Record Stores Revinylize OC

The vinyl boom is fueling a resurgence of record retailers

The record player evolved from the cylinder to the gramophone to the 12-inch; by 1949, records were produced on a substance discovered by scientist Waldo Semon, who had been working on developing a synthetic adhesive. Originally used to make golf balls and shoe heels, the substance was known as polyvinyl chloride. The vinyl era of music was born, and soon, a slew of legendary rock recordings was produced.

Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash used a system that took a sound source directly from the microphone and, hooked to a lathe with a gem-equipped cutting head, inscribed audio directly onto a piece of lacquer-covered aluminum to create the "stampers" that would press an LP.

That process soon gave way to recording first to magnetic tape, then to digital recording. Infrasonic's Lyman has done his part to resurrect the analog arts, continuing to offer his clients vinyl mastering. He has even done a direct-to-vinyl recording session for Beck. This process isn't for everyone; each lacquer plate runs $30 and allows for one take to get it right (two, if you flip the lacquer over). It definitely requires musicians to be well-rehearsed.

Dorris, left, and Melanie Lynn Thompson browse Creme Tangerine's selection of records inside 
its trailer
Miguel Vasconcellos
Dorris, left, and Melanie Lynn Thompson browse Creme Tangerine's selection of records inside its trailer
Creme Tangerine co-owners Parker Macy, top, and Jonathon Staph turned a refurbished vintage trailer into a record store at The Lab
Miguel Vasconcellos
Creme Tangerine co-owners Parker Macy, top, and Jonathon Staph turned a refurbished vintage trailer into a record store at The Lab

The machine in his studio is known as the Neumann lathe. Built in the 1950s, it was once the property of RCA records. These machines are no longer made, and parts are hard to come by, so Lyman contracts with a technician with a machine shop who makes parts when necessary. Working with it, he says, is akin to "driving an 18-wheeler down a cobblestone street." But the effort is rewarded in the final product.

"I prefer the sound of vinyl 90 percent of the time over a 16-bit compact disc," Lyman says. "There is something the medium does that actually changes the way [the music] sounds—in a pleasing way, I think."

And there's an entire subculture of audiophiles that agrees. These music fans can afford to drop six figures on a turntable.

Dan Meinwald distributes high-end audio components for European electronics company EAR and serves as an industry consultant to the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society. At 58, he has been listening to vinyl records since he was 15 and enjoys everything from classical Indian music and subgenres of jazz to Jimi Hendrix. He estimates he has 5,000 records in his collection.

"I never stopped buying records and playing records," he says. "It was very obvious CDs didn't sound very good in the beginning. . . . I have lots of CDs now, and I play them all the time. But when I really want to sit and listen to music carefully, I play records because they sound better."

That's because on vinyl, audio waves captured with microphones are directly reproduced by the playback system, giving the listener a true analog of the original event. With digital formats such as MP3s and CDs, sound waves are captured by the microphones the same way, but they're converted into bits and stored in a computer. Those bits are then replayed on a CD in what Meinwald refers to as a "digital approximation."

"There's all kinds of subtleties in music. If they're not there, you miss them—even if you're not aware of missing them. I think digital still does not do a good enough job," he says. "To me, LPs just simply sound more natural, more like real music than CDs do. [CDs] always sound a little bit sterile. But it's gotten better, quite a bit better."

According to Nielsen's Bakula, vinyl's real or supposed sonic advantages pose little threat to the digital format.

"Certainly over a 128K digital file, there probably is a [vinyl] sound superiority, but I don't know if the average ear could hear it. . . . I don't think the majority of mass consumers are going to say, 'Oh, I'm going to stop buying digital because the sound quality of vinyl is so much better.'"

*     *     *

Whatever one's thoughts on why kids buy vinyl, it's hard to dismiss the tactile benefits of getting away from one's computer, stepping outside, and socializing with knowledgeable humans on the creation and presentation of rock & roll. The human experience is lost in the digital ether and blinking lights of the hard drive. It's this human factor that Rand Foster sees as reason for hope in the future of his business.

"There will always be a marketplace for the physical music experience," he says. "Whether that will continue to be an accelerating aspect of the marketplace is the one big, hairy question in the room."

Though he's technically in competition with several nearby stores, Port of Sound's Weir remains optimistic about the state of vinyl records. "I see more stores opening up as a good thing," he says. "People coming from farther away are more apt to drive to an area where they can hit five stores as opposed to going out of their way to hit one."

Even though Weir sees future dips in sales as inevitable, he remains unfazed. "It's kind of in vogue now," he says. "But even when that tapers off, there's always going to be enough people interested in LPs to keep a store with low overhead open."

