Argumentative Essay On Why Vinyl Records Are Better Than CDS
Vinyl records are forms of gramophone records that used discs made from polyvinyl chloride plastics. The discs contained circular rings on both sides of their surfaces, along which a needle ran from the outer rings towards those in the center. The several types of vinyl records included the 78 rpm, 45 rpm single, Long-Playing records (LPs) and Extended Play Records (Record Collectors Guild). The debate over which is superior between vinyl records and compact discs (CDs) is an old one and has since resurfaced following the modern resurgence of vinyl records. Research data provided by the Consumer Electronics Association indicated a rise in vinyl records sales from “275,000 in 2006 to almost 500,000 in 2007” (Shuker 62). Therefore, this essay supports the notion that vinyl records are better than CDs because of their sound authenticity, nostalgic and historical quality, attractive record covers, facilitation of DJ use, the creation of publicity for new artists or songs, and availability of singles. However, the opponents of vinyl records maintain that they are less superior to CDs because of their fragility, limited vocal range, and manual operation.
The proponents of vinyl records, especially record collectors, prefer them because of their sound authenticity. Others argue that LPs produce honest, original and warm sound as opposed to the CDs, which produce harsh and unoriginal sound (Kornelis). In order to accommodate mass production, portability and convenience, CDs compromise on sound quality by editing out background noise and some aspects of the singers’ vocal range. LP records, however, maintain the original sounds present during the first recording of a song, hence appears more authentic. This quality makes vinyl records less prone to music piracy because their “reproduction quality varies from disc to disc” than CDs which maintain the original sound in subsequent copies (Osborne 77). According to Osborne, the sound quality of records diminishes with the increase in the number of copies produced. In addition, the sounds stored in vinyl records lose their clarity as the records become old. This deterioration stems from the effects of wear and tear. Thus, pirating LP albums or singles would mean creation of subsequent low-quality records that consumers would not purchase. Compact discs, being a form of digital technologies, are likely to be pirated. Music piracy is a vice that prominently featured in countries outside the US with weak copyright laws (The FBI).
Secondly, vinyl records are better than CDs because of their nostalgic and historical memorability attribute. People born in the 1960s and 1970s grew up listening to LP records. As such, they serve as a tool for conveying personal history to individuals by reminding them of their youth and adolescent years (Shuker 65). This nostalgic aspect stems from their perceived authenticity and sereneness that make them a household item. The first CDs released into the market in the 1990s produced harsh sounds that quickly turned off the majority of listeners. Thus, the memories that these individuals associate with CDs are unfavorable.
Thirdly, vinyl records came in superior packaging consisting of artwork, colored discs and legible lyric sheets. The cover artwork was more graphic, colorful and appealing than the modern, less elaborate CD covers. Some of the cover artwork were done manually rather than electronically, creating a sense of realism and originality among listeners. These served as a form of advertising by informing consumers about the artist of a particular single or album and building music brands based on a singer’s star image (Shuker 70). The lyrics assisted musicians, and recording labels create a positive rapport with consumers by enhancing tune memorability.
Fourthly, vinyl records are preferable to disc jockeys (DJs) than CDs because they allow direct manipulation. With LPs, DJs can directly manipulate the songs by reversing, mixing or mashing them to create unique song combinations (Osborne 83). Adjustments occur by shifting the positions of the needle from groove to another in order to decelerate or accelerate the music. The digital era led to the decline in the popularity and use of vinyl records. However, recording labels still produced them over the years on a limited scale to facilitate disc jockeying especially in nightclubs and live performances. Compact discs only offer minimal indirect manipulation ability by clicking various buttons on a remote control such as stop, play, pause or forward buttons. For this reason, vinyl records are growing in popularity among the younger generation, who are opting for the original sound quality of LPs compared to CDs
Fifthly, vinyl records assist in creating more publicity for new singles than CDs because of their superior sound quality. Original LP records contain the primary version of songs, including their tonal range present during actual recording. This quality assists consumers in gauging the prowess of an artist, introducing a new artist to the music industry and “bolstering the credibility of new brands” in the public setting (Shuker 62). Recently, major retailers are increasingly stocking vinyl versions of new song releases. On the contrary, CDs contain edited versions of songs. Nowadays, some CD albums are audio-tuned electronically to sound nothing like the actual voice of the artists. Consequently, consumers get disappointed when attending live performances and discovering the incongruence between the artists real voice and the CD music.
Lastly, vinyl records are better than CDs because they allow individuals to purchase singles rather than the whole album. Usually, listeners prefer one or two songs contained in a particular collection and hence have no use for the other songs on the list. Vinyl single records cater for this preference by availing singles on 45rpm Records. This vinyl record format enables listeners to save on cost by purchasing only the singles they want rather than buying a full album with songs that a buyer does not like. Compact discs are lacking in this area because they contain complete albums. As such, listeners must purchase full albums in order to listen to few tracks.
Some critics downplay the superiority of vinyl records over CDs by emphasizing their physical fragility. Repeated use of LPs causes scratches while longer recordings often break when in use. Secondly, vinyl records require manual setup and manipulation as opposed to CDs where manipulation is easily accomplished with the press of a button. However, vinyl proponents argue that it is the physical handling of LPs that add to their ritualism, sacredness and romantic feel (Shuker 69). Thirdly, vinyl records have a limited dynamic range by failing to reproduce bass. Too much bass causes the stylus to skip out of the grooves, hence jumping randomly from one music line to another. Moreover, more information gets compromised as the needle approaches the center of the disc. For this reason, some critics describe it as “a steadily collapsing medium” (Kornelis).
Despite these few drawbacks, it is apparent that vinyl records are superior to compact discs in aspects that matter to both consumers and music labels. These attributes include song publicity, preservation of authentic sounds, history memorability, singles purchasing, creative packaging and disc jockeying. These unique attributes of vinyl records are the reason behind their comeback in the modern society. If this trend continues, the sales of compact discs will decline even further in the market. This decline is exacerbated by the popularity of MP3 music formats that consumers can easily access through the internet.
Kornelis, Chris. "Do CDs Sound Better Than Vinyl?" LA Weekly. N.p., 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://www.laweekly.com/music/why-cds-may-actually-sound-better-than-vinyl-5352162>.
Osborne, Richard. Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record. Burlington: Ashgate, 2012. Yavapai Library academic databases. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=-B2rBAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Record+store+days+:+from+vinyl+to+digital+and+back+againAuthor:Calamar,+Gary.&hl=en&sa=X&ei=IvYXVc-NB6ba7gaCqoH4Dg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false>.
Record Collectors Guild. "About Vinyl Records." N.p., 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://www.recordcollectorsguild.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=44&page=1>.
Shuker, Roy. Wax Trash and Vinyl Treasures: Record Collecting As a Social Practice. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010. Yavapai Library academic databases. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=0KOR8shcjVUC&pg=PR5&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false>.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "FBI — Intellectual Property Theft." FBI. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/ipr/ipr>.