15 Feb

Manowar – Warriors of the World – Brand New Vinyl

Finally. I have a lot of different music on vinyl, but no heavy metal. I’ve got some hard rock such as Deep Purple and Whitesnake, but no real, true heavy metal. Now I do. Manowar – Warriors of the Word.

Manowar - Warriors of the World LP

There are a lot of people who love heavy metal, but hate Manowar. They think of them as being cheesy, and cliche. Personally, I love Manowar. I think they rock hard, and hey, I love the fantasy subject matter. That helps.

Warriors of the World was released in 2002, and includes a tribute to the victims of September 11th, 2001. The song is called “The Fight For Freedom.” Also on the album is a tribute to Richard Wagner with “The March” and two covers, one is “An American Trilogy” by Elvis, and the other is one of my favorites, the aria from the opera Turandot, “Nessun Dorma” by Giacomo Puccini. If you think opera and heavy metal don’t mix, you haven’t heard this version.

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Eric Adams is one of the most versatile singers I’ve heard, his pronunciations in German, Italian and Latin are great, yet he can scream like no one else.

For those of you who don’t know, Manowar is the loudest band in the world, according to Guiness Book of World Records. They reached an amazing 129.5 decibels in concert.

Here is an example of their true style with Call To Arms:

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Musticstack has a great selection of Manowar on vinyl even including some picture discs.

Side One:

    Call To Arms
    The Fight For Freedom
    Nessun Dorma
    Swords In The Wind
    An American Trilogy

Side Two:

    The March
    Warriors Of The World United
    Hand of Doom
    House of Death
    Fight Until We Die

If you don’t (gasp) want the album on vinyl, download the MP3’s here off of Amazon.

11 Feb

The Vinyl Killer – VW Bus Portable Record Player

Yes, you read that right. This little VW Bus looks like a Hot Wheel. But it plays records.

Thats just crazy. Why I would ever want to play that on most of my records is beyond me, but it is pretty cool.

Apparently, it only comes as a Volkswagen Bus. But it comes in many different colors, and even with flames.I really can’t tell what music that it is playing, it sounds pretty bad, but it almost sounds like Rick Dees with Disco Duck. There isn’t any singing though.

The only place that I can find that sells this is Juno. Just click the VW Bus.

Vinyl Killer Soundwagon Portable Record Player

08 Feb

Jackson Browne – Running on Empty Vinyl Album

Running on Empty by Jackson Browne is a phenomenal album. It was nominated for a Grammy, but didn’t win. I don’t really care about that. Grammy’s and Oscar’s and all those awards are worth nothing to me. I’m not being snobbish, but just because something wins doesn’t mean it’s good; and if it doesn’t win, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Jackson Browne - Running On Empty on Vinyl Record

One of the reasons I love this album, is that was not recorded in the studio. Some of it was live, one track was recorded in a rehearsal room, some were recorded in hotel rooms, and one was even recorded on thetour bus while driving down the highway. As I do sound for a hobby, that to me is just crazy. No one records on a bus. But it works. It fits with the mood of the album.

Browne’s first wife had committed suicide, and he then wrote his greatest album The Pretender. While on tour for The Pretender, he wrote and recorded Running On Empty.

Side One:

  1. Running on Empty – recorded live
  2. The Road – recorded in room 301 at the Cross Keys Inn
  3. Rosie – recorded backstage
  4. You Love the Thunder – recorded live
  5. Cocaine – recorded in room 124 at the Holiday Inn

Side Two:

  1. Shaky Town – recorded in room 124 at the Holiday Inn
  2. Love Needs a Heart – recorded live
  3. Nothing But Time – recorded on a bus somewhere in New Jersey
  4. The Load-Out – recorded live
  5. Stay – recorded live

The Load-Out is one of my favorite songs of all time. It is thought to be the best live performance ever caught on tape. I’ve said before that I am a musician, and when you listen to this, it brings to mind touring and playing. Although he makes it sound very tiring, it still ignites that passion to just play music. Especially the part where he tells the roadies

“But when that last guitars been packed away / You know that I still want to play / So just make sure you’ve got it all set to go / Before you come for my piano.”

