Yes, Neil Young, Vinyl IS Better. And Here’s Why…

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A few weeks ago Neil Young famously exclaimed that the vinyl resurgence is just a “fashion statement.” He claims that most new vinyl doesn’t sound better than the CD because the vinyl was pressed from the digital masters. Well, that’s not always the case. The Dave Matthews Band just released their Under The Table And Dreaming 1994 album on vinyl for the first time which was actually remastered from the original tapes for vinyl. But I get the general point he’s making.

However, vinyl is much more than just the (perceived) enhanced sound. Digital listening doesn’t come with the warmth of a record on a turntable. The imperfections. The serenity knowing that mom’s not going to call and interrupt the song. This music is beautifully and intentionally detached from my phone. No distractions.

Vinyl is an entire experience. Wonderfully tactile. I love examining the 12″ cover. And back cover. Most vinyl come with lyric inserts to read along and many come with extra artwork, stories, credits and photos. When we stare at our screens for the majority of our days, it’s nice to look at art that doesn’t glow and isn’t the size of my hand.

As we move our entire lives into the digital sphere, we humans like to maintain a bit of the physical space. We crave it. And embrace it. Where all the world’s music is at the touch of our finger (literally), I’m building a physical vinyl record collection that I’m proud of. And will happily share with people when we’re together.

Taking it out of the sleeve and placing it on the player. Hitting start and watching the arm drop the needle. It’s an experience. It’s enjoyable.

Alphabetizing the collection and taking the time to put the most recently played record back in it’s proper place. It’s an experience. It’s enjoyable.

Shuffling through the records at the record shop (or Barnes and Noble) while stumbling upon one of my favorite records. It’s an experience. It’s enjoyable.

We expect everything digital to work perfectly and be sorted, organized and alphabetized to the point of immediate convenience. However, we don’t demand the same kinds of conveniences in the physical world. And going through the motions of physically sorting, opening, finding, buying, viewing, smelling, touching and discussing vinyl is not a chore. It’s an activity. And one that clearly people are craving.

In 2014 vinyl sales were 6% of ALL music sales – the biggest piece of the sales pie since 1988. Vinyl is coming back with a vengeance. And it’s great for musicians. We can sell more physical product at shows that people actually want. (Who wants a CD anymore?) Vinyl makes great souvenirs from concerts. And can be enjoyed for years after the show.

I get it. You’re trying to sell your Pono player. I don’t quite get why anyone would buy it. David Pogue debunked its biggest selling point that it sounds BETTER than a CD.  Well most listeners actually thought the iTunes file sounded better in an A/B test. So there’s that. Even Pono’s engineers stated “no significant technical advantage over CD-quality.” And Pono isn’t mobile to the point of fitting in my pocket. It’s a damn triangle. And can albums cost upwards of $25?! Most of the vinyl I buy doesn’t even cost that much! How do you get off charging that?

+Why Pono Is The Worst Audio Player I’ve Ever Seen

Neil Young swung and missed. But not before convincing 18,220 people that this $400 player with songs that need to be REPURCHASED (some a 3rd or 4th time) will change their lives.

I’m a musician. I’m an audiophile. But I will choose vinyl every single day of the week over Pono. I grew up buying CDs. My vinyl collection started about 3 years ago with the purchase of a turntable. My latest record is available on vinyl and sells well at shows. I am the exact person Neil Young is chastising when he calls this resurgence a “fashion statement.” And it attempts to belittle the experiences outlined above. Music is my passion, my love and my career. And I am happy to use as many of my senses as possible to fully experience it.

Photo is by Takahiro Kyono on Flickr and used with the Creative Commons license. 

51 Responses

  1. Name2

    Most people will probably rethink that whole “vinyl rules” argument after the first time they have to move a collection of any substantial size. Vinyl is heavy. And presents storage issues. But as a small part of any collection – like hi-res files – it has its place in the world.

    I’m extraordinarily satisfied with my pono’s performance, and my hi-res purchases in general, even when I listen elsewhere. (I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the music-buying experience at pono’s store, but that’s for another day.)

    Deal with it: vinyl is niche. Convenient consumerism and digital consumption moves on and on. (Until the whole empire comes crashing down, and we all go around trying to trade our FLACs for food, but I digress.)

    And why is an article on DMN bitching about the price of music? I thought we were all supposed to be eager to pay any price for the precioussss.

    Spotify is getting people used to paying for music.
    Neil is getting people used to paying premium prices for it.

