The Hub: Is a Vinyl Revival in progress?

I'm cynical when it comes to news. I started out that way, and experience in J-school, newspapers and radio only made me more jaded. My view is that, like stock-tips, by the time a story hits the mainstream, it ain't news: it's a train already 'waaay down the tracks, interesting to watch and wave at, but nothing you can climb aboard.

So when a "trend" in vinyl revival is reported in such divergent media as the New York Times (as seen here) and the AARP magazine (as seen here) , is it like a grandmother just discovering her tweenage grand-daughter's interest in Twilight: too little, too late?

The distinction between a fad and a trend is an important one, and one frequently debated by marketers and sociologists. I think the difference was well put on the Marketing Innovation website:
"Both fads and trends last a finite period of time. However, when the fad is over, things are fundamentally the same. When a trend is over, things are fundamentally changed."

Here's the litmus test: when people give up wearing pink Crocs, is society different? No. After the big boom in sales of green tea flattens out, will societal habits be different? Probably so. So: Crocs are a fad, tea-drinking is part of a greater trend in consumption of nutriceuticals (don't get me started on THAT topic).

Futurist Faith Popcorn has made a career out of predicting societal trends, and written several best-selling books about where we're going next, in America. Through her assistant, I posed the question to Ms. Popcorn: is the vinyl revival a fad, or part of a larger trend? An answer has yet to appear, so I suspect we're on our own with this question.

Luckily, the person who has single-handedly done more to revive vinyl than any other individual, DOES answer my questions. Michael Fremer has written about vinyl and music for 30 years now, starting with The Absolute Sound and now as Senior Contributing Editor at Stereophile. Mikey also writes and edits his own music website Music Angle, and wouldja believe he writes a political blog for New Jersey's Bergen Record? (seen here).

Most audiophiles are introverted and terrified of addressing an audience, but Cornell grad and BU Law dropout Fremer also has stints as a stand-up comic and DJ on his resume. He's thoroughly comfortable schticking before a packed house, a microphone or a video camera; he's also good company at a bar. Unfortunately, this particular conversation was telephonic ( and took place Friday, December 18, 2009).

Audiogon Bill: "Michael, does all the mainstream press attention to the vinyl revival indicate that it's a fad, or a trend?"

Michael Fremer: "Oh, absolutely, it's a trend. It's been ongoing for several years now. Sales last year were double those of the year before, and THOSE sales had doubled from the year before THAT. And keep in mind that those are the sales that are COUNTED; this whole thing has been propelled by new indy rock releases, and most of those are under the radar."

AB: "But the LP is never going to be as big as it once was, is it?"

MF: "No, no, it's going to always be a niche market, but that's a good thing, because the people doing it will be the ones who are concerned with quality. I wouldn't want it to be mainstream again.

"Look, when it comes to computers, and we're not talking about iPods, iPhones, all those, but just COMPUTERS, Apple's a niche market. They've got what, 2% of the market against all the Windows nonsense done by everybody else? But it's an important niche, they lead the way."

AB: "So that's what you anticipate vinyl will be, the leading edge?"

MF: "Well, yeah. I mean, when it comes to reissues, you see pretty much the same content on vinyl as you do on SACD; the material is old, but it's being reissued to an audience that's really conscious of quality. But like I said, it's the new indy rock releases that make vinyl different, and THAT'S what's driving the whole revival. It's a young audience, vinyl is something new to them, and once they start playing LP's they're discovering a whole world of music that's available to them on vinyl that they'll never see or hear on CD."

After that, our conversation veered into the limitations on LP production capacity created by the shutdown years ago of most of the world's stamping-plants (new plants will be coming online soon, says Michael), and then degenerated into a discussion of why Michael is 10 years older than me, yet looks 10 years younger (answer: Pilates). But as you've read, Michael is convinced that today's vinyl revival is the real deal, and here to stay for a select segment of the music-buying audience.

There is evidence of backlash against computers and the virtual world amongst members of Generation Z (or whatever letter we're on now); as was the case in the late '60's, interest in crafts, handmade goods and mechanical devices is soaring. How much of it is frustration with bad programming (i.e., can't they just put a button or a knob on the thing, rather than a MENU??), I can't say. Clearly, though, downloaded files lack the tangible connection provided by the colorful artwork and liner notes of an LP jacket, or even the physical act of placing a record on the platter and cueing it up.

