Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vinyl Porn 4: The New Wave of Vinyl Listeners

The old guys/girls call them LPs, 45s, 78s or simply 'records', but the current term is just 'vinyl' or 'vinyls'.
Since the turn of the millennium, just about everyone identifies by format now, and 'Vinyl' is a term that works for us, especially since this blog is constantly talking about Vinyl Porn.
In the more recent incarnations of the big discussion of analog vs digital, it seems that more and more attention is being paid to technical terms. Sometimes people wonder if they have to be an audio engineer in order to know what the hell is going on with different types of systems. Others throw around technical terminology, like Dynamic Range, without any real knowledge as to what those terms mean (Buzzfeed!) or perhaps a misinterpretation or even misunderstanding as to what they mean or how these systems work.  But with all these terms, what difference does it make?
How much of whatever technical thing-a-doo really makes a difference? It could be argued, (as we are arguing now), that many of the most commonly quoted technical factors really make no significant difference. The ones that do make a difference are often only factors within a certain context. And how much does the average person really need to know?
There's also something that has to be said for curious millennials and those interested in analog sound when they personally have no previous history with turntables and analog audio. These curious people are discovering analog sound for the first time, and although they often like what they hear, they are unfortunately, because of lack of experience, susceptible to the whims of greedy large corporations that wish to squeeze the money out of the pocket of a young person, while only pretending to give them what they want (a decent turntable). These corporations view the resurgence of vinyl and analog sound as a fad, and don't care about the long term implications of selling a young person a poor-quality product. Some of these items might actually be so bad that it might deter a teenager from ever purchasing vinyl or building up even a small collection of favourites.
So the First Part of this blog entry will deal with the technical terminology.
The Second Part of this blog entry will deal with the more introductory-level aspects of becoming interested in Vinyls and Analog sound and equipment.
(And if you don't know what Vinyl Porn is then don't be nervous because it's nothing to be ashamed about. Check our first entry: Vinyl Porn: Get your Groove-on with Vinyl you don't have!)

The Technical Terms:
Dynamic Range: Long touted as the one measurable difference that claims superiority of digital formats is the idea of the greater 'Dynamic Range'. Dynamic Range is a confusing concept because it has one modern definition and one that's antiquated. The old definition is referring to the range of volume that can be achieved by a particular instrument. In this way, a set of drums easily outclasses an acoustic guitar in 'Dynamic Range' so a good choice for an oom-pah-pah band is one with drums and brass horns, while the acoustic guitar-player should probably join the string quartet or jug band. However, since the electrification of instruments,  and the use of P/A systems and amplification, this sort of distinction is largely outdated and obsolete, since any instrument can now be made to sound as loud any other. And since any singer can be made to sound as loud as any instrument, the lead singer in any band doesn't have to have to be gifted with the loudest pipes in the community, either. Simply put: the good singer and the best instrument is not necessarily the loudest, and in recording circles this is true as well.

      Dynamic Range is the range from the lowest volume just before fadeout or cut-off occurs at the low volume extreme, up to the highest volume just below where distortion or clipping occurs. Sometimes Dynamic Range can measured in smaller segments rather than an overall average, but it is usually measured in decibels. This measurement gives vinyl a Dynamic Range of about 60-75db, and high-quality 2-inch analog tapes best Dynamic Range is about 90db, while digital formats claim 100db or more. Mathematically, a 16-bit CD has a dynamic range of 96db, though this can be perceived as higher with the help of filters, equalizers, enhancers etc. CDs and digital formats do have a greater Dynamic Range. However, dynamic range is not all its reputed to be... Dynamic Range does NOT mean 'higher-accuracy'. Dynamic Range does NOT mean 'cleaner', 'crisper' or 'more nuance or detail'. Dynamic Range does NOT mean 'higher-resolution' in terms of sound or audio signal (that would be determined by the Sampling Rate, see below).

