Vinyl, CD or MP3? Digital or book?

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I have every format of music with thousands of vinyl albums, CDs and gigabytes of electronic music. I have a whole library of books and a stuffed kindle.

So what do I prefer?

I prefer books and vinyl.

As a reading experience the kindle is fine. As a playing experience I am quite happy with CDs and even MP3s.

But there is nothing that can compare with holding a tangible work of art in your hand. A vinyl album is a work of art. The cover is designed to be that size. The writing on the sleeve notes is easily legible. I relish coming home with a new possession. Taking the album out and carefully putting it on the turntable, then reading the liner notes and studying the cover while it plays. It is substantial. It has weight. There is a reverence to the ritual of playing it. It adds gravity to the experience.

An MP3 has no substance. It is disposable. It devalues the art.

A CD is soulless. I want something that has an intrinsic worth.

It is the same with a book. A shelf of books is satisfying in a way that a full kindle is not. The covers are interesting. The feel, smell and weight is substantial.

Books and vinyl are forever in a way that digital cannot possibly be.

23 thoughts on “Vinyl, CD or MP3? Digital or book?

  1. Album artwork was very much a secondary thought and nothing to do with the technical reasons why a vinyl record was 12″ in diameter in the first place. In truth it’s merely just a lucky coincidence. Some record labels were good at it, most weren’t as it cost money and reduced profits. Hence, why a good cover stands out in the crowd.
    You also need to have very good equipment to get your monies worth out of the vinyl.
    My replacement stylus now costs just under £400 and lasts me about a year. All the balancing and weight alignment for the tone-arm requires a certain amount of knowledge and certainly not the world of the average listener. Gone are the days of the fully automatic Dansette.
    There’s also nothing worse than a worn out or damaged record. Buying second hand is a risky lucky dip and if a record seems like a good value buy, there’s usually a reason for it – it’s past it.

    I have to somewhat disagree with your views on CD. The vast majority of people who listen to music on CD have really terrible CD players with very basic reading components, those that are included in computers (it doesn’t get worse) or bought as hi-fi separates for under £200 – there’s nothing ‘hi-fi’ about them. Or have a player that may have been quite expensive when bought but is now years old and well out of date with technical capability.
    They have never actually heard the full content of their CDs.
    The mastering sound of today’s CDs is phenomenal with clarity, depth and channel separation way ahead of what any vinyl record can produce, no matter how good the turntable system is.
    The cheapest and most effective method for those on a budget is to wire their Blu-ray DVD player directly into their amplifier and play from there. Throw away the cheap rubbish RCA cables that came in the box (which most people use) and buy something with far superior signal path.
    You only need to buy them once and even a moderate £50 spend will ensure much better results.

    MP3s are crap. Just too awful sounding for me and very much a last resort. Played through a decent system they sound like a wall of noise, all the quiet bits as loud as the loud bits.
    Great for children as they can’t damage them with rough handling!
    As for all this Sonar MP3 type stuff that people spend way too much money on – it’s rubbish and nothing more than an expensive toy and sounds absolutely terrible to my ears. But they don’t realise this because it’s the best thing they ever heard.

    • I love music whatever the format but after fifty odd years of blasting my eardrums I think my ears aren’t what they used to be.
      The vinyl album is not just about musical quality – it’s an entity – a work of art to cherish.

  2. I love thick hardcover books with distinctive artwork! I do not like Kindle, never could read a book on Kindle, not yet anyway. ( But I see how it would be convenient for travel…) We always loved the artwork of vinyl albums. We even have some of them framed and hung on the wall. However, I admit I am now more of a CD person, just for the space it saves, cost and durability. I think the best thing is we get to choose. I know young people who vastly prefer vinyl!

    • I quite like reading on Kindle, and, as you say, it is excellent for travel, but there is something about holding a book and seeing an array of books on a shelf that I find extremely satisfying.
      Vinyl albums are the same. They have a presence that CDs do not possess.

      • I love CD box-sets. I now have access to music that previously was unreleased and unobtainable and the presentation is often bigger format and better. But they still lack the physical beauty of a vinyl record. I’m not sure how much of that is nostalgia but it is not quite something to be lovingly cherished for me.

      • I spent a while surrounded by 20,000 records and the novelty wears off just a bit!
        The shop stuffed to the rafters, was featured in the opening scenes of the BBC4 documentary on the vinyl album.

      • I know what you mean. Sometimes the quantity overwhelms the personal association with albums. But it is great going through a collection and reacquainting yourself with old favourites. Many albums are attached to memories of people, places, gigs and situations that have a great value. Holding them and looking at them is very satisfying.

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