LP or not LP that is the Question

“Maybe the decision to replace a turntable is more than simple economics? Maybe it’s more that you have to make a conscious decision to let the past go and it’s that that’s the difficulty? As you have to say to yourself; I will never be able to play that vinyl and thus never immerse myself in the memories again and will I be comfortable in that??”….

When I was 14 I got a turntable (linear tracking too, very fancy at the time!) and over time acquired a sizable collection of LPs, singles, picture disks, 10 inch specials, gate folds and even one vinyl disk in the shape of Australia!

CDs came out and even though they were double the price of an LP album they were, apparently, the purest sound ever! So robust in fact that scratch noises were a thing of the past and hey I could even spread jam on them if I wanted too so how could we all resist?

Whole swathes of Vinyl collections up and down the country became swapped out for their modern counterparts and even though you had to squint to see the album art (as it had been designed to be viewed at 12 inch size after all) nobody seemed to mind.. The CD was here to stay and indeed would last forever (even though I think one guy did prove that this wasn’t the case but not a lot was subsequently said about it, nor indeed about him!). Vinyl disks were retired to the loft, made into ash trays or even thrown out. CDs took up less space, hey easy to wrap when given as presents and eventually could even be played in the car! Previously only Cassette tape was mobile (but hey that format is an altogether different tale)

PCs came along and further digitisation of your tunes (or is that my tunes? There is a trade name in there somewhere) could be done and made into files that could go on matchbox sized players, used initially with transmitters to play on your car radio and even taken along to the baths with you whilst doing your regimented number of lengths. Even more space was saved, album art took a back seat in the car of importance and even though I now find that I can put my music on my phone, the latest software (why do they keep changing it!?)  now means that my album art is a thing of the past (odd as the software worked originally). Hmm

In fact why even bother with owning a file when you can, for a small fee ahem, have access to the whole world of music through the Interweb at the touch of a button and the HTTPS of a secure site along with your long card number?

With today’s vast choice of music streaming, where you can have any tune you like sung by anyone you like why would you even consider a big cumbersome vinyl disk, with the potential of it scratching  and absolutely no way of playing it on the go??

These technological changes were of no real significance to me anyway; As sure as the world spins, I could still spin my LPs. OK so I had the ability to play my music on CD or MP3 but I always had the vinyl option… . or did I?….almost 40 years on from when I first got it, my trusty turntable died…

This caused me a real problem, a dilemma.. Do I just replace it? Is it worth it for a relatively small number of records?

Over time CDs became the new LPs and as costs tumbled they surreptitiously became the new residents of my collection. Also tumbling over recent years was the amount of time I spent playing CDs, never mind the LPs…. I blame age and a liking for the Archers… oh and the fact that the world is so busy now that even changing a CD takes too much time, never mind keeping an eye on an LP!

As a firm believer in buying quality, and hey quality costs, the decision to buy a new turntable therefore should be an simple one. I’m not going to buy something cheap (I’d rather do without generally speaking) so to purchase a new turntable costing potentially hundreds of pounds for a handful of LPs that I hardly play anymore… Well easy call. Add to this the likely fact that I haven’t bought a CD for ages never mind an LP and that even if I was to do so, the actual cost of vinyl, new, is now ironically is around 4 times that of a CD (aint marketing clever!), I’d get the CD.. Surely? Why then am I turmoil over, what should be, an easy decision..

I never forgot the feel, the smell, the look of a Vinyl record (did I mention the artwork? Hard to see embossing on an MP3); And as such, every so often as I say, I dug out the turntable and picked out a few records to play. Sometimes we got to play them when we had visitors round, some of whom had never actually seen vinyl, some didn’t even know what it was.. But all had to admit that when you come across an inscription that had been written on the sleeve at the time of gift (as maybe for a Christmas present) it actually meant something… the fact that that particular record was yours and only yours, given by a certain person at a time.. Well that meant something.. A memory that you perhaps had forgotten or one that you have dearly cherished since.

Maybe then the decision to replace a turntable is more than simple economics? Maybe it’s more that you have to make a conscious decision to let the past go and it’s that that’s the difficulty? As you have to say to yourself; I will never be able to play that vinyl and thus never immerse myself in the memories again and will I be comfortable in that??

Perhaps it’s the very fact that today you are drowning in the choice of music, where you can indeed play any tune you like, that has completely devalued the music (I was going add own but thought better of it) and so as a result don’t bother listening to it at all? Perhaps the very fact that records did change in terms of format making them so easy to play that you actually never bothered with any of the 10,000 MP3s that you converted, downloaded or copied? It’s just the sound after all so as long as it gets into your ears does format really matter anyway…?

Well after long heartfelt deliberation and bank balance checking, decision made, turntable bought, and a couple of new LPs purchased as Valentine’s gifts.. Whether the fact that we now have to clean the record, manually queue up the stylus (and get ready to remove it, and flip it, after only 20 or so minutes of play) will give us not only enjoyment but a driver to play more music and above all a way to make more memories we shall indeed see..

‘I’m just making memories, you’re the best that I’ve had’  Just making Memories – Colin Vearncombe 1962 –2016

I will write again in 6 months with an update…. Perhaps I will be too busy playing records….

1 thought on “LP or not LP that is the Question”

  1. How things have changed a 180gm album costs twice as much as the equivalent CD, but at least most of them give you a digital download code. I started buying vinyl again and moved onto the 180gm versions so I am very choosy what I buy.

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