back to article Vinyl LPs to top 3 million sales in Blighty this year

Last month Sainsbury’s began stocking vinyl for the for first time in almost 30 years. The BPI today predicted estimates for vinyl sales will likely top 3m in the UK, and perhaps 3.5m. 2m vinyl LPs were sold in 2015, the highest for 21 years, and only broke back through the million mark in 2014. It’s an astonishing recovery, …

  1. NotBob
    Trollface

    So does this mean they're

    breaking records?

  2. Planty Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    Re: So does this mean they're

    No it means hipster have no capability of independent thought, that is all.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: So does this mean they're

    Get with the times Granddad, shellac is so over!

  4. Daedalus Silver badge

    Wow

    Love all that wow. And the crackle and flutter. My copy of "Wish You Were Here" was made with an off-centre hole. It added a nice touch of vibrato to the end of the last track. And how about all those extra-thin CBS albums with the wavy edges? Bring them back (or buy them off me).

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Re: Wow

    I always thought RCA stood for "rubber conservation association" from how thin their records became.

  6. Stevie Silver badge

    Re: Wow

    Ah, RCA. I remember walking back from a distant pub after closing time one winter's eve around Christmas with four friends, one whom was in posession of a fifth absent friend's copy of Hunky Dory, pressed by RCA.

    "Hey" says Mark, studying the back of the sleeve. "This album is made of Dynaflex!"

    "Wossat then?" I say to general ridicule.

    "It's this new stuff that's almost indestructible" says Gary. "You can bend the album in two, edges touching and all that, and it will play just fine after an' all."

    "Gerroudavit!" I respond.

    "I'll show ya" says Mark, breath steaming in the well-below freezing air, and draws the disc from its sleeve.

    "Er, that's Mick's record" I say, nervously. We were none of us feeling any pain after a couple of pints each (seventeen, ah youth) and this was shrugged off by everyone as "a detail".

    "Watch and be amazed!" Says Mark, bends the album edges toward each other.

    A sharp crack and the air is full of tiny flying razor-sharp shards of plastic.

    And just like that a miserable freezing night is transformed into high merriment and neighbourly shouts of "Bugger off, you kids!"

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    The irony is

    Most vinyls are made from digital masters. So all the people proclaiming they're richer / warmer / whatever are simply deluding themselves.

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Re: The irony is

    Not really - analog storage has significantly different performance at both ends of the audio spectrum and - assuming they don't mess up the digital to analog cutting translation when they make the LP - you really do hear a quite different performance.

    Added to which - quite a few digital systems have cheap DACs and get listened to through cruddy earbuds, whereas an LP played through a decent stereo analog amplifier with a pair of studio speakers really does sound completely different.

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    Re: The irony is

    "Not really - analog storage has significantly different performance at both ends of the audio spectrum and - assuming they don't mess up the digital to analog cutting translation when they make the LP - you really do hear a quite different performance."

    The proper way to verify the sound output would be to do an ABX test between the master and the LP, and between the master and a CD / FLAC / WAV. If you can tell the difference its because the audio has been distorted or otherwise failed to capture frequency in the master. And that's BAD, not good.

  10. Lennart Sorensen

    Re: The irony is

    So you are saying if you listen with a crappy system it sounds worse than if you listen with a good system? A good system with digital will be even better than the analog.

  11. Pristine Audio

    Re: The irony is

    "The proper way to verify the sound output would be to do an ABX test between the master and the LP, and between the master and a CD / FLAC / WAV. If you can tell the difference its because the audio has been distorted or otherwise failed to capture frequency in the master. And that's BAD, not good."

    And it won't sound the same, I can assure you. I have vinyl records that I've mastered digitally. I have tape masters that I didn't master but for which I also have the vinyl. They never sound like the master. Don't need to ABX them to listen for subtle differences, it's pretty clear...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only hipsters buy Vinyl

    It's such a stupid fad

  13. Christoph Silver badge

    It'll never replace shellac.

  14. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Wax cylinders are where its at.

  15. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    With a horn and crank

  16. bjr

    In 1983 I bought an Edison cylinder player and a couple of Victrolas, my father was incredulous, he said "what do you want with those things, I tossed mine out in 1948 when they invented HiFi?. I feel the same way about those kinds buying LPs today, I disconnected my turntable in the 1980s when they invented the CD and then I stopped listening to CDs when streaming was invented.

  17. gloucester

    Soup?

    "... by miso aficionados like Jack White."

    I was previously unaware he appreciated soy-based flavourings so much.

