Oh No! An Even Stupider Vinyl Story!

The numerogroup can rest easy. An even more foolish vinyl story has just appeared online on The New Jersey Star Ledger's website.

Please read it for yourself: "Vinyl records coming back? Scratch that!."

And as long as I'm still at it, I received another email response from Mr. Sevier and responded to it:

On Jun 13, 2013, at 2:18 PM, Rob Sevier wrote:

I'm happy to engage debate, but your claim actually has no substance, there is no argument (just that something is "stupid"). It's purely an opinion… and not the opinion of someone I respect.

To which I responded:

So you say:

1) happy to engage but there is no debate because my claim has no substance. Well that of course is the purpose of a debate, to debate if my claim has substance.

2) "stupid" is how I characterized the piece but I did explain why I thought it was so.

3) Of course it's only an opinion. That's what debates usually deal with.

4) and of course you don't respect my opinion, because it differs from yours and after all I've only spent 30 years helping to save vinyl and am considered one of the authorities on the subject so I understand why I'm not worthy of your respect.

It all makes sense now. Thanks for clarifying.

Glotz's picture

Pretty much. What an utterly uninformed idiot.  Sickens me to the core she is so utterly witless. 

I hope you bring her to your house and she hears what an absolute fool she really is.  

I wouldn't have the patience nor the inclination.  

torturegarden's picture

after reading that article. I read it while listening to a 40+ year old LP that sounds new, so yeah, "After that, it was straight downhill, as your beloved purchase acquired scratches, dust and skips."
How did that even get published?

Time_Stand_Still's picture



Kathleen O'Brian 's editorial  is typical of a person  who talks without having much credible knowledge. Just the ramblngs of a ignoramous.

1: First, vinyl records  can only be degraded  in sound if the user mishandles or otherwise abuses them. Odds are this type of listener will be just as abusive to their CD's   and  to their portable devices   and  such for non-physical playback media. Handled with normal care and no,   one needs not   have  white cotton gloves to handle vinyl records. The LP  will   last generations providing   excellent playback. The vinyl record   can be played hundreds of times if  used on a   properly set up turntable with no audible degredation    but at worst minimum measureable  degradtion and even if these LP's   were played  on   poorly set up turntable the  possible  sound degradation  would likey only be  heard in a direct A vs B comparisn to a new copy.

2: As to storage, well any and all physical items    be they vinyl records or   whatever  can be   heavy  and /or a bother to  store and move. Box up  your china dolls Kathleen and  even if they may not be heavy they'd require kid  gloves in handling during  a move. So the  cry of  the hassles of  moving large vinyl collections is  just sour grapes. That  freaking oversized   living room furniture is   as much if not more a PIA to move  too, you gonna suggest we all dump our livigroom furniture and sit like the Japanese do  on pillows instead?

3: As to who buys new vinyl records, um Kathleen, you will find many say 40+ somethings buying new (and used)  records today as many of them never gave up on the format, but yes many  say under 30 somethings  are  getting into it as they have grown up  where  they had not  much  physical interaction  with   music and   maybe feel they were/are  bring jilted by not  having physical copies of  music they  know and like.  Many of these younger folks may like    music in background on their iPods etc. but they may   just want to enjoy better fidelity of vinyl and its ritual  to listen to such in private and with their  friends.

4: Look nobody will suggest vinyl records to regain the hold in sales and numbers that it did in the 1960's and 1970's. But what we are seeing is not a blip. It's a  solid trend  that shows in physical audio the LP  remains supreme, in sound, in ritual, in cover art and  one day soon regain supreme  over physical digitial disc formats  at least in sales.

 Kathleen O'Brian  sounds like  some prickly, cackling hen. We've all heard enough of her and those like her  tripe and often ignorant tripe over the years.

Devil Doc's picture

it's been a long, long time since she took Creative Writing, but she should have remembered the admonition, write about what you know.



Mendo's picture

I love when Mikey makes converts by bring them in for a listen. Someday, when I'm back east, I'm going to fullfill a 20 year goal of mine, write some rubbish about LPs, go public with it, and have Mikey set me straight. I heard the Caliburn in its debut, and years later, I still can't shake the sound from head. The beers are on me!

Paul Boudreau's picture

...another mental prisoner of the "If it's newer, it MUST be better" paradigm.  How sad.

drumarty's picture

Let us not forget the new modern media mantra.....Never allow reality to affect your opinion. 