Psychologically, LPs provide another element lacking in the iPod experience: anticipation. Unlike a digital player which can hold thousands of songs, ready to go at the touch of the screen, a cut on vinyl has to be selected, pulled off the shelf, the disc removed from the jacket and the inner sleeve, cued know the drill. It is a more leisurely process than than the digital one, and perhaps a more contemplative one as well. Listening to an entire album by an artist allows for greater immersion in the work, something rarely found in the cherry-picking download world.

And of course, I haven't even mentioned the SOUND of analog, or the immense back catalog of wonderful music that never made the transition to digital. Those are the driving factors for most of us who love LPs.

So: what are YOUR thoughts on the subject? Fad, or trend?
I say fad. I don't think there's anything wrong with LPs. If someone prefers the sound of LPs that's great.

I think there is an older hard core group of vynil listeners who will always prefer vinyl, but they're getting older, hearing is fading and LP collections are getting large enough to last a couple lifetimes.

Younger Lp buyers will probably stop buying them when they can fit a few hundred albums in a high-res format on their phones, which they can then listen to through earbuds or a stereo system (their own or whoever's house they happen to be at).

I've cleaned and flipped enough albums in my younger day that I don't get any enjoyment out of it, and I don't want to listen to a record cleaning machine, clean the stylus or tweak my rig.

In the January 2010 TAS calls some aspects of Cd playback on the Esoteric X-05 as "analog like" and "usually found only in the finest analog playback". With SACD, "the familiar sonic chasm between digital and analog truly disappears". I read this type of thing in reviews pretty frequently these days. Of course there are those who will say analog will always sound better than digital, but that club will get pretty small in the next few years.

Digital is improving at a faster and faster rate and the price for that better sound is getting cheaper. Sounds like a winning combination to me.
With respect to audiophiles I don't think there is a trend or fad, we're just continuing on with what we know works best when ultimate sound quality is the goal. I would suspect the resurgence of audiophile reissues is a result of the insane prices for original issues, think RCA Living Stereo and Mercury Living Presence. If we silly audiophiles will pay hundreds (thousands?) of dollars for an original, surely we'll pay $30-$50 for a well done reissue. Companies like Classic Records and Acoustic Sounds saw this potential so it was a good buisness decision. What isn't clear to me is what percent of this "resurgence" is non-audiophiles. Now that could have interesting implications of a trend, perhaps the nano second attention span of todays youth will start swinging back the other way? Nah, I'm just dreamining ....
I hate to say it,but I would guess its a fad.The young people that are finding it interesting now,will most likely get bored with it.Most of them like all of their electronic toys,including the new music formats out there.A lot may not even hear the vinyl advantage.The true vinyl people will keep on going.As the records fade out,they will be looking for NOS records the same as tube folks look for NOS tubes.A lot of tube people even went back to solid state.Maybe a continuing growth in population may help a little.Or a new format,miniature super vinyl with a skip proof 10,000 album pocket changer. That's my guess.
I hope it is a trend. Even if it is a fad I hope it sticks around.

There is something relaxing about giving focus to playing a record. We have a second system for this (Quad 57/Thorens/Super It/OTL). Last night Kim unwrapped U2's latest on vinyl - we have listened to it more than we would have just putting in a CD.

The main system in the family room gets more use, but is not as relaxing.
Thanks for the comments and opinions. Personally, I think the impact of DJ-wannabees alone will keep LPs afloat for a good while.

I also think there's something about a solid, physical object that fulfills a need that downloads just can't. Again, I'm not even talking about sound, here; that's a whole 'nother imperative.

As long as we can still find 10 cent LPs at Salvation Army stores, there will be a demand for the hardware to play them. Again, hundreds of thousands of worthwhile recordings never made the transition from LP to CD. This may not be a driving factor in keeping new LPs coming, but the cheap stuff is a great way to bring in newbies ("here, the first one's free!").

