Vinyl purists love to talk about the audio quality of vinyl, but ever-outspoken music god Neil Young has a slightly different perspective. Most of the time, vinyl is "really nothing but a fashion statement," he has now said.
The problem isn't vinyl itself — of course, Young is notorious audiophile, and his hi-res Pono player is specifically geared towards recapturing the purity of analogue sound in a digital format. Rather, Young says that the problem has everything to do with the way that vinyl is mastered, since it can fall victim to the same poor mastering associated with the "loudness war" of the CD era.
"A lot of people that buy vinyl today don't realize that they're listening to CD masters on vinyl and that's because the record companies have figured out that people want vinyl," Young told Vulture. "And they're only making CD masters in digital, so all the new products that come out on vinyl are actually CDs on vinyl, which is really nothing but a fashion statement."
Of course, this is a generalization, since plenty of current albums are mastered specifically for vinyl. But he's doubtless correct in many cases (particularly when someone bootlegs a digital-only album on vinyl, in which case you may well be purchasing a vinyl LP made with MP3s).
Young does have an appreciation the vinyl resurgence, though, saying, "It's a niche and it's a great niche and it's a wonderful thing and I hope people continue to enjoy vinyl and it continues to grow because it's a good thing." But he emphasized that "This is a convenience-oriented society and vinyl is not a convenient thing."
We would like to point out that Young has reissued his own material on vinyl repeatedly in recent years, though we can't say for certain if they were all simply taken from the CD masters.
Meanwhile, Young's Pono player has been generating some rather mixed reviews, with users complaining about the high prices of albums and questioning whether there's actually any audible difference in sound quality.
Thanks to AUX for the tip.