    Why are they both DMN punching bags???

    • JoeD

      Oh, I think you’re right. Vinyl *is* niche, which is why it’s kind of cool to be a part of the whole deal. There is no doubt that the convenience of digital will certainly win out in the end (and really, has *already* won!). If American consumerism has proven anything, it’s that convenience nearly ALWAYS wins.

      And it is true that moving when you’re a collector of vinyl is a bit of a pain, just as it’s a pain to cart around all those books I have on my bookshelf. But I like knowing that my books are never in danger of becoming an “abandoned format”, like 8-track or Betamax, for example. 100 years from now, when my children’s children want to read a book, hopefully my old paper copies will still be there for them to peruse. Sure, they’ll probably consume most of their reading digitally, but maybe the physical weight of a good hardcover, the smell of the paper, the look of the type, the knowledge that this same book was read by their parent/grandparent… maybe THAT will be something that interests them. And I hope the same for my record collection too!

  2. Anonymous

    at least Neil makes some music with balls and says some shit that makes you nod your head and go, yeah, a f’n artist who doesnt give a you know what who has some balls, who just wrote and made it without care to its commercial appeal and fitting inside the corproate mainstream unitized system…

    i agree with neil, its just a fashion statement that is currently being marketed to cool cat hipsters who think they are being what neil is and was but who just are not, not that theres anything wrong with hipsters, i have nothing against them and think similarly to many of them, its just the whole trend of the thing as opposed to just being it and living it, too many wannabe posers, everywhere…

    Neil aint no poser and vinyl just isnt better, its irrefutable… You might prefer vinyl, but that doesnt make it better, it just makes it what you prefer…

    • JoeD

      Yep! It’s all just preference. And no one’s preference is better than anyone else’s. That’s what John Cusack’s character says in “High Fidelity”: “How can it be wrong to state a *preference*?”! 🙂

  3. cdfan

    “Who wants a CD anymore?”


    ps: who wants a record anymore?!

  4. Anonymous

    It’s okay that you don’t get why anyone would buy a Pono. Fortunately, you don’t need to understand other people’s preferences in order for them to have those preferences.

    This article is about your personal preference, and while you’re entitled to it, there’s no “right” position here.

    You love vinyl and don’t understand Pono. Good for you. Carry on.

  5. Mark

    It’s a matter of choice and personal attachment to music both psychologically and physically.
    Own and bought 1000’s of vinyls, 100’s of cds and never purchased a download (apart from the cards that come with a lot of modern vinyl releases).
    Nostalgia, the value of vinyl, appeal of owning a physical product that deserves care and can be cherished, and the artwork elements is where it’s at for me.
    Don’t trust itunes, spotify, beatport and anything else like that to not change it’s terms and conditions of what I can listen to and share with my children. My vinyl is not going to let me down with access codes and lost accounts. Whilst my of spring may not choose to listen and view vinyl as I do, I hope as they grow up they take some interest to delve into the collection, see, hear and feel what music is all about. It’s accesible, the joy of flicking through and finding an artist that you’ve never heard of and making an effort to physically playthe material.
    It’s not necessarily about what format is superior to listen to, it’s how you listen to the music that counts. Plenty of vinyl that plays with glorious overtures of crackles that fade and dissolve into the background as the music absorbs the mind and a reprise of the vinyl as the sounds fade to the graceful crackles of stylus and groove.
    CD’s great in the car, plenty of cracked cases, scratches and blemished disks. Let’s face it with FLAC, WAV and modern systems the ripped copy is just as good as the physical digital media.
    Digital (mp3/wav/flac/etc) great on the smartphone, laptop and pc. But the sheer volume available for free on the likes of Soundloud, Musiccamp,etc of established artists, newcomers, hobbiest and odd bods makes the digital domain attractive for the unique flavour for me. mp3 does not have the same sense of ownership and attachment.
    Vinyl great in the collection and an experience to listen to.
    Digital easily forgotten, deleted and tucked out of sight.