Yeah. One of the greatest songs ever. I not going to play it though, because it is played on the radio every once in a while, so here is Nothing But Time, recorded on a bus. The clapping at the beginning is the end of the last track, listen for the engine in the background:

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There are a lot of Jackson Browne records at Musicstack. Of course, if you rather have the MP3’s:

05 Feb

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Brain Salad Surgery Album on Vinyl

As a keyboard player, I love Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Keith Emerson is a phenomenal pianist and composer, and it shows on this album, Brain Salad Surgery. Also check out my post on ELP’s first album, Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Emerson Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery LP

Yes, the title is a little different, but don’t let it scare you. It is a lyric from Dr. Johns song “Right Place, Wrong Time.”

This was ELP’s fourth album, and one of my favorites. I love “Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2.” This song was so long, it had to be split up on both sides of the record. “Toccata” by Ginastera, was originally not going to be used because Ginastera’s agent didn’t like it. But Ginastera himself did like the ELP version. So there it is.

Also used on this album was a new piece of equipment called a drum synthesizer. This allowed Carl Palmer to play his drums and create more synth sounds and effects.

There are three more song that were recorded, but never put on the album. These are “Brain Salad Surgery” “Tiger in the Spotlight” and “When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I’ll Be Your Valentine.” I wonder if the last one was left off because the title wouldn’t fit on a record label.

If the radio ever does play ELP, it’s usually “Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2.” During Christmas you can hear “I Believe in Father Christmas.” So I think I’ll put something else on here as an MP3 for you, here is “Still… You Turn Me On”;

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Track Listing:

Side One

  1. Jerusalem
  2. Toccata
  3. Still… Your Turn Me On
  4. Benny The Bouncer
  5. Karn Evil 9
    1. 1st Impression Part 1

Side Two

  1. Karn Evil 9
    1. 1st Impression Part 2
    2. 2nd Impression
    3. 3rd Impression

If you want Emerson, Lake and Palmer on vinyl, check out Musicstack. Or you can just download Brain Salad Surgery below.

05 Feb

Why Have Records Outlasted CD’s, and Will Last Longer Than MP3’s

This made me laugh, because, yes. People who listen to records and claim that they are better than CD’s maybe are snobs. (From the website of DePaul University.)

Ever since Napster came onto the scene in the late 90s, the music industry has been in a state of limbo, finding it hard to cope with the rapidly changing modes of the entertainment world and the people who take advantage of it.

The popularity and repercussions of the first Napster program made it an icon in the computer and entertainment fields, but these days, there so many programs that facilitate the same practice of online file-sharing that downloading music from the Internet is the norm.

This fact is a growing problem for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which claims that more than half of all college students illegally download music and movie media content. In addition, a recent poll in the Los Angeles Times revealed that almost 70 percent of teenagers believe it’s OK to copy a compact disc they purchased before passing that copy onto a friend. These stats seem to say that the CD is more useful as a wall decoration than for listening to your favorite band, and the act of going out and buying one is seen as quaint and backward to us tech-savvy youths. I would agree—nobody misses Coconuts or Sam Goody (remember when they started selling tons of Korn gear to try and make up for low sales? Bah!)—but sometimes I feel like something’s missing when all my music is magically jammed inside a tiny rectangle with buttons.

With all of that said, I would trade my iPod for a flawless vinyl collection any day of the week, and I know there are plenty of people out there who would gladly do the same. Call me old-fashioned, but I often daydream about wall-to-wall milk crates jam-packed with dusty jazz tunes, rock gems and classical masterpieces. Every time I see a set of enormous, retro-ass speakers in an alley, I fantasize about how I could lug them home and blast CSNY’s “Déjà vu” over and over until the landlord comes to kick the door down. But what is it about vinyl that has allowed it to survive (and possibly outlive) the reign of the cassette tape, the compact disc and the almighty Internet? It’s got to be more than kitsch, people; sane individuals do not spend thousands of dollars just to have a bunch of big, bulky records stacked up around their living rooms, right? Right.

I think there is just something more personal and visceral about listening to a record; the physical action of setting the needle down just right is incredibly satisfying once mastered, and you don’t get to hear the whole album unless you get up and turn the thing over. These actions establish a stronger connection between the music and the listener because unlike dragging-and-dropping a playlist in iTunes, the listener must become familiar with the album as a cohesive whole—from the slight sound impurities and jumps to the grooves themselves. These, along with every other idiosyncrasy associated with actively listening to an album on vinyl, make the record-listening experience entirely unique.

Some might say that CDs offer the same sort of satisfaction, but I disagree because CDs are much less fragile than vinyl. A flawless record is something to be fiercely protected, and even coveted, because the sound comes out somewhere in between a re-mastered, touched-up CD and a gritty live show, and can easily be destroyed if one isn’t careful. In other words (and not to sound like a lame music snob), the sound of a record is like no other because it is complex and distorted, yet somehow more organic and pure.

