The evolution of audio has, without a doubt, seen a lot of change these past few decades. Vinyl records, 8 track, cassette, CD, MP3, streaming – with every change comes promising improvements and occasional sacrifices. Speed and ease of sharing have allowed digital audio to, in a sense, make the world feel like an even smaller place, and revolutionize the music industry as we know it.

Lossy compression (or how MP3s are made) alters high resolution files to eliminate portions of music people don’t usually notice and are responsible for a large portion of streaming databases online. Without studio quality stereo equipment, the loss of data isn’t noticed by your average user, meaning iPhone users, don’t worry. You’re not missing out on your favorite bands’ tunes on your subway ride. If you were to get a great stereo system, or, per chance, a record player – would that all change?

Overwhelming availability of digital music alters how we listen, when we listen, and who we listen to. In the modern digital age, where do vinyl records fit in? Are they here to stay?

Vinyl’s appeal is raw. It’s real. It brings a warm, physical connection to music that feels authentic. The vinyl revival ‘fad’ started about decade ago, but has been going strong since then. In fact, vinyl sales have reached levels not seen since 1991 this past year, and grew to 30 titles selling more than 10,000 copies, up from 10 in 2015.

In a world where everything is digital, the tactile nature of owning a record seems old-school cool.

What gives? Nostalgia is a big factor. For one, vinyl lends itself to an unaltered, unadulterated, warm sound of the past. Secondly, in a world where everything is digital, the tactile nature of owning a record seems old-school cool.

Vinyl accessibility has reached new highs in these past decades, too. New artists releasing their albums on vinyl and large retailers such as Urban Outfitters selling players makes it easy for anyone to participate in the revival. There are even subscription services, like Vinyl Me, Please, who curate monthly album selections for its users.

The vinyl revival faces real difficulties. Some users prefer subscription-based streaming for music, instead of the investment into records. Production of vinyl also is hitting minor snags – the boom in business is difficult for factories to keep up with. In the end, however, it’s a decision of the consumer: is vinyl just a fad, or worth the investment?

We here at Four Over Four think so, which is why you can find our own record player right next to our office stereo system. So bring back the old and pair it with the new. Vinyl’s here to stay.

Featured image sourced via Vinyl Me, Please