Fischer and Fisher talk vinyl revival in MTSU Magazine

Paul Fischer

Paul Fischer

Recording Industry Professor Paul Fischer and Center for Popular Music’s Martin Fisher are featured in an article “Back in the Groove” in the most recent MTSU Magazine.

The article explores the reason behind the sudden surge of vinyl album sales, which saw a 33 percent increase in just the past year.

Fischer, an avid vinyl enthusiast and secondhand vinyl dealer, offers his take on the sudden interest, part of which he feels is the younger generation’s growing appreciation for packaging and album art.

“I know that when I was a kid, that was part of the thrill — digging into the liner notes and the additional art,” Fischer says. “Whole generations of kids who grew up with digital downloads and access to all of the music that they want, either free or streamed or downloaded, didn’t even know what that experience was like until now. An LP with a big picture and maybe a gatefold and a booklet in the center — that adds a lot to the sitting and listening experience at home.”

Martin Fisher, who curates the recorded media collections for the College of Mass Communication’s Center for Popular Music, believes Paul Fischer may be on to something. Some experts believe that music played on vinyl with a needle sounds “warmer” than today’s compressed digital files. Fisher explains that nostalgia, not sound quality, may be the reason behind this assumption.

“They are running around with earbuds or listening to a system that has digital artifacts introduced through MP3 coding,” he says. “They don’t know what sounds good. I’m not demeaning them. They simply haven’t been exposed.” In addition, most of the new vinyl being pressed by younger musicians (which is accounting for most or all of the increase in vinyl sales) is actually cut from digital masters.  “So it’s like taking a CD and putting it on plastic, which is going to have a relatively high noise floor with distortion,” Fisher says. “A music collector would say, ‘What’s the big deal?’”

The creation of new vinyl product from digitally compressed files etched in plastic would seem to offer proof that the medium’s revival is more tied to packaging or cultural resurgence, not sound quality.

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