Vinyl is popular again … What should I listen to?

When clients visit us, we often begin our conversation talking about the kind of music they listen to, where they want to listen to music, and if they are interested in listening to vinyl records.

At this point, most people have already decided whether or not they are going to be record collectors. We encourage our clients to learn about and listen to great analog playback systems. A great analog system is the optimal listening reference. However, let’s be honest – not everyone wants to collect, store, clean and take care of records.  It’s certainly a labor of love.

In many ways it’s sensible to build a new system simply with a great amplifier, speakers and DAC (Digital-to-Analog-Converter that can stream from one of the many high-resolution sources available now, or play hard digital files stored on a computer or hard drive). Almost every piece of music you can conceive of is instantly available to listen to at any time for a simple monthly fee.

Many assume that we listen to vinyl records in the store all day since we have many turntables, great systems and a nice record collection. The truth is that we do listen to a lot of records, but we also listen to a digital source. We’re busy working, we explore new music, and it’s convenient.

Sometimes clients tell us that they only want an analog source and don’t care about a digital source. Often, this means that their digital source is sub-par and there is a significant difference in experience between their digital and analog source.   

That’s where our job comes in. We make sure that there isn’t a huge drop-off in quality between analog and digital. Will a great analog source be more pleasing than a great digital source? Personally, I think so, but that’s debatable and everyone has their own preferences. When we correctly match a great digital source to a specific analog source, we avoid the drop-off in quality that clients complain about. Instead, they also enjoy their digital source, listening more often and exploring new and different music. It wasn’t that they didn’t like a digital source – it turned out they didn’t like a bad digital source.

Analog, digital or both? A client’s lifestyle and personal reasons for not wanting to get involved in an analog source, such as vinyl records, are perfectly understandable. I enjoy it because I’m enthusiastic about collecting music and I’m convinced that when an analog source is put together well, nothing sounds better. However, there is no denying the ease, convenience and quality of just using a digital source. It’s certainly a great place to start listening to music better.