OK, perhaps I didn’t mean your vinyl purist claptrap. More like, the vinyl purist claptrap of various people out there on the internet who do not read my blog, but will now hopefully stumble across it via a search engine and be extremely offended.
Here’s why your/their/somebody’s vinyl purist claptrap is a bunch of argle bargle. I’m taking it point by point – all the usual pro-LP arguments, broken down for your easy digestion:
1. Sound quality is so much better.
No, it’s not. (This is the kind of simple response you get when you make a really simple statement. See how unsatisfying it is? Here, I’ll do your work for you.)
1. rephrased: Vinyl has such a nice, warm, analog sound. Digital is so COLD.
Response: That warmth you hear in a record is the sound of compromise. You don’t realize it, but they actually didn’t invent record players with the intent of warming everything up like a nice bowl of Chunky Soup. That’s just the technology compromising the raw sound. (Same thing with tube amps, you guitar purists out there. By the way, I actually agree with you guys: tubes ARE better.) For an interesting discussion of what comprises “warmth,” check this out. You’ll notice that most of what they’re talking about is stuff that is actually altering the original sound output in some way: overdrive, addition of noise, emphasis of certain harmonic frequences to the detriment of others, etc. But you know what? If you like that, you can artificially emulate it. It’s not that hard if you know what you’re doing and have a little money to spend.
2. But digital sound has gaps between the samples! That’s bad! I can totally hear it and everything.
Response: No you can’t. Don’t be ridiculous. What you are saying you can do is beyond the capability of human hearing. You remind me of those people who say they can tell the difference between mp3s encoded at 320 kbps and 256 kbps: those people, and you, are lying. This is just a music snob arms race that was initiated by scientists letting us in on the secrets of what drives this technology. If the general public didn’t know, you’d never hear one moron out there talking about how he can hear gaps in a sound that is running forty-four thousand samples per second in each stereo channel.
3. But it sounds better!
Response: This is a fake non-argument thrown in just so I can score another cheap point on you vinylheads. Why are you unwilling to discuss the major setback of records, which is that even when brand new and played on a pristine, state-of-the-art system, they crackle noticeably? When you talk about this at all, you write it off as not that intrusive, or even (at your most delusional) charming. What it actually is, is sound that gets in the way of the music, and it’s only somewhat less annoying than that unmissed relic of the 80s, tape hiss. A little crackle is tolerable (especially when listening to loud music, as this FBI agent often does out in the field), but throw in some snaps and pops, and you’ll see me reaching for my computer to bring up Amazon.com and order a shiny new CD to replace the offending vinyl.
4. You’re missing out on the best part of music listening: the ritual of inconvenience! Taking out the record and gingerly laying it on that rubber mat while being careful not to bend or leave fingerprints on the sleeve is part of the experience. It makes music-listening meaningful!
Response: I see. Actually, I agree with you. Here are the other things in life that would benefit from being less convenient and more ritualistic:
~ Going places. Why do we bother with cars and roads? We should walk, or use sled dogs. Going to work meant more when it took two hours each way.
~ Talking to people. Throw out that cell phone, unplug that land line – if we want to communicate, from now on we should have to be face to face. Or write a letter, which will be delivered only by a courier on a horse. Now that’s inconvenient! That will make us appreciate the ritual of communication!
~ Eating. Shut down the restaurants, close the grocery stores, and turn off that fridge. From now on it’s all farms, gardens, firepits, and butter churns! If I can’t make it myself in a period of no less than one growing season plus several days of back-breaking labor, I don’t want to eat it.
…End sarcasm. As you can see, I have little tolerance for this line of reasoning. If you like inconvenient rituals that’s fine, but let’s not pretend society is somehow worse because advances in technology make certain tasks take half as much time or less. We are not Amish. (Well, you may be, but I am emphatically not.)
Just for the hell of it: the other side. My favorite bit is “This means that, by definition, a digital recording is not capturing the complete sound wave.” (Of course, what’s true by definition is not necessarily true in your ears.)
That’s all I got. Have a fine weekend, Diane.