The Beauty of Analog Audio

I teach an on-line Introduction to Broadcasting course, and my teenage-20s students discussed vinyl vs. digital recordings in an assignment. I was surprised how many loved vinyl, because it created an emotional response in them that the music alone did not. The sight and sound of the visible mechanics were more important and heart-felt than the ease and convenience of Echo, i-phone, etc.

I mean, where is the emotional payoff to shouting a song title across the room and having a robot play it?  About the same as eating a McDonald’s hamburger, I suppose.

When I was a teen, 33.3 vinyl hi-fi stereo was it. The physical ritual of unpacking the LP, respectfully  putting it on the platter, carefully placing the arm  on the disc and watching it’s leisurely spin was an important part of the music experience.

In high school, I bought one of these hand-crank non-electric phonographs and a stack of 78s for pennies at an antique store. We’d take it on picnics and be astonished — this was way before Walkman. The first time we heard “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, on a 78, all scratchy and tinny, dependent on cranks and gears and belts and springs, and… no electricity. It was a different world. It was life-changing.  It opened new doors of perception.

I get what my students, 50 years later, are feeling, and I like it.

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