Technological improvements often develop at a breakneck pace and can have a tremendous effect on how people consume entertainment. However, as the music industry shifts towards an emphasis on digital streaming platforms like Spotify, vinyl records have not only remained in production, but have even grown in popularity.
“I like how vinyl is tangible and yes, CDs are tangible but they don’t have the same warmth to them and don’t look as cool,” said Dante Pinker, manager at Voodoo Vinyl. “It’s hard to explain but there’s a different mood to getting home after a day of work and putting a record on as opposed to playing a CD or hitting a button on Spotify.”
Part of the allure of collecting vinyl is the aesthetic appreciation and displayability of the record’s slipcase. Some people will even buy vintage records for the ability to display an iconic or particularly attractive cover art.
“My vinyl collection isn’t too big but of the ones I do have, I really like using them as decoration,” said Voodoo Vinyl customer Sophie Knight. “I also like how vinyl requires dedication, like you need a specific piece of technology to listen to them and if once you buy a record you’re set with the music that’s on there.”
For those looking to start listening to vinyl or are unsure whether the hobby is right for them, Pinker recommend to start with a portable turntable. Portable models are more versatile and tend to be cheaper than the heftier in-home models. The disadvantage of these models, according to Pinker, is they are often made of cheaper plastics to make them lightweight and portable and they lack a weight system which could result in the needle easily bouncing off the record.
Pinker suggests that avid collectors who want to invest in a heftier system should always make sure that the turntable’s weight gauge is not too light so that it frequently bounces nor too heavy that it will scratch the record. He also said purchasing a high quality sound system can greatly improve the performance of any turntable system.
Turntable needles and turning belts are two parts of a turntable system that will need to be replaced after a few years due to wear and tear. Pinker said it is possible to extend the life of the needle by immediately taking it off the record when it is finished rather than letting it continuously spin and drag across the vinyl.
Though many people like to collect original first press or vintage records, they are not always the best quality. Modern technology has improved such that recent represses of classic albums have improved clarity and sound quality. Pinker said that many times, people who sell their vintage collections have not properly stored their records over the years, which can lead to the damage.
“Surface scratches aren’t anything to worry about and at most you may hear a few crackles, but anything deep that you can really see or feel with your finger is going to really affect playability,” he said. “A lot of these people who say, ‘Hey, come buy my stacks of records from my garage,” they’ve just had their records sitting in a hot garage all these years, and the heat especially in Santa Clarita will melt and ruin that vinyl.”
In order to properly store vinyl records, Pinker recommended to keep them upright in a bookshelf and in a cool, dry location. Stacking records on top of each other can lead to warping and develop physical spots on the record due to the pressure and gravity. Records should not be stored in hot places like cars, especially in the heat.
Though it may seem cheaper or more convenient to simply stream music via the internet, for avid music fans, the experience of vinyl just doesn’t compare. For local collectors like Newhall resident Chuy Brambila, vinyl records come with a unique sense of story, thoughtfulness and nostalgia.
“There’s something magical about how you put a needle on a record and music comes out and it really forces you to immerse yourself in the album, whereas on like Spotify you can choose whatever,” said Brambila, who has collected records with his wife for five years. “Don’t get me wrong, I use Spotify but when you listen to vinyl it has a rawness and a little distortion that makes it feel like you’re at a live show versus that extra crispness on a CD or digital recording. I think vinyl has survived so long is because it’s the original form of recording music which makes it cool, and whenever you go to a record store it’s a fun treasure hunt because you never know what cool thing you’re going to find digging through the stacks.”