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Sony Businesses Music

Sony Will Start Pressing Vinyl Records After 28-Year Hiatus (fortune.com) 136

Sony said this week it will begin pressing vinyl records again, ending an almost three-decade hiatus. A dramatic increase in demand for vinyl music in recent years prompted the move, the company said. From a report: After a 28-year hiatus, Sony announced this week that it plans to open a new facility in Japan dedicated to pressing vinyl records. It's a back-to-the-future announcement at a time when the true digital music revolution -- downloaded and streaming via always-on Internet connectivity -- has quickly grown to dominate listening habits. According to Japan's recording industry association, the country produced nearly 200 million records per year in the mid-1970s. That's unlikely to return. But while many of us have been content to wirelessly download our music, a surprising number of people are going to the store -- or Amazon.com, let's be honest -- and purchasing a vinyl record, sleeve and all.
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Sony Will Start Pressing Vinyl Records After 28-Year Hiatus

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  • Anybody know what the Japanese for hipster is?

  • a sucker born every minute.
    • That's where it's at!
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No kidding, it's basically mind blowing that anybody would even begin to think that vinyl is better than CD.

        http://hometheaterreview.com/remind-a-hipster-that-vinyl-still-sucks/

        It's time for people who love music and have a taste for great-sounding audio to teach these young whippersnappers about HD music--because vinyl is a standard-definition, low-resolution format. Here, specifically, is why vinyl sucks.

        Dynamic Range
        Vinyl has a dynamic range of about 65 to 69 dB. In the days when vinyl ruled the world, much energy went into mastering vinyl releases to have better (or, at least, better perceived) dynamic range. If you go into a recording studio, mic a snare drum, and then hit it as hard as you can, you will record something in the 120- to 125-dB range. Vinyl reproduces roughly half of those dynamics. Compact Discs do drastically better in dynamic range, while HD files can reproduce ALL of the dynamics of a snare drum.

        Noise
        Many listeners find the stereotypical sound of vinyl to be comfortable and reassuring. That "warmth" is because of second-degree harmonic distortion created by the stylus in the groves. This distortion is what keeps one from hearing all the pristine sound recorded on the master tape. Analog master tape in the studio doesn't have this kind (or volume) of distortion. The cracks and pops heard in vinyl come from flaws in the actual vinyl, as well as wear and dirt on the record. Hardcore vinyl lovers go to great lengths to keep the records clean and protected, which is wise on their part. The sad news is that, unlike a high-resolution digital file, vinyl will degrade over time as it's played.

        In other words, the reason vinyl sounds "warm" is because the highs are all clipped off, with the upper mids being distorted, so all you're left with is the warmth. You also clip off the lows as well (vinyl has problems at lower frequencies unless you want really bad SNR.)

        You don't have to buy a vinyl record to get that shitty retro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    because of my snobbish music tastes but just wait until I can tell them that I now have them all on vinyl!

  • I'm waiting for eight track tapes to make a come back. It is, after all, the 40th anniversary of "Smokey and The Bandit" [amzn.to]. I need to get my Jerry Reed on the road.
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      Believe it or not, cassette tapes are already making a comeback with indy labels, so we're creeping that direction. I bet if there was anyplace to manufacture 8-tracks, somebody would already be doing it.

    • Do you remember the 8 track limitations on track size/length ? It is hard to think of a more disruptive thing than the change of track in the middles of a song. I had and used 4 track reel to reel players for a long time, but 8 track really sucked all around. Cassettes were much better...

      Vinyl is 'ok' but what I find amusing is most if not all vinyl is produced from a digital master so the basic 'warmth' or 'tone' argument is sort of silly.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @01:54PM (#54721165) Homepage Journal

    How will they get the rootkit on the vinyl?

  • by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @01:54PM (#54721167)

    I was given a record collection and a hi-fi record player. Mostly classical, some classic rock. It's cool to show off and immensely satisfying when you put the needle onto the record, but most of the time I just fire up Pandora and be done with it. And no, the distortion doesn't sound better at all.

