The world works in mysterious ways. Thirty years ago, the introduction of the compact disc and a consumer push for portability threatened to leave the sale of vinyl records in the dust. By the time Apple introduced the iPod in the early 2000s and an entire artist’s discography could be downloaded in a manner of minutes, it seemed like it was all over for the LP.
Yet against all odds, the wax came back. Since 2012, the dated musical format has enjoyed an unprecedented resurgence within the mainstream, and this year, it looks like the sale of vinyl records will outnumber that of CDs for the first time since 1986.
If you’re like the many other 40 – 50 somethings who grew up listening to LPs, there’s probably a good chance your record collection was either hocked in at the turn of the century for a measly cash sum or is stagnating in a dusty corner of your parents house.
If you’re lucky enough to fall into the latter, there’s never been a better time to join the vinyl revival. With stores like Rockit Record Players around, turntables are cheaper and more accessible than they’ve ever been, and it’s never been easier to purchase, setup and enjoy listening to music on a turntable than it is today.
First of all, you’ll want to check in on those dusty old discs from your adolescence before you throw them on the turntable platter again. As tactile of a material it may be, vinyl is susceptible to damage from stray particles and improper storage, so it’s worth sifting through your collection and treating any worn out LPs with a carbon fibre brush or a record cleaning solution.
Record cleaning kits are readily available both online and instore, and if you’re ever unsure of what to do, most record stores will happily clean them for you. This might also be the perfect time to suss out any new releases you might want to add to your soon-to-bloom collection, or even consider your storage options.
Next up comes the fun part: purchasing a new record player. Unlike the days of old, you no longer need to buy a turntable, amplifier and speakers separately and spend hours fiddling with frequencies to enjoy listening to your favourite records.
Most entry level turntables are factory fitted with a phono preamp and inbuilt speakers for an all-in-one listening experience, and many offer convenient features that just make listening to music all the more fun.
Most turntables now allow for USB connectivity to let you digitally transfer your record collection over to your computer, and newer turntables from Crosley and MBeat even feature Bluetooth integration, allowing you link your record player up to wireless speakers or your smartphone or tablet.
It’s these creature comforts which have helped records defy the odds and thrive alongside the convenience of modern music streaming services, letting listeners enjoy the best of both worlds. Once you’re bitten by the vinyl bug, you might want to upgrade your listening setup to better suit your listening environment or personal use.
Thankfully, most entry-level turntables today feature interchangeable stylus cartridges and can easily be upgraded with better preamps or speakers, satisfying those who are always yearning to find the best musical experience available. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that music does sound better on vinyl – the hipsters are right.
So, if you’re looking to take a trip down memory lane and listen to your favourite record as it spins and crackles on a platter in front of your eyes, it’s never too late to join the vinyl revival.
Image: Stack of vinyl records (sourced)