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World of Music: Vinyl Beats Digital

Cover Photo:  Hamline Sophomore Sabrina Merritt sharing her favorite record. Photo By Ryan Saufferer.

In a digital society, Vinyl stands testament to the best of the analogue world. While some “hipsters” search out the cheapest record player they can for an aesthetic, true vinyl enthusiasts collect, listen and cherish LPs’ for a simple truth. Vinyl is just better.

When music is digitized, it is compressed down to much smaller files than what the studio recorded it on. This causes subtle details that the performer wants their listener to hear to be cut, dropped or just garbled all together. When pressed into vinyl, all of those details are present. Better than the music on the records, however, are the stories that come with them.

“It’s a whole culture thing,” Hamline Sophomore Sabrina Merritt said as we sat listening to her favorite record, Impeccable Blahs by Say Hi. “You get to go to record shows and bargain with people and find records you’ve been searching for.”  

Most people at record shows are older white guys between thirty to fifty, Merritt continued. “It’s never been a hobby I’ve interacted with many girls in.” This has resulted in several instances at record stores in which she was subjected to mansplaining about bands and music that Sabrina definitely knew more about.

While some got into records from their parents, others have it handed down over a generational gap. Kira Paula, a Hamline Sophomore, began her vinyl experience when her Grandmother gave her a stack of albums.  “I wouldn’t consider myself a collector. My collection is mostly just gifts.” Paula’s go-to album is a Frank Sinatra LP her mother gave her for Christmas. “It’s not something I would normally listen to, but it is easy to study when it is on.”

For a few, like Hamline Sophomore Alex Larson, finding vinyl came organically. “I was 18 and no one really influenced me, it was out of curiosity.” Larson recalled. “I have always enjoyed music and I wanted to add a physical component to feel more connected to it.”

For Alex, album collecting quickly became an important part of his life. “It’s allowed me to have a deeper emotional connection to something I already loved. There’s some intrinsic beauty to it.” Larson said.

Finding music outside of your normal preferences that you enjoy is a common occurrence for the vinyl enthusiast. “While album surfing, there’s a visual aspect to it, sometimes you really connect with that element,” said Larson. He continued explaining that sometimes you need to listen to that album just to try and figure out why you connected with it so much. “That’s how I found Depeche Mode’s album But Not Tonight. It’s more poppy than I usually listen too, however I enjoy the metropolitan abstract design of the album art.”

It’s never too late to get into records. You may be surprised what you get out of it. For Alex, what he got was simple. “It’s whatever is etched into that black disk; it is what it is. It’s not a digital string of zeros and ones interpreting the music. It’s analogue, it’s honest.”

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