/play analog. the medium is a physical imprint of the sound waves in the room as a function of time. all you need is a magnet and some energy." No processing, eh? Apart from the already mentioned compression, of course, to get the natural dynamic range of music shoehorned into vinyl's pathetic dynamic range. And then there's the RIAA equilization, required before one can even attempt to squeeze high fidelity performance out of vinyl. Here's the standardized curve [tanker.se]. Looks pretty processed to me. Bass frequencies are cut by almost 20dB at 20Hz (they have to, otherwise the needle would pop out of its groove trying to reproduce bass), while at 19kHz treble frequencies are boosted by almost 20dB in an attempt to drown out all the vinyl noise. Then it all has to be reversed on playback. That's some serious processing.

      I suppose this would also be a good time to mention that, if you want to put more than about 10 minutes worth of material onto a single side of a vinyl LP, you're going to have to further compress (or eliminate) any loud, low bass. The grooves can't be made wide enough to handle it. And of course, de-equalizing that RIAA curve on playback is an imprecise science, leading to all sorts of frequency response irregularities and phase issues. Whoops!

      Ah yes, the wonderful, "naturally" compressed, unprocessed sound of vinyl. To summarize:

      * Loud tics and pops caused by stray dust and wear, resulting in a *negative* signal to noise ratio - i.e. the noise can become louder than the music! (with N'Stynk, I suppose this would be a blessing in disguise . . . or simply redundant.)
      * Rumbling caused by the turntable's motor and the friction of the stylus as it passes through the groove
      * Wow and flutter, caused by speed irregularities in the turntable's drive system and by any imperfections in the geometry of the disc
      * Phase irregularities caused by the RIAA equalization and the subsequent need for the preamp to de-equalize the signal
      * Frequency response irregularities caused by the RIAA equalization / de-equalization process
      * The inability to reproduce loud bass accurately (the cutter making the wax master would pop out of its groove if it tried to reproduce the kind of bass CDs can handle effortlessly)
      * The tendency for the turntable, platter and even the disc to function as microphones, picking up room reverberations and - particularly - the sound being produced by the speakers, smearing and distorting the audio in numerous ways
      * Cartridge / tonearm misalignments, causing inaccurate stylus pickup, accelerated record wear, or both.
      30dB of stereo separation, vs. CD's 70+dB of separation
      * A theoretical maximum of 60dB of dynamic range for virgin vinyl of the highest quality (and only at certain frequencies - obviously, not in the low bass) vs. around 90dB of dynamic range from even the cheapest CD players, across the entire spectrum
      * In practice, roughly 40dB of usable dynamic range across the majority of the spectrum
      * A relatively flat frequency response from only around 60 Hz to 15 kHz, with severe rolloffs beyond those limits
      * The need for mastering engineers to severely compress and re-equalize the signal in order to steer clear of the format's limitations relative to CD, which requires no such distortion-educing compensation
      * Pitch and frequency errors caused by the speed difference between the cutter used to produce the wax master and your turntable
      * The tendency of the media itself to wear out as its played, and to be damaged during routine handling with audible results

      You're clearly uninformed from a technical standpoint. If you prefer the "sound" of vinyl, that's your business. But don't try to cloak your preference in technobabble you obviously don't begin to understand
      • Why do you post when it is clearly you who is misinformed?

        FACT: most people can hear up to at least 30 kHz. No, they cannot hear a pure sine wave at that frequency. But they can hear a difference if such frequencies are or are not present in the music. Moreover, almost all music contains such frequencies. No, not as pure sine waves. And it is not even the harmonics that cause the effect. Rather, because to duplicate the waveform transients, you must have the high frequencies. (Think Fourier.)

        Yes, such transients are reproduced on vinyl. No, they are not reproduced on CD.

        There are various controlled studies demonstrating these things. Since you are such an authority, I shouldn't need to give you references, but since I'm so magnanimous, I'll give a few anyway:

        • M. L. Lenhardt et al., "Human ultrasonic speech perception", Science [sciencemag.org] [sciencemag.org] 253: 82 [1991].
        • T. Oohashi et al., "High-frequency sound above the audible range affects brain electronic activity and sound perception", AES Preprints [aes.org] [aes.org]
          91: 3207 [1991].
        • P. Mills, "The need for extended high-frequency bandwidth [westhost.com] [westhost.com]" [1999].

