Last summer, I bought a record player from Newbury Comics. Since then, I have become a thousand times more pretentious than I already was. “Oh, you like A Tribe Called Quest? That’s cute. I have their anthology…on vinyl.” I’m aware of how much of a condescending hipster I am when I talk about my record collection. However, if you’re into music, there are tons of reasons to invest in a record player and help revive a failing industry!
Nobody listens to vinyl records anymore, save for a handful of pretentious hipsters (like myself) nostalgic parents. There are valid reasons for this: They’re old-fashioned, expensive and take up space. It’s much easier to blast a Spotify playlist than it is to handle the technicalities of a record player. You can’t play records in your car, plus it’s such a huge amount of effort to get up and flip an LP to side B. Vinyl has trouble fitting into our Internet Age, but records have changed the way I listen to music.
The most popular claim among vinylphiles (it rhymes!) is that things just sound better…on vinyl. It’s spoken in the same fashion a bearded millennial might speak about a microbrew. While I believe that the sound quality of records exceeds that of an mp3, it’s hard for me to distinguish the difference on my $70 record player with built-in speakers (it’s great for the dorm!). The main reason I love my Records is because it’s forced me to appreciate music. There’s no skipping to the most popular track on an album, or only buying the catchiest song. On a record player, you need to appreciate the whole album, in order, as the artist intended it to be. I never realized how whole albums can be more than the sum of their tracklists until I listened to Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” in full. The songs are good individually, but listening to each track one after the other created a much bigger story. There’s a difference between a collection of good songs and a good album–as pompous as that sounds, it’s something that listening to records will force you to realize.
There’s something to be said about the physicality of music. MP3s have stripped us of our ability to have a collection of music–a real collection of squares you can stack up in your room to let everyone know how awesome your music taste is. Yes, you can see what your friends are listening to by connecting Spotify to Facebook, but if you have a favorite album, you should be able to hold it in your hands. It’s art, just like a painting or your favorite movie. Having the album artwork, lyrics sheet, and vinyl right in front of you is a feeling incomparable to staring at a thumbnail on your computer screen. There’s nothing cooler than being able to show off one of your favorite things!
Finally, vinyl is expensive. This is a downside to collecting records, but I think of it as a benefit. When contemporary albums cost $20+, you only buy things you really love. Your music collection is about quality, not quantity, so buying an expensive record makes you think about how much it really means to you. If it’s an important album, it will be worth so much more than it costs.
So, yes, getting guide to find the best record player and buying a cheap record player has made me way snobbier than I should be. But records are more accessible, and way more valuable, than the current state of music would have you think. If you have a few favorite albums, I encourage you to invest in a record player and listen to them on vinyl. It will do so much more than just turn your dorm into a smaller Urban Outfitters.