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For retro-audiophiles

May 4, 2009
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Just came across this website, wax.fm, that allows you to search for records on vinyl in every city in America, as well as online. Seems like a pretty nifty tool, as many different people have said vinyl sales are on the up, and today’s quality records may even sound better than your mom and pop’s LPs.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Art Vandelay permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:36 am

    Better? How so? I was under the impression that vinyl quality is going down the tubes, simply because every artist records their music digitally, and no matter how you tweak it, it won’t be true analog, and you’d be losing audio roundness. Plus, certain new release LPs I have bought lately have not been up to par (ie. The Killers, M83). It seems that either the grooves or the spindle punch is off center and my stylus is all over the place, resulting in a wavy sound. No, from my experience, I would say that vinyl quality is the worst it’s ever been. Artists are only releasing vinyl to reach a target market, and to exploit their material by means of selling a “unique” form of merchandise. The problem is, the uniqueness is becoming mainstream with popular artists and has erupted into a trend that has a damaging effect to the music. Unless artists use analog, digital formats are the best available quality for current releases. If vinyl technology is coming back, there should be advancements in how record producers go about record pressing, and how artists record.

  2. May 5, 2009 12:27 pm

    I’m not sure where you’re buying your shoddily-pressed records from, but I’d take a gander at this explanation, and perhaps look into quality stores like musicdirect.

    But yeah, you’re partly right; if the artists are recording their music digitally, it’s never going to sound as rounded as if the album were recorded in analog. However, a lot of these niche market bands that are releasing new albums on vinyl aren’t using ProTools, giant modern mixing boards and other modern recording conveniences, partially due to cost, but also because it detracts from the aesthetic of their work. Take the White Stripes, Bon Iver, or the Arcade Fire as a few examples, or probably most of the bands on XL Recordings, or Sub Pop. Regardless, I’d still get get your record player checked out if all the new records you buy are making the the stylus bounce about.

    • Art Vandelay permalink
      May 5, 2009 7:19 pm

      That philosophy doesn’t makes sense. I am making an argument stating that quality of ‘new vinyl’ records do not exceed or even meet the quality standards of vinyl pressings of the past using the examples of my previous, personal experiences with vinyl purchases.

      The ‘quality stores’ from which my albums are purchased should not affect the state in which these records were produced. The past two records I have bought that were made post-2005 were sub-par in comparison to albums in my collection. The Killers Day And Age album happens to have a strange side, but other than that, I don’t experience any imperfections. It seems as though one of the mother stampers was off-centered when the album was pressed. With all due respect, the problem does not lie with my turntable, and I am quite certain I know all about “HowStuffWorks.” If the grooves are off center with the spindle, the stylus moves too much and the pitch is distorted on the parts of the groove that get stressed.

      On a note on the reference to digital quality vs. analog, it is possible for a newer vinyl pressing to be of decent quality, but it is pretty rare. For example, Kings of Convenience recorded their songs to a 24-track 2″ analog tape, mix them trough to 1/2″ analog tape, and cut the masters with the mixed analog tapes, just as it has been done since the early 60s. If this quality were to be duplicated by more current artists, we would slowly emerge from this digital addiction, but it seems like that is just a fantasy, as the demand is just not high enough.

      Software like Pro Tools is part of the problem. Digital editing and mixing on a vinyl record is like playing Black Dog on a MIDI. ‘Nuff said.

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