Some of us know the feeling of putting a record on, slowly lowering the needle and enjoying ourselves in a room while a classic tune plays in the background.
Others prefer sliding CDs into their car players and cruising to the melody, or just hooking up Spotify to any nearby speaker and enjoying a similar experience.
That begs the question: Which one is best?
Now, if we’re talking about music as an experience, nothing beats the feeling of sliding a jet-black vinyl out of its sleeve and rocking out.
However, when you dive into the audio quality, it’s clear that CDs edge out their older counterpart.
Believe me, as a collector of vinyl and CD, I wish vinyl was the victor.
But it’s just too physically limited. As much as we swear by its quality, its dynamic range is just too weak. The bass on CDs sound a little lower, and its highs sparkle a little higher.
CD blows vinyl out of the water in terms of signal-to-noise ratio. The turntable can rumble and the vinyl can hiss and cause interference.
With all that being said, some people have their preferences for sounds and enjoy vinyl’s audio regardless of its quality. The ‘hissing and popping’ resonate beautifully in some listeners’ ears.
And we see that reflected in sales, with vinyl making an incredible resurgence at the turn of the decade.
Although the resurgence is real and growing fast, I can’t deny it’s strangely surprising to me. Vinyl is significantly harder to buy and most have an MSRP of $35 unless you thrift them, but newer artists will run you the full retail price.
It’s flat out expensive.
What makes these costs so bloated is how little processing plants exist to make them. That and the resurgence makes collectors wallets hurt.
I have around 35 vinyls and 80 CDs in my collection. The Beatles, Mac Miller, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Daniel Caesar and Bob Dylan are just a few.
If my collection has taught me anything, it’s that CDs are significantly more affordable, sound better and are infinitely more convenient than vinyl.
However, I still find myself expanding my vinyl collection faster than my CD collection. The only reason my vinyl collection is smaller is because of the price difference.
And that’s what leads me to believe that the magic of vinyl goes past the quality and price. It’s about music as an experience, rather than a commodity.