Why the Vinyl Boom is Over - WSJ

Discussion in 'Marketplace Discussions' started by seaisletim, Jul 22, 2017.

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  1. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    Sorry for playing around with this.

    I need to work on my sincerity issues.

    And my deadpan humor.

    Also, my lack of emoticons.

    Per Urban Dictionary: deadpan

    "Deadpan humor is one of the most complex and to many enigmatic comedy styles as only a select few truly understand it enough to appreciate it for it's brilliance."
  2. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    Since the vinyl boom is over, a song to memorialize the "end of vinyl":

  3. e.s.

    e.s. Forum Resident

    United States
    Depends on the files, I suppose. Someone posted about an MOV album being remastered from a CD, and my first thought was whether it was actually a CD or a DVD. Both are essentially storage mediums for digital files. Depending on the size of the files, you can put them on either. Even easier to put it all on a hard drive, but I would assume that in some instances, there are physical archives comprised of CDs and DVDs.
  4. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    I'm very much a digital consumer; I buy very little vinyl. And I am sure WSJ's figures are accurate, or at least honestly reported. But that said, I don't know that a 5% dip in new vinyl sales for a single year is enough to declare that vinyl is again in decline. So I think the headline is premature and perhaps clickbait.

    I also question whether declining vinyl quality is (A) a reality, and (B) a cause of the dip in sales. There's some terrible vinyl out there to be sure, but as was noted earlier in the thread, I would bet the overall quality of vinyl today is better than the post-oil crisis days of the late 1970s, when quality (and quality control) seemed to take a real dive. Plus, heavier weight, "audiophile" vinyl seems to be a pretty significant part of the marketing of a lot of new releases. My perception is that high-quality vinyl actually is proportionally a larger part of the vinyl market today than it ever was in vinyl's 1950s-'70s heyday.

    As for who's buying what, we all know very little without demographic data. But I'm sure rjp's point has some validity: A chunk of the vinyl revival is younger folks buying it because it's cool, and because it's tactile, and retro, and offers large-format artwork. I don't know why he thinks that's a bad thing, and I don't necessarily agree that it's quite as fad-ish as he insists it is. More importantly, though, I think he's way too overarching in his claim - young people buying cheap used vinyl to play on low-end equipment is only a part of the market. And as others have noted, it's a vital part of the market that helps keep record stores afloat.

    Conversely I'm sure the more expensive audiophile releases and the multi-disc, multi-format Super Deluxe releases, are indeed mostly being bought by middle-aged and older folks who have more disposable income and more of an emotional connection to the artists and music that tend to be released in those formats. But so what? The more the merrier. A highly diversified market, including new and used, cheap and expensive, young and old, low-end and high-end - isn't that exactly what we want to be happening? Isn't that the best way to maximize the chances of a long-term revival?

    Finally, where I do think the WSJ article is hitting on something important, is this issue of digitally sourced vinyl. I have no problem with it - but you cannot deny that sourcing vinyl from a digital master does directly undercut a good bit of the aesthetic and cultural appeal that is claimed for vinyl (to say nothing of the sonic distinctiveness). When you're talking about AAA vinyl, you can make all kinds of claims about the purity of the analogue signal chain and the warmth or authenticity of the resulting product. But as soon as there's a "D" in that chain, then you're reduced to talking about the euphonic coloration added by the vinyl cutting and playback part of the chain - and that's a much weaker and less "audiophile" argument in favor of vinyl. Again, I stress that personally I don't really care about this argument - everyone should enjoy what they enjoy IMHO. But the "cut from a CD" issue is a red herring; mastering an LP from a CD seems silly because it's just a big, plastic, imperfect analogue recording of a CD. But by that logic, mastering an LP from a 24/96 digital file isn't qualitatively different. It's just a big, plastic, imperfect analogue recording of a digital source that might not actually sound any different than a CD (assuming the same mastering).
    Radio, mikeyt and MisterBritt like this.
  5. csqmnem89

    csqmnem89 Forum Resident

    morganville, nj
    The WSJ writer was on Sirius xm with Eddie Trunk yesterday. Very interesting listen, I am not a vinyl guy but thought he had some great insight and enjoyed the interview which can be played back on the web now.
    tmtomh likes this.
  6. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    I'm not finding it. This is a podcastOne with Neil Shah? Could you provide a link, please?
  7. e.s.

    e.s. Forum Resident

    United States
    What makes you sure these figures are more accurate than other figures being reported?
  8. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    I'm unaware of other figures being reported for the current year. But since my point was that even if these numbers are accurate it doesn't mean vinyl is on the decline - and since we have no way of knowing if these numbers or other numbers are the "real" ones - why does it matter?
    MisterBritt likes this.
  9. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    I've just been listening to some new AAA vinyl (Cranberries and Gillian Welch) and it certainly is better than any digital when done right. That does not mean all digital is bad and some are very close to the best original pressings such as the current Elton John and Pink Floyd. My preference is still AAA and you are right we should not have to pay a premium for it. MOV don't really try but are quite open about it. No self respecting vinyl label would settle for a CD as a source. Badger the label for their best sources or just don't do it otherwise it's just producing 'Music On Vinyl'. What the name says.
  10. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    You are missing two things. Firstly CD and vinyl mastering cannot technically be the same and there is a vast difference between a studio copied 24/96 digital file and domestic 16/44.1 CD playback. So invariably even a digitally sourced vinyl done with care will sound better than the available commercial CD even before you factor in the trend for brick walling and compression.
  11. Trevor_Bartram

    Trevor_Bartram Forum Resident

    Boylston, MA, USA
    For the average buyer you can't take your LP with you on the move so you end buying two versions (I'm pretty sure most people can't create needle drops) which eventually becomes cost prohibitive.
  12. jmczaja

    jmczaja Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    e.s. likes this.
  13. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    We'll have to agree to disagree, as per the bits I've bolded in your comment above. Vinyl and CD mastering indeed are not the same. But there is not necessarily a vast difference between a 24/96 file and a 16/44 file/CD Nor will vinyl, however sourced, invariably sound better than a CD - sometimes yes, sometimes no, and even within that it's a matter of subjective perception and opinion.

