Top Five Reasons to Buy Vinyl

Marc HenshallMarc Henshall
Culture & Industry, New to Vinyl27 Comments

In a world where we can access almost any piece of music at the click of a mouse, or the tap of a screen, who would think that a physical format like vinyl would continue to endure? Far from being a nostalgia trip, vinyl records are now enjoyed by a wide range of ages by music fans searching for something more tangible. Below are just some of the reasons why buying vinyl still appeals in the digital age.

Stunning Artwork

The artwork is bigger, this much is obvious, but since many album covers are true works of art in their own right, the inherently bigger canvas certainly makes for a bold statement. Many collectors like to display their favorite albums on the wall in their home, and it’s hard to think of any other format better suited to this kind of homage. You can frame CDs, of course, but it’s just not the same.

The larger format also makes reading the album notes easier, and more enjoyable. Many listeners enjoy reading the credits about who produced, engineered and played on the record as part of the experience.

Also worth considering is the world of picture discs. And while these releases have a reputation for poor sound quality, they are none-the-less part of the art that makes owning music on vinyl both enjoyable and highly collectible.

Owning the music you love

As humans, we are far more likely to value an item when we own it. Psychologists summarise this as the “Endowment effect”, which is the belief that people ascribe more value to things as soon as they own them. We’ve gained many advantages with the introduction of streaming services, but at the same time, we’ve also lost much of the perceived value of music. At Sound Matters, we believe strongly in the importance of music ownership. After all, nobody ever asked to see your MP3 collection.

Escaping the Screens

We live in a connected world with all the advantages that come with technology our ancestors could only dream of owning. But having the world at our fingertips can take its toll on our health. Studies show that too much screen time can lead to a multitude of health problems, from sleep deprivation to eye strain, bad posture, and even addiction problems. I cannot overstate the importance of unplugging, and the vinyl format can inherently help us achieve this. Instead of browsing through Spotify or iTunes surfing from track-to-track, vinyl demands our attention in so many ways and encourages us to focus on the music with less distraction. Regular downtime with your favorite records could be good for your health!

Great Sound

There is no such thing a perfect format, and I’ll be the first to recognize that vinyl has its faults (end-of-side distortion, for example), but there’s no mistaking just how great vinyl sounds when it’s made right. Vinyl is a very musical format that can sound amazing when the mixing, mastering and manufacturing all come together to make one of the most enjoyable listening experiences out there.

The Therapeutic Process

I think this last point is one that many vinyl enthusiasts can relate to: the process (or as my wife calls it, “the faff”).

(For the benefit of our international readers, “faff” is British slang for an overcomplicated task, especially one that takes up a lot of time).

There’s no doubt vinyl requires extra effort and attention. From the process of carefully removing the vinyl record from its sleeve, to gently cleaning with a carbon brush, and steadily lining up the stylus ready for playback, it’s all part of the experience. Personally, I find this ritual therapeutic. I also enjoy the satisfaction of taking home a used, dirty record from the store and slowly bringing it back to life using a good record cleaner. Perhaps you need to be of a certain mental persuasion to enjoy having to work for your music, so to speak, but then again – nothing in life worth having comes easy.

What’s your reason for buying vinyl? Perhaps you’ve been collecting for years, or maybe you’ve just got started. Either way, we all have our reasons why we love music on wax. Let us know why you love vinyl in the comments below.

  • Avatar Endre says:

    Dear All. I have been listening vinyl (and tape recorders) since 1975, I like the sound of this source very much. But, unfortunately a lot of newly printed reasonably proced records seem to be a simple digital to analogue conversion. For me it is a great disappointment. Have a nice day.

  • Avatar Ed Berridy says:

    My first purchase, at age 8 was in 1965. I’ve been collecting since. There is something to be said for the tangibility of holding a disc in your hand and looking it over while reading the label.

