The history of the vinyl records starts long ago in 1857, when Leon Scott invented a way to transcribe sounds to paper that he called the phonautograph.
For the first time sound could be visualized, but these phonautographs were virtually obsolete, until a century later when they could be played back, providing some of the oldest recordings ever made.
Thomas Edison created the cylindrical phonograph in 1877, it was the first wax-based medium able to record and immediately playback sounds. The cylinder didn’t stick around for long as it was Emile Berliner in 1889 who created the more familiar disc-shaped record, and the rest is history.
Some believe that the vinyl record has the most dynamic frequency range, along with a tactile quality that creates an enchanting hands-on listening experience.
Once a record gets placed on the turntable, the listener becomes locked in as the album plays out fully. Although tracks can be singled out on a record, this listening medium is best enjoyed in a single listening session, allowing the music to flow as the artist intended.
Over several decades, vinyl formed a die-hard fan base, competing with the 8-track and cassette, until they were all ultimately replaced by CDs in the 80s. While records faded away for some time, they experienced a resurgence in the early 2000s.
Vinyl’s dominance reemerged due to the current generation’s desire for chic nostalgia.
Nostalgia is one thing, but the feeling of holding a record, seeing the grooves that compose the music, looking at the artwork on its sleeve, and reveling in the coolness, has made vinyl prominent again in an otherwise digital age.
With streaming services, and their convenient platforms dominating over CDs and digital releases, records are carving out their spot in a market that was once fully occupied by the aforementioned.
Record-loving audiophiles claim that there is a lack in quality between MP3 and vinyl, a notion that is currently spreading throughout the music industry. To those with a trained ear, vinyls have a richer sound quality; lows have true bottom end and high frequencies emit a tinge that permeates the air.
CDs, on the other hand, squeeze so much information on a disc that “less important” frequencies get omitted in favor of MP3 file size. Some say that MP3 compression doesn’t make any noticeable difference to the human ear, but others disagree.
For the first time in decades, record labels are releasing vinyls again; often with a digital download code included so that all listening mediums are represented. According to Paste Magazine, physical music sales are outpacing digital sales for the first time since 2011. They also reported that digital downloads decreased 25% in 2017, and Apple plans to completely phase out music purchases by 2019.
With major retailers like Barnes & Noble, Target and online retailers like Amazon, selling vinyl, the high demand for the physical media is not slowing down anytime soon.
While streaming may be the best way to have your music on the go, New York City has a huge vinyl following and there are several places where you can hunt for next record fix.
Whether new, used or rare, the Big Apple has plenty of shops to help you find what you want, ya dig?
So here are NYC’s coolest and most well-equipped record stores:
Rough Trade NYC (64 N 9th St, Brooklyn)
Rough Trade is a well seasoned independent record store that has a selection of vinyls from your average and not so average artists. On top of being one of NYC’s largest vinyl shops, this place has a live music venue and to make it even sweeter, they’re equipped with a full bar.
This spot sees all sorts of acts come through, from local to national, and they do it all with swagger and a modern flare.
A1 Record Shop (439 E 6th St, Manhattan)
This quaint record shop is located in the East Village and is open seven days a week. A1 allows its customers to buy, sell and trade vinyl making for a great spot to enhance your collection.
What’s even cooler is that they put out their own radio broadcast called A1 Records Radio Show, where different DJs and audiophiles spin records and discuss what they love about music.
Turntable Lab NYC (84 E 10th St, Manhattan)
This is no ordinary record store. Turntable Lab has a vast selection of not only records, but equipment for DJs such as speakers, DJ controllers, and turntables. Along with the storefront, TTL sells their products online too, making for a very immersive shopping experience that doesn’t require you to physically be there.
This shop is meticulously stocked and categorized, and the management is knowledgeable and responsible. Having over 18 years of business, this place is definitely one for audiophiles to check out.
Vinyl Fantasy (194 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn)
Vinyl Fantasy is a record and comic book shop that blends two cultures into one small, but mighty, store.
Located in Brooklyn, this place is dedicated to providing a customer experience that is uniquely tailored to each person. Whether you are looking for a graphic novel or a record to match it, Vinyl Fantasy is here to save the day!
Black Gold (461 Court St, Brooklyn)
Black Gold located in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens sells coffee and vinyl, introducing a pairing like no other. The shop offers listening parties, trade-ins and a variety of coffee selections.
What sounds better than grabbing your favorite record paired with a delicious cup of coffee to stimulate your ears? There is also a new sister-spot that recently opened inside the Artists & Fleas building on the corner of Prince St. and Broadway in Manhattan.
The Thing (1001 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn)
The Thing is not just a record shop, it’s an antique wonderland that happens to have an insane amount of records stacked throughout its Brooklyn storefront. With endless amounts of records and no catalog of what is in stock, there is a flat price of $2 per vinyl.
Possibly taking hours to come across something worthwhile, that searching could pay off with quite the cheap find. The Thing is a precious gem in New York, one that should definitely be visited if given the chance.
The Vnyl (100 3rd Ave, Manhattan)
This East Village spot is a nightclub first, with a record shop and coffee bar at the entrance, boasting nostalgic qualities that scream 1970s. The vinyl storefront is overseen by music director Adrian Grenier, star of HBO’s Entourage, who designs in-house playlists that elicit a fun atmosphere.
On top of all that, guests are able to book dinner reservations and rent space out for private events, creating an experience that is in line with the overall objective - fun.