Viva Vinyl!

by Darren DeVivo
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What goes around, comes around. When something goes out of fashion, give it a little time, and it will come back into fashion. Go ahead and apply these clichés to a growing trend catching the attention of music lovers, and therefore the music industry:

Once seemingly dead and buried, the vinyl record is back.

As improbable as it may seem, vinyl, in all its analog glory, is flexing its muscles in this age of the digital download. What's really made this vinyl comeback fascinating is that it arrives as many have come to believe the days of all physical formats are numbered.

Things are looking bleak enough that many music stores, both large chains and independents, have been forced to shut their doors. So, with digital downloading taking control of all music purchases, and music stores going the way of the 8-track tape — how is it possible that vinyl has suddenly come alive?

Hardcore proponents of the LP and 7" single have been saying it for years: Vinyl records just sound better than sterile-sounding CDs or sonically inferior digital downloads. And great care is being taken to improve the listening experience provided by new releases, which are mastered with vinyl reproduction in mind. In many cases, heavier, higher quality audiophile vinyl is used to produce quieter records. Long-time devotees, as well as recent vinyl converts, can enjoy their music on records that sound better than ever.

Then there's the dawn of the "vinyl hipster," the young, modern music fan who started out downloading digital files. Now they see this once-archaic medium as much better than their parents' MP3s.

There really is something special about physically holding a record, putting it on a turntable and placing the tone arm in the grooves. And while enjoying the warmth of vinyl's analog sound — coupled with that strangely appealing backdrop of snaps, pops and surface noise — you can delve into the album's packaging. Being able to connect with an artist through portraits and photographs, to escape into cover artwork, lyrics and liner notes, only enhances the complete vinyl experience.

Helping to raise awareness of the pleasures that vinyl (and physical CDs) can provide, and supporting the dwindling number of record stores, is a yearly, international day set aside to celebrate the art of music: Record Store Day, the third Saturday in April. The concept was founded in 2007 and has grown each year. The sixth is coming up this weekend.

So dig through your record collection or head out to any number of stores that sell "tracks on wax" and re-discover the "art" of listening to vinyl.

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