Regarding portability: we could always revive the Soundburger and automotive record players like Chrysler had in the '50's and early '60's!
I wish it was a trend but I fear that it is like the little mouse that I recently started to remove from a trap, it gave a few jerks so it wasn't quite dead but it certainly wasn't coming back to life. It is amazing how the industry destroyed a medium that had an estimated 500 million players in so short a time. CD was suppose to be better, cheaper and perfect forever. Well, it took them decades but they finally go the cheaper part. The best sound was NEVER part of the mainstream industry's goal and now that CD can achieve much if not all of what it first promised to is being phased out also to be replaced by MP3 etc. The younger generation seldom if ever hears live acoustic music so they are not familiar with what they are missing, it is all processing of one kind or another to them and who is to say which is best. Thus speaks an Old Fart Audiophile.
Trend. Too many young enthusiats joining at the core of this revival to be a fad. If only a small percentage of those continue it's still going to grow as a trend.
It seems clear that Fremer was not addressing the question you have posed here. The definitions of 'fad' and 'trend' you have adopted are nonstandard (and interesting!). Fremer, however, does not address the notion of how things will be fundamentally changed when it is over. Instead, he engages with the notion of 'trend' that implies a more longer-term, gradually increasing event. Vinyl fits that.

Further, he is clearly right that audiophiles are not the ones pushing the vinyl resurgence (of course). Thus trying to appeal to the burgeoning $50 audiophile LP productions as directing the resurgence is a mistake. It is a symptom. There is an underlying market interested in classic music of great quality. (Thus the interest in having both vinyl and digital versions of titles.) When things move on, there will still be this market, but that is not to say that the format will remain.

Perhaps vinyl will. I do not know.
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I agree with Mr. Fremer. It is and will stay a niche market.
For those who were into vinyl and have stayed with vinyl, they will continue to do so. For someone to make the investment into vinyl now is a VERY expensive proposition if they are not getting into it with a pre-existing collection of LPs. It is true that there are millions of pre-owned LPs out there, but a great many of them are in sketchy condition, and in many cases will result in a less-than-perfect initiation to music reproduced on a turntable, considering that many vinyl novices bought into the "perfect sound forever" mantra the music industry preached when CDs first came out. Look at all the consumer electronics marketed since the early 1980s touting the phrase "digital technology". For someone to shift from digital to analog, a high expectation of return on investment and satisfaction of experience is the motivation. Disappointment is inevitable, unless there is a commitment from the user to spend some time, learning and optimizing a vinyl playback system, keeping the LP collection clean and stored properly. That's a long way from dropping the shiny 4 3/4" disc into the tray and pushing "play".

The upside to the resurgent interest in vinyl is the number of high quality turntables, phono stages, and cartridges available at all price points, making the investment in hardware within the reach of many music lovers. It is also encouraging that there is so much of the great jazz, blues, and classical music catalogs from the golden age of vinyl being reissued.

For those who are taking the plunge because vinyl is "cool", are not likely to stay with it when the next "cool" thing comes along. Think "Sesame Street" style learning: "here's number 3 - well that's enough of the number 3, here's the letter O....
Trend!! Fads seem to be restricted to a specific generation or social group. The resurgence of vinyl is cross cultural and cross generational. My father is listening again. I'm listening and 16 year old kids are in the record store next to me buying Dylan records. It may be a reflection of the complex times we live in. A desire for simplicity and a chance to slow down. Or it may be a more intimate artistic experience that the listener/ music buyer receives through the ritual of discovery. Like going to a museum to see beautiful art rather than browsing a website full of JPEGS.

Thanks to all for your interesting comments. We're getting too many to address individually (thanks!), but I will throw out a few points.

Yes, the fad/trend definitions were not the typical ones, but I thought they really got to the heart of the matter. No, we didn't really nail down the more global issue of, "if it's part of a larger trend, what exactly IS that trend?" Sorry, but I have limited time and space. Mea culpa.

I, too, have seen cross-generational spread in all this activity, and that's encouraging. The question of whether or not it will LAST begs the question of just how long we're talking about.

Back when Alvin Toffler wrote "Future Shock", he talked about how change occurred too fast for us to adjust. These days,not only is that old news, but now change occurs so quickly that we almost can't recall that which came before.

That's a long-way-around way of saying, I'll be happy for the vinyl revival, whether it lasts 6 months or 20 years, but I would prefer the latter.
I hope it is a trend. Digital can be nice, but it is does not last. A cd player has a life span and it is done. A few makers will upgrade a product, often for a salty price. I had a Meridian repaired and their view of it was this is over 10 years old replace it. Few things are designed to last anymore. On the other hand a good turntable well maintained should last a very long time with out problems other than a new belt or cartridge every few years, which can be expensive or affordable, your choice.