    • Anonymous

      Nostalgia, the value of vinyl, appeal of owning a physical product that deserves care and can be cherished, and the artwork elements is where it’s at for me.
      Don’t trust itunes, spotify, beatport and anything else like that to not change it’s terms and conditions of what I can listen to and share with my children.

      vinyl is ok but the eq’ing needed to be a playable format changes the actual music, so a restrictive format, but its still a very romantic thing that helps people perhaps connect with the music and artist, entertainer, muso better. CD’s were a better sounding, flatter spectrum, more convenient format, but digital blows them all out of the water, it just kind of removes that connection people seemed to have with the others…

      thing is, music is all aural, all hearing, all one sense, any other sense is really only their to confuse and manipulate your mind, which is why i mostly only listen to music, videos are just whatever videos are…

      I prefer digital because i can take a flashdrive and bring it to my car and take it anywhere i go, and i can put whatever i want on it and remove whatever i want, whenver i want. I can then transfer anything i want whenever i want onto my smartphone and use that as my iPod, no restrictions, so the convenience of it all far outweighs anything…

      i can slip a flashdrive in my pocket and be done in seconds, or i can get another person and labor for possibly hours to move the same amount of vinyl around, its brutal…

      Whats there not to trust about iTunes?? You purchase song, it gets downloaded, to your computer, and you have the file to store however you want wherever you want… The cloud thing will be what it will be and there will always be the possibility and likelihood of full catalogs being removed, thats why it will be important to retain options…

      • JoeD

        Personally, the reason *I* don’t trust ITunes is because my account got hacked and someone else started buying music and games on MY credit card. I contacted Apple and they said “Tell your bank”. Thanks, fools! Of course, my bank had nothing to do with the hack. It was my ITunes account that had gotten hacked and my credit card was on file. “Telling my bank” wasn’t going to stop that in the future.

        Apple gave me no explanation for how my account got hacked, no apology or refund for the charges incurred, and no promise that my account would be secure in the future. So buh-bye to ITunes!

        Now this isn’t to say I won’t buy digital music. I still do (on Amazon now, a site I’ve had an account with practically since they were founded and which has NEVER been hacked), but only for bands where I only like a few of their songs here and there, rather than enough of their songs to buy a vinyl album of theirs. But I have no illusions that Amazon is going to let me easily possess those songs and to hand them down to my children. For the music I truly want to pass down, I purchase the vinyl!

        • Brendan

          I’m looking at people’s comments as I have just invested in the vynal revolution and I’m seriously disappointed by the sound quality compared to even average digital recordings. No channel seperation worth speaking of, so soundstage is not great, dynamic range is lousy, frequency response isn’t right. My gear is good enough, I didn’t have to spend tens of thousands to get really good sound with digital, the $1200 turntable plus $500 preamp on the same system isn’t close to Spotify premium in sound quality on the same system.

  6. Central Scrutinizer

    Vinyl is great if your fans want something to fondle and fetish while listening to unfulfilling pop tripe, otherwise digital is by far the superior format to deliver the sound you create as accurately as possible to the consumer

  7. Anonymous

    DMB vinyl was misleading. It was cut from the digital source, REMASTERED from the original tapes. But what you’re getting is the same sound as the remastered CD and Digital version, just placed on vinyl format. (I’m a huge fan and complained about the quality of the vinyl to management. So did thousands of other fans prompting an email basically apologizing for being misleading). What Neil Young was saying is that the most vinyl is not cut from Analog tape. It is a remastered analog on a digital format, then put on vinyl. It’s not like the 60’s and 70s, You’re not getting a better or different sound than the CD in most instances. They are overcharging for it now because they know its popular. Ryan Adams new album was straight from Analog. There was no digital platform to pull the vinyl copy from. It is pure and awesome!

  8. steven corn

    Whenever we (BFM Jazz) release a vinyl, we always have it remastered. We’ve never used the CD master for the vinyl. I suspect that many, if not, most labels do it this way.

  9. FarePlay

    CDs are getting a bad rap and It has more to do with what they represent than anything else. They represent the transition of the music business in the mid eighties from, in some cases, an artist centric industry to a profit centric industry. Warner Brothers was run in the 70s by A&R guys who were musicians, but when the CD came along, huge windfall profits were being made from massive profit margins and extensive re-purchasing of catalogue music on this new format.

    Ari is a classic example of someone who loves music and pissed off that CDs were nearly $20. I don’t blame him, I felt the same way. After all, CDs are one of a handful of technological advancements that didn’t come down in price overtime. And when the music biz began to spike in the mid-80s guys with financial backgrounds wanted in and they made that happen. And the record business became the music industry.

    Death of the CD? Better watch what you wish for.

    • Versus

      “After all, CDs are one of a handful of technological advancements that didn’t come down in price overtime”

      Why should the prices come down? The physical medium is only part of the price. Are you suggesting that music’s value should have come down in time?

