Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Local vinyl enthusiasts can enjoy "music on the go," too

Link to blog:

NOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of Rex Catapult and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.

Today, MP3 players and car CD players make it easy for us to listen to music on the go, as opposed to just a few decades ago, when we'd have to sit at home within earshot of analog audio. But did you know that although digital formats have replaced vinyl records, many record labels are still pressing albums to vinyl for those of us who do like to sit at home and listen to music?

And, being there is a small, but present demand for vinyl records, labels are making it easy for vinyl enthusiasts to take part in the luxury that is "music on the go" without having to buy the album on two different audio formats.

In the past couple of years, purchasing vinyl came with a nice added perk. Depending on if the label chooses to or not, many records now come with a slip of paper containing a URL and a one-time use download code.

The coolest part about this is, you have the music in its raw analog format on the record, which some would argue sounds better and more full because what you're hearing is the raw, recorded sound that needed no condensing or converting. (Digital audio is condensed from its original analog format.)

In other words, digital audio doesn't capture the complete analog sound wave, but takes "snapshots" of it (digital takes 44,100 "snapshots" per second). So, if there is a very quick transition in say, a trumpet, the digital version may sound distorted because the instrument's fast change doesn't carry over to digital as fluid as it would sound recorded as it was played. Converting it is approximating the original sound, at best. Get it?

More about getting records, free digital versions, after the jump.

Anyway, audiophiles get to have the analog recording to listen to at home, but can take the digital copy to their car, MP3 player, etc.

All the record label has to do, should they choose to include a download code with their album, is let the pressing company know. (It costs a little bit extra for the label, but it markets their LPs to more people.) The pressing company will then set up a digital copy of the album on its server, and all customers have to do to get it the digital version is redeem the code.

It downloads as a nice, neat ZIP file, with the album artwork usually included as a JPEG.

I personally enjoy having the best of both worlds with one purchase. And, if I burn the MP3s to a CD, I don't feel like a jerk having a burned CD of the album because, hey, it's totally legit.

Where to buy records in Elgin? Check out Rediscover Records, 207 E. Chicago St., previously written up in The Courier-News.

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