If you’ve picked up an arts section lately, you’ve probably seen a story with one (or both) of the following theses: “Vinyl is making a comeback.” “If you want great sound, you buy vinyl.” The hype is even starting to annoy some label folk, as it calls into question why non-audiophiles would bother buying tangible music at all. Sure, analog grooves of a vinyl record hold more information than any digital sample rate. But if an album was recorded digitally–a situation that’s becoming more and more common–are you getting more information by buying it on vinyl?
Time‘s January article on the vinyl upswing offered that “LPs generally exhibit a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs and digital downloads. MP3 files tend to produce tinnier notes, especially if compressed into a lower-resolution format that pares down the sonic information.” But what if that “sonic information” wasn’t there in the first place? Isn’t everyone using ProTools now? It would seem that this call for great sound and the rise of digital recording would be at odds.
Is vinyl mastering so superior to the “noise reduction” CDs are legendary for that even digital music sounds better on LP? Or is the hype just, well, hype? Do people just think they’re getting better sound on new records because they assume they’re getting a pure analog experience? Does the appeal of the gatefold overcome the fact that once a sound is digitized, there’s no turning backl? The vinyl I buy tends to be used and $1.99, so I can’t speak from authority about the sound quality of new vinyl. But maybe you can.