How does vinyl work and does it even matter today? Well for starters, we have to show some mad respect to the precursor of the audio gears we enjoy today. Without vinyl, there won't be any magnetic cassette tapes, CDs, and even DVDs. As far-fetched as it may seem, there might not even be Spotify or Deezer that we've all come to love, one way or another.
Before we even learned how to become too busy with playing our favorite FPS games be it on our gaming PCs or on our smartphones, our grandparents enjoyed jamming to their favorite artists' tracks on vinyl back in the day.
How does vinyl work, in layman's terms?
Simply put, a machine puts recorded soundwaves into a physical medium, often with grooves where the "sound goes in". A vinyl player's needle then runs across these grooves and magically transforms physical indentations in these physical media into actual understandable sound; mostly music in the case of vinyl records.
Without going too technical, vinyl records can belt out different sound frequencies based on how the sound waves are "stretched out". If they're longer, they'd represent low frequencies. On the other hand, if they're shorter, it means the sounds have high frequencies. That's why vinyl records often come with limited space. Think of it as a really ancient hard drive by today's standards.
So how do these make a vinyl record any better than most of its modern-day counterparts. For one, vinyl is analog. There's no need for any sort of conversion whenever you're about to play a vinyl record and then use your analog speakers for the output. Vinyl records are also uncompressed. Back in the day, compression wasn't a thing since you can't really make analog data redundant to save space.
Let's compare really quick. Modern day audio formats, like MP3, are mostly compressed. They use different algorithms that detect which "layer" of the song is "important". The minor bits just then get axed since conserving storage space is a primary consideration. Nowadays, there are audio file formats that are uncompressed. They're also known as lossless audio for well, obvious reasons. But compared to vinyl, nothing beats analog especially if you're blasting your music through your good-old-reliable speakers.
Is there something else to consider?
Well there are plenty really. Can you put your entire vinyl collection and your player inside your pocket? Can you like bring them over to a friend's LAN party? How about physical storage? Yes, we respect vinyl collectors with high regard but for most people, having 1TB worth of music on your iTunes library is really a "physical space-saver". Don't even get us started on the gears. Owning and maintaining a library of vinyl records is, to say the least, expensive. It's even an understatement when we say you can't really just go around hopping from one record store to another in the hopes of finding your favorite record. Not especially during this time of a pandemic outbreak.
In comparison, building a digital music library is such a breeze. Yes, it's not as good as having the complete discography of The Beatles on vinyl but hey, you get what you pay for.
Please don't get us wrong. Vinyl, despite of its shortcoming is still awesome up to this day. As they say, even if you're not the best, it doesn't mean you can't be awesome. However, awesome is a relative word. And vinyl is like that. Its relevance is still there, but it's not for everyone.