My parents got me some Beatles records this Christmas - I am now in the process of buying a portable turntable because I have lost control of my life. To expand my (I guess) new collection do y'all have any recs as to what sounds best on vinyl record? All the music I already enjoy I have on CDs or my computer. Should I just look for those again? Or should I go to a consignment shop and pick up whatever I think has a cool cover.
You can never go past Led Zeppelin I-IV some of the most complete albums ever.
You should get any album you want to hear without the compression inherent in CDs on vinyl. Or the loudness war.
Man I hate that so much, another reason to hate Oasis
I never felt like vinyl for someone who isn't capable of sampling them makes sense for music except as keepsakes/pieces of history. I've personally made an effort to only buy comedy albums on vinyl in that I'm not going to listen to them on an mp3 player and having them in their original format is that much more fun. I really need to get back on that but yeah, Carlin, Cosby, and Steve Martin on vinyl is cool as hell. That and album art on vinyl records, regardless of the actual music, is so much cooler just because it's so large.
But yeah, as far as a music collection is concerned I wouldn't ever do it myself really, especially not modern stuff. Up to you really.
Yeah, Crossley has the reputation of being kind of pricey for not-that-great mechanics inside. Still, they are one of the few companies that still does portable players. I have a stanton USB turntable that has worked out very well, but as you're just getting into it, build a collection and keep an eye out for a good price when you get a chance.
Beastie Boy's Paul's Boutique is definitely a vinyl classic, as is Night at the Opera by Queen. I enjoy vinyl for odd music that never made its way onto CDs or tapes for that matter, often the kind you find in a goodwill's vinyl section. I'd definitely recommend checking thrift stores for records as these are less likely to be hugely marked up like you'd find at a dedicated record shop-though the condition might be a little rougher. You're likely to find a lot of Andy Williams, Christmas records and less-remembered hits of the 1980s but it's a lot of fun to paw through a possible thrift store treasure trove.
I have 2 albums on vinyl. Madvillainy and Blur 13. I intend to buy Kid A at some point, plus some Pixies.
I would love be able to listen to all my favorite albums on vinyl. There's something... idyllic about the thought of coming home and putting on a record and listening to some music.
Stuff that uses a lot of acoustic instruments sound cool on vinyl. Jazz, old country, folk, big band, classical all sound really good on a record player. You want to steer towards music that tries to have a full sound, has heavy and defined bass, and doesn't have a strong leaning towards a lot of treble. For example, dance, techno, or other highly digital music would sound awful on vinyl.
For example, dance, techno, or other highly digital music would sound awful on vinyl.
.... I really disagree. Also, there is a lot of electronic music that incorporates analog recording techniques and analog instruments. Just sayin...
That's fine. I mean I've never tried listening to electronic music on vinyl before. But I've listened to a lot of vinyl and a lot of electronic music on CD and I would imagine that what I like about vinyl wouldn't come from electronic music.
I dunno, anything? If you like the sound of vinyl then you'll like any music on vinyl. With that said I suppose I've always found that the stuff that "benefits" most from being heard on vinyl is stuff where the original recording isn't all that great. Robert Johnson recordings are pretty dodgy but somehow that sounds right on vinyl.
Anything sludgy is perfect on vinyl. Pretty much any heavy metal from the late 90's and back is still excellent on vinyl - hell, I can't listen to Cause of Death unless there is a nice hiss over the album. It just doesn't sound right without the analog sounds.
I say all this as a vinyl lover, user, audio nut and a realist:
There are distinct disadvantages to mastering for vinyl.
- The "loudness wars" (i.e. compression used) in some music can also exist on vinyl. Typically, vinyl mastering is an added extra stage after the digital master has been created, so inherits all the compression used in the recording and mastering of the original sound. Compression used in recording and mixing can not be removed by "clever" mastering to vinyl. Vinyl often sounds more compressed (i.e. less dynamic) than a digital counterpart.
- The dynamic range (difference between loudest and quietest bits) available for vinyl is far more limited than it is for digital media. Music with really quiet, then really loud portions tends to suffer by comparison. These dynamic range issues also affect vinyl's transient response in comparison to digital media. Digital music also offers better channel separation to vinyl.
- Vinyl records have issues in reproducing bass frequencies. That's why all records have RIAA (cut bass and boosted treble) equalisation performed on them prior to pressing and then are further equalised to restore the RIAA frequency response (boost bass and reduce treble) in the phono stage of your pre-amplification circuitry.
- To improve bass response and reduce the movement load on the cantilever of your stylus, records have their lower frequencies summed to both channels (i.e. mono in the lowest frequencies). This is a common additional mastering technique with vinyl that is not necessary with digital media.
