Is Vinyl Dead? When Do DJs Use Vinyl in The Digital World


In the age of digital music some might be thinking that record vinyls are dead. They are certainly not dead in the sense that music lovers still enjoy playing them using record vinyl turntables.

DJs might not be using record vinyls as their main choice anymore when it comes to mixing, however the format of using vinyls is still an option in the modern day. Also in recent times there’s been a resurgence in record vinyls, so some music parties might not of even been held without them.

Noticeably 70s Funk, Hip Hop, House and Brasilian music are the genres out there that are popular with vinyl only, at this point in time anyway.

1. Specific Genre Nights e.g. ’70s Motown’ night

There are some bar and club nights that you can go to, particularly in large cities I’ve found that play record vinyls. Specifically the genre of music was 70’s Motown music on 7″ vinyls.

The vibe of these type of nights is great, the music is awesome and you get the real crackle feel from the vinyls when the DJ is playing them.

So it does still happen for older genres at least where DJs turn up with record vinyls to put on a DJ set.

I’d say it’s far less likely these days to see a record vinyl session with ‘Dance’ or electronic music at a club or bar. I guess it would depend on the setting. Record shops and coffee shops are more likely to put on a vinyl session if it’s some sort of promotional event or podcast for example.

2. DJ Sets for Radio & Podcasts

Radio & podcasts are a really great platform for presenting and DJing mixes. I’ve noticed a few house DJ sets crop up now and then that have been vinyl only. Yes vinyl only!

There’s a radio episode where Darius Syrossian plays an all US House set with record vinyls on Rinse FM. Check it out here. So it does still happen on radio. I’d love to see an all UK Garage record vinyl only session on Rinse FM.

3. YouTube Mixes

YouTube mixes appear to be cropping up also, with people record their DJ sets from home. This makes a lot of sense DJing from home, vinyls are super heavy when transporting.

Check out the YouTube results here for “vinyl sessions”.

Really popular music genres are:

  • Japanese Jazz from 70s
  • Funky House Classics
  • Lofi Hip Hop
  • Drum & Bass
  • Techno
  • Disco

Highly acclaimed DJs that you will likely see on YouTube DJing with vinyl only sessions are Carl Cox, he’s got a Sunday Session recording on a regular basis.

Joris Voorn is well known for his love of vinyl when DJing at home and DJing out, notably Fabric London.

Check out a set from his studio here.

Outside of that there are a lot of DJs starting out DJing from home that have great DJ sets vinyl only.

4. Alongside Digital Vinyl Systems

DVS (Digital Vinyl Sessions) are great for DJs that have previously played vinyl only sets.

They allow for DJs to connect an audio interface to the mixer, of an existing record vinyl turntable setup, and connect to a laptop with DJ software.

From there what’s great is that DJs can switch between both digital vinyl and record vinyls. This makes for a great DJ set bringing the old school vibes in with the new school era of music.

I personally have done this when DJing in the past and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes with digital vs vinyl you will notice that the mastering is slightly different so you’ll have to adjust the gain on the vinyl channel to achieve equal levels.

5. Nostalgia & Practice DJing at Home

Some DJs out there are from a completely different era to the digital era. Having DJ studio setups at home can be a play ground for raising that nostalgia for all the record vinyls that were gained over the years.

There’s nothing better than having friends over for a vinyl session and bit of a boogie.

Another perspective for DJing at home with record vinyls is that it is slightly different compared with digital DJing. Vinyl DJing is more technical and less easy to do.

So when getting the record vinyls out for a nostalgic music session, you’re really practicing your DJing skills, especially beat matching skills.

6. Sampling Old Vinyls for Music Production

Another non-DJing aspect for the use of record vinyls is that DJ Producers are using record vinyls to sample and make their own music productions with.

There are copyright and legal aspects to this that I won’t go into in this article.

For DJ Producers there’s still a use for record vinyls and reviving the epic sounds of the past through remixes, remakes and edits. It certainly helps shape the music scene for the future.

Pro’s & Con’s of Record Vinyls

Pro’s

  • Nostalgic vibes
  • Real crackle sound on a vinyl
  • Technically makes you an awesome at beat matching
  • Artwork is beautiful and a physical product
  • Focusses attention onto a specific set of tracks when DJing
  • Unique sounds that not many people have heard

Con’s

  • Record vinyls can scratch and be damaged
  • Record vinyls are heavy to carry, which is probably the main reason digital DJing has taken off so quickly for DJs playing out at clubs and bars etc
  • Cost per vinyl is easily quadruple more money than digital music per track
  • There are no backups of vinyl, where you can backup digital music onto an external hard drive

Related Questions

Do DJs still use Vinyl?

It is less common in the digital age that DJs use record vinyls however it is still known that professional DJs and hobby DJs still use record vinyls. It is possible to find certain parties and music nights that are vinyl only. The format of vinyl is still used via Digital Vinyl Sys

Do DJs still Scratch?

DJs in the Hip Hop genre scratch as it is part of the style of mixing transitions and creativity. Digital Vinyl Systems and normal record vinyls are usually the method for DJs to scratch. DJ controllers and CDJs are becoming easier to scratch with.

What do you need to DJ Vinyl?

Equipment needed to DJ with record vinyls includes: 2 x Turntables (Direct Drive), 1 x Mixer (2 or 4 Channel), headphones, speakers (pre-amp) and cables to connect speakers to the mixer. An extension cable will help plug in multiple plug points required to power all the equipment.

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