Vinyl album fans welcome return of “authentic” sound

Khaled Alameldin, Staff Writer

The record begins to spin, the needle slowly drops and the sound of a mellotron flute fills the air. John Lennon’s voice sounds over the flute as he sings, “Let me take you down, cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields / Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about / Strawberry Fields forever.”

Rock fans will recognize the famous lyrics of The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Although today’s teens have grown up listening to CD’s and streaming devices, some argue this generation has missed out on the true sound of music that can only be heard on vinyl.

A vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound’s waveform — meaning no information is lost and rendering the recording more accurate because it captures the richness of the original composition.

“Vinyls are authentic and you can literally listen to something made 40 plus years ago,” sophomore Elizabeth Malone said.

On the downside, records require consistent cleaning and also have to be handled  carefully because even a tiny scratch or a speck of dust can alter the quality of the vinyl.

“Records are a little high maintenance but all in all it’s totally worth it,”  Malone said.

Vinyls also must be stored on a shelf in a vertical direction at room temperature, or the vinyl itself will form bumps on its side that affect sound quality.

CDs, on the other hand, are rarely ever affected by the environment and can withstand heat of up to 131 degrees. Unlike CDs, which require no special handling, records have to be held in such a way that no fingerprints blemish the record’s surface to ensure that the quality is not downgraded.

Another aspect of vinyl records that draws fans is the cover art and liner notes that come inside of the album cover.

“The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd is such an iconic album and important, just a beautiful piece of art within itself, from the the triangle to the spectrum of colors,” history teacher Jason Johnson said.

Not only is the cover art cherished by vinyl fans, but the liner notes often provide fans with detailed accounts of the band’s journey as it recorded the album and explanations of the meaning behind the lyrics of the songs.

“Growing up, liner notes weren’t in my album cover, they were always hanging up in my room,” Johnson said.

As CDs rose in popularity, sales of vinyl records fell proportionally. In the 1990s record sales where at an all-time low, comprising only 0.2 percent of all music sales. Currently, vinyl sales represent six percent of all music sales in the US according to NPR.

The increase of record sales isn’t surprising given that vinyl has never stopped being in production.

“I think it’s healthy that there’s still a way to listen to records considering older technology tends to be erased,” English teacher Grace Morledge said.

The new market for records has caught the eye of some major corporations such as Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble, Urban Outfitters, Hot Topic, Guitar Center and Best Buy.

“Our plan is to build on our vinyl strategy in 2015 to really capitalize on the resurgence of vinyl — this is definitely an area of music that consumers are telling us they’re more and more interested in,” Christopher Bennett, VP of Corporate Affairs, said on the Billboard website.

The backbone of vinyl record sales is not just major corporations; 65 percent of record sales come from small businesses. In Stockton, stores such as Rasputin have served the community for a little under decade.

“I sometimes go to Rasputin to buy records but I usually go to thrift stores because they offer better deals,” freshman Serra Raquel said.

The average price of a new record is around $20-30, while the average cost of a CD is $18.

“One out of five people on a daily basis comes into our store and buys records,” Moses Rangel, manager of Stockton’s Rasputin Records, said.

Not only are stores reacting to this new vinyl trend, but several artists are starting to release on vinyl such as Daft Punk, Lorde, Lana del Rey, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. Swift has even taken the trend further by removing all her music from Spotify to support this trend for higher quality, valued art in vinyl form.

“I believe the generation is switching over to vinyl because everything makes a short term comeback such as high tops, high-waisted pant and short hair,” Malone said

Whether or not vinyl will be a short term fad or continue to woo buyers who seek quality of sound remains to be seen.