Overall, despite a very successful launch, there are a few things I wish I would have done differently from the get-go with FutureAudiophile.com. One of the biggest faux pas was picking a higher-commission source for affiliate sales as opposed to going right to Amazon.com, who pays less affiliate commission per sale, but whom our readers obviously prefer to buy from. Ooops. I should have known better, as I had learned that lesson in back in 2018 but somehow it didn’t stick. It will now.
Fixing the affiliate link project is a lot of work, but our page count is still tolerable, so I’ve been replacing equipment links with Amazon links, which is already paying dividends in the early days of the project. I’m also adding links to the music selections we use in the course of our reviews, be it Compact Discs, streaming, cassette tapes (yes, they sell those again), and vinyl. Many audiophile records are available in some (or all) of these formats, and we want you to hear what we hear in the course of our product evaluations, hence the links.
Here’s why I’m bringing all of this up. In the course of creating product links via Amazon, I’ve seen some pretty eye-opening things. For one thing, vinyl is always more expensive than CD, and not by a small margin. There’s often quite a big price delta. Not every album is released on vinyl, but many of the ones that are cost many, many times that of the same recording purchased on CD.
Here Are Some Example of Audiophile CD vs. Vinyl Prices on Amazon.com
- Yes: Big Generator (buy) $11 $115
- Pink Floyd: Dark Side of The Moon (buy) $21 $299
- Steely Dan: Aja (buy) $11 $50
- Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms (buy) $14 $40
- Motorhead: The Very Best of (buy) $15 $52
- An Evening with Silk Sonic (buy) $14 $64
Not every vinyl record follows the same pattern, as The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland is $21 on Compact Disc and $20 on vinyl. There are others like that, but nearly all of the examples that I looked into saw vinyl at double (or higher) for the same album when compared to the CD.
I’ve covered the technical issues with vinyl over and over again. As a 100-year-old technology, it has very limited dynamic range as compared with a Compact Disc and that comparison gets even worse when you pit vinyl against HD formats like 24/192 downloads. Vinyl is high in distortion in comparison with any digital format, too. But we aren’t here to crap on vinyl, as it also has its advantages. Many people already have extensive collections of LPs. There are audiophile hobbyists who don’t care what vinyl cost, as they simply enjoy that format with its analog nature, authentic format from the original release of the album, or just not having to turn anything computer-like on to enjoy their music. And I’m not here to argue with them…
For those seeking the best audiophile value in their stereo system, it is hard to build equity into your system, your room design, and overall investment when such a big portion of your audiophile budget goes into your music collection, especially given that you can have digital access to nearly every record ever made at CD (or higher) resolutions for about $15 per month.
Question: before you spend $299 on a limited anniversary edition of Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl, perhaps should you invest that money into some new acoustical treatments or an upgraded DAC or something else for your audiophile system that returns bigger value? If you’ve got your system where you want in terms of gear and room tuning and you are cool with peeling off three $100 bills for a record, then cool, but somebody had to say something about relative value here.
It is good to see the consumer demand strong for retro-styled audio components (think: NAD C 3050 LE, PSB Passif 50 speakers, or JBL-L100s from the old Maxell print ad) as well as retro-styled audiophile software formats like LPs. With that said, it is also important for many of us who are on a budget for our expensive hobbies like this to get the maximum value, and right now, streaming sure looks like the clubhouse leader in the audiophile world.
How are you collecting music today? Share with us in the comments below.