      In the earliest days of recorded sound, Dynamic Range was a very important achievement. 78 rpm vinyl records needed to sound better than a weak AM radio signal to justify the cost of making people go out and buy the record. Artists and Record Companies wanted their recordings to sound rich and full without becoming distorted, while at the same time being able to capture those soft tones and subtle notes of romantic music and singers with more nuanced voices. Several small innovations and adjustments and redesigns had to be achieved before those old 78 records started to sound pretty good and they reached a peak of about 40db Dynamic Range. However, Dynamic Range is measured in decibels and every ten decibels is another factor of ten in power (40db is 10,000 times the volume/power of 1db and 60db is 1 million times the power of 1db). Digital formats avoid the limitations of vinyl and tape simply because they are not running into the physical boundaries of a groove in a record or a tape on a magnetic head, therefore, they can record sound at almost any volume or level that an amp or mixing board can generate. Dynamic Range is not the maximum (Highest Level without distortion), nor the minimum (Noise Floor) but a measurement of the range in-between the two. And while small changes from one to the next are easily detectable by human ears, it is impossible to listen to things at both extremes at the same time, so it's difficult to imagine any type of music that would really need more than (50db)100,000 times Dynamic Range (Violent, thunderous cannon-fire or dynamite followed by the drop of a feather or perhaps a slight gust of wind: It's the new album by Disaster Area called 'Explosions by the Seaside' and the first single is called: 'Annoying Fowl'). As a result, Dynamic Range in recording doesn't seem to make that much difference, in that, above 50db or so, it probably doesn't matter all that much to the average listener. Most songs, measured overall, have a dynamic range of only 20db or less. The simple truth is that it's pointless for a band of possibly five or more to all be playing at different volumes, so the only time that music hits the peaks and lows of Dynamic Range are during hard cymbal-crashes by the drummer and musical rests by the whole band (i.e: playing nothing) and anybody can easily crank up a volume control all by themselves.
    Ratcheting up the Dynamic Range beyond 60db(1 million times) really doesn't do anything for the music except that the parts that are ALREADY REALLY LOUD are EVEN F***ING LOUDER!, and probably much louder than it really needs to be. History seems to have proven this. Since the early 1990s, CDs were continually getting louder and louder, apparently due to competition with other CD manufacturers and marketing techniques which emphasize exploiting their perceived 'advantage' over other formats, pushing levels closer and closer to maximum range (distortion). Some audio engineer-people believe that software 'limiters' corrects this problem, but this only holds those peaks below distortion range while raising the 'floor' so that softer tones are now LOUD. All of this manipulation has changed the sound of some familiar albums so much that it resulted in a backlash against the Loudness War which has caused music-fans to call on CD makers to draw back and reign in their BLARING LOUD DISCS TO SOMETHING A LITTLE QUIETER THAN A FRICKIN' JET ENGINE IN TAKE-OFF! Modern sound engineers would probably say Dynamic Range is important, but that's only because they get annoyed when they can't put their mixing board levels up to maximum and scream 'Deaf is Good for you, you sniveling pukes!' and then cackle like mad scientists as they are prone to do. For the average listener, Dynamic Range just means the loudness-warriors once again cranked up the volume without anyone asking for it. What's more, is that the raw measurement of overall 'Dynamic Range' is apparently not as important as it is, to capture those 'peaks' that occur in music and in this case, LPs/vinyl and other analog sources match up quite well. Basically, Dynamic Range is not really a factor to choose one format over the other, unless you are DRASTICALLY HARD OF HEARING and absolutely NEED THAT EXTRA VOLUME TO POUND THE MUSIC INTO YOUR HEAD or you don't know where the volume control is on your system and don't want to look. But if Dynamic Range is really your passion, then check out this lecture because this is about all Very Us Mumblings cares to say about Dynamic Range.