I am just very tired of things that do not last. I would be in favor of the real trend being that people look for things that are not disposable. Not to get in to a bigger can of worms but also listen to music that is more than short term distraction. I listen to Miles Davis and other artists that go back decades. Will anyone want to hear anything current 50 years from now.
Usually I violently disagree with just about anything Mr.Fremmer opines about, however in this rare instance, I agree with him 100 percent. I just hope he's not a victim of the broken clock anology, and has truly and finally come to his senses.
Analog/vinyl is a very small niche that is a faint trendy reflection of what it was was in its golden age 30-50 years ago and it is old news and will never be that again.

It will be around as a niche for a long time though, as long as there is still good, old vinyl recordings to be played. But the % of people doing it will continue to shrink over the long term, not grow. Not to say that it might not pick up in popularity somewhat from time to time like in recent years.

I'd have been done with vinyl years ago if I had not amassed a large record collection over the years prior to the digital revolution and decided to buy a good table to preserve my investment rather than have to replace everything.

MEanwhile, I still pick up used vinyl at a pretty good pace mainly because a lot of it is dirt cheap if you look in the right places. I picked up hundreds of new lps this past year at an average cost of around $1.00 per lp or less. That's a good deal for me but nobody made any money off my purchases.

Also, my understanding is that most new lps are produced digitally these days. Some may still be superior to redbook/digital equivalents but higher res downloads will become increasingly available over time and put yet another stake in the heart of vinyl.

Sorry, I romanticize about vinyl as much as the next guy, but practically, there is not much of a future there. Its old technology and the world will move on.
I only buy vintage vinyl that was produced and recorded from 1930-80, because I'm old enough the remember when it was SOTA. IMHO, quality control is a big issue with the vinyl renaissance of today. Many recent vinyl pressings lack the quality, economy and reliability of older pressings. Like NOS tubes, you never really know until you hear it. But that's part of the fun, the thrill of the quest, and the 'anticipation' - thank you, MF.
How about taking out vinyl from the sealed jacket and playing it on made in China Panasonic TT with plastic platter and 7g tracking cartridge?
Do you think that most 'revived' vinyl listeners would like to spend a few hundreds or thousands for a good cartridge and same for turntable, phonostage??
There's something missing in this equation
The only vinyl revivals I can see is us, the high res sound listeners. Most of us use only CDs and other digital medias which makes this market even more thinner.

Thanks, all. I'm not sure what the "broken clock" comment means, and I always thought Mikey was pretty sensible, all along.

Other than that, I find little to argue with in y'all's comments. Seems as though I'm a little more optimistic regarding vinyl's future than the group as a whole.

Keep the comments coming and the records spinning!
Well at 66 now I remain firmly entrenched in vinyl playback. Yes do play CD's but not for critical listening. I use CD playback basically as background music, when I'm busy doing other things. CD play back as far as I am concerned is nothing more or less a hassel free way to enjoy music, without the ritual of LP playback. However I believe the jury is still out if the current trend back to vinyl has the legs to endure. Certainly LP's will never again achieve the lofty levels the medium once held.

To see once again the wide variety of new quality turntables and phono cartridges in the market place is sheer testament to the staying power of the vinyl medium.

Lets be candid VPI, Sota, Rega, Nottingham and others would not be in business if the vinyl medium was totally obsolete. Plus the fact the great used turntables on this site as well as other online sites, where one can get into vinyl playback at a very nice price.

CD play back has been with us 26 years and while vast strides have been made in CD players, none of them, thus far are equal in sonic playback to vinyl. Some are damn close indeed, but no cigar, not yet anyway. Like all of us we have heard of the great breaktrough that is coming in CD playback, but have heard this for years on end. My personal opinion is that CD playback is now at its zenith. Enjoy it for what it is. I believe Neil Young once said that hearing a CD is like looking at a beautiful landscape through a screen door and that may be as good as it ever gets. And for some that will be good enough, for the rest of us, it will never be good enough to fully embrace.
Part of the problem with vinyl is that it simply isn't as portable as an ipod. Is the sound superior? Hell, yes it is. Are most younger listeners _really_ concerned with analog sound quality? I'd say probably not. Look at the earphones/buds/plugs/etc. that are used to hear these devices. $15.99 @ Walmart. Now there are turntables with built in USB plugs to hook straight to a PC. For what? To load up an ipod. I would agree that it is more than a fad, but to call it a trend may be a bit of a stretch, also. People that are only concerned with sound quality, will continue to listen to vinyl. Folks that just want a new ringtone for their crackberry will continue to "cherrypick" the songs they like. Nothing wrong with that. But they might never know what truly superior sound quality analog has over strictly digital.
Sales of new vinyl records definitely seem to be on the upswing. Five years ago, new vinyl releases were done on a limited basis and were carried at the few remaining independant record stores as more or less a fetish item. There were sections for DJ's, sections for 7" spinning punk rockers, and then there were the occasional indy rock LP's. Every once in a while, I'd spot a (generally poorly done) "audiophile" type re-release, but they were often of 60's and 70's bands that were somewhat influential to the indy scene.

