Still Spinning: Inside Fair Lawn's EZ2Collect, pictured in 2007.
Still Spinning: Inside Fair Lawn's EZ2Collect, pictured in 2007.
Posted: Thursday April 19, 2012, 11:09 AM
Vintage Music: On Record Store Day, vinyl spins back around in Bergen
By ERINN CONNOR of The Record

For a list of participating stores and other information, see recordstoreday.com.

The burst of static when a record needle hits the vinyl is a moment of nostalgia for record collectors, and a new way to listen to music for young vinyl aficionados.

Enthusiasts say the music recorded on vinyl is fuller, richer and more authentic. This old-school sound is what record store owners and collectors alike will celebrate on Saturday during Record Store Day, which honors independent music stores nationally. Participating stores will sell limited-edition records.

"For some reason there are certain nuances of music that don't translate well to digital," said Craig Stepneski, owner of The Record King in Hackensack. "Green Day released their 'Dookie' album on vinyl and CD, and if you listen to them at the same time it's like two totally different recordings."

While the cassette tape and, to a lesser extent, the compact disc have vanished, the record, first introduced in the 1880s, is making a resurgence. The Recording Industry Association of America reported that 2.9 million records were shipped in 2008, the most since 1998. Artists such as Bruce Springsteen, John Mayer, Adele and Kanye West release their music on vinyl as well as digitally. Best Buy sells a simple turntable for $70, or a more sophisticated one for $400 that can record vinyl albums onto CD.

"Vinyl is definitely making a big comeback, particularly in the rock genres," said Art Morgan, owner of Sound Exchange Records in Wayne. "It probably makes up about 50 percent of my sales."

An ongoing argument

Some music fans argue that the sound of digital is as close to perfect as possible, while others swear by the pops and crackles of vinyl. David Blake, owner and engineer at Fox Recording Studios in Rutherford, said the argument could go on forever – it's all a matter of preference. But it was difficult to perfect the art of making music sound good on vinyl.

"The process was very complicated," Blake said. "First the band would record on audio tape. Then the tracks were mixed together. The engineers would add more treble and less bass, because treble didn't translate as well on vinyl and the bass was boomier."

As technology progressed, he said, master engineers could more accurately replicate the original recording.

"The one thing I can say about records is they take on a sound of their own," he said. "There's something very ear-pleasing about it."

Music professionals think so too. Turntable Events, a DJ company based in Westchester County, N.Y., that does events in New Jersey and New York, has DJs who use vinyl turntables while catering weddings and parties.

Owner Spencer Potter said his clients appreciate the throwback appeal of the records, and that his DJs are more like performing artists than a person controlling a computer.

"We do mixing and scratching and beat matching, we're not like the DJ who's using an iPod," Potter said.

Andre Hunter, owner of Record City in Paterson, said he still gets a few DJs who buy vinyl. The skill and timing needed to be a true DJ is becoming a lost art, he said.

"Without records, it's just pushing buttons," he said.

Even younger fans are seeing the appeal of vinyl.

"In the last few years kids have grown up with the iPod as opposed to a Walkman," said Irv Lukin, owner of EZ2Collect Record Store in Fair Lawn. "They're discovering a different way to listen to music. You can argue that it's warmer, louder, whatever, but it's certainly a different feel and they've embraced it."

Lukin said one of his favorite things about Record Store Day is seeing fathers and sons come into his store, each picking out records.

"We certainly get the old-time collectors and regulars coming in all the time," Lukin said. "But then we get regular 23-year-old kids walking in wanting old Eric Clapton records. Vinyl attracts a very diverse crowd."

Email: connor@northjersey.com