The Vinyl Renaissance Pushes Onward


Venerable cultural observer, The New Yorker, has published another incisive article on the ongoing drama of the LP resurgence.  Many of us older vinyl stalwarts are amazed that after decades of being relegated to Audiophile Fossilism, we are now being vindicated for at least having discerning ears. But, wait… now there’s an actual dialogue emerging on the real impact vinyl could have on the industry, especially musicians, who, in my humble opinion, have been inadvertently shafted by the digital revolution started by Steve Jobs and the iPod!

I cheered when I saw this cartoon a few years back – it could Screenshot 2015-02-15 08.27.56not be more appropriate now, as events continue to unfold in this remarkable saga.

Click here to read online.

6 thoughts on “The Vinyl Renaissance Pushes Onward

    1. Hi Todd,
      Welcome aboard. I see you tried to register for the DAC shoot-out event on Feb 20 (we obviously embrace both Digital and Analog formats). But your registration for the event did not go through for some reason… please try again. If you you still feel your 10 bones were wasted, we’ll gladly offer you a refund.

    2. Welcome, Todd!

      The SAFS almost certainly has a few analogphiles among its membership; however, I have not met one yet. Although I suspect that most members have tables, everyone I’ve met so far is doing computer audio as well, so digital is practically a given. Dan Rubin (organizer of next weeks DAC shootout) is particularly knowledgeable, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting him at the event. Larry came to computer audio by way of an interest in playback via headphones (you don’t get far in “head-fi” without exploring DACs and DAC/Amps), and Russ is a musician, recordist, and Linux Sys Admin, so computer audio came naturally to him.

      Like you, I’m not sure how much staying power the current vinyl resurgence movement has, but evan as an avid computer audiophile, I do agree with Alón and others that vinyl certainly has its place. I would even go so far as saying that any audiophile who does not have a turntable in their system is missing out on some great listening experiences. There are just too many excellent performances and even more very high quality masters that simply are not (yet) available digitally. An “orthodox” digital audiophile is left with three choices: ignore these recordings, wait until they become available in digital form, or break-down and buy a table!

      I was reminded of this last week while reading a post from some guys who did their own DAC shootout. They discussed at length the relative merits of different DACs, including the amazing Schiit Audio Yggdrasil which most agreed sounded best. The final test was to compare the winning DAC against vinyl, so they followed the same protocol for matching levels, etc. To my surprise, everyone agreed that the particular vinyl setup (I don’t recall the details) sounded substantially better than the digital rig with Yggy DAC. They went on to describe a vastly better sound stage, micro and macro dynamics coming from vinyl playback vs. what they heard from the digital rig.

      I was not there, so I can only guess at reasons why a turntable took these serious digital audiophiles to school; however, my theory is that the mastering quality for the tracks played that day was simply better on vinyl. For all of its technical superiority, digital playback quality is limited by mastering quality, which is often better on vinyl versions of the same album.

      I do think that this problem will eventually be solved–that virtually everything that has ever been recorded will become available digitally, including the higher quality masters created only for vinyl. I don’t know how long that will take though, and since our ears are not getting any younger, all audiophiles–even the digital ones–should seriously consider adding a good turntable to their playback system if they don’t have one already.

  1. “Concluded the vinyl setup sounded better”

    With what recordings? Why were these selected? How many? What genre of music? Any of these guys classically trained? Any involved professionally or semi-professionally in recording classical music? And so on.

    The film equivalent of this topic might be best entitled “The Return of the Son of the Monster who Wouldn’t Die. Part VII.” I don’t bother with this material in online forums, and would rather pull teeth than spend a precious afternoon of my weekend squatting through a multi-hour presentation of such. And having sold thousands of pieces of (to my findings) inferior and obsolete vinyl to Amoeba, I need a turntable about as much as I need the Zika virus.

    To sum, I quote the recent SF Weekly interview with Tiny Telephone president John Vanderslice: “analog isn’t better. It just sounds different.” Telephone just invested $800,000 in refurbishing the legendary tape machine from Record Plant. You’d think if anyone were to have an incentive to spew marketing drivel about non-digital recording, it would be him. Enough said.

    For further reading:

  2. I’d love it if Apple did this. Maybe my Apple stock would love it too.
    I know a lot of younger (and some older people) who don’t have a turntable at this time would probably buy an Apple turntable just because Apple is making and selling it. And, if it was a good turntable- and it had better be if Apple sells it- there may be people who already have a turntable (hopefully all you Crosley owners) who would upgrade or get an additional table produced by Apple.

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San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society