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There is no denying that vinyl records are back in the mainstream. There are now new models of vinyl records to allow people to have a nostalgic music experience. But because old and new vinyl records are popular again, it prompted a debate, “Which is better between new and old vinyl records?”
Vinyl records that came out in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s are better than the new ones. While new re-presses work pretty well, the difference lies in the audio quality and volume. Meanwhile, some new ones have crackles, affecting the sound that they produce.
Some people think that new versions of vinyl records are better. However, some aspects still make vintage ones the best among the vinyl record industry.
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Which Is Better Between New And Old Vinyl Records?
Graham Jones, the man who wrote The Vinyl Revival and the Shops that Made it Happen, explained vinyl resurgence. He said that it is more expensive to purchase re-releases today because manufacturers pressed vinyl in the ‘70s in quantities of over 5,000.
On the other hand, the music industry only presses approximately 1,000 vinyl records, causing them to cost more than the old ones.
Additionally, the materials used affect the price. Vinyl records released in the ‘80s consist of recycled materials, while new ones are made of virgin vinyl.
The difference in materials used makes the two records sound different, too. With that said, it is easy to conclude that new vinyl records are better than the old ones.
But it is not as simple as that. While new records use higher quality materials than old ones, people still perceive vintage vinyl records to be of higher quality. The production, mixing, and mastering methods of producing these records explain why old vinyl records are still better.
With new vinyl records, you will sometimes hear crackles and other sound interruptions like distortion. The reason behind these weird noises lay in the manufacturing process.
It is common knowledge that it takes effort to make vinyl sound good. But in the past, this job was more straightforward as manufacturers exerted effort on behalf of the listeners.
Additionally, vinyl is not plug-and-play. It would be best if you learned a lot about setting it up to ensure that it will produce excellent sound.
Some vinyl records are also mastered differently from old records. It is very rare for manufacturers of new records to mix them down analog to tape. Shipping to a record pressing plant is also very rare for these records to be shipped to a record pressing plant.
While some plants can cut down from tape, many new records recorded from analog to tape were mixed as digital files for mastering and pressing.
Why Are Old Vinyl Records Better Than New Ones?
While new vinyl records are made of higher quality virgin vinyl, many collectors still prefer vintage records. Immediately, you will see that the appeal of new vinyl records is that you will get a pristine copy of your favorite music. Still, collectors and audiophiles prefer vintage vinyl records for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes, people collect vintage vinyl records due to a matter of availability. While there are many modern records, they cannot represent what audiophiles and music collectors might be looking for.
It can be challenging to purchase vintage records right now. If you find one, it can be very expensive. For this reason, collectors buy vintage vinyl records because that is their only opportunity to buy that music in vinyl record format.
- Various Versions
Right now, a surprising number of classic albums are available in LP format. However, not all of them are available in every different version they may have been available back then.
For instance, vinyl records launched between 1958 and 1968 were usually available in both stereo and mono. Meanwhile, records released in the early and mid-1970s were available as four-channel quadrophonic pressings.
Moreover, stereo and mono versions of the same album usually differ in terms of mixes. They also sounded a lot different from each other. For instance, mono versions might lack the backing vocals that the stereo version has.
- Different Or Better Artwork
Another reason why a lot of people prefer vintage vinyl records is that their album art is better or different from the modern ones. Of course, a vinyl record is larger than a compact disk. For this reason, it has better and larger artwork. In fact, digital music sometimes does not come with album art at all.
Apart from that, there are other reasons why vinyl records are better than new pressings when it comes to artwork.
When an artwork gets created and stored in a file cabinet, there are times when that artwork will get misplaced or destroyed accidentally. As a result, manufacturers have no choice but to create another artwork using an existing album as a source.
That said, the new artwork may end up with the wrong color and blurrier images compared to the original.
Moreover, vintage vinyl record collectors often look for records with original artwork as they are better than re-created ones. In addition, the thought of having a record that has original album art seems to be satisfying for these collectors. Such is especially true now that vintage vinyl records are a little challenging to find.
The Comeback Of Vinyl Records
Despite the popularity of digital music sources like Apple Music, Spotify, and iTunes, the traditional medium saw resurgences. In 2020, sales of vinyl records saw a significant increase, leaving behind CDs, cassette tapes, and MP3 players.
True enough, people associate vinyl records with middle-aged people. Still, the music industry witnessed that the driving force behind vinyl resurgence is actually Gen Z and millennial consumers. In fact, nearly half of the people who purchase vinyl records are under 35 years old.
Considering the technological advances that the music industry now has, vinyl records should have been extinct way back then. But why are people drawn to traditional records when digital streaming is so easy and convenient?
- Personal Experience
With streaming services, people can get what they want, whenever and wherever they are. However, some people feel digital music can never compete with the authentic music experience that vinyl records offer.
For many people, putting a vinyl record on a turntable and listening to it is a more personal experience than listening to music from a digital platform.
In addition, the quality of sound is a huge topic in terms of vinyl records. A lot of audiophiles think that analog sound vinyl is more superior to modern digital audio. Such is especially true when it comes to compressed formats that streaming platforms use.
Moreover, there is a belief that old analog audio is warmer and fuller than digital music in terms of sound.
- Vinyl Records Are Tangible
Digital music provides listeners with almost everything except for one thing – ownership. When playing music from digital platforms, you do not own those songs.
Meanwhile, vinyl records are physical items that you can own, hold using your hands, and collect. Therefore, records provide tangibles, which you can see and hold anytime you want to.
- Sound Quality
Many people think that the old analog audio that vinyl records provide is better than digital audio. Of course, better digital playback formats, such as Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC), are available. However, you will have to search them out particularly and may cost more.
On the other hand, vinyl is always available from local record stores and online sellers.
- David Greenwald, Does Vinyl Really Sound Better? An Engineer Explains, Oregon Live, https://www.oregonlive.com/music/2014/11/does_vinyl_really_sound_better.html/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
- Why Some Vinyl Records Sound Better Than Others – Explained, Record Player Expert, https://recordplayerexpert.com/why-some-vinyl-records-sound-better/#Original_Master_Recording_-_Analog_Tape_vs_Digital/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
- Maria Vole, Why Is Vinyl Making A Comeback?, Readers Digest, https://www.readersdigest.co.uk/culture/music/why-is-vinyl-making-a-comeback/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
- Vintage Vinyl Records – 9 Reasons Why Collectors Like Them, Rare Records.Net, https://www.rarerecords.net/record-info/vintage-vinyl-records/#sound/ Accessed July 28, 2021.
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