      • FarePlay

        You have to be kidding. Your comment is perhaps the most sideways, out of context and misinformed I’ve ever read. One of the reasons music sales are in the toilet and piracy thrives was a reaction to the cost of CDs. So counter to your comment we’ve traded an over-priced product, of which over 85% went to the record labels, for spare change.

        Buy a couple of books on the music business, so you have some idea of how we got where we are today.

    • Name2

      After all, CDs are one of a handful of technological advancements that didn’t come down in price overtime.

      But they did. Wal-Mart lead the way, demanding $9.99 titles. The MSRPs of $17.98 and $18.98 were held up to the last dying days of chain and mall music stores, but even indies notched it down on non-specialty items.

    • Larry

      Are you kidding I remember when CDs first came out they cost 60 to 100 dollars now the can be had for 15.00 or less . LPs now run 40 dollars and up . Cds dont suffer from the snap crackle pop rice crispies syndrome .better dynamic range . The next think you know some nut job is going to a headphone that introduces the warmth and static and tube distortion to live performances . ?

  10. Jim

    Why isn’t anyone talking about the superior sound that a high quality turntable and cartridge delivers? That seems to be the big reason vinyl is more rewarding to people who love vinyl, in my experience. Vinyl sounds crappy on a cheap TT. And vinyl from digital sources sound wonderful through a great cartridge. None of my CD players or computers can compare.

    • FarePlay

      Jim, thrilled by the resurgence of vinyl and looking forward to continued meteoric growth in the coming years.

  11. Anonymous

    Bookmarked in my “Vinyl Bullshit” folder. Congrats.

  12. Dr. AIX

    Amazing that an “audiophile” could be so completely uninformed about the realities of high-resolution audio and the production methodologies of vinyl LPs. You’re certainly entitled to your preferences but you need to do a little more research about what is and what isn’t happening in high-resolution audio.

    First, David Pogue’s article and evaluation was so flawed that no one should take anything away from it. How can you hope to be able to tell the difference between three tracks originally produced in the early 70s on analog tape with a high-resolution transfer of the same thing? They couldn’t tell any difference because there isn’t any. The fidelity of the original recording wasn’t improve simply because it was transferred to a 192 kHz/24-bit container.

    Neil’s right that most vinyl LPs are mastered from digital recordings. The new lacquers will have less fidelity, more speed issues, more distortion, click and pops, and folded low frequency mono than the original PCM digital tracks. If you like that stuff great…I don’t. However, Neil is also misrepresenting his PonoMusic collection as “high-resolution”. 99.9 % of the tracks he offers are simple CD rips…a format that he formerly hated and know embraces.

    I’ve been producing and releasing real high-resolution audio for 15 years…meaning new recording made with state-of-the-art equipment and HD PCM recorders. They sound amazing (you can come by the real HD-Audio website and get access to 12 free HD-Audio tracks). The improvement is dramatic. These tracks are far beyond the fidelity of vinyl LPs, easy to access on a variety or devices, and as warm and emotional as anything you’ve ever heard.

    I also write a daily blog at Real HD-Audio about this subject…you might want to come by and learn a little about what makes high-resolution audio a step in the right direction for the music business AND why Neil Young, David Pogue and others have got it so wrong.

    • Eric

      Yes, I’m sure high quality audio is wonderful but unless it’s packaged physically with something tangible to hold onto and collect… it’s not the answer. There is a growing minority that now wants that tactical experience of music ownership. They want to hold it, smell it, take care of it, collect it physically and none of that is possible with digital files.

  13. Edward Jennings

    David Pogue’s analysis and findings were laughable and ill conceived.

  14. anonomous

    dont bite the guys headed of for saying his opinion by commenting on here you care for pono… but its been proven that it sucks worse than a iphone and that the word pono makes me think ping pong or porno

    • Name2

      I like Pogue, but he’s fannier than your average fanboi when it comes to Apple and Jobs. Seek out his TedTalk on Jobs. His “side-by-side” read like he was applying for a job at DMN.

  15. Johan

    Well I’ve noticed that NY has released every album on Vinyl. I assume that he no longer uses the CD master for the Vinyl. I know he was a huge proponent of Digital sound at one time,which sounds almost as weird to say now as realizing that he still is pushing Digital. My theory about why vinyl sounds better goes beyond the analog mastering and the nice album art and having the actual physical music in the room rather that just the code. I think it’s a result of the reverberation between the left and right tracks of the needle’s groove and the reverb between the needle and the speakers output and the turntable itself. A band playing in the middle of an empty field would sound cleaner like a CD but in a concert hall it sounds better because the sound bounces around and interacts with itself. It’s like the ‘feedback’ that NY fans love so much. Crank it up!