        Your final star'ed points are just dumb. You don't give any references, because of course you don't have any. Get a good turntable/arm/cartridge. The reverse of most of what you say is true. E.g. your claim of 60dB dynamic range is nuts: the range is over 100 dB. You are confusing the noise floor of a high-hiss record with dynamic range--but you can hear 20 dB into that noise, and a good record need not have high hiss. Vinyl has poor bass??? It's much better than CD. And so on.

        • And here we have yet another Slashdotter doesn't know what they're talking about. They seem to come crawling out of the woodwork every time the "vinyl is better" boobs start slinging their BS around.

          > FACT: most people can hear up to at least 30 kHz.

          FACT: Nobody can hear up to 30kHz. People *might* be able to hear harmonics of sounds above 20kHz, provided those harmonics fall within the range of human hearing, but they won't be able to hear the actual pure tones themselves (as you yourself indicated). Since any medium - such as CD - that records sounds up to 20kHz will also record the harmonics of tones above 20kHz, provided they fall within the range of human hearing, what exactly would we be missing? And apart from percussion or certain electronic instruments, what instruments are out there generating gobs of ultrasonic information, anyhow? And what microphones are capable of picking up such information? And what analog tape decks are capable of recording such information? And - here's the kicker - how many speakers are capable of reproducing such information? The answer to each of these questions is, vanishing few. Many tape decks filter out or fail to record tones much beyond 20kHz. Few microphones can pick them up to begin with. And most speakers are lucky to maintain a flat frequency response even out to 20kHz, let alone to 25 or 30kHz. You'd practically have to live in a laboratory to record and then accurately reproduce ultrasonic information. A 50-year-old format like the vinyl LP certainly isn't ideal for such a thing, given its noise, distortion, dynamic range, separation and phase issues. Only the high quality analog tape decks found in professional studios or digital recording formats utilizing higher sampling rates than 44.1kHz could hope to accurately record and reproduce such audio.

          >Yes, such transients are reproduced on vinyl.

          Maybe on audiophile grade, quarter-speed mastered vinyl played back on a $5,000 turntable equipped with a $1,500 cartridge run through a $2,000 preamp they are. Poorly. With oceans of harmonic distortion and waves of crashing high-frequency noise. Assuming, of course, the original performance was picked up using microphones and mic preamps capable of dealing with much of anything beyond 20kHz (such mics cost in excess of $2,000, and the preamps aren't much cheaper) onto tape decks capable of recording much of anything beyond 20-25kHz. None of which is likely, outside of studiously recorded audiophile sessions.

          >Your final star'ed points are just dumb. You don't give any references,
          >because of course you don't have any.

          You must really enjoy looking like a boob. Hey, if you want to play the (in your case, irrelevant and apparently unavailable on the web) references game, I'd love to! (Actually, one "reference" you posted is available on the web - marketing material from a stereo company plugging their overpriced audiophile gear. You should have provided us with a link to the guy selling $10,000 tinfoil hats to protect us from government mind control rays, too.) Here are my bullet points, plus any references I could dig up (though much of this should be obvious to anyone with a brain in their skull):

          * Loud tics and pops caused by stray dust and wear, resulting in a *negative* signal to noise ratio - i.e. the noise can become louder than the music! (with N'Stynk, I suppose this would be a blessing in disguise . . . or simply redundant.)

          Well, this one is obvious. Whenever a tick or pop is louder than the music (happens a lot with vinyl, and even with tape during quiet passages), the signal to noise ratio goes negative.

          * Rumbling caused by the turntable's motor and the friction of the stylus as it passes through the groove

          Another obvious point. Many turntables even include rumble measurements in their specifications, though that's for the platter only and doesn't take into account additional noise caused by the friction of the stylus dragging through the groove.

          * Wow and flutter, caused by speed irregularities in the turntable's drive system and by any imperfections in the geometry of the disc.

          Another spec that's included for most turntables and even analog tape decks. Hard to see how this one is, "just dumb", unless you're so ignorant you've never looked at the specs for a turntable or tape deck.

          * Phase irregularities caused by the RIAA equalization and the subsequent need for the preamp to de-equalize the signal.

