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Why I Love... Vinyl

Nell Houghton By Nell Houghton
Published June 2024

Why I Love... Vinyl

Last year I watched Almost Famous, and that film made me realise something incredibly sad: I’d never heard anything on vinyl. You see, I’m 12. My friends and I have grown up in a world of smartphones, headphones and playlists, where we can listen to anything we want, anywhere and at any time, and where technology tells us what to play next.

But music means so much to me that I wanted to try listening in a different way, and I decided I’d explore the world of vinyl. I begged my parents for a hi‑fi separates system and last Christmas the fat guy with a beard (sorry Dad!) actually delivered it — I wouldn’t trade in for the world! It’s made up of second‑hand bits (I prefer ‘vintage’), but with a Technics CD player, an Akai turntable, a NAD amplifier (thanks Hugh Robjohns!) and a lovely pair of Mordaunt‑Short speakers, I think it’s an extraordinary first hi‑fi.

As with any kid of my generation, I’m into lots of modern music and I haven’t abandoned Spotify and YouTube. But a big reason I wanted a record player was to gain a sense of what it felt like listening to music at a time when it seems to have been that much more special to people. So, I started with records by older groups: REM, the Verve, the Lemonheads and, my pride and joy, Led Zep IV. Recently, I went to my first vinyl fair and sniffed out some more bargains, including an imported green vinyl version of Led Zep II. That one not only sounds great, but it’s beautiful too!

I realise vinyl isn’t all good. It’s easy to scratch or break it, it’s incredibly complicated to use, the sound isn’t always perfect, and records are expensive. But it’s all about the experience and the connection with the music, and the first time I listened to a record I was completely blown away. It wasn’t only me, either: I played a couple of records when my bestie came over, and the expression on her face said everything. I’d never seen anyone look so insanely gobsmacked: speechless and fascinated, hypnotised for a good two minutes, she eventually managed to say “But... how... does it... work?” She’s not alone. Most of my generation is missing out on this joy of just sitting down and absorbing good music.

You get swept up in the music, and appreciate it in a way you just can’t if listening on your phone while you do your maths homework!

Most parents might not think to spend hundreds of pounds on a hi‑fi when their children could just use their phone or iPad. But it’s worth it! With no screen to distract you, you have to just sit back and close your eyes, or explore the cover art and lyrics. You get swept up in the music, and appreciate it in a way you just can’t if listening on your phone while you do your maths homework! So, remember, if you win the lottery don’t give it all to charity: put some aside to buy a kid a record player...

Naturally, I’ve had Spotify playing the whole time I’ve been writing this. But I’m making an exception, as I’m listening to Billie Eilish, and nothing says ‘good music’ to me better than that. And Billie, if by any chance you’re reading this and feeling kind, could you possibly spare two tickets to one of your concerts for an adoring fan?