Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sounding off!

There will be new entry later for a reason in a few days time however I felt like typing something up a few moments ago.
So far into the year I have been spinning black lumps of vinyl most days of the week and even adding new titles to the collection and at times it's felt like I was back in the mid to late 70's when I'd return from high school and lift the lid on my phonograph and spin a disc or two.
Back then Pop made first one for me from a kit that sounded better than most models in the shops comprising of one main unit plus speakers and I graduated to used stereo separates that required a bit of tlc to bring up to standard.
Until the early 80's I never bought a pre-recorded cassette although we had 8 Track tapes for the car stereo and a player for them in the house because even at the early age I was aware of the difference between how a commercial pre-recorded tape duplicated at a very fast speed sounded and what one made yourself on cassette or in my case also open reel 1/4" tape from the record sounded, which if you were around at the time, was the main way to buy recorded music.
So that ritual of lifting up the lid, carefully holding a record by the edges before placing on the turntable and giving it a quick brush before lowering the arm to listen to it is like second nature to me.
And what is more somehow whatever we've gained by way of consumer digital equipment such as cd players and the iniquitous mp3 player (in most respects the replacement for the cassette Walkman personal player) we've lost out on in others.
The first is ever noticeable and that is somehow we have lost that ability to dedicate a small amount of time exclusively to listen to music free from distractions as so many just listen while doing something else whereas before while we had music in our cars we did also listen at home intently.
The other is somehow listening to recordings from records is often more enjoyable as while no background noise is a gain, we some to lost some of the more subtle clues such as the space between instruments, 'a sense of presence' as if you're sitting in on a performance as well as a sense of openness in the sound (I find many cds leave me feeling the sound is 'hemmed in' and a bit mechanical).
While sales of records today are nothing like what they were back then, it is interesting to note that sales of vinyl lps rose by 80% last year while cd sales dropped quite considerably.
This might because younger people who are really into music like the idea of something tangible to own and enjoy (there is evidence of a number of young people buying turntables for the first time rather being just a market for those in their middle age or older).
As much as I like Mp3's for convenience, you don't get the same feeling of satisfaction from owning and showing them to friends doesn't compare with showing and talking about the album art, label design and so on.

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