Saturday, July 02, 2005

I did something extremely anti-iTunes today: I bought two LPs. One was Ornette Coleman's Change of the Century, and the other was Eric Dolphy in Europe, Vol. I. I've bought several LPs in the past few years, sometimes because they were cheaper, sometimes just for the hell of it.

There's something about buying an LP: it's like you're deliberately being a Luddite. You're buying something that isn't portable, something you can't take with you, something that puts you very much back into the mindset of another time, when the optimum listening experience was to sit in your living room or lay on your bed and let the music just surround you.

Know what? It's still the optimum experience.

It's great to listen to music in a car, or when you're walking or running or doing whatever it is you do, but those activities by definition aren't about listening to music; they're about listening while you're doing something else. There's a lot to said for sitting at home and hearing something, giving your attention to it the way you would a book or a movie.

And, for reasons I can't full articulate, music just sounds better on an LP, especially jazz or classical records, when there's such a wide range of it. This has, of course, long been an issue of debate among audiophiles -- which I can't really claim to be, given my decidedly lo-tech lifestyle -- but an LP just seems to deliver a fuller, richer sound. You get real depth from it. Ornette is blowing his heart out in the background as I type this, and every squank and skronk have a color and clarity that I just don't think CDs deliver.

In fact, a note on the back of this particular Ornette album says it was physically produced in a way to accomodate a fuller sound:

This is a high fidelity recording. Transfer from master tapes to master lacquers is made on Ampex Model 300 Tape Recorder, Scully Variable Pitch Lathe, and Cook Lateral Feedback cutterhead. The variable pitch control of the Scully Lathe widens the grooves for loud passages and narrows them during quieter sectiobns, forming the light and dark patterns that can be seen on the surface of the pressing.

So suck on that, iPod.

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