All right, so the vinyl record trend is now officially here to stay for the next….5 years minimum (I heard cassette tapes were making a comeback). With that in mind, if you haven’t yet jumped on the hipster bandwagon, maybe I can help sway you one way or the other.
Full disclaimer: I own a turntable set-up with the player, amplifier, separate speakers (all connected through copper wires- yeah, that’s how old school it is). So I’m not here to judge any fellow owners. I personally love using my turntable, and long for the day that I can own a High Fidelity vinyl shelving system in my own room. But I can understand how some of you may have some trepidations, so let me break down exactly what you can come to expect from owning vinyl:
- Let’s be real: it’s hella expensive. Aside from the hardware of the actual turntable, buying vinyl records isn’t cheap. Sure, you think that an average price of $20/record doesn’t seem that high, but you’re not going to be buying one. Whether you make it out to a physical store, or browse online, your eyes will start to glaze over with every record that you find. Especially if you’re just starting out, and need to start building your collection. Multiply that $20 record by 5, or 10, or 20, and you start to get the point.
- It can get hard to find ways to store your vinyl. For example, I started off with using milk crates. These were borrowed, and what I didn’t realize is that they’re not made in that size anymore. Nowadays, they’re made just an inch short of being wide enough. I had to find out the hard way when I proudly stole a crate from an alley behind a restaurant, lugged it home on a bus, only to find out it’s too small. So unless you’ve got room and money for a Billy or Kallax from Ikea, be prepared to have them taking up floor space (oh, but don’t stack them! The pressure can ruin the records stacked underneath)
- Unless you’ve got the right equipment, they won’t sound any better. If you’re looking at that Crosley Radio Cruiser turntable, you might as well scrap this whole idea. All you’ll end up doing is scratching your records (so there goes that time and money), and it won’t sound any better than on your phone. So be prepared to spend exorbitant amount of time researching the hardware specifications, investing in cleaning products, and asking yourself “is it worth it?”
- It looks good. Let’s face it, if you’re looking to make your apartment look more mature and put-together, a wall of vinyl records and turntable tucked to the side is a no-brainer. You can’t deny that a part of you wants to buy it simply for the interior design aspect.
- You get to appreciate an artist, and/or album in its entirety-in this world of shuffling and only listening to a top-something playlist, it’s a nice reprieve to be able to listen to an album the way it was meant to be listened to (think of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ or M83’s ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’). It’s far too easy to stop playing an album on your phone or Spotify, but a turntable forces you to finish that album-and really pay attention to all of its intricacies.
- Some artists really pay attention to their vinyl-owning fans, and reward them with easter eggs. Whether it’s a poster or cool-looking graphics on the sleeves, or actual treasures hidden on the vinyl (think of Jack White), opening up a vinyl record for the first time is like Christmas morning. You never know what you’ll find on the inside- I still exclaim everytime I find a coloured vinyl I didn’t know about.
So there you have it. Some of my thoughts on the complicated relationship you may have with your vinyl records. It really comes down to personal choice, and if you’re an audiophile, or genuine music lover- you’ll love every minute of it. But if you’re just considering to do it because you think it will be cool, or you’re looking to impress- maybe think twice and find a less expensive hobby.