    Beyond that, I think you're missing part of my point: cutting vinyl "with care" from digital, as you note above, might very well result in a great-sounding LP - but that's the vinyl-process euphonics I mentioned in my comment.
    mikeyt and Dave like this.
  14. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    You are just repeating the old digital 16/44 is perfect mantra. Hi-res does sound better as many professionals and hi-fi enthusiasts will agree on. There is no specific or unique Euphonic colouration in vinyl produced and played back on a capable chain. Colourations are introduced by inadequate and cheap designs and even some notorious expensive turntables in the past (Linn). I'm sure whatever source digital or analogue used there is more colouration introduced by speaker systems. What about DACs and Cd transports? You can't claim they all add nothing to the sound. You can add euphonics to taste with any source. Valves in CD players as well as amps and phono stages are good examples.
  15. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    Like I said, we'll have to agree to disagree.

    I would, however, appreciate it if you would respond to what I say instead of what you wish I said - I did not say 16/44 is perfect or that high-res cannot sound better. I specifically highlighted the absolutist parts of your prior comment and said it was the overarching aspect of your claims that I disagreed with. I am not taking an absolutist position diametrically opposed to your absolutist position. So by pretending I am, you're barking up the wrong tree.
    mikeyt and Lorraine like this.
  16. jon9091

    jon9091 Master Of Reality

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
  17. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    Yes, very harsh criticism of some allegedly careless reporting and cherry-picking on the part of the WSJ reporter. With some justification on Fremer’s part, IMO.

    I’ve already had my say about Shah’s mediocre article in Post #4 of this thread.

    In the feverishly quest to sound super-savvy and skeptical of vinyl — which is, after all, a small, eccentric corner of the vast music biz — corporate business reporters and commentators can really be cyncial dopes on the subject. Bob Lefsetz does this all the time with his sneering dismissals of vinyl and his fanatical log-rolling for the sublime beauty and goodness of streaming.

    In general reporting on vinyl has got much better in recent years. I remember well the scoffing vinyl-is-laughable-hipster-nonsense journalism of just a few years ago. The WSJ guy apparently didn’t get the memo that things have changed and the “fad" isn’t going anywhere.
    e.s. likes this.
  18. DeRosa

    DeRosa Vinyl Forever

    Someone needs to print some "i hated vinyl before it was cool to hate vinyl" t-shirts.
    eddiel likes this.
  19. AaronW

    AaronW Formerly Blackie

    Los Angeles
    From that article:

    "Shah’s link to his next assertion is grade school quality: “As more consumers discover this disconnect, vinyl sales are starting to slow. In the first half of 2015, sales of vinyl records jumped 38% compared to the same period the prior year, to 5.6 million units, Nielsen Music data show. A year later, growth slowed to 12%. This year, sales rose a modest 2%”.

    Nielsen’s data is a JOKE. A total JOKE ‘five million units”? Shah quotes Rainbo’s Steve Sheldon who told him (maybe) “It’s flattening out…getting close to plateauing”. Rainbo alone pressed well more than 5 million records last year. URP pressed more than 11 million. Add QRP, RTI and the others and in America alone well more than 20 MILLION records were pressed last year and not by labels desiring to fill sagging shelves! Nielsen/Soundscan’s numbers are a JOKE."
  20. Golden Ears

    Golden Ears Active Member

    Why the Vinyl Boom is Over - WSJ

    I also used to think the same thing, until I heard some digitally recorded and synthesized music that didn't seem as digital .

    Worth the watch... Robert Babicz about mastering. Putting analog emotion into digital.

    Skip to 8:00 and you will see he runs all the digital through analog tape first.
    Interesting that he also makes HF curs , (possibly to help remove digital hash and noise.)

    He also does not like plug in compressors , and even has an analog reverb (huge box and spring type). He tries to inject analog that will partially survive redigitization in the final mix.

    While a carefully applied and tuned , yet still a crude and broader "band aid" for adding in what is missing in the digital process is meager as compared to fully analog recordings and reproduction , it still can help to wring more enjoyment from digitally produced music.

    Perhaps this sort of ANALOGIZATION (awkward word) treatment might help some kinds and genres of digitally recorded music pressed to LPs . At least make them have some degree of involvement even though it's all sadly post production. I'm sure for most here, this is very old hat...bringing back old school analog effects procedures .

    I'm not a mastering guy at all...I'm just a system tuner ( the far end of the chain) , so please excuse my mastering ignorance . I hope this doesn't detract .
    DRM likes this.
  21. Somerset Scholar

    Somerset Scholar Forum Resident

    Retail prices of records seem to be rising here in the UK. I was shocked by some of the prices in my local HMV. That is sure to put a dampener on things and even more so with inflation outstripping pay increases. Vinyl sales have been healthy here but I sense more greed coming into play.
  22. Deuce66

    Deuce66 Forum Resident

  23. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    "Dad Rock"--makes me feel so... irrelevant.
    I'm already older than a lot of the parents of youngsters I meet here in Austin.
    Make way for "nursing home rock." Nothing like being a proper geezer.
    riverrat likes this.
  24. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    One of my daughter's friend's dad confided in me the other day: "You're even older than my Mom."
  25. Sick Sick Phil

    Sick Sick Phil Forum Resident

    There are people that still collect beanie babies and pokemon cards. They haven't gone anywhere. Yet they are still fads.
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