Difference between revisions of "Disadvantages (Vinyl)"

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Revision as of 18:07, 8 September 2006

There are several risks and disadvantages to vinyl, compared to other (digital) audio technologies.

  • Vinyl is harder to maintain than CDs, and should ideally be stored in temperature- and humidity-controlled environments. (However, air conditioning, perhaps with a dehumidifier, is almost always sufficient.) Mold can grow on vinyl and may permamently damage it and its sleeve, and can spread from record to record.
  • Vinyl is very easy to damage during playback. Any scraping of the surface can permanently compromise the sound quality.
  • Surface noise, while often inaudible, will always be present and measurable, even on a brand new LP.
  • The sound quality of a record cannot be determined until you play it, increasing the risk of the purchase. Even brand new, sealed LPs can have significant pressing and warping problems that may make it unusable for listening purposes.
  • Turntables and cartridges require periodic maintenance and alignment by a professional, usually a repairman or a dealer. Otherwise you must learn how to tune a system by hand, which may require a great deal of time to perfect.
  • Turntables may require realignment if they are moved.
  • Any play of a record, even one, has the risk of permanently damaging the record. Repeated playback with an excessively worn or misaligned cartridge will cause permanent damage.
  • Vinyl playback is not nearly as portable as other technologies. Portable record players exist, but they are considered of inferior sound quality and require a motionless playing surface.
  • Investing in a high quality vinyl system is hundreds to thousands of dollars more expensive than investing in a high quality digital audio system.
  • Cartridge stylii wear out over time (typically 200-1000 hours) and require periodic replacement. High quality cartridges generally cost between $60-$6000. At the upper end of cartridge cost, playing a single LP may cost $1 in stylus wear alone.
  • Records are large and heavy. Transporting them correctly is logistically difficult.
  • The "book value" of many LPs, representing both its collector's value and its musical value, is often quite high - anywhere from $10-$20 for either new or used LPs to over a hundred dollars for collectible LPs.
  • LPs in general are neither overvalued nor undervalued. While they do not risk becoming worthless, they usually do not carry their value well unless certain releases become more collectible. Vinyl is not a particularly safe investment for collection or financial purposes only.

Financially, any benefits of the cheaper media must be compared against the amortized cost of the equipment needed to play and maintain it.