Late, but just in time, I discovered on the TV channel Arte one of these special documentary films from the year 2010: “Vinylmania” wants to show in 33 1/3 turns per minute how the old and new passion orbits the world of vinyl records. Have a quick look before the movie disappears from the Arte media library. It is worth it!

Wanted plate needle

Anyone who asks for a needle for a record player at one of the major electronics stores today either triggers a laughing fit from the sales staff, reaps a completely astonished look, or gets the counter question, what that is? Then you realize that there are now a lot of young people who have never actually seen a turntable, so do not know that there is a tonal difference between vinyl discs, CDs and audio files such as mp3.

Life in 33 turns per minute

That’s why filmmaker Paolo Campana has gone on a journey around the world to document the mystery of the vinyl and why there are still people who are addicted to black discs – and why the good old record now has been facing a kind of comeback for a few years now. It goes without saying that Paolo Campana is himself a DJ and a crazy record collector. The vinyl is his big love. Then came the digital CD, and then the revolution on the Internet and the concomitant shift in the storage and reproduction of music: Mass downloads on home computers instead of pressing plants for records. But the record never disappeared completely. Music fans, DJs, musicians, artists and collectors around the globe have always stuck to their records. Meanwhile, there are again newly opened shops, so no leftover nostalgia bouts who sell only the big black shellac discs. The record factories that have held on are seeing increasing order numbers. It is not a mass phenomenon and will probably not become one. But the passion for the crackling of the spinning plates is now aroused by today’s generation of young music lovers. So what’s the secret for this revival?

Each record brings a personal story with it

True vinyl junkies explain this through the sensual experiences, through stories connected to the objects of their desire. But today’s music listeners are sure to combine special moments with many a song they only own as mp3. Yes, that may be the case, but the memory of an often reproducible and duplicable music file is obviously not deep enough. What are the reasons for that?

The yearning for sensuality

A record can be picked up and touched. In addition to the sense of hearing, you can also connect via the sense of touch, via the feel. A vinyl disc can scratch, it is as fragile as life itself. And the yearning for sensuality has not changed for generations, even today. It is there as part of our humanity. The differences are already clear: the sense of hearing is addressed both by the music file and the record, but it seems to be a different kind of listening. It is undisputed that it depends very much on the format of the digital audio file, that was correspondingly strongly compressed and cut in the frequencies or not. This also applies to the CD, which is also a digital storage medium and has standardized values (16bit, 44,100 heart). The record, on the other hand, is an analogue medium that does not involve circumcision when it comes to frequencies. However, it depends again on whether, for example, the master, ie the template for the plate pressing in the reproduction of frequencies has been limited or not. A record brings with it other, quasi-analog problems sonic nature with it. If you want to know exactly, you can get more information elsewhere. Anyway, most fans swear that a record just sounds livelier and warmer.

MP3 should sound better than records

However, the subjective perception of hearing and previous listening habits play an enormously important role. Current studies at various universities confirm that listeners who have listened to music in their previous lives exclusively in the form of mp3 files, in comparison tests with CD and record but actually the mp3 file the best sound quality award, despite compression method. That’s an amazing result.

Vinyl records to touch

In the real world of experience CD and vinyl still offer the difference already mentioned that they can be touched and thus appeal to the sense of touch, while in the music file only the carrier medium, such as. the iPod can be touched; comparatively that would be the CD player and the turntable. CD covers made of paper or cardboard cut off similarly well compared to record covers. The cold plastic cover of the standard CDs does not trigger any emotions. The size of the record covers scores against the CD cover. This is also known from the art world. The bigger the picture, the more impressed the viewer is.

Cover are works of art

In comparison to the music file, the sense of sight is added. The large covers are often works of art in which the message of the music is carried on visibly. Well music files are also provided with a cover, but there are only virtually on the support medium, as well as the music file itself. One can not touch it. You can make it big on a screen, but you need a lot of money for a lot of monitors, for example, to cover a whole wall with covers.

The war of the worlds

At this point, people often talk about the war of the worlds: the virtual world versus the real world. What is better, what is more practical, who wins in the end? These questions will probably never be answered conclusively. The fact is that the combination of the senses addressed by the analogue record in some way a more emotional and profound impression than the somehow juxtaposed Sinnansprachen digital media. But instead of a winner, there will certainly continue to be peaceful coexistence, because the human being as a sloth tends mostly to the practical, to the comfortable. Pragmatism so in everyday use and in the beautiful evening hours, it may well be pure enjoyment.

What would bring an objective approach?

What I have not found yet is the publication of a scientific study that lets a listener hear the same songs over the same music system without knowing what the medium is, so that he can not just say what he’s recording best finds but also may guess what the medium is. Can this really be answered with minimized differences? So far, in various blogs such tests can only be found by people who have carried out the sound test themselves and therefore knew which medium they are currently playing – and that does not produce an objectively qualified result. As far as the documentary is of course not. He does not want that either. Paolo Campana brings us viewers the vinyl a bit closer and he succeeds interesting and entertaining. All the other questions at the interfaces between the old and the new worlds of sound could fill another documentary.

Additional links to the topic “records”:
The dark side of covers (Great Flickr page by artist Harvezt, how record covers look like from behind.)

av 04.10.2014

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