The name itself is as simple and straightforward as the interior: “The Vinyl Store.” A walk into the recently opened record store on U Nikolajky 6, a few quick turns from the Anděl metro, reveals an unpretentious arrangement of shelves, not yet packed to the brim, nearly bare walls, and a layout that leads directly to a turntable and a pair of large speakers. On the outside window is a simple call to arms: “Rock Pop Jazz Soul Hi-Fi.” The starkness of the environment belies the battle small record stores fight in the music world, but a few seconds spent listening to the music being played reveals why it’s a battle that is being won.
A collection revisited
The store’s owner, Michael Dědeček, explains that after recently selling his house and, re-discovering his own collection gathering dust, it seemed like a natural endeavor to invest his windfall in opening a record store in the old tradition.
“Music was not only my passion, but my [career],” says Dědeček whose CV includes stints as an executive for Euromedia Group, Mladá fronta board member, and CEO of Pivovar Samson. “And I was always surrounded by CDs. I had a small collection from the 90s, only 200 vinyls, but for 20 years, I didn’t listen to vinyl.”
When he started doing his research before choosing how to stay involved in the music industry, he came upon the expanding vinyl scene and realized that there was a niche to be filled.
“I looked at other vinyl stores, and I found [only] three of them. They’re all on the other side of the river.” He added, “It’s the only thing in the music business which is growing, 19-20% year by year. Because you can listen to MP3, but if you want to listen to something better…you listen to vinyl.”
Opening the store has re-invigorated his own love for the traditional record, something he almost forgot until he went back to his collection and experienced the feeling again.
“The feeling is different while playing vinyl, different from playing music on an iPod or iPhone, [and] it’s hard being in the store sometimes,” he says with a laugh. “Because all of these new vinyls, I can only look at them without opening them. We get a new album from Depeche Mode and I can’t even listen to it.”
Vinyl as visual treat
Vinyl collections are themselves visual treats and nothing looks quite as classy as pulling the perfect sleeve out of a shelf and flipping the record onto a turntable. The Vinyl Store makes use of this by arranging the record sleeves themselves as a kind of art above the racks, a colorful assortment that combines the aesthetics of a poster with the kinetic potential of an untouched instrument. They almost demand to be played.
Technological progress can often mean increased convenience, speed, and organization. That’s what it means to have a music library in an iPod strapped to a hip and thousands of alphabetized MP3s under labels and genres and playlists. Sometimes, however, all of that convenience, speed, and organization comes at the price of actual quality: the mass-produced fast-food burger, blogger journalism, and that gap of raw authenticity between analog and digital sound, between the vinyl record and the MP3.
Digital, by definition, can only translate so much of what is given – all that convenience, speed, and organization means only receiving a portion of a tune’s energy. In terms of auditory horsepower, it’s not quite actually being there live, but vinyl is the Porsche to the MP3’s Volvo. And sometimes even a classic with a new engine.
“It’s much better sound quality, especially with the new ones,” Dědeček said. “It might have only been one LP back in the 70s. Now, it might be pressed [from the master recordings] onto two sides, resulting in much better sound than even the old one.”
The store’s hope is to be a complete package for both the enthusiast and the beginner. Though the store is cozy, the music collection is a wide spectrum of both the classics and the obscure, with an occasional intersection between the two.
“I have a favorite by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters,” Dědeček said while holding up an LP called Real to Reel. “He rented out an old studio and brought in all old equipment. Nothing digital, all analog. Played live to tape.”
A rockin’ stock
It is one of the 2,000 records the store has available, with prices ranging from 90 CZK to 1,000 CZK, depending on condition. If unsure about checking out that funky covered but unrecognizable Motown or curious to see the difference with the latest rock, there’s a listening room. If suitably impressed but unprepared at home, the store sells hi-fi equipment, speakers, and turntables.
At the moment, the store is open between 10 am and 7 pm, Monday through Saturday, though Dědeček is planning on offering flexible hours through the summer in order to find the most appropriate time.
The Vinyl Store
U Nikolajky 6, Prague 5
Mon to Sat 10:00-19:00
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