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Why vinyl records survive in the digital age

Vinyl records

Vinyl records

Record albums are analog, the closest thing we have to the soundwaves. These waves are drawn out of a flattened, spinning disk of vinyl by a diamond. The diamond is physically taking a ride on the record. The bumps in the grooves push the diamond up and down. 

Ask a record-collecting audiophile why vinyl is back, and you may hear a reply about sound quality. But it is much deeper than that. The form of the medium becomes part of the message it would convey and influences how the message is viewed.

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Why vinyl records survive in the digital age

Why vinyl records survive in the digital age

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/03/the-ux-of-vinyl-the-medium-is-the-message/

arstechnica.com

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Key Ideas

Vinyl records

Record albums are analog, the closest thing we have to the soundwaves. These waves are drawn out of a flattened, spinning disk of vinyl by a diamond. The diamond is physically taking a ride on the record. The bumps in the grooves push the diamond up and down. 

Ask a record-collecting audiophile why vinyl is back, and you may hear a reply about sound quality. But it is much deeper than that. The form of the medium becomes part of the message it would convey and influences how the message is viewed.

Multi-sensory

The entire experience of vinyl creates its appeal.

Vinyl records appeal to the sense of sight, sound, and touch, while digital/streaming-only appeal to one sense. You can feel a record, hold in in your hands. It must be handled carefully as the record is easily scratched or can warp in the sun. Vinyl has a richness, depth, and warmth that digital media lacks.

The ritual

The process of putting on a record is like a ritual.

  • First, you have to find the record by paging through your collection.
  • Once you find the record, you remove the album from its cover and holding the record with both hands, gently place it on the turntable spindle.
  • The record and the turntable needle must be free from dust for a crisp sound.
  • Finally, you place the platter in motion and lower the needle slowly onto the spinning vinyl disk for the music to start playing.

Possible lessons

The record experience holds some possible lessons for user-interface designers.

  • Designing for multiple senses can be more powerful than designing for just one.
  • Always ensure the design is appropriate for the medium.
  • Always consider the user's state of mind. Consider every aspect of their psychology and how it might relate to their experience. For instance, the experience might be preferred because it reminds them of their childhood.

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