Audio Above 15kHz? Analog formats are capable of capturing frequencies that digital cannot. This is not a mistake or a mistype. It is fact. There are few people who don't notice a difference between analog & digital recording at the low end of the format, especially those who appreciate the sound of an actual bass drum over a drum machine or the use of sub-woofers, but it has also long been known that at the high end, Analog captures frequencies as ridiculously high as 60,000Hz, while CDs and most digital formats have an upper-end capture of about 22,000Hz.
   In all digital music, everything above 22kHz is deliberately ignored (filtered out, squelched, cut-off) to prevent something called 'Aliasing', which is basically a digital sampling glitch which causes some harmonics at high frequencies to appear as background noise or buzz or distortion or hum that isn't really there when you listen to the live performance or analog version (It should be noted that filtering out everything above 22kHz doesn't mean that the whole Aliasing problem is solved. Aliasing can happen at lower frequencies as well, and audio-engineers have to account for this).
    Human beings are born with a range of hearing that stretches from 20 Hz to 20,000Hz and is certainly capable of detecting many changes of less than 1Hz difference. Over time, however, the upper end of the range diminishes first, partly due to age, mostly due to damage so that most frequencies above 15kHz are above the range of most human hearing, but if you buy a properly recorded analog album, those frequencies are there whether you can 'perceive' them or not, and without the problem of 'Aliasing'. It would seem a big advantage for Analog, except that it can't be heard. In the case of the upper range of human hearing, there are very few pieces of music that utilize such frequencies.
    To most people, such a pitch is either out of range of their normal day to day hearing or really just an annoying noise, sometimes unwanted, but bearable, like the buzz of an old electrical appliance; a fridge or a microwave that may need maintenance. Imagine the harmonics created by nails scratching a chalkboard or ice skates being sharpened and then imagine even higher frequencies. It's difficult to conceive, let alone hear. Even the sympathetic harmonics of chimes, bells, pianos and violins are usually well within the 15kHz range, usually not even reaching 10kHz at the upper end. Even elderly people and those with damaged upper-range can usually hear as high as 10kHz. So unless your favourite music involves mostly high-pitched bells and near-microscopic tiny wind-chimes, and you intend to keep a large record collection of such stuff, then this super-high-frequency thing is not really a reason to choose analog over digital formats. Every note we play or strum or thump creates sympathetic harmonics due to the physical nature of music and the energy created from it. Vibrations flow through everything we do, but most music is simply not in such ridiculously high frequencies. We don't write songs to be sung in 20khz because no one could sing them. We do, as humans, have a great range of 'listenable' frequencies even into our elderly years. However, if you have time, vinyls and a taste for imperceptible harmonics, then a study conducted by several brain-scientists in Japan suggest that you may be able to stimulate your Thalamus into generating those groovy alpha-waves and perhaps increase your alertness and attention span by listening to recordings that contain matching high-frequencies to those that are within human hearing. Other than that, this high-frequency range argument can probably be dismissed as a legitimate reason to choose one format over the other.

Sampling Rate is not the same as Audio Frequency: There are no sampling rates that are above or beyond human hearing. Sampling Rates and Audio Frequencies are two completely different things, and the only thing they have in common is that they are measured in Hertz(cycles per second). While certain Audio frequencies (Above 20kHz) are out of human range of hearing, sample-rates are not out of human range, no matter how high or fast they measure. Digital Sampling Rates represent the number of digital measurements that are taken over the course of a given amount of time/music. These digital 'samples' are represented as a bunch of plot points over a block of music signal. Turning these plot points back into sound would result in garbled and distorted nonsense without the help of something called 'interpolation' which is basically a software algorithm designed to smooth out those jagged plot points into something that looks/sounds like a naturally-curved audio sine-wave (ie: audible analog sound). This whole sampling, 'plotting' and 'interpolation' process is viewed as the main explanation of why CDs and digital sound seems to be 'harsh' when compared to Analog which can generate a smoothly-curved sine wave without using interpolation.
  Higher samplings rates accompanied with greater sampling 'depth' (16, 24bit, 32bit) are used to give digital music a higher 'resolution'. Essentially to close the gap between those plot-points. Like increasing the number of mega-pixels in a camera is an attempt at taking a picture with a higher resolution, increasing the sampling rate is an attempt to make a more accurate digital representation of what you hear with your ears (An analog sine wave). Of all the technical terminology that is thrown around, the sampling rate is the one that makes the most difference... for digital quality. For Analog, sampling rate means nothing, because Analog sounds requires no high-memory cycle of captured plot-points and the highest 'sampling rate' is essentially infinity. Analog neither requires the software interpolation that's necessary for conversion back from digital to audio. Although higher digital sampling rates have proven to sound better than lower sampling rates, it is debatable whether increased sampling rate is actually the 'key' to achieving as high a resolution as is capable with high-quality analog equipment. CDs are 16bit/44.1kHz, DVDs are much higher at 24bit/96kHz. Studio-quality sampling rates are usually 24bit/96kHz or even higher. All of this means...not much when compressed. While the original recording could have been done at 32bit/192kHz or even higher, your CD player is still 16bit/44.1kHz, your DVD is still 24/96kHzand your mp3 player is just a compressed version of one or the other. FLAC files are also compressed, just in a different way that is supposed to prevent 'loss'. (what 'loss' means could take up a whole 'nother blog)

