Berwick Street London Unveils Comeback of Records

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Everything records and vinyl is making a comeback centered on London’s Berwick Street.

Most modern music fans don't realize it, but MP3s are a miserable way to listen to your favorite songs.

The music file format is popular because its compressed formatting allows for songs to be forged into manageable data sizes perfect for downloading and emailing. But, that compression strips out audio elements and creating songs that abandon or lose a lot of what musicians and vocalists create.

The ugly reality of MP3 coding leaves audiophiles searching for the more genuine, warmer sound once provided by vinyl records.

Equipment and technology designers know that, and some are working to restore tinny MP3s to music's former glory. For example, Harman recently announced the arrival of their Clari-Fi Technology, which restores audio elements MP3 coding removes.

Even that kind of high-tech effort won't satisfy really hardcore music lovers. They prefer to return to vinyl, and record labels continue to produce a limited amount of fresh pressed records with new releases just for them. These vinyl 33 1/3 devotees snag every working turntable out there and stick close to their record collections like librarians hover around their books.

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To keep the collectors fueled, mall epicenters of record shops are popping up in major cities around the world. The hottest HQ for vinyl in London – and maybe Europe and North America combined — sits in the bustling Soho district of London on Berwick Street.

Multiple record shops snuggle in between trendy restaurants, bars and shops. Some are devoted to used records, buying and selling classic releases from multiple vinyl eras as long as the dust jackets aren't bent and the records aren't scratched.

Other stores combine a used inventory with special shipments of new music on vinyl. Sister Ray is the heavy hitter in that department. A multi-level focal point for classic music of years gone by and the latest 21st Century titles pressed to records, Sister Ray is also the organizing point for the annual Record Store Day – a spring concert series devoted to celebrating vinyl and the best bands making music worthy of records.