This is used mostly in politics, but apparently, it can reach into areas like music reproduction.

tbromgard's picture

a boring day...thanks for some entertaining distraction.

optoman's picture

Unlike the previous argument with Rob Sevier I think that this article deserves to be called stupid. It is clearly written by someone who doesn't have a clue about the subject. Normally I will stop reading this kind of article after about two sentences and put a record on instead.

Walt G's picture

I think she has a good point.

Vinyl is fragile. You have to handle lps with kid gloves and avoid touching almost the entire surface. There was a debate over whether to use the paper sleeves they came in or buy those expensive plastic sleeves. They still got scratched.

It gets dirty. People argued over which bothersome procedure was need to clean them. I used a Discwasher (and was never sure I was doing it right) that left it wet and followed that with a carbon fiber brush, being sure to hold it with one hand by the metal part, at the right angle,  and touch my other hand to a grounded lead to minimise static. What a god damn pain.

Then you had to study trigonometry to adjust the needle and the arm. Add about a dozen other vital issues that vex vinyl aficionados. Direct drive or belt? Isolating platforms? Moving magnet or moving coils? How many thousands of dollars should one spend on a preamp for the nth degree of sound?

If one likes this kind of bother, fine. Enjoy your hobby. For me, moving to cds lifted about fifty pounds of tension from enjoying music.

Time_Stand_Still's picture

Walt G.

And buying ready made meals is easier than   doing all your own food prep and  cooking. Who cares if ready to eat meals   taste like overpriced crap compared to a properly home cooked meal.

Some people take pride in maintaning their yards,  especially if they keep and use a food garden. It's easier just buy all your veggies from a store. But they do it anyways.

Some hobbiests build plastic scale model kits,  (I am one) cars, airplanes, armour etc. But why when you can just buy a ready made  models for an elevated price? It's called pride in your work and satisfaction in your end result Walt.

Do you see my point  Walt?

You see where it concerns passion and a goal to gain some form of added pleasure most people don't mind puting in the exta effort for  this pleasurable and viceral return.

So Walt, you stick to your CD's in fact  why not  go one further and   downlod MP3's onto an iPod like device. On more less physical thing for you to do.

The rest of us who  enjoy the sonic qualities of vinyl playback as well as all the rituals and  subjective pleasures  do not need you nor that  cackling hen's idiotic editorial to try to brow beat us  down or otherwise effort to discourage us.

Walt G's picture

I've no problem with audiophile cult behavior. It can be great fun and sets one apart from the hoi polloi.

But if you just want to listen to music all that fetishistic stuff is superfulous. I'm sure most professional musicians don't bother with it. Most of us don't care, nor would we notice a difference between a $200 turntable and a $5,000 one.

As to downloading music, I prefer lossless digital files but accept itunes bitrates and doubt my preferences would survive a double blind test.

I'd rather put my money where it matters, good loudspeakers. Of course, I also enjoy a car radio, as the most important music processesing occurs in the brain.

Thurenity's picture

Not an audiophile.

I actually have a very cheap turntable (used vintage) and my cart / stage / TT together probably cost less than most people's speakers or their SACD player.

For me it's also music first.  But, after almost twenty years of buying CD's, I've gone back to vinyl.  It is a bit of a ritual in that you should clean them (usually once is good enough) and I have to keep the needle clean as well, but I don't fiddle with my TT settings, I just set it and forget it.   It's the sound quality, pure and simple - it trumps the cons.

I also needle drop so I guess I'm cheating a bit where I can have my cake and eat it too, but I keep comparing modern vinyl releases to my CD's or iTunes lossy files and vinyl beats them out more times than not.  I don't know if it's cart colorization or just a better masterting where the engineer is allowed a more "hands off" approach.  I don't know.   But so far it's been worth buying (and in some case re-buying) some modern LP's.

Check out some of the reviews of Evanescence's "Falllen" LP reissue, for example.  A brickwalled CD release back in 2003, the LP resissue is a marked improvement in dynamics - less "ear bleeding".  

Michael Fremer's picture

And frozen food is so much better than fresh. It doesn't spoil. 

indieguy's picture

Why do people hate this hobby?

When Ferrari sales go up, do enthusiast sites get trolled with people arguing their owners are just experiencing golden ass syndrome?

Is there a legion of concerned geologists that argue a diamond is just a clear rock? 

And where are all the mainstream articles arguing against drinking really expensive wine? Because, in the end, 99% of us can't tell the difference.

If people think vinyl, high end, is all BS, that's fine.  

I just don't get the collective value judgment. 

