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Vinyl Records Give a Better Appreciation for Music

In: Other Topics

Submitted By dustisue
Words 1294
Pages 6
Dusti Billings
Ray Holmes
Eng 101
15 May 2014
Vinyl Records Give a Better Appreciation for Music Audiophiles, people who exhibit a great enthusiasm for high fidelity sound production, have been debating the quality distinction between vinyl and digital recording formats for more than three decades. The first forms of digital recordings, compact disks, were introduced to the general population during the early 1980's. The compact disk, or CD, has now been almost completely replaced by mp3 recording. Digital recordings may be a more convenient way to purchase and listen to music, but vinyl recordings provide a much greater appreciation for the musical experience. First of all, vinyl produces a far superior quality of sound than digital recordings. Secondly, vinyl provides the listener with a pure and organic listening experience by providing an unaltered reproduction of the original recording. Finally, vinyl records, whether purchased by the collector or handed down through generations, have the power to create a very nostalgic experience for an individual. Most audiophiles tend to agree that vinyl records are far superior to more modern mediums for truly enjoying music. Vinyl recordings sound superior to digital recording mediums simply by design. The website HowStuffWorks.com points out that “a vinyl record is an analog recording, and compact disks... are digital recordings.” The website also explains that Thomas Edison is responsible for creating the first device for recording and playing analog sound, the phonograph, in 1877. To record sound using Edison's phonograph, an individual spoke into a “speaking horn” that was directly attached to a diaphragm that directly controlled a recording needle. “As the diaphragm vibrated, so did the needle, and those vibrations impressed [the sound waves]...onto the tin [record]. To play the sound back, the needle moved over the grooves scratched during recording...The vibrations pressed into the tin caused the needle to vibrate, causing the diaphragm to vibrate and play the sound.” The modern record player works in the exact same way. During the recording process, vinyl records have grooves carved into them that will mirror the analog waveforms represented by vibrations made by the voice. The music is released from a record using a stylus, or needle, which is carefully placed into the grooves of the record. The website HowStuffWorks.com also explains that “the vibrations from the record's grooves travel up by the needle, through the cartridge and the arm to the amplifier, where they are magnified into sound waves.” The sound waves created provide a reproduction of the original performance that is given during the recording process. When music is recorded in a digital format, much of the original sound waves are lost. Audiophiles who prefer vinyl records to modern mediums are often said to have “old souls” or a traditional taste in music. Some of the best music to listen to on vinyl was released between 1930 and 1970, before pitch correction and digital recording processes were developed. Steve Guttenberg, a high-end audio salesman, states “every sound you hear in real life that doesn't come out of a speaker is analog. Analog audio is, simply put, an analogous record of sound, and [a vinyl records] groove is a literal imprint of the music's sound waves. Digital audio recording converts the original sound into a sequence of numbers.” Those numbers convert the analog signal to a digital representation of the sound, during this process much of the recording can be lost. Guttenberg also states that even though he prefers listening to vinyl records on a good turntable because the music sounds more like real than digital recordings, “digital audio has never sounded better than it does now.” This could be due to the development of pitch correction. Author Craig Anderton explains that pitch correction is a very common feature in the digital recording process. It is used to correct “out of tune vocals... and is commonly used to add harmony to certain words or phrases without recording” the performance. Basically, pitch correction can be used by recording engineers to create a perfectly in-tune performance from a vocalist that is otherwise not talented enough to provide one. Musician Graham Cochrane explains that “pitch correction...has enabled some vocalists who would be potentially struggle in having consistently in tune performances to hang with those more talented than themselves. [Pitch correction] removes the need for a lot of practice...it makes [musicians] progressively more lazy.” This process was relatively uncommon before 1997. Most vinyl records do not use pitch correction, so the fan receives a more pure, or organic, depiction of the performance the artist can give live. For the music lover who grew up listening to vinyl, little is more enjoyable than nostalgic experience created by listening to one of those dusty old records. Internet columnist Red Timbre simply states:
“you can't 'hand down' a song file...vinyl records only exist in a single source and thus can only belong to one person at any given time. That is precisely why it has the capacity to retain sentimental value and resemble the flame of a torch being passed from father to son. Being such a nostalgic format, a tear just might swell in the old man's eye seeing his son take an interest in one of his childhood staples, even if it is a retro technology. That box of dusty vinyl finally being brought to light again is almost as cathartic in the act of revisiting old treasures as listening to the un-deteriorated sound quality. Should a crackle or two appear here and there, that's just the sound of manifested memories being triggered off.”

Listening to the warm tones created by the record itself and hearing the pops and cracks of the record, created by years of being careless with those fragile things, cause feelings of great nostalgia for the listener. Red Timbre also explains that “there's nothing that comes close to the joy felt when you slip a record out of its inner sleeve, place it on a turntable, and drop a needle on its outermost ring.”

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly more digital. We have digital cameras and digital televisions. Digital music is a much more convenient and portable way to listen to our favorite bands. We can take music with us everywhere we go, from the car to the pool to the gym. Downloading an mp3 is much faster, and less costly, than purchasing a CD or record. However, when we do not take the time to experience the music we love so much, we lose much of the appreciation for the art that goes into the process of making the music. The music greats of the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, or Elvis, did not have mixing boards, digital processing, or pitch correction. What they did possess was raw talent. The quality of sound that was produced on those original records may not have been perfect, but it was true to the performance they gave and the talent they possessed. The music legends created true art. There is no better experience than rediscovering that art by truly experiencing music through vinyl records.

Sources
Anderton, Craig. “In Search of the Perfect Pitch; the Fix Ins.” EQ. 2006-07-01. Pg 46.
Bower, Meredith."How Record Players Work." HowStuffWorks.com.07 December 2009.web.1 May 2014.
Brain, Marshall."How Analog and Digital Recording Works".HowStuffWorks.com. 01 April 2000web.1 May 2014
Cochrane, Graham. “Is Pitch Correction Cheating?”The Recording Revolution. 21 April 2014.web. "Is the sound on vinyl records better than on CD’s or DVD s?"11 October 2000. HowStuffWorks.com.24 April 2014
Timbre, Red. “Top Ten Reasons Vinyl is Better Than Digital”01 May 2011. FastTopTen.com.web.12 April 2014

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