    Or did you mean muso?

  18. Steve Crook

    By the Look Of The Best Sellers

    It's the boomers that are buying them.

    Still got my LPs, still play them, but the only thing I really miss are the sleeves and the notes and inserts that went with them. The warped discs, dished discs, off centre holes, mold release stuck in the grooves, plicks, plits and 'bedazzled' scratches I can do without. Ahh, how I fondly remember the repeated visits to the local record shops to exchange an LP for the umpteenth time in the vain hope of getting a copy that was remotely playable. Not.

    OTOH, give me a free FLAC copy with my vinyl purchase and I might be interested...

  19. Andy 97

    Rev Ludd.

    I know many people that profess to buy records, but when I go to their place it's always the digital material that's being played.

    Yes, the album sleeve always looks better when it's bigger, but if you need that mushy sound, buy an Optimod.

  20. m0rt Silver badge

    Story please!

    "Your reporter pleads a bias: having started an independent record shop in the long distance past."

    Please write about this.

  21. David 132 Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: Story please!

    Indeed, it sounds intriguing.

    Anyone else remember Dial-a-Disc?

    (note to my younger self: the word "dilatory" does NOT refer to its right-wing political equivalent)

  22. David 132 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Buying, not necessarily playing

    Reading about the same thing elsewhere, I note that a non-trivial proportion (I think it was 7%?) of the vinyl buyers don't actually own a deck.

    Which makes me wonder, are they just buying vinyl because it's cool? For collecting only?

    Or are they putting the records on a flatbed scanner?

    http://archive.wired.com/entertainment/music/news/2003/02/57769

  23. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Pirate

    Re: Buying, not necessarily playing

    1) Buy the vinyl record

    2) Torrent the FLAC equivalent

    3) Profit! (one hopes step 1 is actually paying musicians)

  24. nijam Silver badge

    Re: Buying, not necessarily playing

    > one hopes step 1 is actually paying musicians

    You can hope all you like - it's still just paying the record companies.

  25. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    LP's versus CDs

    LP's every time - it's a total bitch rolling a decent spliff on a CD case plus if a little ball of burning Nepalese falls on a CD then it's ruined - whereas with an LP you just give it a bit of a nudge -even after all these years my Roy Harper album plays fine - except for that one track.

  26. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Re: LP's versus CDs

    I assume that the down vote is because I damaged Roy Harpers' "Flat Baroque and Berserk" album ... I know, I feel really bad about that - Sorry.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see....

    ....that all the vinyl haters are already starting to comment on this thread.

    Doesn't matter whether or not it's a delusion that vinyl sounds better than CD; it's their money. it keeps them happy, and it harms no-one else. So why don't you naysayers STFU and let them have their fun?

    Or tell us what your little idiosyncrasies are that make no sense to other people, so we can piss all over them and see how you feel about it.

  28. find users who cut cat tail

    Re: Nice to see....

    > Or tell us what your little idiosyncrasies are that make no sense to other people...

    I do not want more people doing this. I want the silly vinyl people stop doing this. Is the difference clear?

  29. Scott Wichall

    Re: Nice to see....

    And what business of yours is it what they spend their money on?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nice to see....

    '....that all the vinyl haters are already starting to comment on this thread.'

    Look, it's not that we hate vinyl (otherwise I wouldn't still have boxes full of the buggers from the halcyon days of my youth and a couple of turntables and all that crap)..

    The whole 'oh it sounds soooo much better' bullshit¹, that's the stuff that grates.

    Some of us remember listening to vinyl on BSR turntables..

    Some of us remember the first time we heard 'Warrior on the Edge of Time' on CD and heard 'detail' we never heard listening to the vinyl on a Sondek and other associated Linn Magery..

    Some of us are old enough to remember when some audiophiles held up CDs as the 'New Messiah' of the audio world and lo!, people would gather in the shops to listen to unto them...

    Seriously, I can remember the first time I heard a CD, late '83, in an audiophile shop standing in a group of around 20 other mixed audiophiles/long hairs listening to 'Dark Side of the Moon'..then standing about listening to the old audiophiles waxing lyrical about the 'clarity' etc. etc. etc.

    '..Doesn't matter whether or not it's a delusion that vinyl sounds better than CD; it's their money. it keeps them happy, and it harms no-one else. So why don't you naysayers STFU and let them have their fun?'

    Aye, Indeed, fay ce que vouldras..but some of us wish they'd just STFU about Vinyl's second coming

    '..Or tell us what your little idiosyncrasies are that make no sense to other people, so we can piss all over them and see how you feel about it.'