Jitter, Flutter and Wow!
These are all timing miscalculations caused by viruses, misprogramming, misalignment or faulty equipment. Unwanted speed up and slowdown of the music causes changes in pitch and tone. Jitter is the digital version of Flutter which is the tape version of WoW which usually applies to faulty turntable motors. Although some cheap Crosley turntables are reported to get Wow problems after less than a year of use, Jitter, Flutter and Wow are rare occurrence unless using questionable equipment or downloading from less-trustworthy sites/sources and none of this makes much difference in choosing which format to buy because each format has it's own difficulties with timing, so all in all, we wrote this paragraph, because we like to say the words Jitter, Flutter and Wow!

The Millennial Vinyl-Fan Dilemmas

Analog Takes Too Much $ and Time to Figure Out
(Turntable/Cartridge/Amplifier/Speakers vs 'plug & play' ipod/ipad station/speakers)
There's one point that can't be denied about vinyl and that is that the equipment costs money. And once, hooked-up, some level of adjustment is usually required. Of course, speakers are not exactly exclusively used for a turntable, and when people talk about an amplifier, they are usually referring to some combination of amplifier/radio-receiver/equalizer depending on the capability, so this is not exclusive to vinyls, but generally any kind of decent home system that may or may not be out of the $ range of the average teen to early-twenties person.
   Unfortunately, the return of vinyl popularity has caused some less-than-decent turntable manufacturers partnered with mass-market retailers (Crosley/Jensen/WalMart/Sears/Urban-Outfitters) to put out many units of questionable quality at pretentious prices. This retro-looking, mostly plastic, analog equipment has sold well and set up a bunch of kids with their first turntable, but have several problems, usually including; a plastic tone-arm and/or turntable plate, no counter-weight, no anti-skate, weak motors that are poorly calibrated and these turntables usually wear-out quickly and some even have a non-replaceable needle or cartridge. And even though these systems might appear to include everything and are 'ready to play' the speakers/amplifier/receiver contained within are also below average quality and may even break down in only a year or two of use, after which I would guess that the buyer is expected to throw it away because it would cost more to repair than it's original price. Sometimes these turntables force kids to use their laptop and/or computer as a makeshift amplifier just to get some decent response. These same companies will often sell a better version of the same thing, but the dineros ($) are suddenly much higher than the one that seemed like an affordable deal. These problems may have inadvertently left a lot of young people, especially millennials, with some resentment, thinking that good quality analog sound requires a whole lot of money and/or expertise that is beyond their means. Essentially some possible future vinyl-loving adolescents have decided to forgo good recordings in favour of digitized digit-music simply out of the convenience of the plug-and-play aspect of having songs bleep out of your phone/camera/smart-watch into a pair of headphones seemingly as easy as can be and done for what appears to be relatively cheap.
   Of course, the expense could be debated. Every audio-systems costs $, and using a smart-phone as a personal stereo may be as much as 50-100 bucks a month, costing possibly $1000-$2000 over the course of a two year contract before it becomes 'obsolete' and/or must be replaced, depending on the contract. At the same time a decent turntable/amp/speaker combo is a one-time cost of about $200-$500 dollars and will likely last ten years or more, with proper care. 
   But we're not here to debate the cost, we're here to try to solve the problem, and with some good advice, a bit of knowledge and some helpful friends, anyone can get around this little snag and set themselves up with some decent equipment at a reasonable price, but not everyone wants to bother. A young person usually feels he or she either has to get another job or pester the parents to get some of that good vinyl-action. If you are born post-1994, don't tell the parentals you want a Crosley for your birthday, and don't nag the nuturers for a good turntable until after you read the next section.
