Quick Report: From Vinyl To Digital

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In a rare commentary for this site I talked about the return of vinyl records and made a defense for physical media not necessarily being clutter. I stand by that. I still enjoy playing records. My dad still enjoys playing records and has been going through all the old records he and my late mother collected over the years. I have a few but by the time I had regular income cassettes and CD had taken over. Records are great. I also like cassettes and CDs but most of our old 8-tracks are in too poor a shape to even play anymore so I think we got rid of them. That’s the problem with magnetic tape. It doesn’t last as long as vinyl and compact disks, and those don’t even last forever.

However, few people have a record player alarm clock (if that even exists) and good luck playing one in your car. I think they did make travel record players that you could use in a moving vehicle without it jumping but those were pricey and didn’t last long. I used to have a Mickey Mouse travel record player when I was a boy but I don’t remember if that was battery-powered or if you had to plug it in. I was sad when it stopped working. At some point in more recent years my parents were without a record player at all and needed a new one. Having a job at the time I was able to buy them a record player but couldn’t afford a decent system. Then I came across a device you could connect to the computer to record the vinyl to digital format for burning to CDs and I bought them that. My mother passed before I got it working, just another regret I have.

Not wanting to do that again to my dad this week I decided to forgo the clutter cleaning and get the player working so he could record music to the CDs to play by his bedside or in the car. At home he can use the regular record player he bought some time later (didn’t need a computer or extra speakers since it came with them) but not by his bed to wake up on days he needs to get up at a certain time, and certainly not while driving. I still don’t know why the music won’t play through the speakers but I found out where the recordings were saving to. I do have a problem with how it auto-separates tracks in an instrumental that takes a long enough pause in the song but I can always re-edit that in Audacity. The point is the thing works and I can make recordings of the records for use when he isn’t by the record player. It won’t replace the record. The sound isn’t the same. However, I do like having options and I have an old Doctor Who sound effects record I can digitize for use some time in the future. Now I just need to test the cassette tape set-up. We both have tape decks in our cars (I don’t have a CD player in mine) but he doesn’t have that by his bedside, either. It’s not as important to do right now, and I need to get ready for Christmas decorating next month. Someday though.

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The Case For Analog Music Storage

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Old Congolese 78 rpm records, being the three ...

Old Congolese 78 rpm records, being the three on the lower left examples of Ngoma discs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tough title to come up with. Thanks to an allergy attack knocking me out for a few days (maybe I should wear a mask when I go out shopping until allergy season is over?) I didn’t get any of my own clutter clearing done. My dad got lucky though. On the aforementioned shopping trip we stopped in at a Goodwill store because he had store credit and needed to use it up before it expired. I got a nice jacket (I still need something more like a windbreaker but I haven’t worn it out yet so it might still be good) but my dad picked up something he’s been looking for since he picked up a new record player, namely a case to put their old records in.

My generation still had vinyl records but we were making the transition to cassette tapes as the 8-track was already looking for a replacement, while the generation after me made the transition to CDs. The current generation has gone from the CD to MP3s downloaded off the internet and it looks like physical media is on the decline…he said not having actually checked sales figures. Now you can get your music any way you want. Vinyl records are actually making a comeback. CDs are still being made, although cassette tapes have gone the way of the 8-track and VHS tapes. Recording on magnetic tape is pretty much dead folks. Now it’s digital (CDs and MP3/i-Tunes) and I don’t see the magnetic tape following records in the retro game.

So what does this have to do with clutter you may ask? Well, it got me thinking of all the ways there are to convert previous formats to digital. We have another record player that can be used to convert records to MP3s, and I can hook a decent cassette recorder to the computer via a headphone to microphone wire. (8-track is still out of luck. I don’t even think you can buy a new machine that plays those and we still have a bunch left that will never be listened to again.) And I was thinking “could someone think that they could convert all their old records and cassettes to MP3 and convert CD files to MP3 and just put them on their player of choice, usually a cell phone or SD card, and then get rid of them in favor of the less space-taking SD cards and flash drives?” and then I thought about why that would be a bad idea, at least as a clutter removal project.

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