- There are issues in mastering vinyl in fitting the material in each side of an LP disk. If the grooves are spaced close together, than dynamic range and channel separation are further reduced with the additional penalty of sound over-spill between grooves. Once again, these additional steps in mastering for vinyl simply don't exist for digital media.
- The output from a moving magnet record cartridge is far lower than the output of any other "line level" source, so has to be boosted with extra amplification to reach line level (in the amplifier phono input stage). Some of the more exotic moving coil type cartridges have an even lower output, so need greater amplification. This extra amplification stage can induce signal-to-noise and dynamic range issues with end equipment, even with high quality MM/MC input stages.
- With the vast majority of record decks, the needle in the cartridge tracks the record across an arc (the exception being in linear tracking tonearms). This means that the tracking angle of the stylus is only optimal in 2 narrow areas in a well adjusted set-up and off-set across most of the disk. This is due to the stylus moving across the record in an arc rather than a straight line used in the cutting lathes that all have linear movement in their cutting heads.
If you have a cheap record player, I would doubt that any vinyl you buy for it would sound better than for a digital equivalent (or even as good). You need some rather special equipment to get a decent quality reproduction from vinyl. I would personally advise against the Technics SL1200 - which are great for DJs because they have light, direct drive platters and no suspension aside from their feet. They can therefore be used for cueing and scratching records, rather than for listening to them at the highest quality. Decent turntables tend to have weightier platters for speed stability, be belt driven (so motor noise isn't transmitted directly through the platter), have suspension and often a facility for using tonearms from different manufacturers. Such a deck would be rather crap to DJ on though, since they'd wobble about too much and take far longer to spin up.
To mitigate some of the above, the advantages of vinyl are:
- Vinyl has a far higher frequency range than standard CDs ("white book" specification). Records can go up into the 50KHz range whereas CDs stop dead at less than 20KHz because of their brick wall filtering due to their sampling frequency. These issues are solved with things like SACD and other HQ digital formats with greater bit depths and higher sampling frequencies (i.e. 96KHz at 24 bit is a standard for recording, then the end result is dithered to white book 44.1KHz at 16 bits for CD).
- In comparison to MP3, vinyl can often sound superior - even compared to 320Kbps MP3 quality. People don't seem particularly interested in quality any more if the rise of the MP3 is anything to go by.
- The LP sleeve notes and album design are far more pleasing, larger, often better printed and sometimes more inventive.
- There is a nostalgia to listening to vinyl, especially in expecting certain cracks and pops in often played tracks.
- Some stuff is only available on vinyl, else it has been digitally recorded from a vinyl source. For those recordings where the master has been lost, the vinyl option could potentially sound better than a digital reproduction, given suitable equipment.
- 12" 45 RPM "singles" can sound fantastic. This is partially due to the considerations relating to wider groove spacing in the vinyl master (one or two tracks per side rather than the usual 4 to 7 for an LP) and partially due to the increased speed with which they pass under the stylus. New vinyl pressings off a production run also sound better than the later pressings from the same master plates. In the same way, the first tracks from a record often sound better than the ones at the end, since the grooves are moving faster under the stylus.
@sushisteve: I can attest to this. My sister got me a Crossley USB capable turntable for Christmas, and while I am absolutely loving it, I can only listen to it when connected to external speakers. The ones that come with the unit seem to be pre-blown out, they can't seem to handle any bass, even at low volume. Still, the unit looks fantastic, and you're always gonna want larger speakers anyway.
More on point, I would highly recommend finding a record store and snooping around in there for an hour or so. I've picked up some great Stevie Ray Vaugn, Clapton, Beatles, Springsteen, Buddy Holly, The Who, and Coltrane. If you can find any Zeppelin I'd grab that ASAP; they're fantastic on vinyl but I haven't managed to find any of their proper albums yet. Also, Radio Moscow and the Black Keys both have a sound that just clicks with vinyl for me.
All kinds of shit. I am just as likely to blast some death metal on vinyl as I am to light candles, sip a glass of absinthe and listen to an hour of Sunn O))). I have a pretty sizable collection, a couple of hundred records and I have stuff from a wide variety of genres. Funkadelic, Behold... The Arctopus, Suffocation, the aforementioned Sunn O))) tomes, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Suffocation, King Crimson, etc etc all have a place in my vinyl collection. :3
I think I'm going to wait until I have an actual house before I start getting into vinyl, but I've been desperately wanting to hear the Loveless vinyl remaster that came out earlier this year. I'm quite partial to string arrangements, as well, so GY!BE's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven and really any Arcade Fire album would probably be next on my list. You can never go wrong with Kid A, either.