Audiophilia – The Exasperating Future of Vinyl Record Buying

Back in March I wrote two articles (Audiophilia – Optimizing Spend on Turntables, Parts 1 & 2), discussing the resurgent vinyl market and needed hardware. Since that time, I’ve realized that the marketplace is perpetually changing in two rather distinct ways. One is inevitable; the other involves short-sighted greed on the part of new record manufacturers.

For vinyl nuts like me, there’s practically no greater fun than to pass a yard sale with cases of old vinyl records on display, often priced at a dollar or less. It’s equally thrilling to walk into a used record store and find a new batch of used jazz and classical recordings.  Sadly, this cherished pastime’s days are numbered. The millions upon millions of used records in the current market mostly belong to older folks who are downsizing, having been purchased new in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. So if you love older Rock, Folk, Country, Jazz and/or Classical, now is the time to build out your collection at the lowest cost in history.

Which brings us to the topic of new vinyl records. Not unopened vintage vinyl, mind you, but newly pressed vintage and contemporary artists’ recordings. And if you’ve read this far and are not yet a vinyl fan, make a small investment in a CD or download, plus a new issue vinyl recording of an identical piece of music and compare the quality on a friend’s system or at a high-end stereo shop. You will be astounded at the difference.

Unfortunately, the wholesale and retail cost of new vinyl records seems to increase almost monthly.  As Colin Tappe reports, prices are indeed high because of limited demand. And they’re also rising because “there’s no way to justify an increase from $13 to $19 per title — the going wholesale rate for some Rhino reissues, for instance — within a year’s time without greed creeping into the equation somewhere. And greed can be good, as Kirk Douglas taught us in Wall Street, but when it’s a dumb, myopic greed that will only hurt all participants in the long run…”

My advice: buy now and also invest in a record cleaning machine to keep your gems as perfect as possible. That way, when you retire and downsize – or bequeath your collection to your kids – your records will likely comprise a significant asset.

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