We’re well into December, which means holiday shopping season is in full swing. Still have some shopping to do? We can help!
Throughout the holiday season, we’re sharing gift guides aimed at different groups of people, with a wide range of gift ideas and price points on each. So far we’ve covered what to get for the Home Cook, Kids (and Parents), Techie, and DIYer on your list.
This week, we have a gift guide for music lovers. Whether they’re a music fanatic or a musician themselves, we have some ideas for what to put under their Christmas tree.
Here’s our guide to pitch-perfect gifts for music aficionados.
People around the world have fallen (back) in love with vinyl records. It’s no different here at home. According to Nielson, Canadian vinyl revenues grew once again in 2016 by an astounding 29% over the year prior. It’s not too late to join the record resurgence, either. In fact, with so many new albums being released on vinyl these days, now might be the best time yet to start or revive your collection.
If you’ve considered getting into vinyl, this primer should help.
Some say vinyl captures more depth and detail than other formats. Maybe so. But only audiophiles with the best setups are likely to notice. What records definitely have is a uniquely organic sound. The occasional crackle, pop, or hiss that gives us chills and transports us back to simpler times.
“Tactile” and “mindful” are words often used to describe the vinyl experience. Unlike digital music that can play endlessly and go anywhere, vinyl is much more contained. You usually play it in just one place, probably a living room, and records must be flipped or changed regularly. And as the record is playing, there’s still the opportunity to examine the cover, and read the liner notes and/or lyrics. Mindfulness results, especially when compared to today’s on-demand, virtual listening experience.
These days, it seems there are fewer opportunities to get hands-on. From cars to computers, everything we use is now harder to tinker with. Not so with records. Setting up the player, placing the needle down, even feeling the heft of a physical record all make vinyl a more grounded experience.
LPs are larger and more common. Lasting about 45 minutes between both sides, they are often called ‘full albums.’ 45s are smaller and play only one song per side, except extended play or EP 45s, which hold about six tracks. Most record players have settings for both record formats, but finding 45s to buy is a lot harder. If you’re lucky, someone you know (or you?) has a box of them somewhere!
Nothing immerses you in music history quite like picking through vintage vinyl. At times, it can be cheaper, but not always, depending on collectibility or rareness. Especially at thrift stores and garage sales, be sure to check for visible scratches on vintage vinyl, and that the right record is actually in the box. New vinyl records, on the other hand, are guaranteed not to be scratched, available by new and older artists, and directly benefit the artists themselves. They also won’t be dusty, crusty, or dirty, which is a major bonus.
No matter where you buy your records, the activity of shopping for vinyl itself is one of the greatest pleasures of vinyl culture. Be sure to talk to the staff to see if they have recommendations and don’t forget that browsing is part of the fun! You might even meet some fellow vinyl collectors with similar tastes. Regardless, the very act of going out to buy a record — and the anticipation as you get it home — makes the joy of listening to it that much better.
Similar to the vintage vs. modern records debate, there are merits on both sides. An older machine might be cheaper and its classic appeal could be satisfying if you like that sort of thing. Trouble is, it can be difficult to know how well an older turntable works until you get it home. Even then, it could break down pretty easily. New players, meanwhile, come in a range of styles and price points and typically offer a manufacturer’s warranty.
A preamp is a small device connected between your record player and speakers. It amplifies the signal that the vinyl transfers to the record player’s needle so that your speakers can pick it up. Some record players, especially newer models, have built-in preamps. This decreases some of the challenges of setting up your system. Still, most audiophiles prefer an external pre-amp that can be swapped out or upgraded as needed.
Records should be stored on one edge, inside their dust sleeves and boxes. They should never be stacked or left on the floor where their own weight or a passerby can damage them. The thing is, LPs are really heavy when enough of them are collected in one place. So it’s best to place them on a very sturdy shelf, or in a record crate. Another known vinyl killer is humidity, so try to keep your records as dry as possible.
No matter how careful you are, you’ll need to clean fingerprints and smudges off your vinyl at some point. This is important to do right since any substance between your needle and the vinyl will negatively affect the sound and because scratches can cause permanent damage. For these reasons, it’s best to use products designed especially for cleaning records.
Not sure what to listen to first? Why not pick up an album by a 2017 Juno-nominated Canadian artist, like the ones below?
Over the last few years Vinyl sales have grown exponentially. Sales of Vinyl continue to grow in double digits year over year with no signs of slowing down. While the exact reasons for this growth are up for debate, there is no question that Vinyl has made its way back from the brink.