I don't appreciate all the nuances of esoteric cheese. But I understand some people do and I certainly don't go out of my way to tell them their appreciation for cheese is bullshit. 

If I want to spend my hard earned money on records for ANY reason and be happy about it, why do these people care? Easy target? What???  

Zardoz's picture

you Walt G. It's such a shame that you can't hear as well as most people. If you can't tell the difference between a $200 TT and a $5000 TT, you will enjoy CDs and MP3s just fine. Most of us though can hear the difference easily. I have a friend that's not at all interested in audio, and I understand completely where he is coming from, but he is deaf in one ear too.

It's also a shame that you apparently are a klutz. If your LPs get scratched from your handling them and taking them in and out of the sleeves, you must be extremely heavy handed and clumsy. The only time I have scratched an LP is when I dropped one, and my 30-40 year old LPs have never gotten scratched from their original or new "expensive" (all of .20) sleeves that I now use.

Enjoy what you can hear of the music you listen to, but don't go around bashing people who can hear better than you, just because they do hear better than you. Envy is a terrible thing and not at all pretty.


Walt G's picture

It's a shame that a potentially rewarding hobby such as listening to vinyl can only be appreciated if you invest several months income into each component. Thousands for a platter, thousands for a cartridge, thousands for a record cleaner.

Hard to believe that, in the benighted past, ordinary klutzs really enjoyed hearing music from stacks of records on $50 changers. They might dance for an hour, flip the stack and keep on dancing. It was the music that mattered.

It's even more surprising that when new and more convenient and durable media were introduced, cds and mp3s that didn't require white gloves and constant vigilance,  people kept on enjoying music.

I, like many, will play an lp now and again. Kind of nostalgic to hear the needle drop and hear the non-musical low frequency rumble and the cracks and the pops. Take a look at the album art. I enjoy it and the music, but it's like camping and cooking in the great outdoors. Fun for a while, but it's great to go home to civilization.

Analog probably does sound different and some probably do prefer it. I would guess that it sounds different in a way that could be indistinguishably reproduced digitally if the right filters were added, but that's just a guess.

I apologise if this sounds condescending. It may be a reflection of the disdain those who listen to digital media hears from the fanatical wing of the analog aficionado camp. Perhaps we should just nod and smile when we meet, glad that each other enjoys their music in their own way.

MikeT's picture

I read the Star Ledger blog as satire, and not as a serious ding against vinyl (I may be wrong)... but I'm not sure she was totally serious.


Although, I did move my record collection made up of thousands of LPs more than once - and the point about it being heavy is right on.  I cursed the fact that I own so many LPs when I had to move them (I almost wanted to ditch them all).

Anyway, I'm over 50, still buy LPs and still believe the piece was a "fluff" piece designed as satire.

2_channel_ears's picture

See my post and another of the "form" response she sent folks that e-mail her.

chipridd's picture

I thought you guys might want to see Kathy's response to my email:



This article is one of the worst, most uninformed pieces I have ever read. You really should do a little more research as to what is going on with modern LPs before you post something like this.

The sound quality of well pressed, 180gm vinyl records are far superior to any CD. Anyone with ears can’t argue this. I am not trying to be rude, nor am I a vinyl snob, but I have to express my opinion when someone makes a public statement without doing their homework.




Dear pissed-off vinyl enthusiast:

If you were one of the people who were able to remain polite in your defense of vinyl, thank you for your thoughts. My column did mention vinyl’s superior sound quality – a clause most of you seemed to skip. I wish you well in the pursuit of your hobby, and thank you for demonstrating how to be passionate without being rude.

To those of you who couldn’t avoid being rude, know that condescension and hyperbole make poor arguments for your cause.

Kathy O’Brien

floweringtoilet's picture

"...know that condescension and hyperbole make poor arguments for your cause."

She's right about that, too bad she didn't take her own advice before writing a condescending and hyperbolic article about the vinyl revival.

Shaffer's picture

>>Dear pissed-off vinyl enthusiast:

If you were one of the people who were able to remain polite in your defense of vinyl, thank you for your thoughts. My column did mention vinyl’s superior sound quality – a clause most of you seemed to skip. I wish you well in the pursuit of your hobby, and thank you for demonstrating how to be passionate without being rude.

To those of you who couldn’t avoid being rude, know that condescension and hyperbole make poor arguments for your cause.

Kathy O’Brien


Kathy, perhaps one should submit to an excersise in logic, before being allowed to wax poetic in print.

rosser's picture

What else is fragile and hard to care for? Children! Why didn't anybody tell me I'd be better off with one of those Japanese robots? Too late now...

