Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vinyl vs. CD

I recently found this article here: thought I would share it. It brings up many valid points, and I can agree with most. Someone asked me what I had for a 'sound system'. Not being an expert, I say that I have some great sounding speakers (I have no idea what kind they are, I inheirited when a friend passed away) and a mix and match receiver, CD player and I have recently purchased a new turntable (from my turntable store). But the main point here is that it all sounds good to me. And I tell people who ask me, "what is best?", I tell them it doesn't matter, it could be a 40 year-old suitcase model that you got from your grandmother or a $20,000 stereo system- if it sounds good to you-and you enjoy the music- well that's all that matters. You see, music is to be enjoyed, no matter what kind of stereo that you have. Now, I may ruffle a few feathers here with folks you have high end systems, but I love what I have and enjoy every minute of the music I play. And, it is always about the music- hail Vinyl!

Vinyl Vs. CD

Music purists and audiophiles claim that vinyl sounds far better than CD. Others claim that CDs are far cleaner than vinyl and avoid the annoyance of pops and unavoidable skips. Recently, Rolling Stone had an article that discussed the return of vinyl as well as asking master engineers which sounds better. It is interesting to note that Neilsen Soundscan have reported that in 2007 nearly one million new vinyl records were purchased, and that by the end of 2008, it could be around 1.6 million, nearly doubling the amount of vinyl sold in 2006. CD sales continue to drop as online downloading (both legal and illegal) progressively and almost aggressively becomes more popular.

So, is vinyl on its way back in? Among two small crowds, yes, it will maintain its power, and probably among the masses it may become a fad amongst "cool" kids. As for making a full-fledged comeback, it's not likely. Vinyl can cost nearly twice as much (or more) as a new CD. It's more expensive to make and is more expensive to ship, not to mention the labor is more difficult, resulting in hiked prices. Now, CDs don't need to be nearly as expensive as they are, as the production and shipping are far, far less than that of vinyl (and relatively cheap anyway, as a CD is estimated to cost about $2 US). In that sense, the music industry is screwing itself when it asks for $14 to $16 for a new album. The two pockets that are genuinely interested in vinyl are the older crowd, generally baby boomers who hold vinyl with nostalgia. The other are younger, mainly high school through college who listen to a good deal of music and enjoy sharing it with their friends. Album art and detailed liner notes interest them and add to the experience.

In hindsight, it's almost pointless to discuss whether CD sales will ever pick back up or if vinyl will ever surpass CDs as the second most popular medium (over downloads). What is worth discussing is the quality of each medium, and if one is truly better than the other.

Rolling Stone asked Bob Ludwig about three recent albums, concerned about which format was superior. The albums were Evil Urges by My Morning Jacket, Beggars Banquet (reissue) by the Rolling Stones, and Magic by Bruce Springsteen. Ludwig recommended vinyl for Evil Urges and Beggars Banquet, but went with CD for Magic. But only one one did he comment about the quality of the sound system, and that was for Magic. He said of it, "... On a really good sound system, it sounds a little bit warmer on vinyl."

I think that is the main thing that should be considered on the debate of vinyl vs. CD. How good is your sound system? I personally have a fairly mediocre system. My father picked up the equipment at a garage sale for $25, it included all Kenwood products; tuner, amp, pre-amp, and CD player. Before I moved into my apartment I snatched some of his old equipment, a Kenwood cassette player and surround sound setup. I have a turntable as well, an old Dual 1229. My speakers are two old KLH speakers, I do not know what model they are. In that respect, my system - depending on medium and quality of the release - can only sometimes audibly display one version as superior to the other.

I own somewhere between 150 and 200 albums, of which over 100 are CDs, the remaining being vinyl. This is another thing to take into account; the quality of the originals. Think about it this way, in 1967 the album Vanilla Fudge was released by Atco Records. I own both vinyl and CD. The original pressing from 1967 (or subsequent years, it is definitely very old) is in remarkably good condition considering its age. However, it seems to be slightly muffled and doesn't sound quite as good as the CD. One of the band's following albums, Near the Beginning, sounds even worse on vinyl. Yet, my Led Zeppelin records sound just as good as any CD of theirs that I have. My point being that the quality of the recording may vary from band to band based on the popularity of the band and quality of producers and engineers. Likewise, early CDs suffer the same problem. Take Slowhand by Eric Clapton. I own a CD from pressed in 1994, and compared to vinyl it sounds like a tinny FM rendition.

