Vinyl has always offered a more intimate experience. The large format feels more substantial and turns the design of the cover and the inserts into satisfying artworks in their own right in a way that a CD never could. There’s something wonderfully interactive about putting on a record, listening to a side, and then flipping it over to hear the other side. It makes the listening experience something in which you are constantly physically and emotionally involved. It’s social, and fun, a far cry from the passive aural experience of CDs or digital.
As for the sound of vinyl, let’s return to the sound of the scratching record. But scratch isn’t a negative; it adds texture and warmth. Some musicians go so far as to add it to digital recordings to give them “character.”
Vinyl can be fragile, yes, among other imperfections. But those end up being part of its charm. Older records warp, needles wobble on their surface and skip over scratches. This is also turns records into nostalgia factories.
All music samples on this site are recorded from the record for sale and always the first track.
“As long as you can measure the difference, the CD will be better than the vinyl, absolutely,” says Kees A. Schouhamer Immink, a former Philips engineer in the Netherlands, who was a member of the Sony/Philips task force that created the compact disc standards. “But if you say the whole experience — just like smoking cigars with friends — is better, well, do it. Enjoy smoking cigars with friends, and drink beer and brandy and enjoy listening to an old-fashioned record player. But don’t say the sound is better.
“You may say it sounds better to you. That’s OK. That’s a subjective matter.”