  16. jl

    As per the interesting comments, our 2015 discussion re the merits of vinyl record vs the compact disc is still deeply interwoven with the analogue vs digital recording discussion, and which? sounds better.
    Maybe we have accidentally tooled our 21st century analytics to presume an “either/or” resolution, when there are instead a plurality of micro-scenarios to individually consider in depth. Wonderful to have choices.

    Just yesterday, i discussed this vinyl issue with a man who has a west coast city music store for 30+ years.
    Though he sells far more vinyl than cd, i asked him to pick out the best recording in the joint. (in his opinion, of course!) He reached out for a CD, Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidananda Live performance,recorded November 8th 1970 at a home studio. So that is an acoustic live analogue re-mastered for CD.
    Personally, this would lead me to a discussion of recording techniques and equipment, mics and pre-amps etc. However my audiophile store-owner said — “it sounds much better on my home system!”

    We moved on to the subject of loudness/volume,in-your-face drums and thrashing guitars.
    “you don’t need analogue for that!” he said, “that’s fine with digital!”

    Re the “fashion statement” aspect, he says: it exists, but only around a core of truth and experience. Some people will “think” that vinyl sounds better, and sometimes they’ll be “right.” Sometimes there will be no difference between the CD and the vinyl. Sometimes the vinyl will sound bad/ worse! (there are many factors influencing the sound quality of vinyl arising from the grade and manufacturing of the vinyl itself.)

    As to product pricing, i would prefer its up to the artist to negotiate the price range for their work, rather than i-tunes or spitify. Lastly, re the voodoo intangibles of personal preference, that’s just what blogs are for.

  17. David Bright

    My vinyl records tend to skip when my car hits a bump, though admittedly the streets in Corpus Christi are in worse condition that those in some other cities.

    Three thoughts about Pono:
    1. I like a thing that’s ONLY dedicated to playing music at a reasonably high quality. Kind of like a turntable. Unlike a phone or a computer.
    2. It’s portable.
    3. It sparks a discussion about how music makes you FEEL. That conversation is an experience I enjoy. That alone is easily worth $400 every time I plop my Pono player on the table when I have coffee with my friends.

  18. Johan

    It’s hard to believe that the digital remaster originals aren’t higher resolution than the CD itself. If they are in-fact higher resolution than a CD then perhaps a vinyl album cut from them actually does sound better than a CD? Isn’t NY claiming that PONO is higher resolution than a CD? Why wouldn’t they cut the vinyl from the original super HD master rather than the CD itself?

  19. Anonymous

    system processing cannot download file system processing cannot download file………….

  20. Nate Davis

    Ari, have you ever read any Haruki Murakami? This post made me think of it, because something his characters do in every single one of his books is just sit or lie down and listen to records–something people rarely do any more. You mentioned “experience” and “enjoyable,” but what I think it really comes down to is ritual. The ritual is what we’ve lost with digital music, as the internet age has conditioned us to expect everything to happen at internet speed, to prioritize convenience over everything else. I’ve actually been mulling over music listening’s transition from foreground to background activity for a while, and will put the link in a follow-up comment when I’m done writing the post.

    • JoeD

      I think that’s right. We’re missing the experience of listening to music and ONLY listening to music.

      I think another point that should be brought up is that people who have music on their computer and/or phone largely do NOT have hi-fi audio equipment and usually have nothing better than a tinny pair of small, desktop speakers. ANY music pumped out in those conditions is not going to sound as good or be as involving.

      So Step 1 to reviving the music listening experience is to make sure you have a good sound reproduction system and that means spending some dough! Step 2 is to choose your format and tailor your audio equipment to that format. It could even be digital, if that’s what you prefer. Step 3 is to sit back and listen to the music and DON’T DO ANYTHING ELSE. I think a lot of us have become accustomed to having music as background noise and ONLY as background noise. It’s time to change that!

