Vinyl ‘Still the One’

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    By BEN CARTER

    With a new, smaller, more portable iPod coming out every few months, it may be surprising to some that there are still vinyl pressings of most new albums.

    When compact discs became available in the 1980s, most music fans switched from vinyl records to the smaller, more convenient format. Now, with their mass storage capability and their undeniable style, iPods are subverting CDs. However, there still are people who prefer the sound and the experience of vinyl records.

    ?Vinyl sounds better,? said Rick Cobabe, vinyl collector and employee at Big Daddy?s CD Exchange in Provo. ?There?s something just more tangible with a record than there is with a CD.?

    Tom Stinson, the manager of Randy?s Records in Salt Lake City, said his customers prefer the vinyl sound as well.

    ?I find that a lot of people that buy records do buy them because they like the sound of them,? he said. ?They like the natural analog.?

    The argument for vinyl?s sound is based on the fact that a CD is a digital imitation, or estimation of the physical, or analog recording on the record.

    ?You?ve got physical grooves on a round platter, being the record, that this needle is picking up, and that?s what?s producing the sound,? said Chris Fillmore, one of the owners of Performance Audio in Salt Lake. ?Digital is nothing but strings of ones and zeros. The laser is reading ones and zeros off of a disc and then it?s decoding those to audio.?

    There are different levels of digital resolution. CDs are at a relatively low resolution and therefore, are further away from a true analog sound. SACDs (Super Audio CDs) and DVD audios have higher resolutions and are closer imitations of the analog sound.

    Vinyl collectors like Cobabe and Stinson question why they should listen to an imitation when the source is still available.

    ?That?s the whole goal of digital, to imitate analog,? Stinson said. ?So I?m like, well why not go to the source then, why not just play analog??

    One reason to stick with CDs or iPods might be money. It is very expensive to get a good sound system that plays records. You have to have a turntable, a needle, an amplifier and speakers. Just the turntable and the needle can cost up to $1,000 each. A preamp can be used in place of or in conjunction with an amplifier. The preamp alone can cost up to $200.

    Cobabe said to get a good enough system to achieve a clear sound one would have to spend a little less than $1,000 total. But that?s before buying any records. Record prices vary according to rarity, condition and thickness.

    ?A thick record has better sound quality, so a lot of labels press their stuff on really nice records,? said Cobabe. ?The new Wilco record, for example, probably costs about $30, whereas there could be a record that only costs $8 out now.?

    Cobabe said the best way to shop for records is by searching online. Web sites like insound.com, gemm.com and musicstack.com sell vinyl records. Randy?s Records also sells new and used records.

    For some, the listening experience and superior sound quality are worth the money, time and effort required to be vinyl collector. Of course, music enthusiasts don?t overlook the convenience of an iPod either.

    ?I think a Hi-Fi system and an iPod are like, the perfect music mix,? Stinson said. ?You?ve got Hi-Fi at home, you got a cool collection, you?ve got vinyl and then you can take it all portable and convenient right there on your iPod and go around the world.?

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