Why should you start listening to vinyl records

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Vinyl record sales numbers have been rising for years, and for good reason. There’s something about listening to music on vinyl that just doesn’t seem to have analog in the digital realm.

Listen to albums instead of just songs

In most of our music listening, we’ve stopped listening to entire albums of songs like people used to. While it’s nice to be able to instantly call up your favorite song or hear a playlist of potential favorites, it can take songs out of their intended context, weakening them.

With a vinyl record, it’s possible to jump to a song by locating the right groove on the record, but it’s certainly not easy. It almost forces you to listen to an entire album, hearing the songs in the order the artist intended. It gives a flow to the music that is otherwise lacking, and you may even find that you like certain songs more or less because of the songs around them.

A single vinyl record can hold around 15 to 20 minutes per side, with a maximum of around 22 minutes. This means that a single disc will contain no more than 45 minutes of music. For anything else, you’ll need a double album: two individual discs packaged together.

This gives you more options. Don’t have more than an hour to listen to a full double album? Play a single disc and you’ll start enjoying these songs more. Want to get to know an album better? Play them one side at a time.

Of course, to get the most out of your records, you’ll want to listen to them carefully, instead of just letting them play in the background. It helps if you have a quality stereo or great sounding headphones.

Read the liner notes

You might not notice that you hear a single song in isolation, but the artists put a lot of effort into every aspect of a release. This means more than just music, as this level of detail often goes into the packaging.

Services like Spotify and Apple Music can now show you the lyrics next to a song you’re listening to, and if they don’t have it, you can probably find the lyrics on Genius. That said, there may be something good about reading the lyrics from the lyric sheet included with the disc.

Some vinyl releases are barebones, but given the popularity, it’s not that common. Instead, artists spend more time releasing vinyl, adding liner notes with details about the record you may never find online.

Don’t forget the credits either. Especially with today’s productions, you can find an artist who regularly contributes music or lyrics to the works of another artist you love, helping to broaden your musical horizons.

Enjoy the artwork

While we are looking at vinyl record packaging, we have to mention artwork. Artists spend a lot of time and effort creating or collaborating on album artwork that most people only ever see as a roughly one-inch-square thumbnail on their phone.

ELO's cover "From nowhere" album from 1977.
Epic Records

Even if you tap on the album art for a closer inspection, most music services don’t offer a way to get a good look at it. A vinyl record, on the other hand, gives you a detailed copy of the artwork of just over a square foot.

With albums I first heard digitally before buying the vinyl, I often noticed details in the artwork that I had missed countless times before. Watching the artwork while the music is playing is another great way to increase your immersion in an artist’s work.

Vinyl is an experience, not just a sound

Mindfully listening to an album (putting aside your connected devices and anything else that distracts you from the music) isn’t for everyone, but it can be an amazing experience. It’s a great way to hear music for the first time or revisit an album you’ve heard more times than you can count.

Even chasing records can be fun. You don’t have to be a collector to keep an eye out for bargains at music stores or even garage sales, but it can be a great way to grow your music library on the cheap.

If you have a stereo system or headphone setup that you like, you’ve done almost everything already. Just choose a turntable, grab a few records and start listening.

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