Three things about the "vinyl revival":

1. Vinyl is almost never sufficiently better as an audio format to be worth spending money on. Part of the benefit vinyl hypothetically provides is swallowed up by the process of remastering, which almost always makes records sound worse. Part of the benefit is lost to contemporary amplification systems, because transistors do not respond to increased loads in the same way that tubes do*, and therefore can't enhance the listening experience in the same way. A high-bitrate mp3 will be indistinguishable for many purposes.

2. Vinyl sounds better because it is more likely to be played on a proper speaker system at a reasonable volume, i.e. louder. When people praise a remastering they tend to talk about two things: "separation" between the instruments, and increased clarity with each individual instrument. These are nothing but the effects of playing the same track more loudly, and can be achieved on all but the most poorly mastered original albums simply by turning up the volume. "Separation" can also be achieved by doing nothing more complicated than having a song played through multiple, separated speakers at the same time. It sounds and feels novel when listening through headphones because even the best headphones are limited by the physics of having only two speakers a few inches apart. Whereas my The Complete Village Vanguard CD box set sounds exquisite through my stereo, to the level that I can point out the physical location where the bass, drums, and piano "are."

3. Remastering is entirely a process of attempting to replicate these effects for people who are using their sub-par ipod headphones: the track is 'turned up' in order to compensate of the inability of the headphones themselves to make the music sound good. On good speaker systems, these are almost always worse: they can only get so much louder, because there's a maximum volume before the speaker starts clipping, which means the dynamic range gets compressed, which means all subtlety is lost. Woe betide those albums which were originally mastered to be 'quiet': Exile in Guyville, Rid of Me, and Loveless are all good examples. They become impossible to hear.

*Basically: when a tube overloads, the resulting sound becomes rounder and fuzzier: all guitar distortion, fuzz, overdrive effects come from this--Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Ray Davies. When a transistor overloads, it clips: either stops putting out sound, or distorts it in something more like the way a modem or other 'digital' noise sounds.

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