Vinyl vs. Digital

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photo by Sofia Brickner

Though it's antiquated, vinyl records continue to

Sofia Brickner, Staff Writer

The alarm blares, and I groan before repeating what seems like a never-ending routine of reluctantly forcing myself to get out of bed at the crack of dawn and get ready in a timely manner so I am not late for school.

In spite of this series of unfortunate events, I can confidently say that one of the undeniably best parts of my day occurs as soon as I put in my Airpods and blast music through them the second I enter school, making the day so much more bearable as I walk through the halls with “My Girl” by The Temptations easing me into a good mood. However, on the weekends when I have more time, I always look forward to listening to vinyl records from the small collection my family and I have inherited and collected through the years.

Although vinyl has been around for what seems like forever — its roots go back to Thomas Edison’s phonograph from 1887, which used a needle within the grooves of a beeswax cylinder — it is certainly making a comeback in our current generation. From various popular artists today releasing limited, collectible vinyl albums online to vinyl being sold at your local Target, the classic format is once again appreciated by many. 

The surfacing of digital music on CDs (compact discs) in about 1984, along with relatively affordable CD players lagging behind a few years after, nearly sounded the death knell for the poor old vinyl record, which had already taken its beating earlier from non-digital cassette tapes and portable “Walkman” tape players with headphones in the very early 1980s. 

However, vinyl purists held onto their records and equipment, and the resurgence and rise in popularity of vinyl in our generation leads to the overarching question that a lot of people tend to overlook: Is vinyl or the digital streaming of music through Spotify, Apple Music, etc. better?

Understandably, the majority of people are quick to reply that digital is superior, most importantly because of its easy accessibility right at your fingertips on almost any electronic device, its polished and advanced sound quality, the ability to make endless playlists for any mood, and the capability to effortlessly search through millions of songs and a wide variety of genres. Certain digital users, depending on the streaming platform, are also able to be updated with new releases of their favorite and upcoming artists.

But while digital streaming is practical and convenient, advertisements can be burdensome, and it is extremely frustrating when some songs randomly get removed due to the artist or record label no longer allowing the streaming service rights to be able to play the song. 

On the other hand, some audiophiles would much rather prefer vinyl over digital. One of the most distinguishable differences between listening to vinyl and digital streaming is the nostalgic feel of the former medium. Depending on what you listen to, and how old the record is, vinyl can have those characteristic quaint scratches, pops, and warm tones that many people love. Most specifically, some audiophiles feel that the sound quality of vinyl is better, warmer, richer, and with deeper bass, the analog audio used by vinyl sounding superior as opposed to digital.

“Records have a more omni-dimensional sound that really fills the room a lot better,”  says Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Music and Movies in Gainesville, Florida. “LPs sound warmer, and you are more likely to notice subtle sounds and instruments”

Additionally, as vinyl is collectable, some records can be exceptionally old or rare. Some of the timeless music they contain is practically impossible to find  anywhere online or through any streaming service, regardless of the mass amount of google lyric searches executed. Going to a record store and buying vinyl can be an exhilarating experience in itself, as it is quite easy to find music that is not mass produced or is near pristine-quality vintage – a quite rare antique at an often affordable price. In fact, mass produced vinyl is even cheaper yet.

It’s also notable that vinyl album covers tend to have that aesthetic appeal and can even be displayed as unique artwork or pop of color on the wall that is sure to be a great conversation piece.

So “spin that platter” of the new Harry Styles album or a doo-wop album or whatever you desire, and prepare to be enchanted when the needle hits the groove!