Hackmartian's picture

Yep...this is the winner. I think the Numero article was a poorly expressed version of a point I generally agree with (that, while high-end 45 RPM pressings and super-deluxe packages are nice, the labels should focus on filling the bins with good quality at a good price), but THIS article is pure nonsense and sounds like CD marketing copy from 1985. Perfect Sound Forever!!!

Jim Tavegia's picture

You never tell people their children are ugly. 

My icecream melts if I leave it in my car in GA.  My milk spoils if I leave it on the counter too long.  My bread gets mold on it if I don't close it up in humidity.  Every thing manufactured as it limits...she can look it up.  Read the operating instructions and all is well. 

If one doesn't like vinyl, please don't write about it as it seems many who do just don't understand it. I would never write a piece on the problems tall people have as being short, I have no experience.  Besides, interviewing tall people would take time.  Who needs research? 

Crosley's web site says:  "The turntable is back...Not that it ever went away."  They get what some writers can't.  

It must be a slow news day if all they can write is how vinyl is bad technology. They should just write about things they like.  Take the positive road. 

Bigrasshopper's picture

A  tragic and funny drama unfolded for me as I was reading all the smart  responses to the stupid column.  I generally don't comment as I read, especially when I find it stupid, I move on.  I generally don't because I consider myself ignorant on most subjects unless I'm talking about my own expirences.  Even then the results always seem open to reinterpretation or rediscovery.  I'm afraid I'm more likely than not to reveal a lack of intelligence.  Though that  probably comes from my suspicion about holding points of view too closely.  They do tend to get uncomfortably pointed, especially with repeated sharpening, at least  to me.

I had dinner with my oldest brother last night, a long time record collector, who had loaned me The Record Store Day - The Quadrophenia Demos Vol. 1 and 2, which I brought  with me to return to him.  I was by the way pretty impressed with them on all counts.  The dinner was long and relaxed and we talked about many things excepting music.  We then sauntered a few blocks enjoying the facades of the hundred year old buildings of the River Key in KCMO,  eventually finding our way back to our cars.  Warm and sated we went our separate  ways.  Well, it wasn't until 3:00pm today as I was reading a comment on what's her names column, defending at least her position on vinyls certain vulnerabilities, when a hot dread ran through my heart and I calmly walked out to my truck to confirm that indeed two of my brothers records were baking in direct sunlight on the passengers seat. I was wishing somehow I could have been informed about my stupidity, but clearly lacking proper oversite in my adult years, I was again too late.  After sitting under a concrete block for several hours I checked them again and with resignation searched and happily found two new replacements online and now feel much better having come clean, as it were, on my lapse of intelligence, or was it blissful ignorance of the night before.  I not telling him until I can present him with both copies.

2_channel_ears's picture

I read the article and several of the comments and was about to leave the page.  But then I went back and seeing what she said about vinyl being unchanged since wax cylinders, well, Mikey was right.  I couldn't leave a comment directly on the Ledger site so I sent here an e-mail.  Here it is followed by her response:

Dear Ms. O’Brien,


I read your article about vinyl and could not disagree more.  I recently upgraded my turntable and the sound is amazing.  I’m rediscovering albums from the 70’s and enjoying the superb quality of new vinyl too.  I’ve played these for friends and family and they are blown away.  One friend and my niece, both of whom grew up with “perfect sound” CDs, upon hearing just one song exclaimed that it sounded so real, like the singer was in the room.


I hope you take Michael Fremer up on his invitation and report back to your readers what you hear.  I don’t think you’ll disappointed.



Richard Crimi


Dear pissed-off vinyl enthusiast:

If you were one of the people who were able to remain polite in your defense of vinyl, thank you for your thoughts. My column did mention vinyl’s superior sound quality – a clause most of you seemed to skip. I wish you well in the pursuit of your hobby, and thank you for demonstrating how to be passionate without being rude.

To those of you who couldn’t avoid being rude, know that condescension and hyperbole make poor arguments for your cause.

Kathy O’Brien

figaro's picture

It seems to me that she did this on purpose, looking to get on peoples nerves and get a reaction. And she did! 

That she needed to do this speaks volumes about herself or her motives. Personally if I were the writer I do not think I would have sacrificed so much of my professional respect, to get so little a benefit. 

Am I outraged? ...no...not at all .  I play records, I love records, that she does not see a trend or a fad is her problem. I would leave her alone and ignore her.

