Paul Mitchell, Author
Paul Mitchell, of Mitchell Acoustics, shares his thoughts on the resurgence of vinyl and stereo.
Remember the thrill of going to your local record shop, buying the latest album from your favourite band or artist, showing your friends, and the anticipation of listening to it when you got home?
That reassuring clunk when the needle hits the vinyl meant that you were about to hear real music. Your music. An actual album. On a proper hi-fi system, with two speakers in the corners of the living room.
With people stuck in their homes many have been turning to the comfort of music which reminds them of good times gone by. It is well documented that listening to music can alleviate stress. Music fans have been unable to go to live gigs for the last year, and helped by more disposable income, vinyl sales jumped by a staggering 25% in the final quarter of 2020 with the annual increase over the whole year being 11.5%. That’s almost 5 million new album sales in the UK last year.
Vinyl is fighting back.
According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) association 2021 will see the year vinyl reclaims the top spot for physical media sales in the UK. The last time vinyl outsold CD was in 1987 when Rick Astley topped the charts. The top selling vinyl album in the UK of 2020 was Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 “Rumours”. Vinyl is now reaching a new audience, no longer is it the domain of 50-something men in anoraks who spend their Saturday afternoons in the local second-hand record shop. Their children are discovering vinyl. Vinyl is super trendy. Harry Stiles’ “Fine Line” album made the top 5 selling UK vinyl list of 2020. Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI commented: “In a year when all our lives have changed, music’s power to inspire has never been more evident. The immediacy and convenience of streaming make it the go-to audio format for most of our listening, but more and more fans choose to get closer to their favourite artists and albums on vinyl.”
Stereo is fighting back.
Stereo is a term that was ubiquitous, along with Dolby, and always meant ‘quality sound’. But with the advent of smartphones, streaming and single speakers, stereo fell by the wayside. Anyone doubting the value of stereo should check out early soul classics like Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” to hear the mesmerising left and right phasing of the electric piano! Or the ‘in your face’ drums as they move across the room from left to right on “Crosstown Traffic“ by Jimi Hendrix.
All modern music is still recorded and mixed in stereo. Artists and producers spend thousands of hours, and thousands of pounds, for listeners to get the best of out of the music. Stereo is how you are supposed to listen to music.
For far too long people have tolerated sub-standard audio. They have traded in the old stereo system for the convenience and simplicity of a single speaker. Streaming to a single speaker for a mono experience is dumbing down the quality of music. The latest hi-quality streaming services are wasted on such single speaker systems, especially as full stereo, lossless CD-quality streams are now available from services such as Amazon Music HD.
But all is not lost, smartphones produce stereo – check out some tunes on your headphones to hear the effect. The current limitation for many is that by using a single speaker, a listener cannot possibly have the benefit of the stereo soundscape.
Rediscover the delight of stereo sound without wires.
Mitchell Acoustics is launching a range of quality Bluetooth stereo speakers, all having True Wireless Stereo incorporated, the same technology as you get in earbuds and many headphones. You can instantly connect from your smartphone and have music streamed to great speakers and rediscover the real pleasure of music. The first, the uStream One, has a powerful kick, 50 watts per channel, giving a 100-watt maximum output. Many single, non-stereo speakers don’t come anywhere near this level of power or quality. That’s not to say you have to play your music loud, but running at a lower level, quality speakers give far superior performance. A small car going down the motorway at 70mph might put a strain on the engine but a Ferrari idles at 70 and you know there’s immense power under the bonnet. The uStream One is the Ferrari of True Stereo wireless speakers. And vinyl the Ferrari of the music industry!
To borrow from the Everly Brothers, if you’ve lost that music feelin’, with the new stereo vinyl Bluetooth experience you can now bring back that music feelin’ again.