    Oh, here..to be going on with..

    I use hand tools (drills, braces, screwdrivers etc) in preference to electrical tools for most jobs.

    I use fountain pens when I have to scribble on paper.

    I still use CRT monitors and Televisions.

    I use a Kamagata-Usuba as a back scratcher.

    have fun!.

    ¹. I will admit that I still think certain albums sound better as Vinyl played on an old BSR deck, distorting away like buggery, rather than their CD/digital versions. This has nothing to do with the 'quality' of sound, more like bringing back the associated memories of the first time I ever listened to it.

  31. werdsmith Silver badge

    Re: Nice to see....

    I have a fine collection of vinyl, all of them more than 20 years old. I have nothing to play them on anymore though and I do maintain a longing to start using them again. It's not the sound quality, it's the ritual of unsleeving, and arm and stylus, stack-dropping on the spindle and the click-click-boom-crackle-rumble before the music starts.

    Seems that restored Garrard 301 turntables can fetch four figures (check your attics) so I might have to keep watching freecycle to see if I can pick up on of those 70s flat music centres with tuner and cassette to flll up most of my front room.

    I don't think it's a sudden hipster fad, it's been a shallow ramping up over many years and people not liking CDs.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nice to see....

    The main difference I'm aware of is mastering - where you take the stereo mix (on 2-track reel-to-reel) and apply more effects to "make it sound better". It really is that subjective... and I think audio engineers had better taste in the vinyl era. Now it's all about Logic, ProTools, plugins, and of course, The Loudness Wars. Today's engineering are butchering the classics.

    Analog studio gear is also very forgiving. Saturation and distortion sound good, up to a point. With digital you have to be very conservative and careful, you have to go out of your way to recreate analog 'warmth', and it all distracts from the art of music production. It doesn't have to be that way but usually it is.

    You can, of course, hear the difference even in a lossy digital rip of a vinyl. But if it's just playing in the background on shuffle, and you're only half listening, it's not the same experience.

    I listen to both, vinyl and digital... but not tape or CD.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nice to see....

    Agree, many CDs sound pretty rough compared to a good FLACing whether from a really decent vinyl rip on quality equipment or from good digital sources like a good remastered CD or digital master. A lot probably down to nasty mixing not the actual CD technology.

  34. swarfega

    Re: Nice to see....

    "fay ce que vouldras"

    Good Lord, Occitan making a comeback? That'll learn 'em ;)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nice to see....

    '..Good Lord, Occitan making a comeback? That'll learn 'em ;)'

    I assumed medieval/old French...mind you, with some of the literature I've been trawling through recently (a combination of sorting out an inherited real book collection for disposal/sale, my own, and also figuring out which ebooks will soon populate the shiny new 64gig cards I've got sitting around)

    i've lost track..

  36. nijam Silver badge

    Re: Nice to see....

    > Occitan making a comeback?

    Yes, it sounds much more mellow than modern French, even though I don't understand a word of it.

    What an apt analogy.

  37. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Re: Nice to see....

    I played Ziggy Stardust for my 18 year old daughter last night - the original 1972 pressing and it sounds great even after all these years ... this being 2016, she posted it on Instagram and Facebook - turns out there are a lot of young Bowie fans out there. Good music lives forever!

  38. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    New Order

    Always nice to see them get a mention

  39. e^iπ+1=0

    Re: New Order

    All very well, and hopefully the band get some royalties from this.

    What I want to know is: does anyone get any royalties from all these t-shirts bearing the Unknown Pleasures artwork? As worn mostly by generation Z (or whatever's the correct terminology).

  40. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Re: New Order

    Interesting question. That graphic was already in the public domain, so knowing Factory they probably lost money on it somehow.

  41. BurnT'offering

    I've been buying vinyl recently

    In charity shops. Why? Because I keep coming across things like opera box sets from the late 50s or early 60s in great condition. It seems a shame to just let them disappear. So I rescue them. And next I suppose I will have to buy a turntable. I know it doesn't make sense from an audio fidelity aspect, but they are very pleasing artefacts which I covet, and which cost next to nothing. Oddly, I rarely come across any decent classical CDs in the same shops.

  42. Herby Silver badge

    Probably OK, unless...

