Whether it’s fashion, beauty or lifestyle, when it comes to trends, we’ve come to learn that what was once old will always be new again. And now, it seems that the same can be said for how people interact with music. It’s been a tough few years for the music industry with the digital revolution drastically altering how people access entertainment. However, despite this evolution towards streaming and downloading, there has also been a growth in vinyl, with The Guardian reporting that since 2015, vinyl sales were up 53 percent (hitting a 25 year high), with users now returning to the nostalgia of “tangible music.”
I too have become part of this burgeoning trend. Why? I have no idea. But what I can tell you, is not only do I love the entire experience of choosing a vinyl record, and playing it from start to finish—like most artists intended it to be played—but also, it has served as a beautiful interior item that sits pretty on my sideboard and reminds me to unplug, sit back, and relax (giving me some much needed anti-technology time). If you’ve always wanted to start a record collection, but never knew where to begin, we asked Dan from Blaq Wax Records about everything you need to know to get started.
Why do you think vinyl is a worthwhile investment?
Firstly, I think it's a great way to disconnect with your phone or tablet or Netflix binge. Listening to a record is an experience. You don't just press play or skip to the fourth or tenth song, you find the record you are in the mood for, pull it out of the shelf, turn the amp on, remove the record, place it on the turntable and drop the needle. It's something you experience that you take your time with. You don't rush it. Secondly, it's a great, tangible product that's collectible. One of my favourite things is walking into an indie record store anywhere in the world and spending hours digging through the racks.
It's a good day out and I Iove seeing people do the same when I'm at work. More often than not, you never just leave with what you had intended to buy. It's the best feeling stumbling across something you maybe didn't expect to find. Thirdly, it's a great way to meet like-minded people. Finally, music sounds better on vinyl.
For anyone wanting to get into vinyl, where’s the best place to begin?
Buy your favourite album. It's going to blow your mind again. If you think about it, you get to hear your favourite album for the first time again. Only this time it's going to sound way better. How cool is that? Do a bit of research on what type of set-up you want, keeping in mind you'll need a turntable, amp and speakers (its not a cheap hobby) and don't rush in to buying the first cool looking turntable you see.
Are there any brands of record players you would specifically suggest?
My favourite turntable brand is Technics. They were built to last and mostly no frills. My own turntable is a refurbished Technics from 1984, and it's probably something people should look into as their record collection/addiction grows as they can be expensive. For entry level enthusiasts or for a reliable main or second turntable, I'd be inclined to go with one of the mid-priced (around $600) Audio Technica models.
What’s the best way to style/display a record player, are there any tips you have for making the sound better?
Having the turntable on a sturdy surface is important. The speakers can be on the floor but a sturdy piece of furniture will eliminate the skipping of the record that happens if you walk too heavily near it. Depending on what room it's in, If you can, make it the focal point of the room with minimal clutter. If the turntable has a metallic finish, mount it on something with a cool wood grain. Vice versa if the turntable had a wood grain finish. They offset each other and look dope.
To make it sound better, always ground your turntable to your amp and pick up some decent speakers. If you are an audiophile, get a preamp and a top notch stylus, but that's a rabbit hole you can explore as your tastes/ears change.
Do you think the popularity in vinyl will continue to grow, if so, why?
It doesn't look like slowing down, even though records are a bit more pricey than they were five years ago, and pressing plants are popping up or reopening all over the world. Record Store Day has helped massively also. It's a worldwide initiative that certain releases are made and released in strictly limited numbers on that day only, available only at Indie stores. People line up from midnight in an attempt to not miss out on whatever album they are after. Busiest day of the year for sure. I think the culture that I touched on earlier is that people are looking to be a part of something, and record collecting gives them that chance.