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  • Avatar Michael Rose says:

    As a lover of “older” music – classical, jazz, sixties rock – I often find the sound quality on a good original vinyl pressing often exceeds that on most digital reissues/remasterings. As a caveat (and as someone who spent too many years in the ’70s and ’80s working – on the admin side – for a couple of “major” record companies) I can confirm that the manufacturing quality of a lot of pressings from that period was absolutely horrendous and completely negated anything produced in the studio or in the mastering and editing suites. So… please don’t expect too much from vinyl bought second-hand from those decades!

  • Avatar Tom Trulis says:

    I enjoy vinyl because of the richer, fuller more natural sound.
    There is no other format that provides the emotional attachment that vinyl does.
    The down side is the price of LP’s is flat out ridiculous.
    The greedy record companies will kill the format. Again.

  • Avatar Andy says:

    I believe human beings need the tactile experiences involved in playing records which your article covers when you talk about a therapeutic experience. There is just something ‘real’ about selecting a record, looking at the artwork- no matter how many times you’ve seen it over the years, taking the record out of the sleeve, putting it on the turntable, lowering the arm – waiting for the crackle – it’s a true ritual that can’t be replaced by the convenience of digital. Similar to pressing the buttons on a tape deck – it just feels good compared to today’s ‘virtual’ experiences. And every time I play a record I’m still fascinated by the fact that the most amazing sounds are recorded and captured in this continuous groove in a bit of plastic – I personally regard that as one of the Wonder’s of the World.

  • Avatar Lenny says:

    Whenever I try to describe my preference for vinyl I find myself wanting for a proper description. I find it almost impossible to put into words. The reason is vague, like a mist or fog. It’s there, but it can’t held onto. Yet, its as real as the air you breath.

    I know all the reasons for preferring vinyl: I can tell that analog has a different, warmer sound than digital. I am aware of the feeling with vinyl as one actually owns the music. I appreciate the artwork on the covers, some of which are considered classics such as the cover of “Who’s Next”. I understand that one finds it difficult to describe the intricate feelings that vinyl brings to the music. I could go on, but to no avail. Because to me, though all of the previously stated reasons are real, the love and attachment to vinyl is hard to explain.

    When I decide to play vinyl, I usually choose a specific artist. At that point, the process itself has meaning.

    There is a nice feeling I have as I go through my vinyl collection, deciding what I album I want to enjoy. Its good to pull out the vinyl, examining the surface for any issues. There is a bit of anticipation as I open the dust cover of my turntable. (If yours has a cover). When I clean the vinyl and examine the stylus, I realize how well I do all of those jobs has an effect on the sound. I am directly involved!

    I love the feel of the vinyl as I place it on the turntable mat, how the mat is sturdy yet soft.

    Next, I turn on the amp, then the turntable. Often at this point I step back and simply admire my system. I know it’s limitations, the result of what knowledge I have acquired, what I can afford to purchase, and what compromises I made per finances.

    I then remove the tonearm guard, gently push back the small lever that rises the arm. With care, I slowly move the tonearm toward the record. I aim the stylus till it’s above the grove indicating my chosen starting point. This is usually to the first song. I slowly let the arm drop to the record.

    Once I verify the stylus has made contact with the vinyl I turn and take my seat.

    As the music plays I look at the record as it spins at the correct speed due to the work of the turntable. I watch as the stylus accurately tracts in the groves. I may glance at the speakers, at the amp/receiver as the music plays. Finally, in most cases, I lean back and enjoy the music produced by my very modest system.

    I don’t know why, but this process, the playing of a vinyl album, seems to satisfy me in a way that a CD or music from my iPhone cannot. I don’t have a label for that feeling, but vinyl does what no other source can duplicate. In fact, vinyl is the reason I returned to this hobby.

    So, that’s why I prefer vinyl. And if anyone needs or wants to more fully understand why I prefer this source they should some way acquire a nice turntable with a good cartridge, and then go through my before described process. Go slow, appreciate the equipment, then settle in and listen.

    If all goes well, you will understand.

  • Avatar Edison Spina says:

    By far what I love is “The Therapeutic Process”. The sound is good as it is from CDs and files well recorded.

