Why Jazz Sounds Better on Vinyl
There is a fondness for reminiscing about a bygone era when vinyl was the only medium of choice to experience music. The warm fuzziness, crackling, and occasional pop of the record bring back a sense of nostalgia that is difficult to put into words. Listening to a record liberates the sound waves from the vinyl itself, allowing them to jump free and emanate throughout the room.
As a genre, jazz also can overtake the space in which it is being played. Its improvisational nature forces the listener to be genuinely in the moment because one can never be quite sure where the song will go next. Therefore, listening to jazz on vinyl is the best way to experience that particular style of music.
There are countless jazz enthusiasts the world over who would agree. It is incredible because the technology is so archaic, yet it still resonates more than listening to an album in a digital format. In addition, there are a variety of classic and contemporary jazz albums on vinyl which are easily accessible for those with a functioning record player. In this post, let us explore five reasons why jazz sounds better on vinyl than in a digital format.
A Love for Analog
Vinyl is the sole playback medium that is entirely analog and lossless. Because it is less technical, all you need is a quality gramophone, and you can experience a full fidelity listening experience.
The analog format simply allows the artist to transport their music from magnetic tape to LP to your speakers (or headphones) without the complications of digital conversion. You can vicariously transport yourself to a speak-easy in SoHo by listening to jazz on vinyl, where the music notes cut through the smoke-filled venue like a ship through the fog.
What invigorates jazz on vinyl. First, the process in which it is made creates a warm feeling, usually difficult to replicate in digital format. The mid-range, almost distant quality creates a mahogany warmth. Every instrument’s pitch and volume are magnified by this difficult-to-describe characteristic associated with analogs.
Enjoying the Whole Ride
Just as it would be rude to walk out of a jazz club in the middle of a set, failing to listen to a jazz album all the way through is practically impossible. It is difficult to imagine a time when you will find yourself listening to a single track on a jazz album. When you set that needle on the vinyl, you will explore the whole album, not just skip around for your favorite tracks. You are even going to have the difficult job of flipping it over.
In a world where we are so used to tapping a screen with our fingers, there is a comfort in having to do a little bit of work to enjoy something nice. Listening to vinyl is a physical activity, in the sense that you will have to get up and take action to enjoy the whole album.
Unrelated to the actual sound of the music, the cover art is an essential element of vinyl jazz records. Unlike a CD case or a tiny, pixelated image on your iPhone screen, a record sleeve is large enough to appreciate the quality of the artwork fully. Often, the artwork on the sleeve is more recognizable than the music itself!
By appreciating the image associated with the sound, you are completing the experience of listening to a vinyl jazz record. You are experiencing the music just as the artist wanted you to, and you can lose yourself in the art to better understand the album’s meaning. As it is pretty popular, you can even mount the sleeve on your wall for decoration and keep the vinyl itself in another protective case.
If you take proper care of your vinyl jazz records, they will last forever. Think of your parents' albums; more likely, they would play today as they did decades ago. Your CDs from your youth, most likely not. Vinyl records are built to last and can be enjoyed with the right equipment.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that beauty, in terms of music, is in the eye of the beholder. Many do not mind how jazz is experienced and might argue that digital format is the better way to experience the genre. However, there will always be diehard vinyl fans who are more than happy to share the sounds, sights, and emotions that come from listening to the music exactly the way it was produced so many years ago.