Analog and Digital

I can’t deny that compact discs store easy and play pretty. Their studio-fresh tracks sound eternally new, scrubbed free of noise. Perhaps this is why I prefer vinyl records, because I’m not a tremendous fan of “new”. I like the hiss and pops of dusty wear. I like the way albums feel, the balanced weight of them. I like centering them on the turntable, pushing the start button, then listening for the click and whirr of motors as the tonearm levitates into place. The loud half-scratch of initial contact. A few seconds of fuzzy anticipation, then warm, full music.

It’s still magic, to me, how sound was trapped in those spiral grooves. How it stayed there, unchanged, during years of transport from home to college to apartment to duplex to home-of-our-own. How it reverberates–ringing off the vinyl, through the needle, and into a set of speakers that harmonize, that wail and thump. How it fills my house with acoustic contentment and electric excitement, with voices from my youthful years. I wouldn’t live those spent decades again, but it’s nice to hear such vibrant ghosts, singing their distant songs once more.

And it’s nice to preserve my ghosts on these modern discs and silicon chips, even if part of their warmth is lost in the process.

4 thoughts on “Analog and Digital

  1. bardessdmdenton April 12, 2012 / 11:44 AM

    Yes, those were the days! I remember really being excited when I bought a lp! It was like going to the movies…a real adventure full of pure anticipation. I love your last line in this post.

    • Rae Spencer April 12, 2012 / 3:10 PM

      Thank you!

      A few years ago, my husband and I went to a sale at one of the local universities. They had upgraded their entire audio collection to digital and were selling off their vinyl archive. I got that same old feeling of anticipation as I flipped through the albums. Plus a heady dose of nostalgia. I did a little dance of happiness when I discovered a section devoted to poetry recordings…

  2. Betty Hayes Albright April 8, 2012 / 1:50 AM

    There WAS something special about the warmth and depth of vinyl records. I miss that sound, scratches and all. Vinyl had soul! Thanks for this – it brings back memories. 🙂

    • Rae Spencer April 8, 2012 / 2:52 PM

      I didn’t realize how much I missed it, until I started archiving the records a few years ago… 🙂

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