    So the first part of the real answer to this problem is that those of us who are older and/or more knowledgeable about analog equipment have to make ourselves available and be generous with our time and help and perhaps even with our equipment, vinyls and a bit of money. The truth is that, among the older generation, almost all of us have 'been there' and either relied on helpful friends or convenient garage sales to set up our own system or fill out our album and/or music collections. Parents have to let the kids use the big-kids stereo in the living room, while at the same time keeping an eye out for something within the teenager's budget. In this modern and interconnected world, there is no reason for a younger generation to learn everything the hard way and figure out everything for themselves at every step along the way. There are plenty of people who have set themselves up with a 'cool system on the cheap' and they did it two or five or ten or even twenty years ago, and if you ask most of them, they would probably know how to go about doing the same thing again today. If you meet such a person, ask him/her how they did it. And if you are a person who managed to set yourself up with a cool system without spending too much $, then TELL PEOPLE HOW YOU DID IT and what to look for! Use your blog, your YouTube channel, your Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest, etc. to contribute to the knowledge base that anyone can draw from. WalMart and Sears and those huge retailers are selling junk equipment because they are betting on people's general lack of knowledge, so fight back by arming people with the information they need! --> Just as a side note: Anyone buying a new system on a tight budget would do far better if they kicked the sub-woofer out of the mix and put that money towards better quality speakers. Sub-woofers seem to be incredibly good at one thing: and that's annoying your neighbours. They are not necessary for good music and they won't make a crappy system sound better. Sub-woofers are designed for movie sound-effects anyway, usually mimicking the earth-shaking properties of gun-shots and explosions in special-effects blockbuster movies. Essentially, the sub-woofer can wait, the best value for your money is to get a pair of good left-right speakers first.
    The second part of the solution is that vintage is not only cool, hip and nostalgic, it also can be good, high quality and usually easier to repair than to buy new. Working-condition vintage amplifiers and audio systems still have a decent resale value because everyone knows that they are relatively easy to repair and good quality. The 'cycle of life' is constantly happening, and our elders often have stuff that they leave behind as they pass into the next existence and some of us are down-sizing our lives by choice. Garage Sales, Friends, neighbours, Uncles and Aunts and local charities will often give away or trade vinyl, and garage sales often have perfectly good old equipment that can either be re-used or re-furbished without too high of a cost. People have to stop putting the pressure on buying things new and/or expensive and give more credit to resourcefulness and ingenuity. Hand-me down speakers can be good! Rummage stores and Thrift stores can be picked over for quality vintage amps, speakers and turntables! The Salvation Army is cool! Or just take your time and wait until you find something good within your price range. There's no reason to rush out and spend all your money. Getting into vinyl shouldn't be all about spending money and becoming yet another super-consumer. It should be about appreciating music and preserving technology that is low-cost but high-quality. (We won't discuss tube vs transistor vs IC-chip amps because the point of this part of the blog is to get the best quality you can for the most affordable price, not to turn a blind eye to perfectly good equipment.)


    The 3rd and last part of the solution is, of course, VINYL PORN! If you're saving your money, then keep saving! Generous and outgoing people are always uploading videos of their favourite vinyls spinning on their turntables because they want to share with you! Real collectors don't collect vinyl just for themselves,  they want to share their music with their friends and invite them over to listen to a new album and have a coffee and talk about this new artist. And now those same people make and publish videos to share with the public. Besides, how could you know what you like unless you see/spin/hear a few records? Even if you only connect with analog formats and vinyl on an Internet level, you probably have noticed a difference, and it costs only whatever your Internet connection costs. The spinning of the disc and the music playing is only a simulation of the real thing, but evokes something resembling the feeling of having an old-fashioned real fireplace in your house--on the television or a computer monitor. The sound of the vinyl singing away makes you feel safe and warm. And though we call it Porn, we all really know that it's nothing to be ashamed of. You're just craving some warm, affectionate vinyl tones. And the best part about vinyl porn is that you can also look up videos that give helpful hints as to how to put together and set-up your system.

