Christian Montoya

I started collecting vinyl records last week

I am a serial, obsessive collector. I have always been this way. If something can be rare, unusual, or valuable, I'll start a collection of it. The following is an incomplete list of things I collected during my childhood:

  • Stamps
  • Coins
  • Comic Books
  • Trading Cards
  • Pencils
  • Action Figures
  • Outer-Space-Themed Lego Sets
  • Beanie Babies
  • Videogames

I think the worst it ever got was when I would buy or receive die-cast cars (i.e. Hot Wheels) and then put the unopened toy away in a closet as part of my collection. I was convinced these would someday be valuable. Unless metal becomes a rare and precious resource, fat chance. They are still tucked away in boxes in my closet back home though.

I didn't do any collecting while I was attending college or moving around afterward. I didn't have the money for it, nor the space to keep things. Now that I am somewhat settled down in a decent size apartment in Central NJ, I'm getting back into the swing. I've got a shelf in the living room with my collection of DVDs, videogames, rare Nintendo memorabilia, and CDs. Yes, I collect CDs. Once I realized they were going out of style, I actually had a desire to buy them. Some notable entries in my collection would be:

At least, they are notable to me, because at this point in my life I've given up on collecting things for their "potential monetary value" and am instead collecting things for my own perceived interest. After all, I need to learn to open & play with my toys.

So on to the point of my writing this… last week I started collecting vinyls. I had some vinyls to my name for quite a few years before that, which I had inherited, and a few others that I bought at an antique store in Gainesville, Florida about a year ago. I had never heard these vinyls, but I was planning to, eventually. Last week while I was home in Miami, I decided it was time for me to get in tune with the past and pack those vinyls in my suitcase for the trip back. I also made a trip to a Goodwill Superstore and bought 25 vinyls, at $1 each, most for me but some for my parents. Speaking of parents, I neglected to mention that last week I got to try out my parents' record player for the first time, which would also be the first time I listened to vinyl outside of a nightclub. Yes, they do sound amazing, but then again I was listening to Stan Getz, Herb Alpert, and The Platters among others, so maybe it was the talent.

Friday, being apparently a good day to find online deals, I actually purchased a record player of my own, which should be arriving some time next week. And yesterday I finally got to visit the Princeton Record Exchange, which is apparently one of the largest stores of its kind. Digging through boxes of $1 vinyls was fun, but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed when they told me they only had two boxes of electronica vinyls tucked away under a table… NJ has no taste. I did manage to score a greatest hits album by Donna Summer, which was at the top of my list of "things I want to find so I can say this store is awesome", as well as my very first new vinyl(s), Brotherhood by The Chemical Brothers.

So as of this writing, I have a collection of about 30 vinyl records sitting in my living room (upright of course), without a shelf to put them on, a record player to play them, or even cleaning solution to get the dust off. After browsing record players for sale, the record player and cleaning solution are due to arrive in a week, while the shelf is going to take some planning. But they sure are nice to look at!

Which brings me to my next point about vinyls… it's unfortunate that they retail for high prices, but if you have ever seen them, they look really nice. An album, which usually comes on 2 12" records, also comes in a nice big 12" sleeve that has the artwork printed nice & big on the front. I can totally see myself framing some vinyls and hanging them on my wall… that's how good they look. If I really like an album, it's safe to say that the vinyl is a much better buy than the CD, for something that I want to keep and show off for a long time. And since my record player, and most others, make it easy to rip vinyls, deciding which to buy is just a matter of taste. So I think I can see myself purchasing both CDs and vinyls from now on.

p.s. You might be wondering, what about digital music? There was a time when I was buying music on iTunes and Amazon… not much, but since I was moving around, it was the easiest way to get music. Eventually I got annoyed with iTunes; while the quality is good and it's easy to sync with Apple devices and burn to CDs, it gets far less convenient when I want to play my songs elsewhere. The tipping point for my distaste of iTunes came when I had to pay extra to upgrade all of my purchased music to iTunes Plus, their DRM-free format. I don't see why something I buy should have DRM to begin with, I should have the rights to my own personal use of the content as soon as I open my wallet. As for Amazon, I think their store is very convenient and much less restrictive than iTunes, but I have to admit I'm not too fond of MP3s, even if they are 320kb quality, and while I like their prices, I don't think you get very much for what you pay. I like booklets and liner notes, and the only time I got anything like that in digital form was when I bought Alive 2007 by Daft Punk on iTunes (and it still didn't compare to a physical booklet).

That all being said, the point is that if I really like some piece of music, I'll opt for a physical copy. If I buy something in digital form, it's usually because I just want a single song to add to my playlist that I'll probably stop listening to eventually. For the kind of music I listen to for years, like Jack Johnson, Cassius, Nat King Cole, etc. I want the real deal :)

Edit: Because Amazon.com is amazing, my new record player was waiting beside my doorstep when I got home. Now all of Flickr, and the rest of the Internet, know of my ability to play vinyls:

Part 2

So far I can only listen to the clean records in my collection: "Brotherhood" by The Chemical Brothers, Donna Summer Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2, and "Elvis" (pressed in 1973). They all sound great!

Thank you for reading • Published on November 30th, 2009 • Please take a moment to share this with your friends