      As for me, I choose vinyl, mainly because I enjoy the visible aspects of LPs and the surety of having PHYSICAL ownership of my music. I also think it’s a proven format that has stood the test of time and will be able to be passed down to my children. Can I pass my CDs and digital files down to my children? Maybe. But it seems like CDs are on the way out, like DVDs, and soon enough they’ll no longer make equipment that can play them. For digital, who knows whether the file format I have my digital music stored in today will be supported in the future or if Amazon or Apple will “allow” me to hand them down to my children (I would suspect not!).

      For me, vinyl has unique aspects that make it my audio medium of choice.

  21. Cravelle

    The obvious child: Boomers have known for years that the vinyl experience was central to the music revolution they participated in back in the 60s and 70s. Streaming commodified and ubiquitized and rendered music instant and disposable, requiring minimal physical/emotional/cash investment, reducing it to a trivialized flow alongside the broader digi-flow. If Tidal and Pono are trying to differentiate based on restoring uncompressed great sound, let them try, but I kind of doubt people are going to feel it’s much of a change. The floodgates are open and so it is. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that your insights are new.

  22. SocraticGadfly

    Imperfections? That’s “noise,” not “warmth.” I’ve heard claims like this before.

  23. Ian Johanson

    I have heard over and over that vinyl is better than a CD and any digital copy. Quite frankly I have been a little skeptical. I do think that most of the reason it is better is because the turntables tend to be better quality than CD players. However, I do get your point about playing a vinyl record being an experience. This is something I can get behind. Slowing things down and getting away from the instant gratification mode does sound nice.

    • JoeD

      I doubt few people would be able to tell the difference between most digital/CD/vinyl music. Vinyl sort of gives itself away with the static and clicks and pops, but I think most fair-minded people would say that all three formats are perfectly legitimate ways to listen to music. As long as people PAY for the music and don’t steal it through illegal downloads (and thus the artists get paid), I don’t care which format you choose!

      As others have mentioned, the rituals of vinyl, its physical form, and its legacy, make it the choice for ME. Your mileage may vary. And that’s ok. 🙂

  24. funkygaucho

    Bullshit. ‘Crackling’, ‘popping’, ‘warm distortion’, you name it. No matter the pick-up you use. Vinyl is so susceptible to imperfections that just expecting these to occur randomly makes the whole process less enjoyable, almost ‘stressing’ (to me, of course).

    Digital music at 16/44 Khz is so superior in terms of fidelity specs that i can’t understand how people can be so confused to put this in debate (not taking into account poor masters for digital, that’s another story). Personally, I want *accurate*, detailed recordings at first term. I don’t want to hear a single ‘pop’ or ‘crack’, or distortion in the high register. I want to hear a crystal (a.k.a. almost perfect) sounding record. I enjoy every detail, every subtle sound, and a VG or less graded vinyl keeps me away with that annoying interference that some people seem to love.

    This reminds me of a different but related fact. Some time ago i was laughing while reading the Hydrogenaudio forums. They posted their experiences on A/B (blind) testing between compressed and lossless files. MOST of them recognized to have felt frustrated by the fact of being unable to differentiate each format because they *thought* to have ‘good ears’. Well, is not that you have ‘bad’ ears, it’s just that your mind is so powerful that makes you feel sure about something which is simply false. And this is what i feel every time i hear a vinyl record.

    About hard facts: PCM has greater dynamic range, no mechanical noise of any kind, and wider frequency range. Vinyl is great to see, to touch, to experience. But it is by no means better than standard PCM. I don’t care if Neil Young or Paul McCartney says vinyl is better. I don’t care if vinyl sales are greater today. Vinyl is far behind PCM music.

    • JoeD

      That’s completely legitimate. I think the whole “vinyl sounds better” argument is a bit silly. People should always qualify that statement with “to me”. I have no problem that you prefer digital nor do I think less of you (because THAT would be hipsterism, not to mention rude!). I prefer vinyl, but that’s me and it’s not because I think it sounds “better” than digital.

      To each their own! I think it’s good to have choices and something for everyone and their little idiosyncrasies.

  25. Bear

    Vinyl is an experience you can’t argue that. I even have argued that flipping sides was an integral part some of the most famous albums of all time. But the sound quality, the warmth… all those arguments are bunk to me and so are Neil’s complaints. Why? because most people blast there music in the background when cleaning house or cooking so all that sound quality doesn’t mean squat when a siren passes your house or the washing machine can be heard from the next room. Barking dogs, people chatting on the street, the wind itself are all not part of the original music and interfere with the sound quality as you hear not as it was recorded.

