Vinyl records are considered among the original storage media that took the world by storm decades ago. Today, even though we have the CD, MP3, DVD, Blue ray, etc., vinyl records continues to charm me. In spite of the popularity and convenience of iPods and online downloads where I can carry with me thousands of songs in my pocket, Vinyl records still has a special place in my heart. The full length LPs of the ‘60s and ‘70s are my latest fascination.
But Really, Why Do I Collect Vinyl Records?
There are several reasons why I collect vinyl records. For me, it is an obsession – the pain of rummaging through old cartons, going to garage sales, flea markets, rummage sales and the thrill of getting hold of that rare record! Priceless! Album art covers are a major draw. There are 45-rpm vinyl record sleeves that are considered more valuable than the actual vinyl record. These sleeves are majestically framed, displayed and lovingly preserved.
I also see vinyl records as an investment. On websites like eBay, millions of vinyl records are auctioned off each year. The most appealing thing about a vinyl record is its sound quality and then, of course there is the appreciation in value over time. I collect vinyl for its nostalgia value too. Limited editions are especially sought after, with colored vinyl, picture discs, 180-220 gram audiophile records, and album artwork coming close behind.
So, in Short….Here’s Why.
Vintage : It ties in beautifully with my interest of collecting all things vintage.
Unique Hobby: I don’t know anyone that I’ve been in touch with who have been collecting vinyl records. I like to do things that aren’t common. That’s why coin and stamp collection don’t interest me so much ( I was doing these earlier but gave up).
Great Art Work: I love the design and art work. I originally picked up these records more for the cover than for the music. I needed it because I was doing a vintage makeover of my residence and the art sleeves make for wonderfully colourful props.
Unique Sound: I like the crackle before the music starts. The records have got a different sound tone to it that you can never get out of a mp3 file.
Nostalgia: When I was a kid, my father had a record player and there were vinyl records lying around. To me, collecting vinyl records is like going back in time to my childhood.
Value Appreciation: Not that I’m doing this as business but its always a good feeling to know that as time goes by, the value of the records would only increase. Someday, my grandkids will thank me! 🙂
Easy Availability: Hats off to the couple of vendors in Moore market in Chennai who run a full time business selling old records. They do all the hard work of sourcing the records from various places and it makes it easy to pick the ones that you want.
Preservation: Its a good feeling to know that these vinyl records now have a home where they will be safe atleast until my life time. They will be safe for the next few generations to enjoy them.
Important Features of Vinyl Records
When vinyl records were first introduced, they were seen as the unbreakable alternative to the shellac records that would easily break. Incidentally, vinyl records are popular not just because they can be reproduced or stored easily; the record covers and sleeveswere also considered highly collectible too. It was possible to compile songs on 12-inch discs called albums. Small connections were compiled on EP or extended play records.
Now lets look at some of the characteristics of vinyl records and get to know them better:
Speed: You will generally find vinyl records at speeds of 16, 33, 45 and 78 rpm or rotations per minute. This basically means that these records must be played at that speed on the turntable to listen to the music the way it is meant to sound. Actually the 16 and 78 records were made decades ago at a time when there was no standard record size and are rather rare today. You will most likely come across the 33 and 45 RPM vinyl records.
Size: Vinyl records can be of 7, 10 or 12 inches where 7 and 10 inches are usually used in single play or SP recordings or singles. The 12-inch discs are the LPs or long playing records.
Time: this is a combination of the vinyl record’s size and speed because they determine the amount of music on the disc. If size is small and rpm is high, the record will spin faster. LP records play for longer – for over 25 minutes per side, making for roughly 50 minutes of music. All LPs are 33 rpm and 12-inch records. The SP or single play records usually have around two songs per side and are 7 inches with 45 rpm. So you’ll get about 6 minutes of music each side. There are maxi SP records that are 12 inch SPs and these are usually used in songs that run to twelve minutes a side. 10 inch SPs are uncommon. There are 33 rpm SPs, though.
Material: You might assume that vinyl records are black in color, but some record companies do release limited edition color vinyl records that can be red, gray, white, blue, purple, etc. In fact you may even come across colorless see-through records. While there’s barely any difference in sound when you compare the color vinyl with the black, some people feel that color tends to get damaged more easily than black. Quite a few DJs use color vinyl to release their work. As we mentioned earlier, you will also find picture discs. Picture discs essentially have a picture or some kind of art on the sides rather than the plain black. These come in see-through covers so that the art is visible. These used to be rare and limited editions, although these days they are easily available.
Mass: A vinyl record’s mass plays a crucial role in the way it plays. Almost all SPs come with the same mass. LPs weigh 120 grams, though some audiophile vinyl records are heavier and could be even 200 grams. You can safely assume that the heavier the record, the more its volume since the grooves are deeper and so, sounds a lot better. These also do not damage easily. Incidentally, most foreign 45-rpm singles were vinyl pressings while the US records are pressed on plastic.