Vinyl still fighting in a digital world.

This month heralds one of the most unlikely anniversaries – the 60th birthday of the 7” single. With focus firmly on the rise of digital sales and fall of CD sales, this much loved vinyl format is making a stealthy comeback.

West London factory Portalspace (previously EMI’s pressing plant) was predicting its death back in 2000 when sales had dropped to below 180,000. Eight years later and they are back over the million mark.

As far as buying music goes, nothing can beat buying a perfectly formed, individually pressed, lustrous black piece of vinyl; the CD’s only advantage over vinyl was that they took up less shelf space. They destroyed the concept of cover art, the disc is shiny and nasty and they lost the warmth you get from a vinyl pressing.

Together with Apple finally announcing DRM free tracks on iTunes and more and more high quality downloads available to buy online, it’s hard to see what the CD has to offer.One of the reasons we started the B&W Music Club was to provide DRM-free, high quality lossless downloads as we knew there was a world of people who cared about how things sounded.

If all releases came on vinyl with a free lossless download I’d never have to buy another CD again.


  • Mal says:

    I couldn’t ‘t agree more. There was something special about LPs, even beyond arguments about sound quality.

    I can vividly remember getting the bus home home HMV Oxford Street with a bag or two full of LPs and looking at the artwork and reading the notes of each one on the way home.

    It was never the same with CDs – and certainly not with downloads!

  • Naveed says:

    For years I listened to CDs and during that time, with decent equipment I found myself listening less and less to whole albums. I would be fatigued after a song or two and it wasnt much fun anymore.

    Bought myself a couple of turntables and have started on Vinyl. The excitement is back! Quality sound that is engaging.

    What comes close for me is lossless encoded wave files played from a hard drive through a non over sampling DAC.

    It seems for me it will have to be the computer and my Vinyl collection that takes central stage for audio in my home.

    I suspect CD’s are about to go extinct.

  • Scott says:

    Naveed has a good point, and wouldn’t it be ironic if vinyl ended up out-living CD after all!

    There is something special about listening to LPs, and while I feel that the ritual of cleaning the slab of black vinyl and then placing the needle has something to do with this, it’s hard to get beyond the sheer involvement of the sound quality.

    If a double pronged attack of top quality 24bit lossless downloads and high-quality LPs kills of CD, then I think that anyone who cares about sound qulaity can view that as a victory!

  • gofast6 says:

    I completly agree with that topics.
    The charm is LPs.
    The deep of the sound is special, and please note I’m not nostalgic and old fashion anymore!

    I apologies for my very bad english, but if the cds are simply used, now the more simply is mp3.
    And from time to time, it could be very nice to listen LPs for the deep of the sound, even with the charm of parasites details!…


  • goldenears says:

    C’mon guys – get real. Vinyl’s fine as far as it goes. I’m happy it’s still around and, yes, I’m thinking about getting a turntable again, to play around with. But I’m an audiophile (horrible word), and I like tweaking.

    In reality, for most people most of the time, CD sounds *vastly* better than poorly-pressed vinyl did on music centres in the 70s and 80s. Of course CD was never all it was touted to be – what consumer technology is? Microsoft PCs? Gimme a break – but it sounds pretty good at worst and very very good at it’s best.

    In a world where most people don’t know how to back up data, I fear that in 10 or 20 years time, downloaded files will be lost and forgotten – and it worries me if people are content to accept that music is a consumable, to be played for now and then forgotten when the next thing comes along. Good music is worth so much more than that and a reasonably robust, good sounding universal carrier such as CD has an awful lot to recommend it.

  • Horacio says:

    I just don’t agree. I mean I love vinyls, the vinyl-experience is beautiful, nostalgic, not perfect… CDs just can’t compete with them. But in terms of sound quality CD are an excellent choice. Get a great CD Player, play a well-recorded/mastered CD and the sound is just fantastic. Vinyls are great, but they couldn’t be more factors involved to the final sound quality (quality of pressing, how records are stored -paper vs plastic, how records are cleaned -dry vs wet vs vacuum-, stylus -moving coil vs moving magnet, turntables -belt driven vs direct drive, pre amps, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.
    In terms of sound quality, 99.9% of the times vinyls can’t just compete with CDs. You need a perfect record with a +$15.000 system in order to match CD quality. People have to learn differentiate the experience vs the sound quality. Vinyls are now popular (myself included) because people is getting tire of the soul-less digital world (mp3s, downloads, etc). I own a few hundred vinyls but when I want audio quality nothing best a good CD or SACD. Period.

  • Horacio says:

    Oh, cover art is simply amazing on vinyl (talkin’ about the experience).

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