Since compact disc sales are going steadily into the toilet with each “Billboard top 100” list that comes out, I think it’s time for more people to start looking to vinyl to quench their musical thirst. Aside from the cool factor (because you’re way cooler if you are into vinyl, trust me), the benefits of buying records significantly outweigh those of CD purchasing.

For one thing, if you’re looking for vintage hits, then acquiring them often involves a trip to a dusty resale shop or someone’s garage sale—and that has ‘adventure’ written all over it. Then, once you decide on your tunes, the cost is significantly lower than the average price of a CD, which is around 13 bucks, according to the RIAA Web site. After that, you get to display your records in a milk crate (preferably stolen, but found is OK) and explore the many nuances of your new-found musical treasure. Finally, when you start to get really into it, you can invite your record-snob friends over and have listening parties. Now, doesn’t that sound more interesting than popping in your damn white headphones and absentmindedly hitting “play”?

One thing that I think is important about the whole listening more to a record than a CD or MP3, is that many times you have to listen for imperfections, because they could get worse. For example, I was listening to Blood, Sweat & Tears one night, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, the record was still moving, but it had gotten stuck and created a deep groove. I still haven’t forgiven myself, even after 13 years. This is one of the reasons people say records are no good, but I say it’s why they are good. You have to listen. In listening you hear the music.

With the multi disc changer, then even more so with the iPod, music became a soundtrack. It became background music. We hear it, but we don’t listen to it. Vinyl LP’s force you to listen to the music. This, I believe, is the underlying reason that most record ‘snobs’ like their records.

We like the music.

04 Feb

Deciding Which Records to Buy

Has anyone else had the problem where you get a gift card, then when you try to decide how to spend it, you can’t?

I got one for Christmas, and finally I decided to buy some vinyl records, and then I hit a wall. Which records? Well, I went to a local store and bought some, but I still had money left. Then I decided I wanted some metal. Not metal like you find in the stores, stuff like Manowar, Blind Guardian, Iron Savior or Stratovarius. Not your everyday metal. Unfortunately, finding some of these groups on vinyl is a little tough, it is possible, but tough. Especially when you have only a small amount to use. I couldn’t buy anything spectacular.

Then it hit me, I want Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth. One of my favorite albums, it rocks so stinkin’ hard, and plus it kind of follows J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion. That’s always cool.

Of course, it looks like they don’t make it.

So what next? Manowar – Warriors of the World. If you want to spend $80 or more, fine, but for less, then you can’t find much but singles on vinyl. But Manowar is no longer with Nuclear Blast Records, I didn’t know that. They are now with Magic Circle Music, and so I went to their site, and found what I was looking for. Of course, then they presented a choice between Warriors of the World, and the new album Gods of War. Because shipping was $7 bucks, I decided on Warriors of the World.

That just happened five minutes ago. However, it’s taken me since Christmas to get that far.

This, though, is an example of how hard it can be to find what you want online. Yes, the internet provides just this side of an infinite number of products. You can find almost everything in the world online. But the big problem: Is it what you want?

Using records as an example, there are so many websites dedicated to bringing you records. Sites like Musicstack. These websites are basically made up of thousands of stores across the world selling their inventory. This creates an almost endless variety. But therein lies the problem. Because the inventory is so large, the descriptions are very small or nonexistent. I found many copies of Manowar – Warriors of the World, and I almost bought one, but when I decided to research it, I found out that many of the LP’s named Warriors of the World are only singles. They contain only 3 songs. That is not what I want, but that’s what was being sold: without a description.

Be careful. Research. Make sure that the website you are on is reputable. I still believe that the best service is your local record store, but in my case, you don’t always have the greatest selection there. Yes My local store has a lot, but a lot of stuff also that I don’t want. No one carries the stuff I want.

Basically this whole post is just to say, if you hear that Nightfall in Middle Earth by Blind Guardian is ever released on vinyl, let me know.

29 Jan

The Wacky World of Spike Jones Record Album

I’m sure that most people have never heard of Spike Jones. My parents have, and others who are above the age of, I don’t know, say 55, might know who that is. Spike Jones was the original Weird Al Yankovic.

The Wacky World of Spike Jones & His City Slickers Vinyl LP

There are many collections of songs out there, this is one of them. Thank you Captain Obvious.

