TOKYO — Technology like CDs and Internet streaming has diversified the ways we listen to music, but the value of vinyl records is being recognized once again, and various types of record players are being released in keeping with that trend.
According to the Recording Industry Association of Japan, production of vinyl records has been increasing since 2010, with production volume in 2014 reaching 401,000 units, about 1.5 times as many as the previous year. The 2015 production volume was 534,000 units as of October.
Many popular artists, including AKB48, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Masaharu Fukuyama, have recently released analog versions of their work. The opening of a vinyl record specialty store in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, is also giving young generations more opportunities to experience vinyl records.
According to Tsuyoshi Kurokawa, a clerk at the Yodobashi Camera Multimedia Akiba store in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, a broad range of customers visit the store’s record player section, from older generations who are familiar with the heyday of vinyl records to young people.
“I think the warmth of the sound on vinyl records attracts many people,” Kurokawa said.
In addition to a record player, the usual devices necessary for listening to vinyl records are an amplifier and speakers. According to a record player manufacturer, a player in the 50,000 yen (about $412) range would mean a total cost of about 100,000 yen with the amp and speakers.
However, there are some affordably priced entry-level products on the market.
Amadana Corp., known for the design of its home appliances, released a record player with a built-in speaker called Sibreco (16,200 yen) in December. After turning on the player and putting the needle on the record, the music emanates from the speaker built into the bottom of the player.
For those who listen to music on a portable player, inMusic Japan K.K. released in November the Air LP (nominal price of 14,800 yen), which allows users to connect the record player to a computer by using a USB cable. Vinyl records can be recorded onto the computer and the data can then be transferred to a portable music player or smartphone.
Users can also listen to music from the record player using Bluetooth enabled wireless speakers or headphones.
In November 2014, Teac Corp. released the TN-350 (nominal price around 55,000 yen), which has a built-in phonograph equalizer to amplify the sound for those who want high-quality audio. Interchangeable cartridges geared to a musical genre, such as classical or rock, convert the information on the vinyl record into digital signals sent to the equalizer.
Onkyo & Pioneer Corp. released the CP-1050 (nominal price around 54,000 yen) in January 2015, featuring precise and smooth spinning of the records. The player’s structure dampens external vibrations to help provide high sound quality.