Over the past five years, there's been a general increase in the amount of vinyl out there. The local place I go has doubled its vinyl selection. In Boston, I believe the original Newberry Comics selection is about three times what it was three years ago and has hundreds of titles. It's an odd sort of reversal for anyone who painfully watched the vinyl racks replaced by CD racks throughout the late 80's and early 90's.

Most of the increase has been in the indy rock type releases. Record stores are ordering more than two or three copies of new releases. Indy labels like matador are going back and re-releasing albums from the last decade.

I think one of the things that's really helped things take off is the inclusion of a digital download. A few labels even throw in a full CD or let you download FLACs (as opposed to the more common 192 kbs MP3). I'd say at least 70% of the new releases I buy these days come with a certificate for download.
I'd like to think that there is an uptick of interest vinyl sales.
We're focused greatly on turntable based systems as the focus of my business remains steeped in two-channel music playback. We've been selling turntables at a steady clip and are even in the process of adding a couple more carefully chosen lines.
While many of our turntable sales are upgrades for our existing customers, we do see a decent percentage of new users either "putting a toe in the (analog) water" to see how they like it and also those that had walked away from vinyl years ago (decades ago). Most have been craving more from their systems and are coming back to it (vinyl) as an additional way of getting closer to the music they so enjoy.
Blackbird Audio/Gallery Product Page
"also those that had walked away from vinyl years ago (decades ago)."

I suspect that a lot of the new interest in turntables are people with record collections already that realized that they are not as antiquated as they were lead to believe way back when.

My local record store recently opened a room dedicated to new vinyl. The store is always packed yet the vinyl room is generally empty. That says a lot.
From Merriam-Webster:
1: an act or instance of reviving: the state of being revived: as
a: renewed attention to or interest in something
b: a new presentation or publication of something old
Is there a "renewed attention" is vinyl? Yes. Current news articles on vinyl are what prompted the original post.
Is "a new presentation or publication of something old" going on? Yes. Old LPs are being reissued and sold at a steadily increasing rate. Also, vinyl presentations of new music are being issued by record companies which would not have done so just a few years ago. More and more artists are ensuring that LPs of their music be available.
My fifteen year old daughter wants a turntable.
My twenty-two year old son is getting a turntable.
A few years ago, I mentioned to a young service tech at CompUsa that I am considering getting an A-D converter to put the music on my LPs into my computer.
"Why would you want to do that?" he cautioned.
"Records sound better."
Go to a nearby Guitar Center, ask an employee if LPs sound better than CDs. "Duh", he will say, looking at you like the old fuddy-duddy you are.
"Only old people think CDs or downloads sound better than records", said my daughter.
"But I've, always, liked vinyl best. You know I've, always, listened, mostly, to records."
"But, Dad. You're weird."
I believe it is both a trend and fad. Fad first as the younger generation of music listeners rush to get records and jam out together while looking at cool record graphics and sipping cool-aid, yeah that. The few of those listeners who are basket case cave dwellers like some of us will more than likely continue to progress to full vinyl addicts, and that is where it becomes a trend, but only for a limited few. As it is now, it is only a trend for a limited few including us old farts, you will have to pry my MOFI's, Blue Notes and Analog Productions and the rest of my 4500 plus LP collection from my cold hands when I am expired from this life.

I do have a positive belief that this niche and trendy market will exist for years to come. The movement is too big and strong to fight the statistics; that is why record companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

At issue is marketing and that is where there seems to be a big hole. I have seen lots of movies in the last few years where records are strategically located in a camera shot, even for a second, but it happens a lot and just enough to catch your attention especially if you are an avid LP addict such as I am. Is Hollywood promoting LP's using subliminal video sequencing in movies? Don't know, but I like it.

Got to get back upstairs and spin some Bing Crosby White Christmas for the wife.
Thanks to all for the interesting comments and analyses.

Ferrari: I expect further breakthroughs in digital playback, and I suspect there's a bit more to be extracted from CDs, but you clearly cannot extract stuff that just ain't there. Redbook does have severe limitations.

