It is quite incredible that in the age of Spotify and Apple Music a teenager has actually looked for and purchased a turntable off the Internet. Vinyl records sales have surpassed the CDs a while ago. Digital music does no longer need a physical support. Compressed formats have reached an almost acceptable quality even to hifi geeks like me. Teenagers largely use their own phones to download or stream their preferred music and MP3 players are disappearing. Nonetheless people have continued to buy vinyl records at an increasing rate. What surprised me was that teenagers would do it, too!
Vinyl records are cool, no doubts about it. People like me, in our early 50s, have grown up with them. Music was normally engraved in the groove, we saved money and went to the shop to buy our desired album and cherished it, its large envelope, the large pictures, the lyrics printed on the inner sleeve… It all reminds us of when we used to be younger.
But what about teenagers? My niece, she was gifted with a a vinyl record of one her favorite musicians. Ok, so she needed one and found a Victrola EP-33 Bluetooth turntable with 50w speakers for around 160 quid on the internet. She can play her records or stream her music from her cellphone on the same device.
In this frantic digital world, it is a blessing to have the chance to enjoy something, music in this case, with the slower pace of the life that used to be.
Without doubt, old fashioned records and turntables are cool to young people, too. For sure they won’t care about the better quality of sound (which is not exactly true, it depends), let alone setting up the turntable with all the hassle about vertical tracking force of the needle, the tonearm height, antiskating and so on.
Here is my niece’s Victrola EP-33 turntable.
Cool good-quality turntables to make a gift?
A turntable needs to be on a perfectly horizontal and vibration-free surface in order to perform at its best. Will she care? Will any teenager like her ever care? We did not care either in our younger days: vinyl and cassettes were the only available media. We plugged our turntables, put the record on and enjoyed the music. We were not aware that with a fine tune-up the performance of our old turntables would have increased incredibly. So when the first, dull sounding CD players arrived, even for them it was easy to show up a better sound performance. They also need to be on a horizontal and vibration-free surface but, again, who cared? They need far less setting up than turntables so they quickly took over. Today’s CD players are galaxies ahead of the first ones; still some correctly set up turntables can beat the hell out of them. Even old ones like my Thorens TD160 from the 70s!
At the end, I can’t really imagine anything else than the cool factor to be the real reason behind the turntable’s come-back. Some nostalgia is involved with people who grew up with vinyl records. Just a few will choose to buy a turntable for its better performances. But it is a good thing anyway. In this frantic digital world, it is a blessing to have the chance to enjoy something, music in this case, with the slower pace of the life that used to be. We had few records, few music to choose from when we felt we wanted to do some listening. Today we have all the existing music at our fingertips. Kind of discouraging.
I’m glad that my niece will discover that feeling. What it’s like to grab a bigger disc, to read and watch images from a bigger album than a CD, to have to wait until side 1 is finished, hearing the noise of the needle at the end of the groove before continuing on the other side…