Finally, how much money do you have to spend and what do you want out of it? For those who want a complete musical experience, both audibly and visually, vinyl takes it, hands down. The sound of new 180 gram vinyl is just as good or better than a CD, and the gatefold albums with blown-up album art and liner note inserts make the experience all the more enjoyable. Plus, many modern artists include free online downloads so you can have the music on your iPod. For those who want a tangible copy for home entertainment or for the car, CD is the way to go. It is fairly cheaper than vinyl and can be burned to computers and therefore to iPods. Tracks can be mixed to make playlists, etc. For those who just want an album on their iPod or only a few tracks off an album, downloading from the iTunes store is the road to take. It's even cheaper than a CD and you get exactly the tracks you want.

It basically comes down to a few factors. 1) The quality of your sound system. The better it is, the better you'll be able to differentiate superior formats. 2) The quality of the format (vinyl or CD). Early CDs tend to sound very bad compared to remasters in the late 1990's to the present. Equally, old vinyl - especially those that have been passed down or bought in record stores - aren't always quality, as they can be over forty years old with unknown amounts of plays. 3) What do you want to get out of it? For an experience that can be shared with friends, vinyl is it. For the sake of having it, CD. Only need a few tracks? Download off of iTunes.

Not everyone is an audiophile, so the eternal debate is useless for most of us. What people need to think about is what they want, as that greatly dominates what they should purchase. Downloading music illegally is, well, illegal. While artists do make money off of tours, many need to prove to their labels (either major or independent) that they're worth keeping. Unfortunately, the artist doesn't see much money from a CD sale. I won't condone or condemn illegal downloading, but think about it this way; using torrents for getting albums and then putting them on your iPod is the equivalent to walking into a Best Buy and grabbing Highway 61 Revisited and then strolling out.

Is there a verdict in all this? What format is better? For me, I have begun to get back into vinyl. I prefer the experience, and since most new vinyl includes a free and legal download, I don't mind shelling out a few extra bucks. Does it sound better? Depends on my state of mind if you catch my drift, but that's not always what it's about. I enjoy listening to music with friends much more than walking around with headphone in my ears.

References: Rolling Stone - Vinyl Returns in the Age of MP3

Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at Gigwise's most controversial, weird, best and worst album covers as compiled by their staff. Some I agree with, some would rate a bit different, but everyone has their own opinion.


45. Roxy Music: ‘Country Life’ – The cover features two scantily-clad models, Constanze Karoli (reportedly the sister of Can's Michael Karoli) and Eveline Grunwald. Bryan Ferry met them in Portugal and persuaded them to do the photo shoot as well as to help him with the words to the song "Bitter-Sweet". Although not credited for their photos they are credited on the lyric sheet for their German translation work.

Roxy Music is an English art rock group founded in the early 1970s by art school graduate Bryan Ferry (vocals and keyboards). The other members are Phil Manzanera (guitars), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe) and Paul Thompson (drums and percussion). Former members include Brian Eno (synthesizer and "treatments"), and Eno's replacement Eddie Jobson (synthesizer and violin). Extant from 1971 through 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and have announced that they are recording a new album for a yet-to-be-confirmed release date.

The cover image was considered controversial in some countries such as the United States, Spain, and The Netherlands, where it was censored for release. As a result, a later American LP release of Country Life featured a different cover shot. Instead of Karoli and Grunwald posed in front of some trees, the revised cover featured only the trees. Author Michael Ochs has described the result as the "most complete cover-up in rock history".



The Cranberries: 'Bury The Hatchet' Bury the Hatchet was the fourth album by The Cranberries, released in 1999. In the US, the album has sold 377,000 copies as of April 2007.

