Why are Turntables so Popular Right Now?
The vinyl record was once thought to be a dead format. CDs came along, and they were vastly superior in a whole range of ways. They were not only smaller and more portable, but they preserved every note of every piece of music in perfect zeros and ones. Then mp3s came along, allowing digitally stored music to be crammed into an even smaller space. Then finally, streaming services like Spotify allowed music to be provided instantaneously.
It would seem that, when such wonders are available, a format like vinyl would be doomed to obsolescence. And yet, paradoxically, it’s enjoyed a renaissance, especially among younger generations. More and more people are buying turntables and used or even brand new vinyl. But why, exactly, are turntables still a thing?
It sounds ‘warmer’
Probably the most notorious defence of the format is that imparts a unique sort of character to the music. What does ‘warmer’ mean? Does it refer to dulled high-end and incessant snaps, crackles and pops during quieter sections? Does it mean to a decreased dynamic range? Whatever the appeal, there’s no doubt that a vinyl record sounds different than a digital one.
Among the negative consequences of the digital streaming revolution is that music has become disposable. If we find that we’re not being stimulated by a particular song, we might immediately skip to the next one. We might not even have to press a button to do this; we can bellow a command to a voice assistant and have them do it for us.
Vinyl removes this temptation, and thereby helps us to give a particular record our full attention. Once you’ve invested the effort of loading a vinyl record onto the turntable and moving the needle, you’re unlikely to make changes every other song. The full album as an artform, and a full listening experience, can thereby be appreciated!
A collection of vinyl records commands a value that a collection of CDs simple doesn’t. The sleeves can be home to large, highly detailed artwork, and the materials can be lush and high-end. Vinyl enthusiasts might spend their time trawling through jumble sales and eBay in search of an elusive classic – and the thrill of the hunt is enough to keep many collectors interested.
The truth is that the vinyl record, in some circles, never really went away. While many modern DJs will do their mixing via sophisticated digital software, which matches beats and applies effects, there’s always been a subculture of vinyl-obsessed disc-jockeys who’ve made the vinyl format viable through the nineties and noughties, and thereby ensured that it didn’t have to be brought back from the dead.