  • Miss the artwork (Score:5, Insightful)

    by christurkel ( 520220 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @01:55PM (#54721179) Homepage Journal
    I have no idea if vinyl sounds any better but what I miss is the artwork, the covers, gatefolds and sleeves. Not even CDs got close.
    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      I have no idea if vinyl sounds any better

      The deciding factor is how the music is mastered for the medium.

      Vinyl records are limited by physics - the acceleration of the stylus in the groove. If the recording goes beyond its limits, the stylus will skip, ruin needles, and cause distortion. Since vinyl is an old format, its limits are very well understood, and engineers know to stay away from them.

      This generally makes Vinyl immune to the Loudness War [wikipedia.org] (and in spite of lip service to the contrary, it's still being waged).

      A well-mastered CD will sound b

      • The loudness war seems so silly. Volume compression is used to make your song the loudest when broadcast, and most radio stations have companders set to heavy compression, so that compression of the source is a wasted effort.
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        This.

        CD sucks not because of the technology, but because of idiot mastering.
        Vinyl is better because even the noise of vinyl records isn't as bad as absurd compression.
        SACD is better because the SACD standard put limits on the amount of compression allowed.

        I get why they do it, to make the song louder over FM radio, but that makes no sense at all in the world of high bandwidth digital streaming and distribution.

        Very few people actually want vinyl. People want recordings that aren't compressed to the point wh

        • People want recordings that aren't compressed to the point where the music itself becomes mostly noise and vinyl is pretty much the only way to get those recordings.

          Actually, most people prefer compressed music. That's why they are selling it.

          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

            Actually, most people prefer compressed music. That's why they are selling it.

            Just because people don't have a choice, doesn't mean they prefer the only option they have.
            If CD's were available in the flavors of "As intended by the artist" or "Post-processed by the record company", which do you think people would prefer?
            People buy "director's cut" movies. How about "musician's cut" music?

            • If CD's were available in the flavors of "As intended by the artist" or "Post-processed by the record company", which do you think people would prefer?

              Depends. If they just read the text, and never listened to the actual music they may pick the first one. If they didn't read the text, and just listened to the music, they would prefer the second. That's how the loudness war started, people bought more music when the loudness was increased.

              Of course, a smaller group of people prefer the original music. But if that's the main selling point, a music company could just sell digital music in two versions, original and with loudness. Apparently, they don't think

          • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

            I'm not sure if you are referring to lossy compression or dynamic compression

            I totally get people buying lossy compression - the simple fact is that AAC and MP3 compressed music is indistinguishable from the original in double blind studies.

            Dynamic (volume) compression, on the other hand, is another matter entirely. Consumers have no choice over its use. It's most striking when you compare an old (1980's) album vs a new (2011 "remastered" version. You have to turn up the volume on the old version, but you i

  • My plan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @02:01PM (#54721201) Journal
    In the 1980s vinyl crashed. Nobody wanted it. Used records at my local book store sold for $3-$4. Compact Discs sold for $15-$18. Everybody wanted digital disc. It's 2017. New vinyl records cost $25-$30. Nobody wants compact discs. Used CDs at my local book store cost $4-$6. Collectors buy $30 records and place them in sealed vaults. I need to buy all the used CDs I can, and then find the switch on the reality inverter and throw it again.
  • I am not some hipster (maybe I am?) I have a cheap ass turntable and mostly I subscribe to a streaming music service. I buy Vinyl here and there, mostly as displayable, hold able music art. 20 bucks for an album is too high, but 20 bucks for a collectible, playable statue of music is pretty decent. It is just pure nostalgia, but I am not even old enough to be nostalgic about records.
    • oh also, I have tons of records that are over 40 years old, which still play fine. I have 0 CDs over 10 years old that still play.
      • I have maybe 100 CD's from the 80's. They all play just fine. How did you manage to break them? I still buy CD's for that very reason. They are archival. I also have some vinyl from the 70's, and I'd never buy more. Just playing vinyl degrades it.

        • by rjune ( 123157 )

          I buy CD's for the same reason. I rip them to MP3, but if I ever want to switch to another format I have them. No DRM to mess with, and only the occasional Sony rootkit.

