There’s a reason music streaming services are so popular. Apps like Spotify and Apple Music allow you to access more music than you could ever listen to, all in a single app. They’re clearly the most convenient way to listen to music. However, that doesn’t make them the best option.
In most cases, vinyl is the best way to listen to music. The experience of putting a physical record on your vinyl record player, dropping the needle down, and enjoying listening to the music is unparalleled. Don’t believe us? Here are the reasons why you should listen to vinyl…
1. Your Taste in Music Will Improve
Music is subjective. The artists and songs I enjoy will likely differ from your favorite music. You probably remember the band or singer that made you first care about music, though. For most people, that won’t have been a Top 40 act. The charts are great for enjoyable audio—the kind you put on at a party or go to see on a night out with friends.
On the whole, chart music doesn’t make its way to vinyl. Some DJs use it, but modern pop music usually won’t be found in a music fan’s physical collection. Once you start delving into vinyl, you’ll uncover something that runs deeper than singles and chart success. A record isn’t a disparate collection of songs.
Instead, the track order will have been carefully considered so that the album flows well. This is especially the case with older records where the only way to listen to them was in order from Side A to Side B. Much like a good novel, the album makes sense as a whole. There will be standout tracks, and some will become your favorites, but the album itself will leave a mark, too.
You’ll get to experience the record as the artist intended. Playlists serve an important function, but they’ll usually jump between groups, songs, and even genres. Listening to an album is a cohesive statement from the musicians involved, and you’ll find yourself appreciating not just the songwriting, but their musicianship as well.
2. Record Buying Is an Experience
We won’t pretend there aren’t advantages to online shopping. Digital retail has made a wider range of goods available to us at lower prices, all from the comfort of our homes. However, shopping from your smartphone or computer doesn’t give the same experience as going to a store.
Although you can find vinyl available on Amazon and other large physical retailers, the format has been kept alive by independent record stores. Fans of these establishments are passionate and loyal to them. You can spend hours perusing the collections, holding the vinyl records in your hand, and studying the artwork and track listings.
Services like Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music all use algorithms to recommend new artists and tracks to you. This version of music discovery is driven by the data these companies have. If fans of Artist A tend to listen to Artist C, then you’ll get recommended those albums. There are even sites to discover new music on Spotify, too. If you buy your music at a local record store, they are run by knowledgeable staff who can recommend albums more naturally and diversely.
In some ways, buying a record is a gamble. At the moment you hand over your money, you don’t know if it will become your favorite album or something you never listen to again. It does, however, make you more invested in the music, and you are more likely to carve out dedicated time to listen to it. As you delve into record buying, you’ll get to know people, their opinions, and, ultimately, form friendships.
3. Vinyl Sounds Better
As formats have shifted over the years, so too has the technology. In the early days of the MP3, storage space came at a premium. So, to pack in as many tracks on your 256MB MP3 player, music needed to be compressed.
The original recordings or masters of an album are of a very high quality. These are used for the mixing process so that as much detail can be found as needed. This is comparable to photography, where it’s better to shoot in higher resolution than you really need, as then you have the most freedom when it comes to editing.
However, the files generated are far larger than you could feasibly store on your computer, phone, or portable music player. So the audio has to be compressed. During this process, some of the detail is lost. However, this is seen as a reasonable trade-off between quality and practicality.
Vinyl is a lossless format. The pressings are made straight from the masters and contain all of the detail the artist intended. It’s for this reason that vinyl sounds better than digital. For comparison, listening to vinyl as opposed to digital is like viewing the Mona Lisa with your own eyes rather than looking at a picture of it on a smartphone.
You’ll also hear vinyl enthusiasts discussing the warm sound they get from their record players. It’s certainly true that many people prefer the sound from a physical record, but your experience may differ.
There are multiple theories as to why this is the case. For some people, record players are a source of nostalgia, reminding them of an earlier time in their life. For others, it may be that the overall experience just feels better, especially when coupled with the lossless format.
4. You Can Resell Your Collection
When you buy an MP3 or subscribe to a music streaming service, there’s no possibility of resale. In effect, you purchase the right to access that content, but not the product itself. MP3s are indeed more versatile, but some online stores encode them with copyright protection, making it a challenge to move them between computers and libraries.
Vinyl records, on the other hand, have shown themselves to be a worthwhile investment. The technology has been available for many decades, but you can still purchase vinyl produced in the 1940s or 1950s, place it onto your record player, and enjoy it. So long as they have been looked after, the experience will be the same now as when it was first released.
Other physical media, like cassettes or VHS tapes, degrade over time as the tape wears, but the same isn’t true of vinyl. Sites like Depop and eBay make it easy to sell your old or unwanted items. You can also use sites like Craigslist to buy and sell used items online. So, since records tend to keep their value, if you need to free up space at home or unlock some additional cash, you can sell your collection.
Many records released since the introduction of CDs were considered collector’s editions, too. These versions of the record are often released alongside CD and digital copies and are limited in stock. The vinyl itself could be colored or feature the album artwork. As the supply is restricted, you may even find that they appreciate in value.
5. You Own Your Music
When Spotify users opened their app in early November 2014, they found that Taylor Swift’s back catalog had disappeared from the music streaming service. Swift and her management removed her songs after a royalties dispute with Spotify. Her records returned three years later.
On a similar note, the steaming service removed R. Kelly’s music from all of their playlists after Spotify stopped promoting harmful or hateful artists.
This highlights one of the problems with streaming services. If you use Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal, you don’t really own your music collection. The songs and artists you love may suddenly become unavailable, while you still pay the same fixed price per month. If you are a casual listener, this may not cause you too much worry. However, music fans enjoy revisiting their collections and repeating their favorite songs.
So long as you own a record player, your vinyl collection is yours, and yours alone. No streaming service can suddenly remove a physical record from your home. Vinyl isn’t subject to format changes or software updates. Most modern record players even allow you to record your collection to a digital format, too, so you get the best of both worlds.
Vinyl vs. Digital Music: Which Is Better?
Vinyl is one of the best ways to listen to music. To many, the superior sound quality and physical collection are enough to justify the investment. However, that’s not to say there aren’t advantages to digital music. Records aren’t exactly known for their portability, for example.
Having said that, you may have been won over by the benefits of a vinyl record collection. If so, you’ll need a good record player to listen to them on. To get you started, take a look at the best record players for all budgets.
Read the full article: 5 Reasons Why Vinyl Is Better Than Digital for Music Lovers