1000s of Songs
We've all heard it before. Albums are flat, but large, and if you plan to carry more than fifteen of them, they start to get very heavy. Even if you take ten of them over to your friends' house, you always wish you took that other one with the song about that chick with car and the party and the dance-thing with the booty and the...you know.
     When it comes to the numbers of songs, it doesn't seem to make much of a difference anymore. We are long gone from the days of going to the nearby diner or burger-joint to hear the juke-box, and almost everyone who ever bought a portable player of some kind probably figured out, even before purchase, that, in order to get all that music to carry with them, they were giving up some kind of quality. So we get to carry around thousands of songs anywhere with us, wherever we go. So what? How much music are you really going to listen to in an afternoon anyway? 500 songs? not likely. The truth is that above a certain amount, perhaps a hundred songs, no one really cares anymore. And no one really wants to look through your mp3 collection, even if it is very well-maintained. And if you have all those songs, you'll probably just put your portable player on random and let the music play in the background anyway.
      The truth is that those who have returned to analog formats are not so much interested in the quantity and how many songs they get with each album they buy. They are probably much more likely to be interested in the artistry, quality and the music of that particular artist or band. People choose vinyl and analog formats for a different experience with their music, one that focuses on one album or one artist, or even one song, not a plethora of hits that can be 'shuffled' or flipped through quickly by pressing a button or swiping a screen. And it's also a matter of what is considered to be the 'album format', a collection of 8 to 12 songs by a single artist or group or band. People are choosing vinyls to choose to spend 40 - 60 minutes, most likely at home, with this little 'work of art' and sometimes that can be really great. So it's true that everyone knows mp3s and digital music is more portable, but that isn't really the point, nor is it necessarily what people want. Quantity is not the same as quality, and not everyone need a thousand songs for a long road trip.
   Anyway, so you take the five or ten albums that you want to take instead of the whole library, and you go to your friend's place  and have a wobbly pop or maybe just some coffee while listening to tunes. You start with Pink Floyd, call over some friends while listening to the Ramones. Get up and dancing with Chic and Daft Punk. Then, after you're warmed up, you take out the double-turntables, with Barry White's greatest hits on one side, and scratch with some Radiohead on the other and spin that dollar-store disco-ball and sing... Can't get enuff of yo' love baby! Just don't pass drinks over the turntables.


