People have been asking me for years “Why are you still buying vinyl records?” I started collecting vinyl records in my teen years. Mainly, I purchased vinyl for the purposes of having album artwork on a larger scale. I would display them in my bedroom like works of art. But as my appreciation for music grew to a deeper level, I asked my mom to buy me a record player. Let’s just say, when I finally got it… my obsession grew.
Over the years, I have collected vinyl from a plethora of places for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes I purchased for artwork, sometimes for music. Sometimes they came as part of a bundle purchase for a new album release. And sometimes I was just at the half-price book store looking at cheap, used vinyl.
There is something incredibly attractive about a vinyl record. Not only does the music sound better, but vinyl allows for almost all the senses to be involved in your musical experience.
Including the Five Senses
Sound: Vinyl allows for you to hear the music, in my opinion, the way the musician intends for you to hear it. Vinyl doesn’t give you the option to isolate the vocals or turn up the bass. It forces you to listen to all aspects of the music in the same manner. Even the scratching of the needle as you start to play the vinyl becomes a sound that is comforting.
Sight: The visuals that come with a vinyl record are spectacular. Not only do you get to see the artwork on a larger scaled, but the sight of the record spinning is mesmerizing. As the turn table floats and adjusts, you can’t help but watch. Newer artists (and even established artists with rereleases) have started to move away from traditional black albums. Pressing are now done in marble, clear, color… you name it. This just adds to the visual stimulation of the music.
Smell: This may sound odd, but I swear vinyl possesses a very distinct smell. The smell evokes a sensory memory for me. The smell triggers endorphins for me. It can take a horrible day and make it great. (Kinda like when you smell Play-Doh and you’re transported back to kindergarten.)
Touch: There is something uniquely visceral about the tactile side of vinyl. Placing the record on the turn table, placing the arm just right, and flipping the vinyl over–it forces you to interact with the music. Feeling the vinyl between your finger-tips as you remove it from the sleeve creates a somewhat tangible relationship with the music.
Taste: Oddly enough, vinyl records even evoke taste sensory. Certain smells elicit taste senses. Like the aforementioned Play-doh, the smell of vinyl can evoke taste sensations. You can tasted the paper and cardboard used to hold the record. (I’m glad you’re agreeing with me on this one.)
Some of the most intriguing and beautiful art can be found on vinyl records. The detail and color are always so much more vibrant than a CD or even online.
Possessing the vinyl edition of a release allows for the consumer to really scrutinize the art. It also allows for musicians to include hidden details and meanings.
For example, I purchased No Doubt’s Return of Saturn (2000) on vinyl because the album artwork included references to all fourteen tracks. My obsessive-compulsive side became frantic trying to see all the song titles on a larger scale. (Plus the artwork was just pretty cool and they hadn’t released an album in 5 years.)
Ghost’s Meliora (2015) includes an optical allusion. On a larger scale, the cover art includes a detailed depiction of a Papa-esque statue overlooking an urban setting. On a smaller scale, only the visage of a Papa in corpse paint is seen.
My vinyl collection has continued to grow as I discover new artists and new places to shop.