Slice, I agree that portability (and convenience of use) are major limitations of LPs. I don't think it was envisioned, years ago, that people would require a continuous musical soundtrack for everyday life. That's a relatively recent neurosis. Also, you can't expect everyone to appreciate better sound; Sturgeon's Law applies in audio as it does in all areas of life.

Rag, glad you're seeing more activity.

Blackbird, good luck, and keep selling!

Map, unfortunately, most folks dumped their vinyl years ago; my 3,500 LPs went involuntarily, but most were happy to reclaim the space in their homes. So be it.

Nietzschelover: Consider yourself lucky: my fifteen-year-old daughter's stock phrase is, "Dad, are you on crack??" Let the record show that my answer is "No". I'm glad your kids have picked up your interest; mine rarely go beyond Jimi and Bob Marley.

AQ, thanks for the positive outlook. Good to hear from a true believer.

Merry Christmas to all! Time to pull out the LP of Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song".
I believe that the vinyl revival is neither a fad or a trend but a necessary revival after a long period of failed experimentation with the CD sound and market, musically speaking (although a big commercial success). I think that most people know by now that in direct comparison the same recording on vinyl format sounds closer to the real music than the identical one on CD, meaning that the reproduction itself is more truthful to the actual musical event via a more natural, realistic and convincing sound overall. In fact, the same music sourced from the same original recordings always sounds to me a little different as transposed on vinyl format compared to CD media. I can't say which sound is better overall based on various criteria, angles or adding points, but I can say for sure, and again, that the sound coming from the vinyl is closer to the real musical event, that is all that counts to me. I believe that the material itself used in both vinyl and CD, the different technologies used and the reprocessing process (too elaborated, complicated and sophisticated when it comes to CD) resulted in creating a new sound that is my opinion too detailed, fast, transparent, also quite artificial and brittle overall. The music in reality plus the notes coming from each instrument have a specific body, weight and intimate sound that the CD reprocessing somewhat reduced or minimized them, or even completely annihilated in some instances such natural features. For example, the piano music recorded on the worst LP ever made still sounds in my opinion more natural, realistic and convincing, with body, weight and musicality than the same recording transposed on CD format. In fact, the music recorded on most 78rpm records provides the most natural, realistic and vivid sound being the first in line as overall level of reproduction of the actual musical event. I don't deal with CDs, nor listen to such media recordings, since the music recorded on vinyl format gives me the exact listenable pleasure I am looking for. I do not deny the three big advantages of any CD over a LP -infinite replays with no usage of the CD, no need to flip the CD over for listening to the side two, smaller size and format (about 1/4 compared to an album - but there are always tradeoffs when it comes to almost everything. I believe that most people started to deal with CDs for convenience and practicality reasons, also being something new with a potential long lasting future (that is true and correct to say as they're still around us and in abundance since the mid 80's). I am aware that I am an old fashioned guy from this point of view, but I simply don't care about this as long as I hear from vinyl the sound I wanted or very close to the actual musical event. If this was possible using a transistor radio, then I would have considered long time ago replacing my turntable with such thing just for making my life easier and simpler, but well, it did not work out this way. I think that the main purpose of using CDs is the need to provide that "audiophile" or "contemporary" sound to people wanting a new different sound that is not possible from the analog pressed LPs (occasionally, yes from the digitally reprocessed albums). Just my two-cent comments, hopefully not prejudicial to the zealous defenders of the CDs as I did not intend anything like that by all means. I totally agree that dealing with CDs is a very convenient and practical thing by itself, but musically speaking I personally prefer the sound from vinyl. Thank you for reading, Emil - Hartford, CT, USA

Just to stir things up a bit: I agree with you that some of the most realistic, musical sound is to be found on 78's, especially early acoustic recordings. I once heard a giant Victor Credenza which I found more involving and real than almost any megabuck system I've heard.

What that means, I just don't know. Maybe the purer the signal path, the better?

