When you think of vinyl records and turntables, what words does it make you think of? Retro? Vintage, maybe? What about a decade of time? Are you picturing The Beatles in your mind’s eye? We don’t blame you! But you might be surprised to hear that turntables are still hot on the audio scene – and for good reason!
Turntables are still, arguably, the best way to listen to your music if you are a true audiophile, and we’ll tell you why!
A Brief History of the Turntable and Vinyl Records
Turntables and records have been an integral part of the music industry for almost a century! They have not only revolutionized the way we listen to music, but they've also played a vital role in the evolution of music.
The turntable (also known as a record player) was first introduced in the late 1800s. Originally they were used to play cylindrical records made of wax, were hand-cranked, and had a large horn to amplify the sound. Obviously, the appearance of turntables has changed rather radically over the decades to something more modern and sleek in nature.
By the 1920s, the popularity of turntables and vinyl records had grown to new heights. Jazz music was being widely played, and turntables were being used in dance halls and clubs to play the latest music. The record players in these venues were called "gramophones" and still featured a large horn to project the sound.
In the 1930s, the introduction of the electrical recording process improved the sound quality of records. This new process used microphones and amplifiers to capture and reproduce the sound. This allowed for a more natural and detailed sound to be captured – a significant improvement over the earlier, more mechanical recordings.
With the introduction of the LP (Long Play) record in the 1940s, the popularity of vinyl and record players continued to grow, but it didn't reach its peak until the 1960s and 70s! The record players of this era were often large and expensive, but because of stereo sound and the rise of rock-and-roll, turntables became a must-have item for the home of every music lover.
The later decades of the 20th century saw a decline in the popularity of turntables. The compact disc was introduced, and the rest is history. But – vinyl records and turntables are still being produced, and audiophiles are still in love with these devices today!
Why Vinyl Records are the Best Audio Medium
Okay, we're just going to say it: turntables and records are the best way to listen to music. And we're not just saying that – we have reasons to back it up!
- Sound Quality: Vinyl has a unique sound that cannot be replicated by digital music formats. Turntables produce a warm, rich sound, and the analog nature of records allows for a more natural and authentic sound. When listening to music on a turntable, you can hear all the subtle nuances of the music and a greater depth of sound that you might miss on a digital format.
- Physical Media: Collecting records can make listening to music a more personal and intimate way of engaging with your music collection because it's a physical collection. You're not just scrolling through a list of digital songs; you can hold the record, appreciate the artwork and design, read the liner notes, and carefully place the needle on the record.
- Immersive Listening Experience: With the right speakers, space, and audio system, the sound coming from your turntable and records will surround you and create a more natural and enveloping sound.
- Longevity: Vinyl records can last for decades with the proper handling and care – there's a reason that collectors can still find original pressings and search record stores for the best finds. You can find them if you look! With digital formats, it's much easier to lose or damage your music, and technology becomes outdated so quickly.
How to Create a Great Listening Room
So you're ready to take your vinyl record listening to the next level and create a dedicated listening space. It's a complex process to design a room specifically for optimizing sound quality, but here are the essentials that you (and ideally a professional) have to decide on before you start:
- Dimensions of the Room: When designing and choosing your listening room, the dimensions are a crucial consideration. The room has to be big enough to accommodate all the equipment and furnishings you choose while also being small enough not to affect the acoustics of the music. You have to find that sweet spot for damping that works well for you!
- Acoustic Treatments: Choosing your acoustic treatments for the room is important to make sure that you are absorbing and diffusing sound appropriately! These treatments are used to control the sound in a room by reducing reverberation and reflections.
- Wiring and Mounts: No matter the music system you choose for your listening room, the space will require a lot of wiring! So it's important to plan accordingly – either by running your wires through the wall or under the carpet or by keeping all of your components centrally located to avoid having long cords running through the room.
- Speakers: Speakers are a key component of any listening room – they can make or break the space! It's important to consider who else may be using the room, how much space you have, and if you will need amplifiers, etc. This is where an expert will come in handy to help make sure you get the correct equipment that the space requires.
- Hi-Fi Placement: It's important to consider where your speakers are going to be placed throughout the space. You'll want to take into consideration where in the room you'll be listening, what other furniture may be in the room, etc., so that you can attempt to "beam" the sound to the right area.
- Furnishings: While there are plenty of options for furniture with built-in speakers and the like, the important thing here is to choose furnishings that will help you kick back and relax to enjoy your great listening room!
The Top Remastered Records To Date
So we've covered the history of the turntable, why you should be listening to your music on vinyl, and how to design the perfect listening room. Now it's time to work on that collection! And that's where we, and your local record store, come in handy!
We've collected some of the top remastered vinyl records to come out in recent years, and any one of these would be a great addition to your collection.
- Abbey Road by The Beatles – Pretty much everything about this album is legendary. Originally released in 1969, this album has been remastered and rereleased three subsequent times!
- Nevermind by Nirvana – This is, arguably, the most famous album in grunge. This record was originally released in 1991 and is one of the main reasons we saw the end of the hair bands. Nevermind was remastered in 2011 and released to include several b-sides, unreleased tracks, and a live concert.
- Hello, I Must Be Going by Phil Collins – This album, released in 1982, started Phil Collin's solo career. It was remastered and rereleased in 2011, with several unreleased tracks as a bonus.
- 2001 by Dr. Dre – Stepping into a different decade and genre, there's no comparison to Dr. Dre's music. Originally released in 1999, this was remastered in 2011 for a "clean" version and again in 2019 in its original form.
- Random Access Memories by Daft Punk – This album, released in 2013 and recorded largely using live instruments, almost demands a deeper vinyl listening to really enjoy it!
- Cheap Trick at Budokan by Cheap Trick – Arguably one of the best and most famous live records, and Cheap Tricks' best album. Originally released in 1978 and remastered in 2015, you would be remiss not to add this one to your collection.
Are you ready to take your music listening up a notch? Then we're here to help you! We can walk you through all of your sound and speaker needs to make sure you have the ultimate listening experience every single time!