        • My problem is using them in the car. I have had several automobiles with no mp3 nor aux input support, and literally none of the automotive CD changers I have owned would play CDRWs well. One of them (an AIWA) would kind of do it, but none of the rest will even try. They just error out. I am waiting for a connector re-pinning tool to permit me to build my own aux interface using an Arduino which emulates the CD changer to solve this problem on my current vehicle.

          Anyway, I've had one of those sun visor cd sl

      • Did you store them in a car in Arizona this week?

      • "I have 0 CDs over 10 years old that still play."

        Protip: when you play Frisbee with your CDs, do not let your dog catch them.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Describing it is a collectible is crazy - do your 90s comics or sports cards have any value? Neither will vinyl - its mass produced and people aren't treating it as disposable because they assume it will have value.
  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @02:09PM (#54721241) Homepage

    I still have a few albums from when I was a teenager that never went on CD (Remember "The Secret Policeman's Balls")? My wife has a ton she wants to get onto her iPod.

    And to get them onto digital I got a USB turntable. Using the Audacity software to convert the output to .mp3s.

    I've just done a couple albums so far - I was pretty anal about keeping them clean and free of scratches while putting them on good quality cassettes (they've been played two to four times at most) - and I have to say I prefer the sound of CDs. The occasional pops and pickup hum that many people/hipsters find endearing, I find annoying and distracting from the music. I used to be pretty good at nailing tracks but it's not like riding a bicycle, I need to relearn it (although I'm breaking up the tracks fine using the software).

    I was surprised at how the quality of the turntables don't seem to match the quality of 35 years ago. My previous turntable was a direct drive Technics that was built from solid aluminum castings; Shure cartridge and I can't remember who made the needle. I bought a highly rated Audio-Technica which is more than serviceable and produces nice sound, but I definitely prefer what comes straight from a CD, iTunes or Amazon.

    I know my son will be scandalized at this post but I grew up in the age of (great) LPs and despite not having the same album artwork, I don't miss LPs at all.

    • I was surprised at how the quality of the turntables don't seem to match the quality of 35 years ago.

      That's one of the reasons why I haven't jumped on the vinyl bandwagon. I also have that problem with typewriters. A typewriter from 40 years ago could easily last 20 years (I had one that did). A typewriter from today is a cheap knockoff made by the same company that won't last a few years.

      • I didn't know they still made typewriters. Do they get used anywhere except for a few nostalgics?
    • by Topwiz ( 1470979 )

      I have a Technics SL-Q3 in the original box that I bought in 1979 or 1980. Has been in the box about 25 years.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "I was surprised at how the quality of the turntables don't seem to match the quality of 35 years ago."

      Sure they do. Not a Crosley, but there are plenty of very good turntables made today, from many thousands of dollars down to U-Turn's Orbit turntable, for well under $200. Adjusted for inflation, today's tables (and cartridges) are better than 35 years ago.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      I was surprised at how the quality of the turntables don't seem to match the quality of 35 years ago. My previous turntable was a direct drive Technics that was built from solid aluminum castings; Shure cartridge and I can't remember who made the needle.

      You can still find quality turntables, but only old-school DJs need that quality, so they're expensive, and you won't find them sold in big box stores. It's entirely possible that if you still had that old Technics, it might be worth a couple hundred dollars.

  • You have to compromise the mix to keep the needle in the groove. [resoundsound.com] So, yeah, perhaps 8-track would give you a more accurate representation of what's on the master tape. I'll take CD over vinyl any day, provided they didn't just get lazy and put the lp master on the CD.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      No, what they put on CDs is the "we must win the loudness war" compressed to hell made for radio master.
    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      I doubt it; 8-track has two big problems. First, the tape play speed is slower to fit more stuff on tape, and second, the tape transport is complete shit because the tape is a giant slip loop. And then they've squeezed in eight tracks where normally only four (two in each direction) are used. 1/4" reel-to-reel isn't bad, but it's still subject to tape hiss without using a noise reduction system.
  • So are the master tapes digitally recorded and digitally mixed?

    • Why would there be a master tape? You can send digital straight from a DAC to the cutting tool.