Thanks for your thoughts.
i am a 53 year old who found his way back to vinyl just over 10yrs ago. at that time the "home theater" "fad" was well into its short lived move from 3.1 to 5.1 to 7.1 and up channels. after finally breaking free of the constant digital mult channel up grades, i got back to simple quality 2 channel music(even movies) that remain a constant, not a fad or trend. to me this is what vinyl is a constant. like stereo(2channel) music it was always here. surround sounds will come and go but stereo will always be here. in the same way formats will come and go but anolog and digital will be the only constants and vinyl the best way to enjoy anolog. For me vinyl is neither a trend or a fad but a CONSTANT!
Think about how lousy the format of the month thing was back in late 80's with Mini Disc and DCC etc.It took from ealy 80's to late80's for CD's to be figured out by engineers to get it to sound as good a it could with 20-Bit masters and such.Mass market of MP3 that suck will take over CD sales in a year or two and folks who make gear and have labels like Lin want to sell us streamed 24/96 which will crash on our hard drives and have to be backed up on a sellers servers (as long as they last right?).

Meanwhile after I gave up my table with my first early 80's Phillips CD player once the $400 price point was reached.I got back into it back in late 90's.In 70's the Lp were crap re-m,elt and noisy as hell after a few plays.But sine revival virgin heavy pressings are great.Yeah you won't get the dynamic range (max 60db) from an LP that youy will get from a CD but it does sound organic and enjoyable for your favorite stuff (I prefer some music like vocals on CD).Plus the rituals is fun.There are few LP's I own that will wear out and with vacuum cleaning,LAST preservative,etc is fun.And with few exceptions the fun of having a and original pressing from the 50's and to lesser extent a well crafted re-issue of today gives you a tactile,visual and collector enjoyment that no CD's can.Bummer was when Mosaic went to all CD's but think of the booklets or a single LP with cover art.Stopped smoking grass in the 80's but how can you roll one on a CD? (I still like pulling out the "Eat A Peach" LP that was best for that since inside texture held the weed as the seeds rolled down).Or all that great cover at from a band like Jefferson Airplane (I love that Peanut Butter and Jelly on inside of "Volunteers").Yeah it takes more to maintain the LP set up and things have to be cleaned,replaced etc.But that's the fun.Plus it sounds "right".Turntables and LP revival is great but as a collector I wish it wasn't a big a 'fad" as it is since record prices went through roof 5 years ago before I had every one "that mattered".But like the kids say today "It's All Good".
O yeah the question posed.Who cares?Their have been devotees for collecting and listening to shellac and vinyl for 80+ years.I think that it reproduces music made from source tape that matches the era.What's telling is I like a piece of music I would rather the LP lesser stuff I don't mind just having the CD.But with pieces I love I like both (you can't as easily or quickly put on LP or play in your car).But even if it a "fad" there will always be those who prefer it.I hope it is a trend along with higher resolution and better made digital though as it means more equipment options.But hey if we go back to just LP 12's and Shure Carts I will keep my LP's and collecting more.
i get emails like this regularly...!

Dear Mr. Fremer

I just wanted to say thank you. For turning me onto something that has changed my life. Being that I have always loved music, good music at that, and I've always had the patience to listen to music, Vinyl was so...obvious. I really don't know why it took so long, but eventually, like millions of teens like myself are finding out right now, I found out just what I was missing. All it took was a little Internet research, and thanks to your devotion, I am now a convert. Every day I think to myself, "what are all my friends doing"? Sitting around with their ipods, thinking thats the proper way to listen. I just want to take them all over to my house and say "LISTEN TO THIS". But, alas, no one would ever believe me, even if I tried. I just want you to know though, that I'm convinced, and you should be commended I think, for all the work you have done to keep vinyl alive. You and your site. You've reminded me that in this day an age, music never looses its power. Our politicians won't give us health care (or a stable economy for that matter), our news media would rather report on tiger woods than the war efforts of the past 7 years (or even on the resurgence of vinyl for that matter), and with my mother in the hospital for the past few weeks, I've learned the most important lesson I have ever had to learn: No matter how bleak the world seems, music is always something one can count on to cheer us up. Life and it's problems disappear when you drop the needle into the groove, and as I listen to the piano intro to new york city serenade by Bruce Springsteen, I feel it now more than ever.

Thanks for turning me onto something cooler than any drug out there. Keep up the good work, and maybe my generation will finally have a happy ending
I got this one just now (Thursday 3/18/10

Hi Michael,

I was fortunate enough to attend my first major audio show a few weekends ago in Jacksonville and was blown away by what I saw and, more importantly, heard. As a soon to be 25 year old, I've been surrounded by "digital" music my entire life. With many thanks to my parents, I've also been surrounded by real music, having picked up piano at age 3 with the saxophone and guitar following in the ensuing years, playing or being part of an ensemble straight through college. Anyway, point of that story is I'm a music lover, and in my (and I believe your) opinion, that's requirement 1 if you want or claim to be an audiophile.

