Are you familiar with Record Store Day?
If you’re not, you should be.
Here’s the deal. Record stores in this country are becoming a dying breed, and that’s a darn shame. You want to know why? Let me give you a breakdown of audio quality.
128 kbps AAC file (standard iPod format): decent
320 kbps MP3 file (better digital format): pretty good
Lossless FLAC file (hi-fidelity digital format): good
Compact disc: really good
180-gram vinyl 33RPM LP: INSANELY BRILLIANT
My point? You can digitize your music all you want, but if you want to have really good sound quality, you need to get a CD. Unlike with a digital audio file, the audio on CDs is not super-compressed. If you look at the file size of a four minute long song, even in 320 kbps MP3 format, it’s only going to take up about 10 megabytes of space. That same song on a CD, however, is going to take up about 35 megabytes of space.
Yes, there’s still some compression. There has to be. Songs on CDs are digitized and broken down into a sequence of 1s and 0s which are encoded on the disc, and then read back by a laser, which decodes the 1s and 0s and turns them into sweet, sweet music.
So, if you don’t want the digitization of the music – if you want the music in an analog format, that’s when you go with vinyl records. And yeah, I have a lot of them – not just old ones, either. I’ve got stuff by Dave Matthews Band, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Kings of Leon, Radiohead, and Switchfoot (just to name a few) on LP. My turntable is a Sony player, with a manufacture sticker of March 2009. And I LOVE the way records sound.
Now, here’s the thing. Yeah, you can order most CDs and LPs online these days – Amazon has seen to that. But there is nothing quite like the experience of actually standing in the store and physically holding the record or CD in your hand, being able to look at its condition, being able to look through the liner notes, etc., etc. And the other thing about it is, when you go to a record store, you can find a lot of rare and cool stuff that you won’t find ANYWHERE on the Internet.
Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 16th. A lot of artists provide special CDs and LPs just for Record Store Day, and only to participating record stores. I plan to visit my local record store on Saturday, and I’m hoping that a few of the special Record Store Day LPs will be in stock, because I want a couple of them for myself, and one will make a perfect gift for a friend whose birthday is coming up pretty soon here.
I would encourage you to visit your local record store this weekend and take part. For those of you on the conservative side of things, record stores are the epitome of small business trying to stay alive; for those of you on the liberal side of things… well, there’s generally nowhere more liberal than a record store.
My personal favorite record stores that will be participating in Record Store Day are:
Earshot Records, 3254 Silas Creek Pkwy.
ZIA Records: multiple locations; my personal favorite is at 2510 W. Thunderbird Rd., Phoenix
Rock It Man Records: 12 E. Route 66 #102 (for those of you who are unfamiliar, it is where Gopher Sounds used to be)
Amoeba Records, 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Atomic Records, 3812 Magnolia Blvd., Burbank
So get out there on Saturday, and show your support for good music!
Addendum that has nothing to do with Record Store Day: my friend Chris is a dad! Lyllah was born this evening, 18″ long, 6 lbs. 10 oz., some time around 6:00 PM Arizona time (based on the time stamp on the picture Chris sent me). Congratulations Chris!