But what is done is done. Now it is time to take her to task. She decided to pull a gun out, let see if she has the guts to use it. Let her go to Mikeys house and hear the difference. If she decides to write something...great. Get a little payback for the abuse she foisted upon us for no reason except her own self glorification. She used us to get a little attention....turn the tables and use her. Opportunity knocks with this one.


Trevor_Bartram's picture

Of course from the writer's average consumer perspective everything she says about records is true. I purchased records for ten years but I latched onto CDs as soon as they became available for many of the reasons cited in the article. Buying contemporary mass produced records in the U.K. at the time was a frustrating process of returning to the record shop until you obtained a copy free of pops, clicks and surface noise. Of the major labels, Virgin Records, were the worst, I remember returning records a half dozen times before giving up. The process consumed too much time and energy. I believe the vast majority of consumers had a similar experience, so convenience has won out, first cassettes, then CDs, then downloadable MP3s.

One aspect that is not talked about, is artwork and liner notes. I want to know about the history of the artist and recording as a part of the total listening experience. Cassettes and downloads do not offer liner notes and for that reason are useless to me.

Flash forward to the 21st century I have to assume the vinyl resurgence has been accompanied with a general increase in quality control as well as increase in price. It's a free country and consumers are free to chose the quality of their music. Formats will continue to exist as long as consumers support them by buying product.

orthobiz's picture

This is not a scholarly treatise on extolling the value of vinyl that we've always enjoyed. It's a light entertainment piece with a point of view that is funnier to the author than it is to us. Thanks for posting it Mikey, a good example of what we're up against!


Cassius's picture

I've read her drivel but It does me no good to waste my time constructing a reply to somethign so lame. Instead I would just share how incredibly amazing the record I am spining right now is.

43 Years old

The Grateful Dead

The Workingman's Dead

hand etched 1A/1B

WB Green Label

Initials KD (who the hell was he??)  on both sides also hand etched

Pressed for WB at Columbia's Santa Maria Plant

Most folks, myself included might favor the second great Dead Studio record from 1970, and the argument could easily  be made that the song strength on American Beauty nudges it ahead of it's earlier brother.

But the quality of this pressing, (and the reason I am posting it as a reaction to this silly ass article) is that I have heard this album hundreds of times, but as the cliche goes, listening to the right early pressing is like hearing it for the very first time. Sure the recent HDCD is nice, It was a well recorded album so you would have to work pretty hard to $*($) up the sound, but the experience doesn't even come close to touching the entire soul like this early KD cut does.  Which is of course why we are here, and why this woman is left without a leg to stand.

Jody's picture

Mike, I don't think your offer to her sounding very inviting... I wouldn't expect her to accept.

volvic's picture

So called experts who think they know it all. I feel sorry for her, she won't get to enjoy music the way it is supposed to be played.  

Jay's picture

Some people just never had the patience or the ability to cope with vinyl so they tell themselves the format was at fault and not their treatment of it.  Sad really.

dolsey01's picture

If only she would accept Mr Fremer's inviation to sit down and listen, her option would be completely changed, but then should would have to write a retraction to the article.  Every time someone snickers at my turntable, I try to sit them down and play something which they then leave dumbfounded that a record sounds that good.  The usual response is "Holy $#@%!, my records never sounded like that!"  That's what got me hooked after a 20+ year hiatus from vinyl.  It just took me that long to afforable a decent playback system.  IT's a shame she doen't get that there is so much more to it than just the medium.  It's the music, the gear, the ritual, the packaging, etc...  When I listen to a record, 90% of the time I listen to the whole album compared to my digital music collection where I spend most of the time trying to decide on which of my 50,000 files to listen to and constatnly skip around between them.  Instead of enjoying what I'm listening to, I'm thinking about what to que up next.  

In almost thirty years, I have never enjoyed this hobby more since I got back into vinyl.  What elese can I say. 

ibanez_ax's picture

The response I usually get when I play a record for someone is "Wow, that's a record?  It sounds really good.  Where is all the noise and pops?"

Dave Bruce's picture

Who cares what these dumb fools write about. May they continue to fry their tiny brains digesting digits. Anybody can "write" anything on the internet. We know what is what. So do the youngsters getting acquainted with the most natural of musical mediums.

I just ordered a mono Grado cartridge and when it arrives, I will be enjoying my old 45's like I have not enjoyed them since I was 8 years old. A kid in the sandbox on a sunny day.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone discovered life?

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