          Another obvious point. Anytime you process the signal to emphasize or de-emphasize certain frequencies, you're going to introduce phase discrepancies. Here's a $2,000 preamp from Daniels Audio [danielsaudio.com] that attempts to compensate for the phase issues. Notice I say "attempts". Even a manufacturer of $2,000 stereo components won't claim to be able to eliminate such issues. And who knows what issues all that additional processing is going to introduce.

          * Frequency response irregularities caused by the RIAA equalization / de-equalization process

          Again, a no-brainer. If the frequency response curve used to produce the wax master doesn't precisely match the frequency response curve in your preamp (and it never will), certain frequencies are going to be emphasized upon playback while others will be de-emphasized. Here's a big page detailing the design issues faced by folks trying to build the RIAA de-equalization circuits for a preamp [euronet.nl]. Notice the difficulties he's having making the response curve come close to the RIAA ideal. Even by the end, he's off by more than a quarter dB at many frequencies, including some smack dab in the middle of the most sensitive range of human hearing.

          * The inability to reproduce loud bass accurately (the cutter making the wax master would pop out of its groove if it tried to reproduce the kind of bass CDs can handle effortlessly)

          For references, please see this [planetdnb.com], this [aardvarkmastering.com], this [futurediscsystems.com], or this [djprince.net].

          * The tendency for the turntable, platter and even the disc to function as microphones, picking up room reverberations and - particularly - the sound being produced by the speakers, smearing and distorting the audio in numerous ways

          I should think this one would be obvious. Lots of turntable manufacturers sell heavy weights to sit on top of a record while it's playing. If you don't believe this is true, jump up and down next to your turntable while it's playing, or set it on top of a speaker pumping out a lot of bass. You'll get an "extreme" demonstration of the effect, but the truth is it's happening all the time.

          * Cartridge / tonearm misalignments, causing inaccurate stylus pickup, accelerated record wear, or both.

          Again, an obvious issue. Good luck getting it right! [nac.net]

          * 30dB of stereo separation, vs. CD's 70+dB of separation

          See this [www.foon.be], or the specs for the cartridges themselves here [audio-technica.com]. You'll be lucky to find a preamp that can come close to the 70-90dB of separation even a cheap CD player can provide, let alone a pickup.

          * A theoretical maximum of 60dB of dynamic range for virgin vinyl of the highest quality (and only at certain frequencies - obviously, not in the low bass) vs. around 90dB of dynamic range from even the cheapest CD players, across the entire spectrum.

          References to this abound. If you don't believe me, take it from an expert [georgegraham.com].

          * In practice, roughly 40dB of usable dynamic range across the majority of the spectrum

          See the reference above.

          * A relatively flat frequency response from only around 60 Hz to 15 kHz, with severe rolloffs beyond those limits.

          This one has been covered already.

          * The need for mastering engineers to severely compress and re-equalize the signal in order to steer clear of the format's limitations relative to CD, which requires no such distortion-educing compensation.

          Again, see the references above.

          * Pitch and frequency errors caused by the speed difference between the cutter used to produce the wax master and your turntable.

          That's another obvious fact to anyone but a blithering idiot.

          * The tendency of the media itself to wear out as its played, and to be damaged during routine handling with audible results

          Well, duh. On to dissect the remainder of your post:

          >The reverse of most of what you say is true. E.g. your claim
          >of 60dB dynamic range is nuts: the range is over 100 dB.
          >You are confusing the noise floor of a high-hiss record with
          >dynamic range--but you can hear 20 dB into that noise, and a
          >good record need not have high hiss. Vinyl has poor bass???
          >It's much better than CD. And so on.

          Oh my. There doesn't seem to be anything left to dissect. I've already covered these points up above. Vinyl is *lucky* to hit 60dB of dynamic range with audiophile pressings played back on incredibly expensive equipment. No "confusion" with vinyl's truly outrageous noise floor is necessary. And the dynamic range decreases drastically as the length of the record increases - a problem digital formats don't suffer from. And as for vinyl's bass performance, I think half the links I posted up above note how crappy vinyl is at capturing loud, low bass.

          Next time, you might want to learn something about a subject before you proceed to open your mouth and cram your foot down your throat.
        • Damn it you fool, anyone with half a brain uses vi!

          Oh. Wait.

          What I meant to say was, Hitler liked LPs, so you're full of it.