      • Direct from microphones and magnetic pickups, through a mixer board and to the cutting tool. No intermediate storage, no digitizing, analog all the way.

        Alternately, make your vinyl record with a 3D printer. All sorts of silly strategies are possible.

  • by chemicaldave ( 1776600 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @02:42PM (#54721413)
    ...rootkits?
  • I grew up with vinyl and was happy to see it go. Same for film photography. I have digital now for both and see no reason to look back. There are tons of physical drawbacks and limitations to both that I never want to have to deal with again. That being said, both have their artistic uses for those that want to deal with it, much like painting instead of taking photos. I have photographer friends that deal with film and they enjoy it and it has certain benefits over digital I just don't care about. Vinyl do

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      Wannabe DJs these days can use a laptop and a midi controller. They can't afford the equipment to spin and mix vinyl (a good turntable isn't cheap, and you need two of them and a mixer), and they probably don't have space for crates with a decent amount of music.
  • legalization of weed.

    What, are you going to like, separate the seeds and stems in a CD box? I think not...

  • As an on-the-outskirts "hipster," I understand this as a glimpse into the future, where we've learned from the mistakes of the digital age. Though digital's "always-on," "always-streaming" (as private electronic storage of music has become passé) form is good for those who want a "quick hit" of a Top 40 "quick hit," we've lost the listening experience of the "art of the album" -- not to mention actual "album art," which represents a hold-in-one's-hands physical artefact: a manifestation of music, made
  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @03:43PM (#54721785)
    I grew up during the record era. As the era of CDs approached, vinyl was replaced with plastic and the quality of record presses went to HELL. I remember too many times when I had to return a record 3-4 times before I got one that didn't skip.

    I embraced CDs emphatically and I will never go back to records, plastic or vinyl.

    I do not miss the needle noise, premature wear, groove distortion, wow & flutter, or compromised frequency response.

    National Semiconductor used to print the Audio Design Book which provided a detailed description of how record playback works, and it is an engineering kludge with its compromises. It is far from a perfect playback system.
    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      I do not miss the needle noise, premature wear, groove distortion, wow & flutter, or compromised frequency response.

      Give the Loudness War [wikipedia.org] its due: Many CD's are mastered so badly that in spite of the problems with needle noise, premature wear, groove distortion, wow & flutter, and a compromised frequency response, it's quite easy to find a CD that still sounds worse than its Vinyl pressing.

      • Then there's also the intentional response hole in Digital Audio Tape, and in MP3 compression. I don't know about AAC or AAC+, FLAC, Apple Lossless, or anything later.

        There's one hit you can give pressed records, though: No DRM. Buy the record, play it once to record it in whatever format you want, then put it away until if and when you need to do it again.
        • I have a copy of the mpeg audio standard. Kindly cite where the response hole is specified.
          • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

            IIRC, many MP3 encoders had a 'brick wall' liter at ~16 kHz at lower nitrates — which isn't a bad trade off for compression: higher frequencies take more bits to record. And the VAST majority of humans above 18 years can't hear past 16 kHz at safe volumes.

            (In general, the threshold volume to even hear 20 kHz is also roughly the same as the pain threshold (and well above the damage level)

            AAC is a huge improvement over MP3 at low bitrates, and does not have the brick wall at 16 kHz; it's a moot point as

    • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @07:38PM (#54722963)

      "vinyl was replaced with plastic"

      Polyvinyl Chloride is a plastic.

  • Sony Music never made vinyl records. It's only been around since 1991. [wikipedia.org] Sony's predecessors (Columbia, RCA, and Epic) did.
  • No longer will your turntable be envious of the rootkits available to your other equipment!