  • Avatar Mario says:

    Dear Marc, All the five reasons you detailed are sound. I collect records from more than 40 years ago (!), and, as a progressive rock lover, I enjoy the art cover of masters as R. Dean, R. Matthews, Phil Travers, Mouse Kelly Studios, and many, many, more. Indeed, die cut covers (as Procol Harum´s Broken Barricades) are impossible to replicate in CD booklets…
    Of course, the sound matters 🙂 and, if an analog record was well produced, well mastered, and well pressed, the satisfaction is guaranteed.

  • Avatar Ian says:

    I have thousands of records & CD’s & don’t frankly have a preference but I don’t do streaming! I agree with much you say but I have a number of identical recordings on the two mediums, and often prefer the CD, but I have quite high end equipment ( I was a hi-fi dealer ), and am even now, as I am largely retired attempting to consolidate, as I have at least 5 sets of speakers, 5 amps & 5 turntables & haven’t really room for them all. When I get a new tonearm, in the next month, possibly those recordings that sound better on CD will then sound better on LP. But mainly I still play LP’s because I have many recordings I treasure & don’t wish to buy on CD, and they still sound excellent. Of course there are some records that do sound better, but every copy of an LP will sound different, and that is why record collectors pay good money to get say a first pressing, which will sound better than later issues. Cheers.

  • Avatar Gilles Levesque says:

    Vinyl is a warm and inviting sound. At my age and level of experienced ears (not as sharp as they used to be) I listen to music at lower levels . I have passed the days of blasting incoherent sounds from huge speakers. Vinyl has that warmth that you can feel, really feel! As another comment said, it is also therapeutic. The process of slowing down, opening a sleeve, spinning, dusting and finally turning up the volume a bit only build the anticipation and eventually the enjoyment of listening.

  • Avatar David says:

    I recently rediscovered vinyl and have my daughter to thank for it, all of the reasons stated in the article were valid but for me there are two additional reasons. 1) Artists used to put albums together with a theme and streaming random tunes you miss this, the liner notes can help to understand the theme and you miss this on CDs. 2) I felt more connected to the band and artists when reading the liner notes, then with either CDs or streaming.
    Vinyl isn’t perfect but for me it is an experience, I used love and still do browsing record stores for a great find.

    • Marc Henshall Marc Henshall says:

      Thanks David. Great to hear these stories of how people get back into the hobby! Indeed, vinyl connects us to the music on so many extra levels – enjoy!

  • Avatar Peter frost says:

    As a resurrected vinyl wanna be I had a bumpy ride to start with and in fact still finding my way as I just moved on to a better deck but still need to improve on this as I can see the potential in vinyl as it has it’s drawbacks with so called remasters one needs to learn about..,not all vinyls are good as they might seem being who is in control of the pressing machines and so on…(look up Michael Fremer Analog Planet)…I never knew any of this back in the day cos all we did was just buy what we liked and heard…it was all we had but we had all the good music….and there is still good music to be had..,but I like everyone else went to digital which had it’s downsides…until the big guys improve digital format I’m interested in vinyl though it’s more expensive than used to be…having already been a vinyl collector back in the day I get lots of memories flooding back which is what life is all about….I remember buying my first 7”single for 7’6
    (Seven shillings and sixpence )my pocket money saved up from when I was seven years old…sponging money from my mum just to buy records!!