Wandering the halls of the Wyndham at Axpona I really began to rethink the way my generation consumes media, especially music - not that I judge them as I own an iPod like everyone else, though it's in addition to a stereo system that I'm slowly cobbling together.

These thoughts were prompted by a number of factors including the lack of attendees under the age of 30, the alarming unapproachable nature of some of the vendors towards a "young'n" and the antithetical welcoming disposition of many of the others, the reactions of some friends I implored to join me, and most importantly the tingles that shot down my spine upon hearing the symphonies that abounded from some of the best stereos in the world. Sadly, few will ever experience music like that though many claim to truly love music.

As someone who has led the crusade for decades now to save listening experiences like this, I wondered what you think is next and how we combat some of the problems I, among thousands of others, have identified above, especially as they relate to my generation. Surely vinyl is saved for me and my peers (a huge pat on the back for that), but how do we extend this knowledge and grow the fan base, demanding the high fidelity as the artists intended for us to hear?

As someone who works day in and day out in digital marketing and media, hypothesizing, tracking, and measuring how we as a society consume it, I know that there are ways to generate and sustain a digital buzz for this field. Maybe this could be my contribution. I'd love to hear your thoughts and maybe even have a conversation on the subject if you'd be interested and willing.

In closing I wanted to say thanks to you and those like you for your efforts in championing music in its purest forms. (And also for saving the LP's for my generation.) For now, I still have a lot to learn in the world of hi-fi audio and look forward to every minute of it.

All the best,

PS - I was the kid you beckoned to come take your seat in Chris Sommovigo's room with the Lansche's and the Continuum. That recording of "Tommy" was phenomenal.

Thanks again for the seat.
I guess it could be both a fad and a trend (not a trend, but a small market that is being served). There is a niche market for vinyl and although it is not for me, it is good that people have a choice and can get what they like. The fad part may lie with the kids 25 and under. Kids that did not grow up with records are now getting them and think they are cool. Some new stores have opened that cater to this crowd, but by next year their record players will be piled in the garage with all the other x-cool stuff.
I'm an old time vinyl guy and I think Ipods are pretty cool even though I do not use one much. I guess the grass is always greener. My music server is where its at for mostly these days. I'd love to get all my vinyl onto that magically in quick time somehow!

My 8 year old daughter owns the Ipod. She has a good ear for music and will also sit down and listen to music on my system with me on occasion.

I do not let her near my records....yet. Too much invested there and too fragile!
Dear Mike F.,

Effusive thanks for sharing your posts of 03-18-10...I am restored :-)

AB - thanks for the thread.

Vinyl is like a memory, when you hold it in your hands, it's like an old book, or an old picture that evokes thoughts and feelings. You can't get that from an Ipod. I usually try to remember what I even put on the thing.

I like going to Waterloo and other record stores around Austin and seeing all the new and rereleases. It's fun that I can buy new music on vinyl too. A new memory that I can hold in my hands. Cover art, now at least photographers can have fun again.

I do like hi rez downloads though, its about time we get off of the 44.1 hz sampling rate. I would like to think that if records were to become more popular the artists would start having different approaches to their songs. I like when albums have a mood to the them.. aka Darkside of the Moon, Frank Sinatra, In the wee small hours, but that's just me :-)

"Vinyl is like a memory, when you hold it in your hands, it's like an old book, or an old picture that evokes thoughts and feelings."

Very well put! That captures a lot of the unique value of record albums for me over the more modern incarnations! I truly hope the marketing gurus come to realize this aspect of appeal to consumers again someday!
Very insightful!
I think it is a trend and hope it continues. Unfortunately even trends die.
As an enthusiast that never totally left vinyl, I have long held the the opinion that so much of the connection to the artist is lost with the digital experience. Particularly with downloaded music. The Zen like ritual of playing an LP, draws you into the music. As you sit back with the album cover on your lap and read the liner notes or stare at the cover photo, you drift off into another world. This experience is lost on downloaded music, as is the music education that is found in the text of the notes. You'll go blind trying to read the notes on a CD cover and the heat from your lap top will likely render a young man sterile as he searches for info on a download.
However, let us not marginalize the convenience of digital. For portability and ease of use, digital can not be beaten. I would be lost on an airplane or in any travel situation without my Ipod. And let us also not forget that if one wants to keep up with current music, one is forced to go digital. So, it has it's place albeit not in my serious listening habit.