It's the first album released by the band after their (first) hiatus which started back in 1996. Dolores had taken that time to heal from stress-induced diseases, and also had her first child, Taylor, during this period. This last fact reflected on some of the tracks in the album, mainly on "Animal Instinct" and "You and Me". The sound of the band had matured. It wasn't the melancholic and nostalgic feel of their first two albums, and it steered far apart of the anger shown in To the Faithful Departed. The themes of the songs vary, from maternity and children, to divorce and child abuse. The cover, although controversial, is a great glimpse at many phobias and the fact that you are being watched, wherever you are!



Logging in at #45 is Vanilla Ice – ‘To The Extreme’ Released: August 28, 1990
Chart Positions: #1 US, #6 R&B/Hip-Hop
Last RIAA certification: 7x Platinum
Singles: "Ice Ice Baby", "Play That Funky Music", "I Love You"
Not much more has to be said.



45. Kiss: ‘Alive!’ When the album came out, KISS was the band, true rock & roll heaven. Add in the make-up, platform shoes and sheer excess and you have rock & roll in the 70's

Alive! was Kiss' fourth album and is considered their breakthrough, as well as a landmark for live albums. Released on September 10, 1975, the double-disc set contained live versions of selected tracks from their first three studio albums, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, and Dressed to Kill. It peaked at #9 on the album charts. The album charted for 110 weeks, by far the longest in the band's history. In 2003, the album was ranked number 159 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

This Date In Music History- September 14


Born on this day in 1946, Pete Agnew of Nazareth.

Born on this day in 1983, troubled UK singer, songwriter Amy Winehouse.

Free guitarist Paul Kossoff was born in Hempstead, England in 1950.

Joey Heatherton ("Gone") turns 64.

John "Bowser" Bauman (Sha Na Na) was born in 1947.


In 1963, ABC invited Pete Seeger to appear on the network's Hootenanny, hoping the folk icon would break a boycott of the program by fellow folk singers. However, he refused after being asked to sign an oath of loyalty to the U.S. We hope that ABC's policy on musical guests has changed since then.

The late Barry Cowsill of the Cowsills ("Hair") was born in 1954.

In 1968, Roy Orbison's two sons died in a fire at his Hendersonville, Tennessee home while he was performing in England.

What's next for the Who's Pete Townshend in 1968? He tells Rolling Stone today that he's working on a rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy. The pinball bit must have come later.

Also in 1968, The Archies premiered on CBS. Producer Don Kirshner later succeeds on sending the Archies' single "Sugar Sugar" to No. 1 in the US. The following year The Archies started an eight-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Sugar Sugar', becoming the longest running one hit wonder in the UK. Not bad for a group that was a cartoon.

At a Sotheby's auction in 1995, the star lot is Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for "Getting Better." It sold for $249,000.

In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the "Star-Spangled Banner." The song became the official U.S. national anthem on March 3, 1931.

Genesis played their first gig for money in Surrey, England in 1969, at a cottage owned by a Sunday school teacher.

Pink Floyd's movie "The Wall" began production in 1981.

In 1979, the film Quadrophenia was released. Based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera, the film featured Phil Daniels, Toyah Willcox, Ray Winstone, Michael Elphick and Sting.

In 1974, Eric Clapton’s version of the Wailers’ “I Shot the Sheriff,” written by head Wailer Bob Marley, hits #1 and helped generate interest in reggae music.

The Grateful Dead played the first of three shows in the shadow of the Great Pyramid in Giza in 1978. Proceeds go to the Egyptian Department of Antiquities and the Faith & Hope Society for the Handicapped.

In 2007, The Beatles-themed movie musical, Across The Universe, begins a limited theatrical release. Pass. If you like Beatles songs showing up here, there and anywhere in a movie go watch Yellow Submarine again. Besides, Yellow Submarine has a more believable plot. The soundtrack (also out) consists of Beatles covers, including performances by Joe Cocker (who had success singing Beatles songs early in his career) and Bono. The U2 frontman’s take on "I Am The Walrus" is in the film, while his rendition of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is heard during the end credits.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Not Fragile” lands on the album chart in 1974. It eventually tops the survey.

Little Richard recorded his first hit, "Tutti-Frutti" in 1955. His original lyrics were "cleaned up" by a local songwriter.