The return of vinyl

The compact disc is out. ItâÄôs ugly, fragile and its music comes wrapped, sealed in a plastic prison, where its shiny, reflective neon coating waits to blind your eyes. The CD is a symbol of the âÄò90s. According to Nielsen Soundscan, CD sales fell from 553.4 million in 2006 to 360.6 million in 2008, while MP3 sales grew from 32.6 million to 65.8 million during the same period. Surprisingly, while the CD dwindles on the endangered list, the vinyl record has returned on the radar. Vinyl sales rose 89 percent from 990,000 in 2007 to 1.88 million in 2008, according to Nielsen. Rolling Stone reports that the sale of turntables rebounded from 275,000 in 2006 to nearly half a million in 2007. Though vinyl represents only a fraction of total music sales, the sparked interest for a medium that has long been declared dead intrigues the ear. Vinyl is being revived. In the post cassette-tape era, the CD was the solution for portability and easier track to track navigation, but that solution became outdated when the MP3 gave listeners the opportunity to carry their entire music collection in their pocket. So if our excessive need for miniaturization is fulfilled and thriving, why the sudden interest in vinyl? Vinyl has a warmer, richer and more accurate sound quality that can capture the subtle tones of the instruments that disappear with MP3 compression. There is also a nostalgia experienced when the needle is set on the grooves of the record, cracking into place and clicking back to side two with as much patience as one would use to light the coal of hookah. There is also a higher aesthetic quality to the record. You donâÄôt see people framing CD art, itâÄôs too small. The larger format of the LP allows for more graphic detail and artistic freedom, giving the case the value of functionality. Downloading a digital album has no aesthetic or tangible satisfaction and the flimsy CD and its plastic case have nothing on the physicality of the record. Vinyl is more durable than a CD and its owners are more careful. The case is thinner and larger, which actually makes it easier to transport a pile of records than a stack of CDs. The warm sound of the record doesnâÄôt lose quality with retro equipment either. It gets more cozy. The scratches become a part of the song, unlike the piercing repeat of a scuffed CD. The whole experience is personal: from joyously thumbing through LPâÄôs of Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and The Kinks that you scavenged from the basement of Cheapo to hearing the fuzzy crackle of your blown out 1987 Hi Fi speakers of the turntable you snatched off Craigslist. ItâÄôs as close as youâÄôll ever get to hanging with Dylan and its vintage appearance screams of good taste. The record player speaks of a lifestyle for which many young people yearn. Having grown up on neon overload, babysat by the TV, fed a diet consisting of toxic levels of products containing corn syrup and deafened by the degrading sing-song lyrics of pop music, the vinyl experience is a detox for your senses. Bands are realizing this trend and have been successfully releasing new vinyl albums, like âÄúIn RainbowsâÄù by Radiohead. According to Nielsen, Radiohead topped the sales charts with 61,200 vinyl albums, followed by The Beatles with 39,500 and Metallica with 20,400. The record is definitely back. You can even get a turntable with an iPod dock, a USB port and CD recorder. But will the vinyl be the everlasting tangible form? Or will our need for physicality become as miniature the size of our MP3 player? Hopefully throwback is here to stay. Ashley Goetz welcomes comments at [email protected]