Getting back intothe vinyl groove

Vinyl fan: Neil Carpenter of Blackpool HMV
Vinyl fan: Neil Carpenter of Blackpool HMV
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It’s time to put the needle on the record and pump up the volume – because vinyl is officially back in fashion.

Blackpool music specialists reckon that, in the age when everyone carries their favourite tunes round on their phones or MP3 players, the technology from the last century is making a comeback.

Record players are selling well at Tower Audio in Whitegate Drive, which specialises in high quality sound systems.

And owner Philip Leskiw said it was not just older music fans trying to recapture the excitement of the heyday of singles and LP buying, it was younger afficianados too buying them to listen to the latest sounds.

He said: “A few years ago it was CDs taking over and then along came streaming to your computer and the iPod.

“But people are looking for that warmer more realistic analogue sound.

“CDs are 16 bit technology and streaming now can be 24 bit so you get a more faithful sound but to many people nothing beats the realism of sound from a record. I am selling more record players now than CD players.

“People coming here want a more touchy feel approach to their music, we do a lot of high quality music systems.

“I have been selling a lot of the surround sound systems with five speakers and a sub woofer and the Sonos systems which are wireless and where you can have different music playing in different rooms. ”

Record sales were up 40 per cent in the first half of this year according to monitoring organisation Soundscan.

And demand has put pressure on the remaining pressing plants around the world creating long lead in times for bands and artists hoping to get their music out on the black discs. Neil Carpenter, from Blackpool’s HMV store, agreed that vinyl records were making a come back.

He said: “About a year ago we started restocking vinyl because there was so much demand from customers.

“We have moved our music department upstairs to give it that feel of the old record shops and expanded the range of vinyl by three times.

“There’s a wide variety of people buying records. A lot of collectors and professionals but also a lot of new younger customers.

“It has a sound that is hard to replicate on computers.”

Philip, from Tower Audio, said the quest for more faithful sound has led to a rise in sales of top quality headphones at his shop too.

He said: “People are buying the Sennheiser and B&W a lot of high quality systems for a better sound.

“The record players have been great for me because I have only been in business for a year and it is tough on the high street.”

Phil took over the premises after Audio-T closed down in Blackpool 14 months ago and sought help from the council’s Get Started programme to set up his own business.

“I actually started in work at this store 30 years ago when it was Practical HiFi. I have worked for some of the big retailers but then decided to launch my own shop. So I have come full circle really.”

Gramaphone factfile

The phonograph or later Gramophone was introduced in 1877.

Sound vibration waveforms are recorded as corresponding physical deviations of a groove engraved or impressed into the surface of a rotating cylinder or disc.

The record player uses a sensitive needle or stylus to pick up the vibrations which are then amplified and reproduced through a loudspeaker.

The vinyl records became popular in the 1950s with record player spinning them at 78 revolutions per minute then the single 45 rpm came along and the long player which spins at 33.3 revolutions per minute.

Just over 780,000 vinyl albums were sold in 2013 – the largest number since 817,000 were sold in 1997 but that is dwarfed by sales back in the 1980s when Michael Jacksons Thriller alone sold 42.4 million copies.