Vinyl or Digital Which is Better?
Over the decades, music has been captured on a variety of formats. From the original wax cylinders of the 20s, to 8-track cartridges, cassette tapes and minidiscs, technology is in constant flux. Now, in the age of digital, audio files have taken another leap – including the likes of MP3. But even now, one format keeps coming back from the dead; with a somewhat cult following amongst music lovers.
According to the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), vinyl sales are currently at a 15 year high. This is partly thanks to a dedicated collectors market, and partly down to the limited edition releases of 45s and LPs by some musical artists. But when it comes to DJing, vinyl or digital which is better?
Digital: the pros
Digital formats such as MP3 provide the ultimate of ease and flexibility. In one click, a DJ can stream or download a back-catalogue in a matter of seconds – which comes in handy when trying to fulfil obscure requests at weddings! Digital is incredibly practical too – allowing access to an array of glorious beats, loops, samples and textures without reams of equipment. This is certainly a blessing, allowing flexibility of travel arrangements if a wedding is at the other side of the country or even abroad. There is always a risk of vinyl going missing or – worse still – being stolen. But by using cloud technologies to provide instantaneous backup of music libraries, digital formats are reliable too.
Vinyl: the pros
Vinyl DJing requires a great deal of technical skill. It’s an analogue process, using deft human touch to beat match, mix levels and cross-fade organically between two tracks. DJing with vinyl comes with years of practice, hours of patience, and a good ear to blend tracks together. For weddings, vinyl could fit right in with your theme; especially if you have a vintage theme. It is also commonly believed that vinyl produces a sound that cannot be replicated via digital technology; with a certain warmth and charm as the grooves and needle work together in harmony.
Digital: the cons
Sometimes too much choice is a bad thing. With access to vast musical libraries, digital can result in overly eclectic entertainment; trying to fulfil individual requests without paying attention to the bigger picture. What kind of vibe does the bride and groom want for their entertainment? If using digital, a DJ needs to understand the newlywed’s tastes and wishes – allowing them to curate tracks accordingly, even if that means politely turning down a song request or two. In addition, a DJ must stick to one particular file type, Finally, a DJ will need to stick to a particular sound file type for continuity. Our hearing is more sensitive than we often realise!
Vinyl: the cons
The opposite of digital; vinyl may restrict musical choices too much. Some classic albums were never pressed; and if you want to enjoy music from a particular era then it’s likely you – or your DJ – will have to get out there and find vinyl on the second hand market. This can be very expensive if you’re buying direct from a vinyl dealer, and while ebay, charity shops and car boot sales can be much cheaper, it is often a challenge to find exactly what you are looking for, or the condition may be poor. Vinyl also requires more equipment than digital, including a good set of decks and a high quality audio mixer. This can be problematic depending on space in the venue, and the need to travel.
Weighing up the pros and cons, the preference for vinyl or digital comes depends on all kinds of variables including musical tastes, event types and guest attendance . To continue the debate, get in touch with me on Twitter or Facebook