Vinyl has made a come back and it’s not leaving any time soon! Naturally, the welcome phenomenon has made its way into the DJ industry, with a number of DJs returning to using vinyl in their live set or picking up their collecting of records once more.
Inevitably, this has given rise to a sometimes contentious debate with regards to the merits of vinyl for DJs. There is no right or wrong answer, which is why this debate will continue forever with both sides sharing valid points in advocating their respective beliefs regarding vinyl. As such, we will not be advocating one side over another over this vinyl “issue,” although we have covered in the past why CDJ shaming should stop.
Rather, we will devote space here to objectively examine the pros and cons of vinyl for DJs as a way to help you better gauge whether vinyl is the right fir for you.
image by The Vinyl Factory
First let us look at the pros of owning and spinning vinyl, key points that may make this format more appealing for you as a DJ:
Vinyl offers a warmer sound with more spacious and detailed presentation of recorded music than most digital formats.
With two sides of songs, and five or six songs per side, music in vinyl is more easily approached and digested.
Vinyl encourages focused listening sessions. You get forced to look at the turntables and not do anything else except devote your ears to listen to the music.
While vinyls take more effort to search out, that effort can lead to new discoveries. You get to actually go to record stores and talk to people in order to get new music. These connections can lead to plenty of valuable new finds that would not have happened if you had relied solely on digital downloads.
There’s nothing like the feel of actual scratching using vinyl.
Owning vinyl means owning something tangible rather than something stored digitally. You can touch vinyl, you can use it as decoration in your apartment, you can gift it and you can resell it. Essentially vinyl is an asset, for at times the value of a record can even increase over time. At best, even if the value stays the same or decreases, it’s still worth something if sold at a later date.
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to vinyl that must be taken into consideration:
Vinyl ismore expensive, in terms of records and equipment. For instance a good turntable, cartridge, and receiver with phono input for peak performance, and that will cost more than digital players. At the same time, vinyl records cost more than compact discs and digital downloads of the same music.
Unlike digital music, vinyl music can be harder to find at times, if not unavailable in such format. Sometimes the record you want in your collection is only available overseas and shipping costs alone make it a prohibitive purchase.
Playing vinyl takes knowledge, patience and experience, especially in handling the equipment for vinyl playback. Greater care is also needed to minimize unwanted audio defects caused by dirt in the grooves and scratches.
Vinyl is not as easily portable to carry around, especially if you tour a lot. You’re limited to how much you can bring and provisions must be taken to ensure the records do not get ruined in transit.
As mentioned earlier, both corners of the vinyl debate have presented sound arguments in favor of their respective sides. There is no right or wrong answer, as is usually the case when debating which medium music should be produced and played through.
Ultimately, it is the DJ who must make a choice whether going vinyl is the right move for them or not. In some cases DJs will choose to do both, selecting when to play vinyl and when to go digital on a gig-by-gig case.