In praise of vinyl

Like most of my generation, I bought and listened to record albums. That is, until my apartment was burglarized in ’85, and I lost my amp and turntable. For these past 22 years, I have been yearning for a replacement system, but raising kids on a teacher’s salary leaves little room for quality stereo component systems.

My wait is finally over, thanks to the serendipitous gift of a Technics linear tracking turntable from a fellow high school chess coach. The subject came up because in my classroom sidelight I have Isaac Hayes’ album, “Black Moses,” which a former teacher had left me. We got to talking about albums and turntables, and how we missed listening to our old music. Sure, some of the old stuff is now digital, but a lot of the vinyl I have will probably never end up on CD.

Anyway he had just decided to divest himself of his 10,000-album collection, and his turntables, by giving the albums to his university and the turntables to any takers. On the last day of the chess season, he brought me a dusty, but very functional Technics SL-BL3, a nice linear tracking model I probably could never have afforded 20 years ago.

I had to buy a $40 phono preamp from Circuit City, so I could run the phono’s audio into my computer’s sound card. I have started the painstaking, but fun, process of converting fom analog vinyl to digital CD and mp3.

Audiophiles swear that LPs have a richer, more appealing sound than CDs. I used to think that claim to be just a wistful yearning for days gone by, but after playing just one album, I’ve got to admit it does sound fuller than a CD. It’s hard to quantify, but even with the pops and cracks of the LP (which my sound card manages to diminish to a whisper), the music sounds more realistic than digital versions. Or maybe I’ve gotten nostalgic…

Of course, if that analog sound is richer and fuller, I will now lose it once I digitize my vinyl collection, but I just don’t want to lug around and store a couple of hundred albums anymore. Digitized music has a lot of advantages over analog sources. It takes up less space. It’s easily transported. And I can put it on my iPod. The advantages outweigh the loss of that hard-to-define “richer sound.” Sorry, audiophiles, another member of the analog generation is defecting.

Panasonic Technics SLBD20D Semi Automatic Turntable   Audio-Technica AT-LP2DA LP-to-Digital Recording System

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