What's Truly Analog? And Digital can be Warmer?
The resurgence of vinyl has created two problems. One problem is that a bunch of new vinyl is on the market which is not entirely Analog at all. Some re-issues of classic albums are basically old CD-quality digital copies that have been transferred to vinyl: A process that would seem to basically entrench all the problems of both formats, while losing all the benefits of either. This has happened, apparently, because the people who re-issue some 'classic' albums don't actually have access to the master tapes that would make a high-quality analog pressing possible. In other cases, rather than going back to the original analog tapes, digital sources are used to save time, money and production costs. Unfortunately, the burden of figuring out which are 'real' re-issues and which aren't is placed on the consumer. Basically, if that 'classic album re-issue' doesn't claim 'Direct From Analog Masters', then it basically isn't analog except for the last rendering on vinyl. So if you're new to vinyls, and you want to buy 'new vinyl', for the true Analog experience, you can start with Jack White's album Lazaretto, which proudly advertises that it is recorded directly from Analog Master Tapes to Vinyl with no compression whatsoever.
   The second problem is that many new releases are also strange hybrids of analog and digital, usually coming from a digital studio that has a recording capability with a higher degree of audio 'resolution' or higher sampling-rate than is capable from CD, DVD, mp3 and most home digital equipment.(Check the section on Sampling Rates above) Of course, this 'higher resolution digital' is, ironically, captured and rendered onto an analog vinyl disc without compression, but strangely leaves the digital customer with a CD-player, playing a lower-res or compressed version of their favourite tune even though it was recorded in digital and he or she is a Digital fan/customer. Since the resurgence of vinyl, this is actually a regular occurrence, because most professional recording studios do not always have the option of using Analog tapes to record masters, but do have access to hi-res 24bit/96kHz and higher resolution than any CD standard can provide. And this leads to a strange situation where neither customer is getting what they want or intend to purchase, while at the same time giving the higher quality to the customer that is the supporter of another format and supposedly lower technology. The Analog fan gets a high-res digital copy pressed to a vinyl disc without compression, while the digital customer, invariably, is forced to listen to a compressed and lower quality version of a 100%digitally produced album. Unless the digital fan specifically purchases some uncompressed version, downloads an appropriate software and/or upgrades the sound-board on their computer or laptop to handle such new information, then much of this so-called 'high resolution' digital is actually not available to them. All of this seems a bit expensive and unnecessary but is apparently still cost-effective when compared to going back to 100% analog. The Jimmy Page-Approved Led Zeppelin re-masters (which is hi-res 24bit/96kHz digital to Analog with no compression other than the obvious digital conversion) transferred to Vinyl, seems to have allowed much of this sort of hybrid to appear on the market in vinyl form, almost as a way of bypassing the audio limitations of CDs and the standard CD compression involved in making such a disc.
    And It appears that all this talk of vinyl having a 'warmer' sound seems to have sunk in. (Although there's still a few chumps who will tell you put on a sweater to get that warm feeling.) 'Warm' may not the best word to describe audio, but most average listeners seem to agree on this one description. CDs are harsher, vinyl 'warmer' so much so that commercial enterprises have built and sold many types of 'filters' both software and hardware to emulate this 'warmness' that everyone has been talking about. Some people have gone so far as to buy very expensive tube amplifiers, hoping to re-discover their CD collections or have a renewed interest in them, because they now sound more like vinyl! This sort of thing makes people wonder why anyone switched to CDs in the first place, and we @VeryUs Mumblings do not endorse any of it. We have no desire to create a new market for products that may or may not do any good and could quite possibly be absolute rip-offs. If you're not pleased with your current digital sound, then don't buy a CD-warmer or anything that claims to 'warm-up' your sound! Get into actual vinyl, or get into VINYL PORN which simulates the warm sound of analog sources and allows you the ability to take your time in deciding what to buy or save your money.

