Why turntables are still superior in 2021

Laura Meyer, Staff Writer

My favorite sound in the world is a needle dropping on a spinning record. 

I am succumbed by a rush of dopamine as the crisp sound slices the air and the music pours from the two stereos in my bedroom.

Izzy Pipa

Through the past few years, I have collected my parents’ old records, including albums by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Billy Joel. Then I added newer records to my collection from the likes of Khalid, Niall Horan, and Beyoncé. 

My turntable is my prized possession. Call it cliche, but it changed my life for the better. 

First and foremost, the sound a turntable transmits is stunningly clear. This fact isn’t breaking news, it’s been known since the invention of CDs. 

Essentially, records carry complete sound waves whereas digital recordings compromise those waves by compacting them in order to fit the smaller devices. Hence why records are also called Long Players, LPs for short. 

In my pre- record era, I didn’t listen to albums. I would simply “Spotify surf,” trying to find music that l liked and then dumped the collection of songs into a playlist. That changed when I started to listen to records frequently.

Records encourage you to listen to the artist’s full album. The listener is forced to engage with the full album in the order that the artist intended; there’s no shuffle button to save you from that weird, noisy track you hate.

Listening on a turntable, it’s also tedious to skip a song you don’t like because you have to lift the needle carefully, then find the correct groove to place it back down on. Therefore, it’s less work to listen from start to finish. 

It is no secret that the order of songs on an album tend to tell a story, it is part of the art and creating and consuming music. Listening to an album not in order would be like reading chapters from a book out of order. Out of order the chapters can be pretty damn good, but they don’t give you the whole story. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t strictly listen to music in album format. I love making my Spotify playlists. Consequently, listening to albums on my turntable has made creating playlists even better. 

Without listening to albums on my turntable, I wouldn’t have been inspired to create tailored playlists. My turntable enhanced my streaming experience. 

The art of the mixtape is still alive. Records have inspired me to make my own “albums” within a playlist. Albums transmit a feeling or a story, and now when I make my playlists I try to capture a coherent vibe or tell my own story. 

For instance, I made a playlist called “Honey Lovey” which encapsulates the romantic and blissful side of love. A collection of music that would be featured in a black and white movie: Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, Etta James, and Frank Sinatra.

Finally, listening to music on turntables gets you off a damn screen! Especially now when everything has gone remote due to the pandemic.

After taking classes and doing work on my computer for more than six hours a day, I’m tired of straining my eyes from bright screens and I want to throw my devices out a window. The last thing I need is to figure out what album or playlist to choose while looking at a screen.

I feel free when I am listening to my turntable. I am disconnected. No wires are connecting me to my phone or computer to hear the music. No messages or calls are rolling in with disruptive rings. The only thing I am connected to is the music. 

At the end of the day, I’ll prop my speakers out my bedroom door so the sound travels into the kitchen. The tile floor becomes my dance stage as I practice new ballet steps to Niall Horan’s “This Town” or move my hips around to Harry Styles’s “Watermelon Sugar” while my pasta water boils. 

Through the years with my turntable by my side, my appreciation for music has deepened. I crave riding the long translucent sound waves and disconnecting from the world. The experience is pure because it is simply an intimate conversation between you and the turning record. 

Call me old school, but I guarantee that a turntable will alter your music listening for the better.