    They use an mp3 file to make the vinyl master (could happen). On the other hand, if you want that "warm" feeling, I'm sure a signal processing algorithm passed over the (digital) output of the CD can make it for you. Then this nice "warm" sound will be even "warmer" when you use vacuum tubes valves to distort enhance the output.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No herby

    No pro engineer would bother to master from a lossy source. You might have to master from an old CD, but the very existence of an MP3 indicates that somewhere there exists a no loss source. I would agree there are a lot of things you can do to a digital source to make it "warmer" or whatever you perceive you need to do to improve it.

    I'd also agree that you can make digital recordings sound really good with proper playback equipment, and you can make a vinyl album sound poor with poor equipment.

    I think money is best spent on good monitors, then good preamp, then power amp, THEN the playback media. If I A/B the best album ever recorded, vinyl vs CD, through a proper signal chain...I cannot hear enough quality improvement to justify the much larger pain in the arse that care and feeding of vinyl entails.

    I have a turntable because I'm old, I tend to buy good stuff and don't throw stuff away much...sometimes I play old vinyl and it sounds just fine, but anymore, I am usually only going to "spin that platter" one more time, because I am in the process of ripping it to MP3.

    I' wont buy new vinyl, particularly at the 2x price premium over a CD it seems to be commanding. If it were at cost parity there are some albums I WOULD buy in LP rather than CD. Partly so I can play audio engineer snob while doing the transcode to digital and regard that particular recording to be worth the extra effort, and partly to have something to roll joints on while I am doing it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: No herby

    '...but the very existence of an MP3 indicates that somewhere there exists a no loss source.'

    I had to produce some mp3 files last week from a couple of 30 year old compact audio cassettes. The analogue masters for said tapes might exist somewhere, in someone's attic/basement/loft/shed/lurking-under-the-bed..anyhow, after a bit of processing, the customer got them back and these files are now up on Soundcloud somewhere.

    In the past, I've done similar for other tape/cassette recordings, one which started off life as a 1/4" stereo reel-to-reel recording of a live classical concert late 60's/early 70's which at some point in the 90's had been transferred to a metal cassette tape, naturally I only got the metal tape copy to convert to both a CD master and mp3.

    'No pro engineer would bother to master from a lossy source.'

    Nope, they'd prefer not to master from a lossy source, besides, up till the advent of digital, most engineers seemed to happily master from good old lossy analogue.

    In practice all sources are 'lossy' for various interpretations of the word, and sometimes engineers have no choice...it may be an exercise in futile turd polishing, but it's what the customer wants and all that...

  45. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Re: No herby

    but the very existence of an MP3 indicates that somewhere there exists a no loss source.

    No, it indicates that somewhere there *existed* a no-loss source.

    But anyway, the argument is redundant: as with most things audio, the whole thing is basically a question of 'which distortion do you prefer'. Don't even get me started on 5+1 tracks 'remastered' from stereo tapes...

  46. Androgynous Cow Herd

    Re: No herby

    Ahh, ok. You're right. When I said "No pro Audio engineer is going to master from a lossy source", . I meant "Lossy" in the digital form such as MP3 where frequencies are lumped together and some discarded in order to reduce file size, vs. .WAV which (theoretically) has everything that was captured. I hadn't thought about the analog equivalents like generation loss and good old fashioned compression, you just don't really have to consider that stuff so much anymore.

    Now that you mention it, have had to do a very similar job to your cassette to .MP3 on a grander scale and worked with about every form of recording media available in the early '90s...Minidisc and DAT mostly, but a few bootleg cassettes as well.

    I don't know if that album will ever be re released on vinyl - but it would not be impossible or even that surprising given the artist. Since it was produced for CD, a rerelease on vinyl would require a remastering for the RIAA curve, and I would probably just start with the CD master rather than going back to the analog source at all...

  47. nijam Silver badge

    Re: No herby

    > No pro engineer would bother to master from a lossy source.

    Oh really? Analogue tape is *very* lossy, for example. If you read the specs, you'll find that the signal/noise ratio and the distortion level are both so bad that they are traditionally measured at different levels: S/N measured at peak recording level (even then it's rarely much better than 70dB) where the distortion level is high, and distortion at lower recording levels where S/N is very poor. Studio recorders use high tape speed to overcome some issues - including H/F roll-off - but at the expense of mangling the L/F frequency response.

    There's much confusion over the intrinsic merit of the encoding, versus the implementation of that encoding, versus the engineer's ability to use it properly.

  48. energystar
    Pirate

    Truly F_(*#% Up...

    With infinite digital 'Nuances'

  49. monty75 Silver badge

    The Biz

    Thumbs up for the Chris Sievey referencing sub-head.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember the Teardrop Explodes

    now I expect my Reward

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