The Vinyl Blip

Although streaming music is a wonderful convenience, I strongly prefer recorded music that I can hold in my hands. I enjoy listening to CDs, and I have never stopped enjoying LPs. Given the resurgence in the buzz around vinyl–it feels more authentic than a CD, and often sounds more authentic, too–I am now looking closely at my turntable, phono pre-amplifier, and cartridge. I am preparing for an upgrade, the first in two decades. This is proving to be a lot of work/fun, and I will be writing about what I have learned soon.

In the mean time, I wondered about the vinyl resurgence, and I happened to find a graph showing U.S. Recorded Music revenues, courtesy of the RIAA, a trade association. That mass of royal blue lines–those are CDs during the decades when they ruled the pre-recorded music kingdom. LPS, not so much. On the left, those are the light green lines– looks as though cassettes (a decidedly crappy format) had much more market impact. Those purple bars on the right, those are music downloads. And if you look really closely at the lower right, you may be able to spot a few tiny light green bars–that’s the vinyl resurgence we’ve heard so much about.

riaa-chart

Do I care? Nope. I can still buy used LPs on the cheap, and because the few record stores selling those LPs are now very selective, I can buy a very good recording for about $5, sometimes less (sometimes more).

What does this all mean? I believe the correct answer is “at this point, who cares?” The record industry has been decimated, very few people buy LPs or CDs anymore, and I’m having the time of my life. I can’t wait to complete my current research on high-class phono cartridges, to learn as much as I can about phono preamps and moving coil (and now, new for me, moving iron) cartridges, and all that stuff. Meantime, go, have yourself a wonderful time with the convenience of streaming. Me, I’m happily collecting the LPs that so many others have decided to discard. And I keep looking at those $25 180 gram vinyl discs–I can buy an stack used titles for that money–wondering about the magic that I have yet to experience.

This is fun. Join in any time.

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