SONY REDISCOVERS VINYL
In a dazzling example of never saying “never’’, Japanese electronics heavyweight Sony is back in the vinyl business.
After a hiatus of more than 30 years, Sony will be pressing vinyl records at a plant South West of Tokyo from March next year.
Sony ceased vinyl production way back in 1989 laying off almost its entire record production work force.
The move was in response to the ascendancy of the CD, a format Sony ironically developed with Dutch electronics company, Philips.
In a move that mimics Kodak’s infamous invention of the digital camera, the CD killed the LP stone dead in a handful of years post its launch.
The LP’s demise had another far-reaching negative side effect. It killed off phono cartridge production and as sales tailed off, you guessed it, the major cartridge manufacturers including Sony laid off its expert and highly specialised work force.
In a case of swings and roundabouts a surge in vinyl and turntable sales has sent cash resisters tinkling in the advanced economies. That sound was loud enough to reach the princely ears of the moguls that head Japanese consumer electronics brands.
Panasonic has also responded to vinyl’s increasing popularity by releasing its iconic SL-1200 turntable a few years ago.
Drill deeper and the impulse behind the Sony and Panasonic move back to the future has its roots in the younger generations.
Brands have spent billions attempting to entice younger people to buy their gear. The hilarious truth is the current buy in to vinyl and turntables by youthful buyers is not driven by advertising.
The impetus is many faceted and includes the influence of clubs spinning vinyl, fringe brands choosing vinyl and only limited pressings of vinyl to showcase their work.
Factor in vinyl’s cool image and the turntable’s retro appeal into the equation as well, but don’t ignore this overriding reason: the youth market has decided vinyl sounds better than digital.
Whatever the themes that propel vinyl back onto the world stage it’s clear the major electronics brands see the format as a bone fide way to tap into a market they desperately need. Follow the money trail. Period.
What matters is Sony is back pressing vinyl. What titles will be available isn’t clear yet. But you can bank on block busting contemporary titles because that’s the Sony way.
One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, if there's a speaker he's likely heard it or owned it at some point in his career. Peter was formerly the audio-video editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades.
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