Funny songs, spoofs on songs, and even using guns, blocks of wood and anything else he could get his hands on as instruments, Spike Jones and his City Slickers could play just about anything. The band itself was made up of top notch musicians who just loved to have fun.

One of the most well known Spike Jones songs is “Der Fuehrer’s Face.” For those who don’t know who the Fuehrer is, it was Hitler. This song made fun of Hitler and the Nazis by yelling “Heil, thpthpthp, right in der Fuehrer’s face.” That was a razzberry. Here it is for you in MP3;

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Yes, I know there are people out there who will say, “Thats so old, it’s stupid.” Of course, maybe I’m just being cynical. But Spike Jones was doing something that just wasn’t being done at this level. Sure there was Vaudeville and other funny songs, but they weren’t reaching the level of popularity that Spike Jones did. Plus, if you can’t enjoy music that is over 10 years old, then this site isn’t for you anyway.

I love this stuff. I love musicians who are so good at what they do, they can have fun and make people laugh. People like Weird Al, and one of the greatest musician/comedians, Victor Borge.

One of my favorite songs is “Yes, We Have No Bananas” and of course, here is an MP3:

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If you would like some Spike Jones, you can get it at Musicstack.

25 Jan

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother on 200 Gram Virgin Vinyl

Atom Heart Mother is, well, I was going to say one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums, but I can’t say that. I love Pink Floyd, and to say that this is my favorite, I just can’t do that. All of their albums have something that makes them great. However, this is one of my prize records.

Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother

The reason it sounds so good, is that it was recorded from the original master recording at half speed. It was then pressed onto 200 gram high definition vinyl. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs is the company that makes these records.

David Gilmour, Roger Waters and Nick Mason have all said that this is not their favorite album. They really don’t like it much at all. A little overdone and ‘pompous.’ Personally, I don’t mind overdone and pompous music for the most part. However, in spite of how they feel about it, it went to #1 in the UK and #55 in the US. It eventually went Gold in the US in 1994, only 24 years after its release in 1970.

This is not an album that every one will enjoy sitting down and listening to. There are many albums out there that require more than just casual listening. This is one of them. With the entire first side of the album being one song, it’s not radio fodder.

Side One:

  1. Atom Heart Mother
    1. Father’s Shout
    2. Breast Milky
    3. Mother Fore
    4. Funky Dung
    5. Mind Your Throats Please
    6. Remergence

Side Two:

  1. If
  2. Summer ’68
  3. Fat Old Sun
  4. Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast
      1. Rise and Shine
      2. Sunny Side Up
      3. Morning Glory

You can tell by just looking at the individual parts of the song Atom Heart Mother that this isn’t your normal ‘one size fits all’ music.

If you would like to buy this, you can get it on LP, but Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd is also on Musicstack in the same format as I have here.

Here is Pink Floyd’s If on MP3;

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As always You can also find this on Amazon on CD, LP, 8-Track (yeah right), cassette or MP3.

24 Jan

Records Are Not as Good as CD’s?

I recently came across a post on ViP2 about how the whole idea behind vinyl being better than CD is myth and sentimentality. The author says that CD are superior to vinyl in every way. These are not my thoughts, so don’t get mad at me.

It’s not often you write something knowing full well that the majority of the readers are going to disagree with you, but when it comes to vinyl I think it’s important that someone keeps a little clarity amidst the urban myths, half truths and downright fibs that are sustaining a technology that has served its purpose, had its day and should be allowed to sail dramatically into the sunset.

Because, when it comes down to it, there are only two things that are keeping vinyl alive, sentimentality and misconception.

Let’s start with the first and thorniest issue, sentimentality. I can fully understand why people have an affinity for vinyl; I collect paperback books even though I am well aware it would be easier to acquire novels in electronic form. I like the look and feel of the books, and the fact that each represents something special in my mind.

So it’s not rocket science to extrapolate those feelings onto the average audiophile and their vinyl collections. People have been assembling their collections for years, harking back to those halcyon days when they slid the latest offering from the bands of their youth almost reverently from the paper sleeve and carefully placed it on their turntable for the first time.
I understand that collector’s frenzy, what I don’t agree with is people justifying their sentimentality by suggesting that this ageing technology is somehow better than the digital audio that has surpassed and, largely, replaced it.

Let’s take a quick look at the vinyl record and its flaws. It’s fragile, prone to warping, pitting, scratching; it clogs up with dust that spoils the quality; the record player needs to be kept still meaning that it is largely useless for music on the move and, believe it or not, the sound quality is better on the outside of the record than it is towards the centre.

