Spinning Around

Needled / Despite digital advances in delivery, some say there is nothing like the experience of music from vinyl, and are returning to it. / Michael Hogue / TNS

As digital download sales wane,audiophiles listening for quality go old school

By Izabella Santana

Vinyl records own warmth that can be found behind that crackling sound audiophiles lose in digital formats. Records provide tangible history that can’t be wiped out by malware.

Musicians have struggled to make money from record sales. Charging more, if at all, for premium versions, could help correct that.

In 2013, vinyl sales increased 32 percent, while digital downloads struggled against cheaper streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. For the first time since iTunes launched, sales dropped by 13 percent last year.

History is repeating itself as records re-emerge as a tangible source of music pleasure. Collecting vinyl is an ongoing fad. Vinyl might be considered an ancestor of the MP3, offering continuous replay of favorite songs.

Accessing digital music is easier and more efficient, but digital sound is disposable, Geoff Leamon, owner of Left of the Dial Records in downtown Santa Ana, said.

“It’s like having the artwork. The music comes down to the cover, thought and effort. To some musicians, it’s more about the disposable single rather than the album being completed start to finish,” Leamon said.

Musicians pay attention to the sound and put a lot of effort into their music. With digital media, it’s easy to manipulate the vocals, turn up the bass and distort the original recording, creating a polished but mechanical sound.

Cover art was a part of the experience, as any Pink Floyd fan knows. So were extensive liner notes, lyrics and inside-sleeve artwork.

Records preceded digital content by decades.

The root of music is about relating to the audience and creating art that will last forever. Downloading music off the web is taking music for granted, indulging in consumption more than appreciating a craft.

“The artists realize you can make something with more substance,” Leamon said.

Records are available from Amazon or eBay, and at stores like Left of the Dial Records, Burger Records, and Mass Media Records.

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