  • I wouldn't give up my dSLR for anything, but, I wish I had the "instant" feedback of digital, on film. I grew up with film. From my dad working as a newspaper photographer in the early 60s, "helping" him by rocking the developer & stop baths back and forth, to my own film days up to the early 2000's and my first dSLR in 2010. The warmth you get from good old Kodachrome just can't really be duplicated by digital. Same with audio. No amount of oversampling can get you the warmth of an analog album play
    • You mean the intentional distortions of Kodachrome, and the poorly controlled edge sharpening of any chemical development process? Do you like Kodachrome's abysmal light-fastness (resistance to fading)? The fastest Kodachrome was 200 speed, only available from 1988 to 2007. Other than that, the fastest speed was 64. Digital cameras are routinely 1600 and faster. Kodachrome was unrealistically contrasty (which aided its popularity, but made it useless as a copy film.) Kodak daylight color transparency films

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Friday June 30, 2017 @05:21PM (#54722403)

    Up to the 1970's, the big music market was teenagers with limited disposable income buying 45 RPM records for approximately $1. They were only interested in the "A side" (the heavily promoted song) and "B side" took on a derrogatory meaning. Since the focus was on 1 song on the record, it was also known as a "single". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    So teenagers were buying one song for approximately $1 (does that sound familiar?). Then the music industry went over to CDs. A kid with limited allowance from his/her parents could no longer buy the latest hit for $1. He or she had to pay $20 or $25 for the entire CD, just to get one or two "hits". Parents did not instantly increase kids' allowances by a factor of 20, so music purchases plummetted. Well... like... dohhhh. Of course the MPAA blamed it on piracy.

    It was only when Apple used its power to drag the music industry, kicking and screaming, back to single-song sales for $1 (digital format this time), that music sales recovered.

    There is a lesson for cable TV here. Give people a-la-carte, i.e. an option to pay a reasonable price for just the channels that they want, and they'll pay for it. If you insist on selling only "the-500-channel-universe" for an arm and a leg, sales will plummet.

    • $1 in 1970 money would be worth $6.30 today. Not really so reasonable, especially in an era when teenagers were given less disposable income. People still gobbled that shit up.

      There's no such thing as a reasonable price. People pirate $10 movies to play on their $1,000 TVs. Everybody just wants things to be cheaper as long as they can get away with it. If mp3 bittorrenting became legal nobody would fucking bother with Apple Music, $1 would be too much.

  • ...Of the Vinyl oficianado that gets me

    Going on about fast attacks not being captured by digital (btw Nyquist says your a lier if you believe that), ultrasonics being important, double blind experiments don't work for audio etc etc

    About the only reason for vinyl are to avoid the loudness wars, enjoy the experience and the better artwork. Fair enough but don't give us this it sounds better without any measurable evidence.

    Still waiting for the VHS hipster....

  • Back in the 70's when vinyl albums were the norm before more convenient digital media album jackets provided some art , could be used as a table convenient for cleaning herbs etc... Doubt Japan will bring back this past time hobby aspect.
  • Hmmm... I wonder if there is anything available that will create a playable vinyl record without pressing. Think inscribing a vinyl blank according to a job based on an MP3 file or other format. Such a device would make possible the conversion of one's collection for playback with the record player experience in place of buying new albums. Obvious, many of these people have an old collection and/or built one by buying used records.

    • by twosat ( 1414337 )

      I remember reading about 20 years ago that there was a one-man company that was doing that in New Zealand. From memory it was in Lyttelton; the machine that cut the grooves on the blank records would do them two at a time. I did a quick Google search to try and find the company and managed to find two companies in NZ that use special lathes to cut grooves on blank records.

      http://peterkinglathecutrecord... [peterkingl...ords.co.nz]

      http://www.inreallife.co.nz/ [inreallife.co.nz]

  • Original denim jeans used but in wearable condition can fetch much more than new. They will offer uniqueness like a antique some in the $10,000 range but many in $200 - $500 range. Amazing consumers but niche small audience. I don't get the mentality but some folks have plenty of disposable income so disposing. A high quality often expensive analog system can sound amazing but price performance kind of like a mechanical watch (e.g. Swiss) vs electronic both tell Time about the same but prestige and crafts
  • Not aware of hipster Japanese term, except the sort of direct conversion to katakana "hippusutaa" ãf'ãffãf--ãããf¼. ãã£ã"ãã (Kakkoii) close used for cool , though hipsters are more ããã (otaku) variants.
  • Real progressive hipsters with money to burn use optical turntables now :)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

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