Vinyl has been making a quiet yet inexorable return. October projections by the Australian Recording Industry Association indicate that vinyl sales have overtaken CDs, with 6.6% of music being delivered through the vinyl press. Technology is not staying still, however. With this curious trend has come a raft of technological innovations that place vinyl music on par with the best digital technology has to offer.
Matching vinyl warmth to new technology
Older version vinyl players have often sat awkwardly with new listening trends due to the nature of the sound. As outlined by ABC, it’s the imperfections and rudimentary technology that give vinyl it’s customary warm sound. This often translates poorly to digital technology, where CDs and digital formats have done a lot to smooth out imperfections. Furthermore, older record players simply don’t have the modern adaptations they need. This has changed, with modern boxes faithfully adapting the ‘scratched’ sound of vinyl while enabling modern technology, such as recording, those looking to buy wireless headphones for use with vinyl, and precise mixing and editing work.
While accepted science indicates that digital formats can encapsulate every aspect of vinyl, and more, there are studies that contest this. One 2010 study by the John Hopkins University Press highlighted industry trends that spoke to the depth of sound in vinyl and alleged that CDs were outright worse for listen-ability. This lesson has clearly been taken on board, both by the wider market and enthusiasts.
An enthusiast’s wildest dream?
The movement of vinyl technology to the digital realm and away from learned hands has had one major transformative effect – allowing enthusiasts to press their own records. In early October, Wired (UK) reported on the release of the Phonocut, which transfers digital files to vinyl and cuts them onto record – within the home. Something out of the wildest dreams of a vinyl enthusiast, the cost is hardly prohibitive either. This step signals the incredible progress that has been made, from leaving vinyl behind in the 80s, to its resurrection, and to today, where it sashays easily with modern digital techniques.
Vinyl is back, but not just for retro vibes. Quite apart from it, modern technology has co-opted the venerable old media format and enabled it to new heights, with listening and printing now the domain of everyone – not just record companies. Consider getting back in with the vinyl vibe if you’ve lost it.