With all the positive things that come with the resurgence of vinyl, it is important to understand that there are some unique characteristics that need to be mentioned. Arguably, the biggest is maintenance. When vinyl is properly maintained it can last a lifetime. When neglected, it can quickly become damaged and eventually unplayable. Thankfully, here at London Drugs we have you covered. Along with our vinyl experts in our Audio Video Departments, we have several products to choose from to aid in maintaining your vinyl collection. We have compiled a few tips to help keep your vinyl collection in great condition.
Last year I wrote a blog leading up to Vinyl Record Day about the resurgence of Vinyl. At that time I wrote about vinyl being pushed to the brink of extinction by a superior (that is of course up for debate) technology, the CD. The Cassette, followed by the CD, followed again by the MP3 seemed poised to make vinyl a thing only found at flea markets and yard sales. Then a funny thing happened. Vinyl sales started to increase. Of course, these increases were never going to threaten the digital industry giants but it was an increase none the less.
Since writing that blog last year and not surprisingly, vinyl has further accelerated its growth rate, perhaps even more than some had expected. As reported by Billboard (US), vinyl sales were up 53% over the same period last year in Quarter one. To many, this is simply amazing! To the writer and our Buyers, it’s what we both hoped for and anticipated. Again, borrowed from Billboard (Thanks guys!), vinyl sales have increased 260% since 2009 selling an astounding 9.2 million units. Of that 9.2 million albums sold, some titles recorded sales of over 100,000 units. The Beatles “Abbey Road” and Bon Iver’s “For Emma Forever Ago” were two of those albums. I’d like to mention that both of those are available at your local London Drugs! Billboard’s top 5 titles for 2015 year to date are as follows: (also available at London Drugs).
Recognizing the trend before it really took off, our Audio/Video buyers here at London Drugs pushed for our stores to be a leader in North American vinyl sales. (Admittedly, they’ve been long time, avid vinyl supporters which most certainly played a part). Starting in 2012 with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, we have since grown our total catalogue to over 700 titles! When in your local London Drugs you can browse through approximately 450 titles. If that store doesn’t satisfy your hunger, you can go online and peruse through roughly 250 additional titles. I’d also like to add that we will ship your online vinyl order to you free when you spend $25 or more all throughout this summer!
I can talk about vinyl for hours. Some of my best memories from my early years were playing vinyl with my dad and listening to him talk about tracking down a rare album. It is a unique, organic sound that cannot be replicated, it’s also a physical experience that digital simply cannot replicate, starting with the hunt for a title, the purchase and anticipation of playback, the opening, and the physical playback while simultaneously enjoying the album art and liner notes. If you don’t understand what I mean, stop by your local London Drugs and ask a Service Specialist to spin some vinyl for you. It should all make sense shortly after the needle drops.
Unlike the audiotape and compact disc (RIP), records have not only managed to fight off extinction, they’ve actually had resurgence in the past decade. Whether it’s the pleasure-inducing sound of the needle drop or the warm, rich sound that analog provides, there’s just something special about putting on a record. The vinyl selection at London Drug’s pays tribute to an entire lifetime of records, ranging from 1930s blues to present-time psychedelic rock. Here are five albums you didn’t expect to find while shopping at LD.
Do you have plans for August 12th, 2014? If you don’t stop by your local London Drugs and join in the activities as we celebrate Vinyl Record Day!
Wondering what Vinyl Record Day is? The folks at www.vinylrecordday.com said it best:
“No less important to the purpose of preservation is the goal to establish a national day to enjoy our favorite music. Perhaps most important of all, Vinyl Record Day is to not lose touch with what is individual to us, yet is shared by millions worldwide; the ability for music to remind us that regardless of national news, or personal daily challenges, we attach fond memories to our music, nothing else connects us to friends, family, and special times as the songs of our personal soundtrack. Vinyl Record Day is August 12; the day Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. “
They are considered precious treasure to many collectors when they are awarded gold or platinum status, but they aren’t your typical treasure. However, vinyl records are as close to gold for many audiophiles who love to hunt down their favourite titles. READ MORE
When the Compact Disc, or CD, made its commercial debut on August 17th, 1982, the prevailing thought was this was the format to replace Vinyl. It was smaller, cheaper to produce, and most importantly, was not nearly as fragile as vinyl was. Test after test was completed by various Hi-Fi magazines that showed CD’s had (against the prevailing narrative from Vinyl purists) superior sound quality too.