    So listen how you like. Though I will say most Mp3 quality sucks especially anything below 192 for me. Because my hearing isn’t the best I can survive on 192 but accept only 320 or “lossless” in most cases. And yes is saves space if I had every record on my computer in a physical form it would be a housing cleaning nightmare not to mention just the sheer space of it. Even my CD collection was out of hand. I adore digital for how it saves space but I do miss the artwork. But used vinyl is cheap so buy some album covers you like and hang them on the wall.

    • JoeD

      I agree with you about the inadequacy of MP3s. I *definitely* hear a difference and a loss of detail when I listen to MP3s vs. when I listen to CDs or vinyl. I tolerate it because MP3s allow me portability for my music. But if I’m at home, I’m definitely not going to be listening to a cheap facsimile of my music.

      I would say that one reason people “push” the vinyl format is that they believe that the entire LP experience is a superior one to the “singles” experience. They believe that the digital age has degraded that experience and that bands are now less focused on making great albums and instead are focused on making great SINGLES. In a sense, we’ve returned to the 1950’s!

      Myself, there’s nothing that can really compare to the LP experience, where you get about an hour of a cohesive musical story from a single band (well, if they’re any good, of course!). Previously, I went all-digital and I found that I was listening to my playlist on random, which means single songs by artists instead of ALBUMS. Now it’s true that I could listen to albums from my digital collection, but there’s something about the experience of digging through a physical stack of vinyl records to find the “right one” to play that can’t be approximated by scrolling through a dead, digital listing. The two experiences are miles apart.

      As well, with vinyl, while I’m listening to the music, I can examine the album cover, the liner notes, the lyric sheet. You can’t really do this with digital music, or at least not easily. Even having to get up to flip from Side A to Side B, rather than being an annoyance, is kind of a fun little mini-break in the process, a chance to mull over what you’ve heard on Side A and anticipate what’s to come on Side B. Plus you get to physically interact with the music once again, which you simply do not get with digital.

      But like I’ve said before, the format really matters less than the fact that you’re listening to music in the first place. In the end, it’s all about the music and the affect it has upon our minds and bodies. I think you can get that from any of the current formats.

  26. Dew

    CDs and MP3s are shit they look crap aswell if you have an old vinyl you have the art the insert and a tangible object for your money, not some crappy compressed faceless digital file stuck on a phone or a flash stick somewhere

  27. buyan-albums

    Mp3s are long out of the vinyl/digital debate as they sound like shit-always have. So, stick to discussing hi res digital files and vinyl. I have thousands of albums in 24bit/96..196 etc. formats as file size is no longer an issue. These files do sound amazing and you cannot debate the convenience and ease of storage of digital music. Nonetheless, I went back to vinyl because the experience is better. What really surprised me though was that the remastered hi res LPs (180/200g etc) actually sounded better than MOST of my digital files! A lot better. I just purchased (yep “purchased”…lol) the Beatles mono set and I have never heard the Beatles sounding as good as this. Same with Dylan and The Stones recent vinyl releases. Sabbath on vinyl has been astounding, PJ Harvey, Black Messiah, Townes Van Zandt, all jazz, same thing. The vinyl sounds incredible. So, I downloaded the exact Beatles mono, Stones etc…24bit/196 khz.. played it through the same system, even through a dac and THE VINYL SOUNDS BETTER!! This is no placebo affect! I am a trained musician who has been playing for decades and by have a great ear. Hell even my partially deaf wife can hear the big difference between the vinyl and the digital. Not to mention the lyric sheets, the artwork, the photos, the fact that I own something tangible that I hold and play with patience and can pass on to my children. The vinyl experience and superior sound quality is worth the expense…to me anyhow.

  28. Illbay

    TRANSLATION: “It’s better for reasons that are really too difficult for you to understand.

    “Your glasses frames aren’t thick enough.”

  29. Marko

    I just listened to Neil on The VergeCast this morning talking about this. I can tell you that if he heard your perspective, you wouldn’t be in his sights for chastising. He’s not talking about you, from my understanding. He was quick to defend musicians (even those creating digitally from the start). The “fashion statement” comment has some obvious validity if you look at some of the vinyl buying crowd, but he’s not saying it’s everyone buying vinyl. When he said “most” modern vinyl is coming from a digital master, he didn’t say all either. His passion might blind him sometimes, as passions do for many of us. The void between how music is meant to be heard by the artist who created it and the listener, is what concerns him (as well as how it’s ultimately archived for future generations).