      • Re:analog (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jdbo (35629)
        Just a rhetorical question, not a direct reply to your post, or realy the post that you are replying to.

        Is is possible that this interest in complete audio "clarity" (i.e. removing all distortion) is misguided in the first place? (I distinguish "complete clarity" - the apparent end goal of digital audio - from "apparent clarity", which I'd define as the level that we've had with analog tape (studio) and vinyl since the 60's, if not the 50's.)

        I am seriously interested in this question; my reasoning is as follows:

        In the universe I live in, there's _plenty_ of misc. noise going on around me _all_the_time_ (at the moment I can hear the fan of my computer, the ventilation system, the cars outside, some wind, a little rain on the road, some electrical hum, and the noises I make breathing, shifting, and typing).

        In order to avoid as much of this noise as possible, one must more or less lock oneself in a recording studio (shielded ventilation, sound-proofing, headphones, etc.). These environments are great for recording in, but this is because they are in no way like real life environments; in fact, they are very unlike real life environments, and thus (for most people) rather uncomfortable compared to real environments. (Just ask anyone stuck in an inside office with no windows or ventilation.)

        What concerns me is that the goal of perfect audio clarity seems to me to have the implicit side-goal of reproducing the audio sterility of the recording studio along with the musical (or other) sounds that we want to hear. This environmental "non-sound" (though "extremely low noise" might be a better way to put it) is increasingly apparent in pop recording, esp. with the popularity of using mixing and misc. effects to create sounds that are simply not performable in the real world, even if they are originally based on (pieced-together) recordings of real instruments/people. The pieced-together nature of this work, esp. when designed to have some resemblance to recordings of live performances, tends to become more apparent the greater the "clarity" of the audio reproduction.

        Because of this, I wonder if the distortion/warmth/whatever you want to call it of analog audio may smooth the path between the underlying sterility of studio-created recordings and the noisy environments (disregarding the most isolated and expensive of audiophile set-ups) that is our typical experience of music, whether it be at home, in the car, in a park on a boom box or walkman, inside a store, at a rock show, in a place of worship, or in a grandly appointed concert hall.

        Another way to put this is to ask whether engineering the reproduction of perfectly "clear" audio may be incidentally depriving that audio of some natural "timbre" that we expect of sounds produced/performed in real world environments.

        And if this is the case, do the imperfections of analog-reproduced audio perhaps act as a some sort of substitue "timbre", therby enabling the sounds that they "distort" to be perceived as more a part of our surroundings, and therefore more familiar and welcome?

        (A perhaps interesting side question is to ask whether the advent of "perfectly clear" audio may result in increasing efforts to "dirty up" recordings in order to remove a listener-alienating aural sterility; I've already heard anecdotes to this effect, but I don't follow the audio industry closely enough to distinguish B.S. from actual common practice)
  • What interests me about the end of vinyl and tape is the apparent end of components that supported the playback. It wasn't that long ago that if you wanted good audio and video you would need a good turn table, a good amplifier, a good VCR, and very good speakers. Of course, for maximum flexibility the amplifier tended to be very expensive with radio receiver and a/v i/o and switching. The quality of the tape and vinyl was such that you did not want to introduce further distortions in the other equipment.

    Now most people just go out and buy a bookshelf system for a couple hundred dollars, or a few hundred if it has a DVD player, and let it go at that. The speakers suck so the reproduction is probably far below cassette tape. We might buy a decent set of speakers, but that doubles the price of the system. People get used to that low quality sound, so just download the songs from the net and listen to music on the computer, thus bypassing all music related sales.

    Perhaps not as bad as I say, but I get a better sound out of my computer and my amplified speaker system than any bookshelf system I have seen.

  • by szyzyg (7313) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:39PM (#4863985)
    BEcause the DJ scene is so important in europe there has recently been shortages in vinyl manufacturing capacity. I hear a lot of UK companies are having to outsource their vinyl pressing to the Czech Republic to make their release dates.

    Personally I'm a vinyl junkie, I spend over $5000 a year on hard to find vinyl, and I DJ a few weekly events. Of course all this is funded by my day job as a software developer (I was working at napster until recently). I wrote a digital mixing application for linux about 6 years ago, back then mp3 wtill wasn't really standardised so I used Raw CDR audio, or Mpeg Layer 2. The UI on any digital mixing application sucks compared to vinyl, Final scratch is close but has too many shortcomings (where's the vorbis support?).