“Nobody in their right mind mourns the demise of the cassette tape any more than they do the Skoda Estelle. But the vinyl record, well, it’s the E Type Jaguar of audio reproduction. It may not be perfect but it’s a beautiful thing.”

Vinyl advocates talk about the warmness of the sound; the imperfections of the recording somehow improving the experience for the listener, but this, it seems it a matter of taste, the listener disliking the accuracy of digital recordings and preferring the imperfections of the lo-fi vinyl record.

But that doesn’t mean vinyl sounds better; if you played someone who had never heard recordings before a vinyl version and a digital recording; the chances are they would plump for the clean, crisp and balanced latter rather than the hissing former.

Back at the inception of the CD, there was very much a case for digital recordings having an inferior sound quality to vinyl, but digital recordings have moved on, and you would be hard pushed to prove that a vinyl recording has captured anything extra at all. If you want to get technical, the lower frequencies that can be found on vinyl are below the range of human hearing.

CDs and, perhaps more importantly, digital downloads, do not have the imperfections that even the newest pristine vinyl records contain, and the latter technology does not degrade at all when you play it. It seems vaguely archaic to me that people genuinely want a collection of their favourite music that gets steadily worse every single time it’s played.

DJs still use vinyl because it’s easier to mix properly between vinyl – and although technology has made it much easier to ‘match’ beats on CD to mimic the effect, I accept that for many the old way remains the best way. But I’m talking about listening to music; and I cannot get away from the fact that digital technology is simply the better option.

It seems to be that, for whatever reason, it has become cool to suggest that vinyl is better, but the truth of the matter is that, once the sentimentality is taken out of the equation the more appropriate response would be to talk fondly of the ‘olden days’ when vinyl truly was the king, rather than pretending it has not been deposed in the meantime.

The part I like best is “Let’s take a quick look at the vinyl record and its flaws. It’s fragile, prone to warping, pitting, scratching; it clogs up with dust that spoils the quality;” Well, yeah, and CD’s are indestructible? I remember when CD’s first came out, and my brother had brought some home from college. He said they were indestructible, but when I dropped one, he freaked out because it would get scratched.

I have had many CD’s that have either gotten dropped, or mishandled (not by me) and been scratched. I even had a CD player that for some reason, horribly scratched the CD’s beyond playability as they were playing. So CD’s are fragile too. Everything is fragile. Everything needs to be taken care of.

As for sound quality, I would agree that many of my records do not sound as good as CD’s, but many of them sound better. Yes, you have to take care of them, but taking care of something makes you appreciate it more, and it also makes it much more valuable.

18 Jan

Vinyl Vs. CD Part 3. Sound Difference Between LP’s and CD’s

The third and final post by The Lonely Note on the difference between vinyl and CD’s. The first post dealt with the technology difference between CD’s and records. The second dealt with mostly the physical differences between LP’s and CD’s. The third part deals with the actual difference between the same album on both CD and vinyl LP.

As I alluded in Part 1, many advocates of vinyl claim that the LP actually presents a richer, more robust sound than the CD. Are they correct? To discover for myself I decided to listen to both vinyls and CDs of the very same album. And to make sure I wasn’t missing out on any sonic nuances, I performed this “test” using higher quality Phillips headphones. The turntable I used was the Sony PSLX250H. The same EQ and volume settings were used for all CD and vinyl listening sessions as well.

I decided to listen to two different albums; one new and one old. The new album was The Killers’ Sam’s Town. The old album was Steely Dan’s Aja. I chose these albums that hail from very different eras to examine an important point regarding the vinyl v. CD debate: does an album that was cut with a specific medium in mind tend to sound better on that intended medium? In other words, does The Killers album, which was mixed primarily for the CD, sound better than its vinyl counterpart? Or does one medium tend to rise to the top regardless of the producer’s intent?

Finally, before I continue on with my analysis of both albums, I must emphasize that my test is by no means scientific. Instead, my findings are based on my personal and subjective conclusions. Please keep that in mind if my determinations run counter to yours.

The Killers – ‘Sam’s Town’
Recently I splurged and purchased the special edition picture disc vinyl of The Killers’ Sam’s Town from a local, independent music shop. It came with bonus artwork that folded out, and the disc itself looked very cool. But how did it sound?

