Pro/Con: Is it better to listen to music digitally or on vinyl?
November 1, 2022
Digital music makes listening easier
Listening to music on a record player is having a resurgence, with big artists like Harry Styles and Taylor Swift releasing their new albums on records, but digital is still the best way to listen to music.
Records may be retro and have a specific sound quality that makes people like them, but digital music adds onto that sound and makes it crisper. It allows the listener to hear the song and all of the specific parts that make it up.
Digital music also does not have the threat of being scratched. With records, a scratch means the record will always skip. If an expensive record is scratched, fans will no longer be able to get the full effect of the album because it will always skip that part of the song. Digital albums don’t get ruined.
This allows there to be more diverse music on digital music platforms, and gives great singers and artists an opportunity they would not have had two decades ago. ”
Unlike records, digital music is easily transportable. There is no need to carry around a large and clunky record player when all that is needed to listen to music is a cell phone. Digital music also can be played on other devices, so even if there is not a cell phone around, digital music can still be listened to on a laptop or blue-tooth speaker, for example.
Digital is also much less expensive than records. For one album on vinyl, the cost can be anywhere from $25 to $100. Spotify, meanwhile, is free with ads or only $10 a month without ads. Digital music gives listeners more for less money.
Another advantage of digital music is how easy it is for independent artists to publish their music. They do not have to spend money on having their music professionally recorded then turned into a record. All they have to do is create an account and publish their music on Spotify or Bandcamp. This allows there to be more diverse music on digital music platforms, and gives great singers and artists an opportunity they would not have had two decades ago.
Overall, digital music takes the good things about records and builds off them to make the way fans listen to music better. It also makes music more accessible for more people.
Vinyl proves that music can be an experience
You slide the record out of the sleeve and place it on the turntable. You raise the needle and move it to the beginning of the side, and the record starts to spin. You hear the memorable static sound of the needle running through the groove, and the music begins to play.
Listening to vinyl records is a great way to experience music. While fans can listen to an entire album digitally, most people just add their favorite songs to a playlist. Artists who release their music on vinyl are able to choose the order that they want their listeners to hear the songs. They can creatively arrange their music to flow together with seamless transitions, like Pink Floyd’s The Wall or Tommy by The Who.
Albums not only contain the physical record, but the cover and sleeve as well. It also can contain a lyric sheet, possibly a poster or stickers, notes from the artist or producer, photographs, and iconic album artwork.
Music fans can dig through racks of used records that are waiting for a new home, hoping they can find a keeper or one that strikes their fancy. ”
Some of the most recognizable album cover art includes Nirvana’s Nevermind, The Eagles’ Hotel California, The Clash’s London Calling, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and most famously, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, with the light prism on the black background.
Listening to vinyl also provides a hobby for collectors: record store shopping. Music fans can dig through racks of used records that are waiting for a new home, hoping they can find a keeper or one that strikes their fancy.
Unlike with digital music, the internet is not needed to listen to vinyl. Also, the highest and lowest frequencies are compressed to fit an mp3 file, so some of the listening experience is taken out when listening digitally. Plus, listening to music digitally does not have the nostalgic crackling sound or the smell of old vinyl.
While it can be pricey to invest in physical music, once fans own a record, they can play it as many times as they want on repeat. Especially in recent years, vinyl has seen a resurgence in popularity for listeners. Artists are even marketing vinyl for their recent releases with added bonuses for buying the physical music, such as the four copies of Taylor Swift’s Midnights combining to make a clock.
As the proud owner of more than 75 vinyl records from family members, record shops, and some bought new, I have a slight bias towards vinyl. My advice? Get a turntable and listen for yourself.