Don't Dismiss Complaints/Concerns so Easily

 The reason that people are still having this debate is because vinyl was supposed to have died in the late 1980s or early 90s. But it didn't, and instead, people have started-up their old turntables and found that, with a few adjustments, a new needle, or some replacement parts, they still sound really good. So good, in fact, that some analog-lovers would gladly take the challenge and throw down against the best that digital can offer. Vinyl is far from dead and analog audio technology is surprisingly not only still around, but has gained a renewed interest. And if it's good enough to compete with modern systems, then there's a reason this technology is still around and enjoyed by so many.
    We will not go into the nostalgia debate. There is certainly an element of nostalgia with vinyl, analog tapes and equipment and especially classic album covers and their artwork. But that talk has already happened by now, and seems to have reached a dead end. Suffice it to say that nostalgia for albums is not enough to renew interest on the level and scale that it has for the last ten years or more. Nostalgia is part of it, but not all.
  To our knowledge, no one has done a definitive study of analog vs digital. And any and all 'blind hearing contests', so far, have come out as near 50% as can be. This means that, in best on best scenario, the average person can't tell the difference. So, in fact, a gramophone, a technology that is over a hundred years old, invented by Thomas Edison himself has gone up against the best that modern science can offer and tied. This, from the analog viewpoint, FEELS LIKE A WIN! At the very least, it feels like the Analog side has done more than just proven its point, and is no longer being dismissed as nonsense or nostalgia.
    However, there are other reasons to go back to the old tech that has worked so well for a hundred years, not the least of which is the constant changes in format and obsolescence of so many other technologies that have happened in the interim. Sony and VHS tapes, old iphones and cell phones have come and gone. The first and 2nd generation mp3-players which contained actual hard-drives are viewed as bulky ancient relics now, and even CDs might see the end of their existence soon. Perhaps this renewed interest in vinyls, tapes and analog source material is partly a reaction to this constant churn-out of stuff that seems bound for the junk bin, and some people are simply saying: 'Hey, man, why should I spend so much money on new stuff, when some of this old stuff is still pretty damn good.' If consumers are going back to vinyl, it's partly because vinyl sounds 'warmer' or even better... but there might be another reason, and that's because the 'modern replacement' isn't really that great.
       Digital Recording and especially digital-compression has had an effect on music and the experience of listening in a way that it probably didn't intend, but has left many music fans wanting more than their digital sound-systems can deliver. Instead of addressing concerns of music fans, many digital proponents simply dismiss concerns and tell people that they are 'hearing things' or that the perceived problems are merely figments of imagination that cannot be quantified. Well... perhaps some people are a little sick and tired of being told that there is something wrong with their ears and have defied the newest technology out of spite. However; the truth is that many of these concerns can be measured and accounted for and perhaps its the overall industry that simply isn't listening. There are many problems with Analog and Vinyl, not the least of which is the cost of new equipment and new vinyls, not to mention the lack of analog-based Research & Development since the 1970s. But taken in context, digital technology also has a long list of problems, screw-ups, break-downs, not the least of which is the seemingly inevitable and final CRASH that comes to all digital technology, no matter how long they might last. Digital might seem to be lower maintenance in the short-term, but hard-drives break-down and seize, sometimes after only a year. Usb-port memory tabs often fail after only a couple of years of use. We all have to wonder if plug and play really is cheaper and more convienient, and with every day that goes by, it seems these problems are getting worse. The makers of such digital tech seem to be doing little or nothing to address these issues except to put out another 'new version' that seems bound for the junk bin in a year or two. It is consumerism at its most rampant, throwing expensive and labour-intensive technology into obsolescence in only a short time.
       And yet, the consumer is not being listened to or even appeased. Although there is obviously a desire for a 'warmer' more analog sound and many people are looking for that and willing to pay for it (see Digital Warmer above), there doesn't seem to be any commercial desire to satisfy this need other than selling yet another little black-plastic box with a tube in it, or other such patch-up technology that may or may not work. All of this seems to be a modern 'snake oil', closer to rip-off than real tech. And perhaps the desire for something tangible, something analog, something repairable and a different listening experience is partly a reaction and/or dissatisfaction with digital music products and a simple failure to address customer concerns. Time after time, another hi-tech digital consumer-products fails to deliver quality music capability and leaves customers frustrated. To put it simply: There are many reasons to go Analog, and there seems to be a few more reasons cropping up on the horizon every day.

  We @Very Us Mumblings have obviously taken our position in favour of vinyl and analog, but we all have very much enjoyed this debate, when it is constructive and the comments are genuine. Certainly everyone must make their own choice, hopefully not because of an angry debate online, or blind consumerism, or a load of advertising or hype one way or the other. Hopefully people are choosing based on their own ears, quality and value for their money, and what is better suited to themselves and their lives, and that has to be respected.

And, Finally:
Now that vinyl and analog formats have come back to a level where they are taken more seriously, every fan and every genre of music seems to have claimed responsibility for this revival. Currently undergoing chart-topping success, thanks to a few really big re-issues; 'Classic Rock' fans and those classic album covers claim to have boosted the vinyl revival, while 'Hipsters' and Alternative fans claimed vinyl as their own by digging out those rare vinyls from the late-80s and early 90s, then it was the millennial generation re-discovering their parents' collection, and so was electronica, dance and hip-hop and even the whole profession of DJ-ing that claimed this as their own. But the truth is that every music fan of every genre has helped get vinyl back into the forefront of music once again. In fact, this difference in analog vs digital has not only created a debate, it has created music fans across several different genres of music.
Whew! This blog entry was a big one! So... Very Us Mumblings is taking a hiatus for a month or so. See you later and keep spinning....or check out our previous Vinyl Porn blogs:

Vinyl Porn 1:Get your Groove-On with Vinyl You Don't Have!

Vinyl Porn 2:Some Suggestions for your Virtual Vinyl Collection

Vinyl Porn 3: The Vinyl Resurgence Marches On!