Because this Killers album was released in 2006, it is safe to say its production staff had the CD in mind when it cut the record. This means that all of the mixing and layering was tweaked to sound as good as it could on a compact disc. And I’m willing to bet that many of the dubs were recorded digitally as well. With that in mind I figured I’d be lucky to have the vinyl version of Sam’s Town provide me with an equally mastered sound. But, needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

To be perfectly honest, there was such little difference between the vinyl and the CD that it was quite negligible. In fact, it was only because I was focusing so intently for the purposes of this post that I even began to notice the subtleties of each medium. The first thing I did notice, however, was that a slight crackle and hiss inherent of vinyl was present on each track when I listened to the wax version of Sam’s Town. Of course I did have headphones on, and I did have the volume cranked way up, but it was still a difference that weighed in silicon’s favor where no hiss existed under the same settings. Depending on whether you like pops and ambient feedback imposed on top of your music, the CD version ended up being the better option.

But as I listened further, I noticed that the vinyl version, aside from those slight hisses, actually provided a bit more of a richer sound. The instruments were more pronounced, and they had a sharper zing to them. Bass drums actually overtook Brandon Flowers’ vocals at times, and it began to feel like I was sitting in the studio with the band live as they were laying down each track. The CD, on the other hand, sounded relatively tinny when compared to the vinyl, and every instrument seemed to have been amplified to share one uniform volume level. The CD had a much cleaner sound though, and the production focus was definitely on Flowers’ singing as I never detected any moment where an instrument once overtook his voice. The CD was certainly a little more “sanitized.”

Like I said, the differences between the vinyl and CD versions of this modern album were minuscule. The fact that the vinyl could sound as good as its CD counterpart in 2008 was definitely unexpected, but in no way did the LP sound better. While the vinyl provided a more pronounced sound than the CD, the CD was cleaner in that it didn’t have that faint hiss. That clean sound did lead to making the CD sound tinnier, however, and I preferred the vinyl slightly if only for its ability to capture every instrument’s true sound without reducing them all to the same volume level below that of the vocal.

To be sure, the distinction between the vinyl and CD of Sam’s Town is a true toss-up. The album was definitely custom made for the CD, so from that standpoint it probably makes most sense for the average audiophile to enjoy the album on that medium. Yet, if you value full fidelity and don’t mind a weak LP crackle on a modern song, then the vinyl version is for you. Not to be too much of a fence sitter on this one, format preference for Sam’s Town truly lies in the ear of the beholder.

Steely Dan – ‘Aja’
Unlike my Sam’s Town purchase, in no way did I need to splurge to pick up the vinyl version of Aja. For a whopping $1.99 I bought a non-warped, near-mint version of one of Steely’s finest albums from the very same independent record store as before. If only for the bargain price alone, I could not wait to spin this record as soon as I got home.

In large contrast to my Killers experience, the difference between Aja on vinyl and Aja on CD was DRASTIC! The wax disc was louder, fuller, and richer than its silicon counterpart in very acute ways. One of the most dazzling observations was the fact that the horns really shone through on the vinyl when they were pretty much a non-element on the compact disc. The backing vocals were also warmer on the LP, and every single sound was pure vibrancy. The CD, on the other hand, had every instrument mixed to the same level, and the entire package was so silent I felt like I was listening to a distant band in a vacuum, as opposed to a very near band in a recording studio. To say the least, the studio perfectionism of Steely Dan lore was stripped of all its nuances on the CD. Talk about no fun!

Similar to my Killers listening test, Aja also had the inherent crackle and hiss present, but the overall sound was so evidently superior to the CD that after a very short while I didn’t even pay attention. That is not to say that the CD sounded bad—the CD actually sounded very good in and of itself. Its just that while the CD sounded great, the vinyl sounded greater.

My test by no means provided conclusive results. Scientific conditions weren’t maintained, and there was a very limited random sample: Me. But through this small, three-part exploration, I did discover that vinyl, a medium I formerly wrote off as an antiquated relic, can sound just as good, if not better, than the contemporary CD.

Surely, as the compact disc is increasingly dwarfed by hard drives and iPods as the preferred place to house digital tracks, vinyl will remain the one bastion of tangible music. It will be the last place where music can actually be held in hand and admired without the need for a computer screen. And as more and more artists begin to release albums with vinyl as one of their intended formats, it will not be surprising to have modern day LPs sound better than their digital counterparts.

There you have it. An actual test. Try it yourself and see what happens. If you do try it, let me know here in the comments about your findings.