This article appeared in print as "Revinylized: Vinyl is going for a spin again, and Orange County is seeing a boom in area record stores"

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Adler Bloom
Adler Bloom

It is amazing to see how vinyl records popularity is growing steadily and it make perfect sense. As ever thing seems to be more virtual from friends to literature to music I feel that the audiophiles who are gravitating to vinyl's are seeking a more emotional connection to art and music. And with an emotional connection comes a tactile connection, we humans are simply built that way, we are made of flesh and bones after all and our discovery of the world from birth is built on touching things. Just watch any toddler discovering his or her world and you will see what I mean.

In the final battle between CD's and vinyl- the vinyl record will win out because there is absolutely no reason for CD's. Smart phones or Ipods hold music that can be listened to on the go or interfaced with car stereos. Those same kinds of media are docked into home stereo systems so why even have a CD. The vinyl record holds an entirely different place in people's hearts and minds. With vinyl the who process is reveled in like it was back when vinyl was the only music medium. Back in "the day' the vinyl LP served as a bridge of art, information and music. There was a concerted effort in the design aspect of the LP, of presenting the lyrics or other information just so. It also felt more personal, as young people tucked away in their bedroom and played their LP while reading liner notes and viewing the album art itself. For at least a moment, the LP felt like it was only theirs and in a sense it was. Nowadays, with a mouse click parents or whom ever can access the music but back in "the day" it just felt more special and maybe even more rebellious.

So as CD's become obsolete in the coming years and vinyl continues to gain popularity it is an ironic fact that vinyl will end of saving the Music Store. In fact, some day, you will see record stores again in neighborhoods all across the country with nary a CD in them but brimming with the glorious vinyl.


dear Miguel Ferguson,

thank you for mentioning in the very first paragraph that records are, in fact, polyvinyl chloride (PVC plastic), the bane of ecological and environmental conservationalists everywhere. Like many, I am a huge fan of vinyl records, but the effects of exposure to the extremely harmful chemicals (namely dioxin) used in the making of this coveted delivery device make me want to reconsider shellac, a natural polymer (and predecessor of PVC plastic) which was widely used in many manufacturing processes back in the day...

unless anyone has a better idea? did I mention PVC is also made from petroleum?-yeah, that too.

ps Elvis Costello recently released a very limited edition 78rpm on shellac via lupe-o-tone.


You Jerkoffs forgot about Dizzy's on Vinyl whose been at it for the past 15 motherfucking years on 7th st. in the LBC!!!

Lyndsey Lefebvre
Lyndsey Lefebvre

How do you not mention Pepperland Music in Orange in this article? They have been in OC forever...


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Good, people behind the decks with real knowledge again. MP3's don't tell the full story. My favorite Record Store thank god wasn't featured in this article. One word.... Bagatelle


Doesn't anyone know by now that anti-malls are for the pretty much wealthy to rich, why would you want to spend an extra $20 bucks on a t-shirt when you can go to Ebay and buy one thru the mail by dealing with the seller, I just bought a perfectly good Motorhead t-shirt for $10 bucks and they're selling them elsewhere for $30 bucks or more in some cases. It's rediculous that they're asking so much for the very same things because of the so called markups, I've seen some of these/those classic albums go for $30 bucks or more in those small record shops, so I go to places like to get my stuff on CD, it doesn't have to be on a vinyl record. There are some albums that you can't get on vinyl, I also just bought a Steppenwolf 3 record set on CD (all three on 2 cd's) for 12 bucks and it would have cost me 40 bucks or more just to get 1 of them on a vinyl record. I also bought a 2 cd set of Amon Amarth (death metal) at SS for $10 bucks and it's some excellent stuff.


I have 78's produced in the 50's that sound as good now as they did back then. Time will tell, but the CD format has'nt yet been challenged to stand that test of time. Plus, where are all the cool labels that used to be, Dial, Okeh, etc. But, let's not argue over format; as FZ said so well - "Music is the Best."


Love the cover.

TKO Records
TKO Records

Let's try that again.... Nice to see our friends at the OC Weekly continuing their support for the county's new independent Record Stores!! While all of the stores, new and old, mentioned in the article are noteworthy for sure, here are a few more to check out:

Mass Media Records in Costa Mesa- opened 2010

Left Of The Dial in Seal Beach- opened 2010

...and of course, US!!- TKO Records in Fountain Valley- opened 2007


A good old "vinyl is back" story, resurfacing again.

TKO Records
TKO Records

For sure vinyl's not for everyone, and I don't know where you've been shopping. BUT if you come on over and see us, we've got some Steppenwolf vinyl in KILLER condition that starts at $6.99- that's cheaper than a CD and cheaper than eBay prices, plus you don't have to mess around with shipping, and you can check out the condition before you buy!! Hope to see you - TKO Records, one of "those small record shops"

Adler Bloom
Adler Bloom

Most experts acknowledge that data of any sort burned into CD's start to deteriorate in 10 years and all of us know how sketchy hard-drives are at standing the tests of time. As you say, vinyl (as long as it is not broken or severely marred) stands the test of time.

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