PLAINS TWP. — The recording industry has focused on producing digital music for the last two decades, making it available to listeners in myriad convenient ways.
However, according to music enthusiasts gathered at Sunday’s NY Record Fair at the Woodlands Resort, compact discs, mp3 files and other forms of digital music will never provide the sound quality of a good, old-style vinyl record.
Kevin Gilbertson from Shavertown said vinyl has a fuller, more comforting sound.
“To me they just sound warmer,” Gilbertson said.
He was one of about 600 visitors attending the fair to buy, sell or trade records with the 25 dealers displaying more than 100,000 records of all genres, including old ones and newly released ones, novelty records as well as classics, well-known artists and hardly known, and every other imaginable record produced.
Gilbertson expected to spend more than $100 putting his own eclectic assortment together, which he said he will listen to when he gets time. But it’s not just collecting records for listening; the old albums offer “nostalgia,” he said.
“There is a lot of memories with these records,” Gilbertson said. “You collect them because you like the artist or producer,” he added.
Greg Spencer, a dealer from Syracuse, sees an emerging interest with the younger collectors in vinyl records over the last five years. Many of them have heard only music recorded digitally, he said.
“They are amazed when they experience the quality of the sound from vinyl,” he said.
Spencer said new customers are attracted to the vinyl record “package,” which often includes artwork, photos of the band members, lyrics, names of studios and other information not found on a music website or CD box.
Spencer admits digital music quality has improved since its beginning. The earliest in his opinion was very poor with much of the music copied from secondary sources instead of original studio tapes.
However, digital music will always lack the “character” of vinyl, he said. Vinyl fans actually like when a record has a little “background noise” such as the crackle of small scratches, he said.
Event organizer Jack Skutnick said the fair has been a regular event at the Woodlands every spring and fall since 1993. He however has been immersed in record collecting for 35 years and doesn’t plan to stop.
“It all started as a way to pay for my record-collecting vice,” Skutnick said. “It’s something I love to do but will probably seem like a foreign country to other people,” he said.
Some records can command a significant price for collectors depending on the condition and authenticity of the item, he said.
For example, a copy of “Meet the Beatles” with the the pasted cover used to hide the original cover that was considered offensive could fetch up to $25,000, he said.
On Sunday, Skutnick and the other dealers did some buying and some selling, negotiating with customers and each other. More important they shared their passion for recordings and stories that go with them.