  • Avatar Leonardo says:

    I grew up listening to my mom’s reggae collection. She arrived In England in 1952 from Southern Ireland aged 15 to train as a nurse. It was a pleasure to listen to them and a great education away from school.
    I bought my first record aged 13yrs old in 1976 from a neighbourhood record shop opposite Winson Green prison in Birmingham Uk. I still have the record – Irie feeling by Rupie Edwards. Buying this was like a rite of passage.
    Growing up there was nothing like going into my favourite record shop sometimes with my twin brother and discovering the new Jamaican releases that were displayed In ranks and on the back wall behind the counter. As l became a regular visitor, Don as he was known, got to know my tastes and would select a purchase or two for me. That simple act was very satisfying, it meant recognition, very important as a young teenager. I still have records bought from Don, but a lot of them “walked”
    In amongst the buying of vinyl, hi-fi systems have come and gone too, either sold or given away. I see the current system as my last re-build and and it will be the most costly. I suppose the hi fi represents how costly my hobby has become. We know how costly the vinyl is and as such can be viewed as a luxury. But when it all boils down to it, the permission it gives you to stop and listen is in its self invaluable in the world of constancy it is all so worthwhile and if l had the chance to live life again l wouldn’t change a thing. The experience and the memories it created are priceless.

    • Marc Henshall Marc Henshall says:

      That’s a great story – thank you. Record stores are great places for recommendations, and the community aspect is hugely important also. Great point on taking time to stop and listen – we need that more than ever these days.

  • Avatar Sumit Mukhopadhhyay says:

    Listening music through Records from 1974. I have seen my dad and his involvement towards the same. That sweet addiction I have got from him genetically. I always want to participate with the artist and for that Record is the best way to go for it. It involves you so much, listen to music become your passion not a timepass.

  • Avatar Joey Kephart says:

    I concur with all of the reasons that have been listed. The Therapeutic aspect, deeper connection with the music, the sound ( when it is a top condition / example) Some artists it just seems for lack of better terminology ” wrong” to listen to them in any other format.
    The durabilty when you care for it.
    I’ve sent friends/ family riddles in group text format.
    “What item(s)did i purchase 40 years ago for a mere 25 cents at garage sales, that i’m still enjoying?”
    Yep you guys guessed it.
    The Record Store experience especially when you find the one that really works with you is also such a significant aspect of the whole ” experience”

    • Marc Henshall Marc Henshall says:

      Agreed! The whole experience is one of the big draws with vinyl. Thanks for your comment Joey! Keep enjoying those records for many more years to come.

  • Avatar Jessica Jones says:

    Most important reason is the therapeutic one. I only have about 50 vinyls (so far!) and with that, I do not have a billion artists to choose from. Mentally very calming to only have a ‘few’ choises. Another aspects that I’m enjoying more and more is the ‘Hunt’ for rare and limited versions. I can spend days hunting a ‘sold out’ version of a release. When you do find it, it’s absolutely thrilling.

    • Marc Henshall Marc Henshall says:

      I often find the unlimited choice of streaming services very overwhelming too. Great point – very calming indeed!

  • Avatar Ping says:

    LPs are sounding more natural and with very much more details which no CD can match. This is helped by advanced technologies on turntables, such as magnetic suspension, ceramic bearing, carbonfibre arm, pure gold winding and symmetrical loading in the cartridge (Clearaudio Innovation, weighting 25 kg!), to name but a few, and these high tech was not available even 10 year ago. I have collected quite a lot of LPs, all classical, and am greatly enjoying them! You don’t need to purchase expensive LPs to enjoy them!

  • Avatar Serafin Hermana Ugarte says:

    Hello, I like the art work, the lyrics, and all the text in the sleeves, studio, musicians, producer, pressing etc. The good sound and some high end distortion, random, not in every record. I like to change the magnet oil in the tweeters. I like to clean and clean a clean. Neither of those can be found in the net, nor in any CD.

    And this is not a problem. Keep the good work!

  • Avatar Mark Johnson says:

    There are many reasons for why I enjoy vinyl which you have covered succinctly. I do enjoy vinyl for the sheer fact that my introduction to music was through vinyl in the late 1970s so it is a nostalgia feeling.

  • Avatar John Long says:

    1. Old man reason- I can read the liner notes easier.
    2. Warmer sound,not as harsh as digital formats.
    3. Artwork.
    4. Familiar process. Nothing like opening a sealed record, especially if it is from back in the day.
    5. I like my music to be on a physical format. I just enjoy handling a record more than a tiny CD.