For The Record: The Vinyl Revival And A Plug-In Too Far

Vinyl Records

 

By Jamie Birkett in The Conversation.

 

Vinyl is back, or so it might seem. For better or worse? I’m not so sure myself. Like a lot of vinyl enthusiasts, I too enjoy the ritual, the feel, the physicality of a real product in my hands. But as soon as I get to the listening part, the sound engineer in me can’t help but feel it’s all a bit of snake oil.

Following yet another successful record store day in an ever growing market, a closer look at the top 10 highest selling vinyl albums of 2017 reveals that seven out of the 10 are either re-releases from legacy artists or old soundtracks. There’s plenty that has been said about the reality of this revival on independent artists and labels but what impact has it had on the recording itself?

Although ostensibly a market driven forward by new technologies, the audio recording world has a tendency to be nostalgic for that same vintage “authenticity” that lies behind the vinyl revival. Analogue synths and reel-to-reel tape decks, although old technology, are still the holy grail for many recording engineers that yearn to capture the sounds they grew up with. And for the younger generation, a return to analogue recording ideals may well represent a rejection of the seemingly less real digital audio they grew up with.

 

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