    The other somewhat dubious advantage of vinyl is that the music industry's lawyers see to be more tolerant of short run vinyl bootlegs of tracks which could never get released legally - Usually mashups of Britney Spears vs Nirvana over a 4 to the floor beat. If that was put out as an mp3 or CD they'd probably be more aggressive, but vinly tends to only go to DJ's who can make a decent argument about promoting music. I'm not saying litigation is uneard of, but It's very rare.
  • I have to say that the most convincing argument for buying things on vinyl (for which a rather large amount of music is still available on this medium) is that vinyl is a 100% analog medium. Now, regardless of the sound difference here, you're guaranteed not to have to deal with the copy-protection-scheme of the week that the music industry uses to try to screw over their customers. You buy a piece of music plain and simple and you know it's gonna work.
  • by phorm (591458)
    'Elvis has been good to us. I can't complain

    Thank you... thank you very much...

    Actually, I know a lot of people who will go out of their way to get old 8-tracks or records of older artists. I could never figure this out when the same material is available on CD. For owners of vintage cars, having a 8-track is still somewhat of a cool thing, but record players don't fit in here.
  • Want your records to last longer than CDs? Try this [elpj.com].

    Disclaimer: I'm the guy in the upper left corner.

  • i run a small indie record label, www.schuylkillrecords.com [schuylkillrecords.com], and of the 10 releases so far only one was a CD. punk/hardcore/indie labels have stuck with vinyl for many reasons. not to get into them all (you would have to ask everyone involved), but some offhand are just a love of the format. I think it is one of those things you can not really explain. People into non-mainstream music are generally more into music itself as opposed to background noise on the radio. We like the music, the community, the artist, the label and whatever. I do not hate the labels i buy music from (like people hate the majors). I like having something significant that my music came with instead of a run-of-the-mill jewel case.

    honestly, being a vinyl person is something you just get or do not get. i guess it's like "why bother with Linux when you can run ******". There are reasons it is better to you, even though it may not be the simplest thing out there. you might as well use AOL since it installs itself while you are at it.....

    CDs are just MP3s waiting to be ripped.

    p.s. yes, as a label and somebody that plays in bands i support MP3 file trading 100%. i used to leave a machine running Napster with a lot of our music up on it. it's easier than kids trying to rip vinyl when i can make the MP3 right from the DAT.
  • Underground Dance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tokerat (150341) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @03:32PM (#4864561) Journal
    I DJ a bit, techno/house/jungle/hardcore etc. and even with all this hype about CD turntables and "iPod DJs", vinyl is the choice medium. Most promos and singles are released on 12" long before CDs, and definately long before they are included on any album.

    Besides, digital cannot reproduce the rich fullness of broken-in vinyl basslines, especially at high volume. Needle wear, and even the initial recording process produce extra curves in the recorded sounds, whereas digital picks up every single square corner of the wave accurately and completely, which gives it that "clear but cold" sound which so many audiophiles complain of. Vinyl adds some smoothing to the process. Worn midrange-highend also adds a bit of character (not too worn, mind you, there is definately a cutoff point), as the slight distortion not only gives the impression that the sound is louder than it really is but helps clarify it amongst the heavy low-end.

    That, and it's just not as much fun to spin a plastic controller wheel to align beats as it is to actually spin the platter with your hand. Vinyl is a truely interactive medium. A CD turntable is just that: a CD player with advanced fast forward/rewind, but a turntable is like dragging a bow across a string, you are actually the generating vibrations, not some DAC in a black box.

    It is for these reasons I believe vinyl will never die. However, I don't believe it will ever be anything but a niche market.
  • Vinyl Video (Score:3, Interesting)

    by barnaclebarnes (85340) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @05:18PM (#4865635) Homepage
    Hey, maybe they can start pressing video to vinyl [vinylvideo.com]

    I just went and say the exhibit at the ICA [ica.org.uk] tonight. This stuff is pretty cool. The basic premise is that there was a missing link in home recording and this product really should have existed at some point. The images, music and cover art of the vinyl is super nice.

  • Just today (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tempfile (528337) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @04:11PM (#4874041)
    And I even keep buying new albums on vinyl. The reason is very simple: No copy prevention.

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