The ongoing debate: digital vs. vinyl

De-evolution of music preference

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “music is the universal language of mankind,” in the essence that it is something that almost anyone understands. Music is shaped by culture, demographics, societal changes, and more, yet there is one major question still up for debate: what is the best way to listen to music? 

   In the past two decades, digital music has become increasingly prevalent. Music subscription services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music make it incredibly simple to listen to any music. 

   I am personally an Apple Music fan, and I use the app religiously. It is hands down one of the best investments that I have ever made strictly because of the app layout and the vast music download selection. 

   Digital music platforms offer top-tier convenience and efficiency when it comes to listening to tunes on-the-go. 

 “It’s difficult to overstate how powerful digital music streaming is. As long as you have an internet connection, you can think about what kind of music you’d like to listen to and start playing it in seconds,” MakeUseOf (MUO) Editor-in-ChiefBen Stegner explained. 

   With digital streaming, you are also able to get a lot more bang for your buck. “Digital music streaming offers so much more for your money. Most services cost around $10/month (even less if you make use of streaming family plans) and let you listen to as much music as you want,” Stegner said.

   With the convenience of digital music, you can listen to a debut album from your favorite artist without leaving the comfort of your home. Furthermore, with music subscription services, it costs no extra fees to listen to a newly released album. Digital music services also make it possible for the user to compile their favorite songs together into an ultimate playlist, which is another aspect that is essentially non-existent in the world of vinyl records. 

   In spite of this, with all of the constructive qualities of digital music, it makes it difficult to wonder what vinyl records have to offer. Despite the conjecture about the convenience and effectiveness of digital music, for some people – myself included – it might be a pleasant surprise to invest in a record player to bask in the glorious sound of a timeless vinyl record. 

   “The modern musical industry may be almost entirely digital, but this does not mean that streaming songs or downloading audio files is the best way to listen to music,” the Indie on the Move website declared. “Audiophiles might insist that vinyl is better because it sounds nicer, but there are also several other reasons why it is the superior format.” 

   Just because something is “old-school,” it does not mean that it is unable to still fulfill its purpose. In the same way that a vintage car will still run with the right care, vinyl records are a true treasure if someone takes the time to appreciate them. 

   Needless to say, a quick search on the internet will confirm that a record player is an investment that someone would need to save up for. Depending on the style and function of a given record player, they can range anywhere from $50 to over $300. However, once the initial cost of the player is paid for, it is mostly easy sailing from there on out. 

   I am the fortunate owner of a Victrola Hawthorne record player that also functions as a CD and cassette tape player, and ever since it was gifted to me, I have not been able to keep my hands off of it. Anytime I am relaxing in my room, I almost always have a record or CD playing in the background. 

   Vinyl records offer a warmer, deeper, and boomier sound profile compared to that of a digital playback.

  “Because an analog recording carves a continuous representation waveform into the vinyl while digital merely samples the waveform, vinyl-loving audiophiles sometimes argue that the sampling required to make a digital recording doesn’t get the full sound,” recording engineer and performing arts technology professor, Jason Corey explained. 

This is also the reason why most recording artists prefer their hit-songs on vinyls rather than an audio file. Furthermore, when listening to a vinyl record, there is almost always a nostalgic crackle when the needle touches the carved resin plastic that is incredibly satisfying in its own right. 

 “Selecting the LP and sliding it out of its jacket, brushing away any dust, placing the vinyl disc on the turntable, gently positioning the tonearm — the entire ritual might well add something ineffable to the listening experience,” content creator for Discover website, Avery Hurt described. 

    While some may argue that the price point of vinyls exceeds its reasonable range, it is important to comprehend the fact that vinyl records offer a lot more than just music.

  “A quality vinyl is a beautiful work of art, and their aesthetic quality makes them extremely enjoyable to examine. The glossy black surface of the vinyl contrasts with the thick cardboard of the case, and many bands include additional information, artwork, or photographs with each record. This allows vinyls to create a tactile and visual experience that greatly enhances your musical experience,” the Indie on the Move website illustrated. 

The price of vinyls will definitely add up over the course of time, however, it will not add up quickly if you purchase your records from the right place. Second-hand stores, thrift stores, garage sales, and even bookstores often have a large lineup of vinyl records for their customers to choose from. All that is required of the buyer is to spend a little bit of time and care to go through the offered selection and pick out their favorites. Personally, Half Price Books stores are my go-to when browsing for vinyls and CDs. 

   Given these points, it is easy to see which type of music-lover you are and which music method would suit you best. If you are searching for convenience, efficiency, and a vast selection of songs, digital music platforms are for you. On the other hand, if you are searching for a nostalgic, deeper tone that has a rewarding impact, vinyl records may be for you. 

   Personally, I do not think I could choose between the two options now that I have had the pleasure of listening to music both ways. 

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