Collecting and buying vinyl records is one of my favorite hobbies of late. For me, vinyl records have in many ways recharged my love for music. For too long, music had become a passive activity – something to listen to while doing other things. While digital downloads offer ease and convenience for many music fans, it brought a disposable nature to the music I loved. Lost an album? Hard drive crashed? Never a problem, since a new download is always just a click away.
By buying vinyl records online, listening to music has once again become active. Not only does vinyl sound better then digital, but by requiring you to purchase (and play) entire albums, vinyl has given me a new appreciation for the album. Except for a few questionable purchases (pro tip – don’t shop for records while drinking) every record in my collection is a solid album – high quality songs that are arranged in a manner that flows.
The simple act of removing the album from its packaging, placing it on the turntable, and flipping at the halfway point means I also pay more attention to the music, even as I’m doing other things. Now, more than ever before, I find myself listening to records as the primary activity, instead of something that’s in the background.
The majority of my records come from local shops, like the outstanding Good Records or Half Priced Books. Those I didn’t purchase locally came from a variety of online shops. Buying vinyl records online offers convenience, better selection, and often lower prices.
These are my five favorite places to find and buy vinyl records online:
Did you know that Amazon boasts a huge selection of vinyl records? I didn’t either, until recently! In fact, Amazon’s behemoth e-commerce site may house one of the best record collections online, at typical bottom-of-the-barrel pricing. With Amazon, I’ve been able to find anything from my newest favorite Indie albums to classic vinyl and other hard to find records, like quality blues recordings. Shipping is always free with orders over $25. In my opinion, save the big box store of online retailers stigma, Amazon.com is one of the best places to buy vinyl records online.
I haven’t spent too much time with Insound, but every time I’ve been to the site the selection and prices have both seemed top notch. Insound also runs regular sales on vinyl records, so it’s fun to browse the virtual sale bin for steals. Shipping isn’t free, but it is cheap.
Of the five online vinyl stores, Aural Exploits is like your neighborhood record store – small, homegrown, and featuring an expertly curated collection of records. Aural Exploits updates their site regularly, and prices are reasonable. I usually like to cruise their Recent Restocks section to see what’s fresh. There you can find the occasional used record, as well as quite a few hard to find selections. Aural Exploits provides vinyl lovers with percentage discounts based on the amount you buy, but shipping is not free.
If you’re a vinyl collector, and you haven’t heard of Discogs yet, please drop what you’re doing and visit the site immediately. Discogs is a social network for vinyl heads, where you can connect with and talk with other people, plus keep a record of the albums you have in your collection. Discogs also features a robust marketplace, where users can sell and buy new and used vinyl. They’ll even let you create a virtual want list, which notifies you when those records become available for sale.
Ebay is the old standby for used vinyl. I go here anytime I want to buy something older, particularly classic rock and 80s material. Most newer vinyl is overpriced, however. As with most Ebay purchases, you’ll want to be sure that the seller has a history of good ratings, and the condition of the vinyl record is accurately described. The last thing you’d want to do is buy a dirty or scratched record! Also watch for shipping charges, which for some records can be more then the actual purchase price.
What are your favorite places to buy vinyl records online? Leave your picks below in the comments!