WAX – 1994


The LP has been lost, is lost, it’s no more. Digital sound is thriving in the form of CDs, DATs, and mini-CDs. Technology reigns, but do you still enjoy your music as much as before?

Ironically, thanks to DJs, the LP, especially the 12″ single, is still indispensable in record stores. Their purchasing behavior – and of course that of nostalgic consumers – slows down the digital craze. This is all because turntables offer much more technical possibilities.

But what are the benefits for the so-called home listener? Isn’t it downright difficult to keep flipping those records? What about the irreparable clicks they pick up, the loss of quality, and those worn-out covers? Shouldn’t we be exclusively thrilled about our polished future?

The answer is yes, but mostly no. Yes, when it comes to ease of use. Pop in a CD, 70 minutes of listening pleasure, or even 700 minutes if you own a CD changer (sigh). And of course, programming, the essential function for the lazy ones. Undeniably convenient; we won’t argue against it. There are even music genres that you might think sound better on CD, that’s subjective. However, often the home listener can’t even perceive a noticeable difference between analog and digital. So, no.

Regarding the clicks, scratches, and loss of quality, we can be brief. Over time and use, you’ll also encounter them with CDs; tiny holes, but irreparable bits of audio loss. In the case of LPs, the clicks are often easily remedied by precisely turning the record back a few times at the exact spot of the click. The crackling and scratching (static) of old records – this is also subjective – in most cases don’t diminish the purity of the sounds. In fact, some believe it sounds even more authentic than the sterile CD sound.

Are CDs more convenient in terms of size? Yes, in terms of height and length, but the width/thickness becomes a major problem when you have 500 of them side by side (once you had more). Moreover, the plastic cases break at the slightest impact. Not to mention the ‘not really recyclable’ nature of all those broken CD cases (or the stacks of records that end up in incineration).

Furthermore, it’s distressing to have to admire certain ‘artworks displayed on record covers’ in a 10 by 10 cm format. It’s a shame, less beautiful, less authentic. And looking at records is part of the listening pleasure, as MTV proves. And then the record itself. An ‘original black piece of wax,’ authentic vinyl with the label in the center: visual or typographic works of art in their own right. They are as lost as the dinosaurs once were. And so is the art of scratching when records are gone forever.

2023: Little did we know about today. It is hopeful and it is not.


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