Do Records Last Longer Than CDs?


Do Records Last Longer Than CDs?

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If you have been collecting records or CDs for a while at some point you have probably wondered whether records last longer than CDs? You might have also wanted to know which one is better than another? Well, in this article we will cover both of those questions and much more. 

Do records last longer than CDs? Which one will last longer depends on how well you care for them. In most cases records will last considerably longer because they are more durable than CDs. CDs are quite easy to scratch and once they get scratched they begin to skip and freeze. Records are much harder to scratch and even if they do get scratched there are multiple ways that you can fix them. 

Records are made out of plastic or more specifically polyvinyl chloride(PVC) and they can last a very long time, often, well over a hundred years. Because of its long lifetime, PVC is also used in pipes and plumbing equipment.

Many researchers have found PVC materials that are in excess of a hundred years old. Although records are made of this material they won’t necessarily last as long as a piece of pipe. That is because everytime that you listen to a record the needle is slightly damaging it.

The needle will slightly dig into the groove of the record to play the music. That digging will eventually cause the record to wear out and be unusable. Many people believe that the sound quality will begin to degrade at about 100 plays. However, many people have reported playing records hundreds and hundreds of times and they still play just fine. 

Check out this video below for more information on how long records last. 

CD vs Vinyl Records

CDs and Vinyl records are both audio storage and the format of playback is rotating discs. The CD’s audio is read by a laser and encoded digitally. On the other hand, A record’s audio is read by a needle that goes in the grooves that are on the record’s surface. 

A CD is a variable sized disk that is able to hold nano-sized digits formatted as digital files. The vinyl record is an analog sound storage medium that is created by flat polyvinyl chloride.

What should you do to make your CDs and records last longer?

Method-1: Keep your fingers and towels off

Always remember your fingers, towels, and  t-shirts are not designed to clean your records or CDs. The playable surface of a CD and vinyl record is made with material that can be easily damaged. When you touch your records and CDs the oil on your hands will get on them and can damage them or at a minimum attach dirt. 

Using a towel or t-shirt will also scratch and damage the surface of the record. If your record or CD needs cleaned it is important to use a soft microfiber cloth to clean them with.

Method-2: Keep Them Clean

Dust is a  major enemy of records and CDs. Records and CDs need to be kept free of dust and fingerprints at all times. If you do happen to get your records or CDs dirty you should only use approved cleaners to clean them. Soap and water is always a good option to clean them as well. 

Use only those products labeled as a vinyl record cleaner such as DiscWasher cleaner, or use a professional strength record cleaning solution for deep cleaning.

Of course keeping them clean is far easier than cleaning them so prevention is always the best thing to do. 

Method-3: Never store your records or CDs in direct sunlight

A typical Vinyl record starts warping at the temperature of 140°F (60°C) and it starts melting at the temperature of 212°F (100°C).  There are a lot of cases where records were left in a parked car for less than one hour and when they come back found their record warped because of heat. 

CDs can handle the heat much better but it still isn’t a good idea to leave them laying out in the sunshine. If you are storing them for long periods of time make sure that the sun never rests on them through the window or door as well. 

Records warping happens quite often and is one of the main reasons why records get thrown away. 

Method-4: Repairing a Scratched Disc

If any of your CDs or records get scratched and you are about to toss it. Before throwing it away you should try and fix it. Most local dvd rental stores (if there are any left) and many local libraries have machines that you can pay to have your CD cleaned/repaired. If you have a large collection of CDs that are damaged then you can purchase one and repair them yourselves.  

Repairing scratched records is a bit more work but it doesn’t require a special machine to do it. Check out this video below to learn how. 

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Method-5: Never stack your records and CDs

Vinyl records and CDs are relatively heavy and if you stack them on top of each other then they create pressure. This may cause them to get warped or they might get scratched, scuffed, or broken. 

Always store your discs vertically so that they don’t have to hold any additional weight. 

Is the sound on vinyl records better than on CDs?

Many experts agree that vinyl records sound the best of all forms of media that are currently on the market. Many people also say that analog records sound better than a digital record. 

Undoubtedly, CDs have a better noise ratio, less interference from hissing, turntable rumble, better stereo channel separation, and have no variation in playback speed. 

These, of course, aren’t the problem. The arguments against digital audio come from the fact that no matter how precise the sampling (44,000 times per second is standard) the breaking down of music into binary data can never match the smooth and continuous sound of analog vinyl. 

This means that, by definition, a digital recording is not capturing the complete sound wave. It is approximating it with a series of steps. Some sounds that have very quick transitions, such as a drum beat or a trumpet’s tone, will be distorted because they change too quickly for the sample rate.

On the other hand with vinyl records information is never lost. A vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original soundwave’s form. With no conversion, the vinyl record can be fed directly to the amplifier. This means that the waveforms from the record are more accurate and pure.

Although many people believe that analog is far better, some people swear they can’t hear the difference. Ultimately, you have to decide which form of media you prefer to listen to your music on and just go with that despite what any “expert” might say. 

Do vinyl records break easily?

The simple answer is No. As we know records are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or plastic. This is the same plastic used to create pipes and plumbing equipment. Those pipes are used under many tons of dirt and can take an incredible amount of pressure. 

I am not saying that records are as strong as pipes but records are made using the same materials.  

Although records are durable and hard to break they can become damaged relatively easily. This can be done by improper storage, not keeping them clean, or simply not being careful when playing them. Although the record might not be “broken” it will be damaged and hurt the sound quality if you aren’t careful with them. 

Conclusion

At this point in time no one can say for sure if records last longer than CDs. Records have certainly stood the test of time far better than CDs as records are currently coming back into style while CDs were only popular for a couple of decades. 

In my opinion, records are much more durable than CDs so records will continue to be used many years after CDs have disappeared. However, at this point in time it is hard to know which of them will last longer.

Related Questions

Will CDs become obsolete? 

Yes, many people expect that they will soon be removed from the market entirely. As you read above, it is hard to maintain CDs and they are easily damaged. Since they don’t have any sound quality argument that goes in their favor then there is no reason why someone would choose to have a physical CD over just listening to a song via their favorite streaming service or even for free on Youtube.

How often should I change my record needle? 

How often you need to change your record needle depends on how often you use it and how hard your player is on the needle. Most manufacturers recommend that you change your needle after approximately 1,000 hours of playing time. 

So if you’re using your turntable for an hour or so per day on average, ideally you should be changing the stylus every few years. Changing the needle is necessary when it is damaged because a damaged needle can harm your records and even destroy them entirely. 

Matt Robbs

There is nothing quite so enjoyable as bringing back memories from your childhood. We used to spend hours playing pinball in my friends basement and that really got me involved in everything retro!

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