Vinyl Records Make A Big Comeback in Columbus

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Musicol has been using equipment like this to press vinyl records since 1971.(Photo: Musicol)
Musicol has been using equipment like this to press vinyl records since 1971.(Photo: Musicol)

Vinyl record sales have been rising for the past five years. Columbus has long boasted a vibrant record market and is home to the region’s only recording pressing facility. Record store owners here agree demand for vinyl is up considerably.

Lost Weekend Records owner Kyle Siegrist says his record sales are up an impressive 10 to 30 percent in recent years. Siegrist has owned the store on North High Street in Clintonville for ten years. He got started after the surge of compact disc recordings nearly wiped out vinyl records.

“We got lucky that over that 10 years we’ve been here the trend has really gone back to vinyl so we didn’t have to switch back. Where some of the stores that had gone the CD way like some of the campus stores and whatnot that might have went to CD’s in the nineties had to start increasing their vinyl back as vinyl came back. We were always just kind of going that path anyways.”

Siegrist says today artists like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Adele are now recording on vinyl. He says younger customers find listening to their favor tunes on vinyl a more social experience.

“Put it in your iPod it’s more personal you take it with you. But if you have friends over you have dinner you have people out whatever, you put a record on everyone’s kind of drawn into it. You pass the jacket around look at it. You don’t have that same experience with the digital nature.”

David Baldwin drove from Gahanna to Lost Weekend Records to find a particular vinyl record. But the 34-year old record lover says he’ll also look for other possibilities as well. Baldwin says he and his friends just enjoy hanging out listening to music.

“A lot of my friends have kind of had a re-awakening with vinyl. We grew up with it to some degree so it’s not that big a stretch that we would come back.”

In addition to its vibrant record store scene, Columbus also boasts its own vinyl record pressing and recording studio.

Tucked into a dead end street in a residential north end neighborhood, Musicol has been in business as a recording studio since 1966. Longtime owner John Hull says they’ve been pressing records in the basement since 1970.

“He loads the material, the polyvinyl chloride which is what we call vinyl into the press and then the press with the labels, label on the A side and B side. The press closes and squishes it out into a phonograph record.”

Hull says 2012 was his best year ever. He created 450 master recordings from which records are mass produced. That’s up from a low of 250 in the early 2-thousands. The 84 year old says he gets orders from all over the world.

“We’re doing records that go to Russia. We’ve done em in South America, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Australia, New Zealand. Nothing in China that I remember,”

For younger listeners who don’t know what a vinyl record is or what the fuss is about or older ones who remember only the hiss, static and scratchiness of vinyl records, are two recordings of the same song are featured in the audio version of this story. The first sample is an example of a vinyl recording, the second is taken from a compact disc.