Vinyl: Quality, Quantity, and Trouble in Paradise

Blame it on those Portland hipsters.

With every available vinyl press in the world running full out, the pressing plants are just not keeping up with the demand for new records in 2015. And it’s not a happy situation.

Many of us have smelled this coming for a while now. Vinyl has become a super-trend. You now see records for sale at Costco, Hot Topic, and all retail points in between. Artists releasing new material can expect to wait months for an order to be produced. The pressing runs are spoken for, a year out if not more. In some markets (like Canada), the price of records on Amazon has doubled over the last two years.

I think I started seeing this coming when I noticed the hit and miss quality of new releases a few years ago. I’ve never paid too much mind to the sales figures, but when I noticed both physical QA and sound quality dropping steadily, it was obvious something was wrong.

Viewed from an audiophile’s perspective, this is a real drag, even if it’s not a complete disaster. For many independent musicians and indie record labels, it’s worse. The larger entities in the music industry are starving for profit – it seems that after finally figuring out an environmentally sustainable way of distributing music, they’ve forgotten how to make it financially viable (gee whiz, greed maybe?). And so, the very people who kept vinyl alive in the dark times, are now lined up behind corporate giants like Warner Bros. and Old Navy – where the fashion is largely to reissue classic bestsellers (oldies) for the fast buck.

And it’s probably going to get worse, for a variety of reasons.

I don’t make a habit of re-posting other people’s articles, but I think this one deserves to be read. It’s the first recent piece on the “vinyl revival” I’ve seen, that dispenses with cheerleading and describes the reality of what’s going on.

Pressed to the Edge: Why vinyl hype is destroying the record

(factmag.com)

My hope is that we audio enthusiasts will stay educated on this issue, and avoid supporting the “bandwagoners”. Do your homework, and buy the good stuff. The rest isn’t worth having.

 

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3 Comments on Vinyl: Quality, Quantity, and Trouble in Paradise

  1. Chris Templer // 2015/10/12 at 4:43 pm // Reply

    Bought a Reference Recording 45 RP1 pressing. Really poor recording/mastering between Johnston and Stubiltine plus the spindle hole off center.
    Premium price for what amounts to junk

  2. Hi Chris,
    I’m finding just about all new pressings need to be vetted carefully. I haven’t sampled every label out there, but of those I’ve bought lately (the last 2-3 years), only Analogue Productions have been 100% consistently QA’d top quality. YMMV, etc etc. I’m hoping to recruit someone I know to write a more in-depth article on this topic soon.
    Best regards,
    Noam

    • Chris Templer // 2015/10/13 at 11:45 am // Reply

      Thanks Noam. Look forward to an article. This last purchase is my final venture into new vinyl as I stay in South Africa and our currency does not fair well against the US $.

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