Jack White sets US record for biggest one-week vinyl sales since… forever



Jack WhiteJack White photographed for the Observer New Review at Third Man Records, Nashville USA by Mike McGregor May 2014 Photograph: Mike McGregor for the Observer

Jack White has set a US record for the biggest one-week vinyl sales since the industry started counting accurately. Fans snatched up 40,000 vinyl copies of White’s new solo album, Lazaretto, which was packed with special effects that only work on turntables.

Prior to Lazaretto’s blockbuster week, Nielsen SoundScan’s vinyl record had remained unbroken for almost as long as the organisation has been monitoring sales in 1991. The previous benchmark was Pearl Jam’s LP Vitalogy, released three years after SoundScan’s creation, which moved 34,000 copies in its first seven days. Unlike White’s split song intros and hidden tracks, the grunge band’s only trick was its sale date: Vitalogy’s vinyl edition dropped two weeks before it came out on CD or cassette.

Lazaretto doesn’t have a cassette version. But its CD edition scarcely outsold the vinyl. Overall, including more than 80,000 digital purchases, Lazaretto sold about 138,000 copies – the same figure as White’s solo debut, 2012’s Blunderbuss. Though this number pales next to top-sellers like Taylor Swift, who sold 1.2m albums in one week in 2012, it was enough to make Lazaretto this week’s Billboard No 1 full-length. According to Billboard, White’s vinyl sales alone, split from the rest, would be enough to make it No 4.

“This [object] … is my proudest moment with Third Man Records,” White said on a recent Conan O’Brien appearance. “We got away with a lot of things.” In the UK, Lazaretto debuted at No 4.


A $380 music system for playing vinyl



For the vinyl curious: A complete $380 hi-fi system for LPs & audio files

The Audiophiliac matches the Audio Technica AT LP60 turntable with a pair of Audioengine A2+ speakers — the combination really clicked!

media.jpgThe Audioengine A2 speakers and Audio Technica AT LP60 turntableAudioengine/Audio Technica/Steve Guttenberg/CNET

You’ve probably read plenty about vinyl’s sales surge that’s been going on for years. Then, just a few weeks ago, Jack White’s new “Lazaretto” LP sold 40,000 copies in one week, the most any LP has sold that quickly since 1991! New vinyl is easy to score online, but some yard sales and thrift shops have loads of $1 records. New-to-vinyl converts should ask older friends and relatives if they’re ready to unload their record collections — you might get lucky! Those old, pre-1980s LPs are 100 percent, all-analog pressings, so if you can find ones in decent shape, they’ll probably sound better than digitally remastered LPs.

If you’re ready to take the plunge but don’t have a lot of cash, check out this little turntable based hi-fi. The system can also play digital audio from your computer.

It starts with the Audio Technica AT LP60 turntable ($120), which comes with a premounted phono cartridge so you don’t have to mess around with setting up the tonearm. Just place the platter on the spindle, then thread the rubber belt over the motor pulley, and you’re good to go. Since the AT LP60 also has a built-in phono preamplifier, you’ll hook it up directly to the Audioengine A2+ speakers. All of the wires and cables are included, there’s nothing extra to buy, except records.

Most cheap turntables sound awful, so the AT LP60 is the least expensive turntable I can recommend. Sure, a used Rega, ProJect, or Music Hall turntable will definitely sound better, but unless you know the owner or buy from a hi-fi shop that knows its way around turntables, I don’t recommend buying used turntables. They’re too fragile, and too many things can go wrong that you won’t notice until it’s too late. Vinyl newbies should stick with new turntables.

The Audioengine 2+ speakers are tiny, just 6 inches high by 4 inches wide by 5.25 inches deep. They each sport a 2.75-inch Kevlar woofer and a 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter. The left speaker houses a 15-watt-per-channel stereo amplifier and a digital converter with a USB input, so you can play music and movies with your computer over the A2+s. Little speakers like this don’t make a lot of bass, so place them close to a wall (3 to 12 inches), and the bass will be pleasantly full. I used the original A2 as one of my reference desktop speakers for a couple of years.

Frankly, I was surprised by this system’s sound quality. Its sweet and juicy balance isn’t short on detail, and the stereo imaging is spacious. Well-recorded vocals sound natural, but dynamic oomph isn’t great. Hey, tiny speakers with 2.75-inch woofers aren’t powerhouses, but in terms of musical pleasure, the AT LP60/A2+ clobbers any Bluetooth speaker I’ve heard to date. The advantages of using two A2+ speakers — placed five or six feet apart — over the 25.2-inch wide Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air ($600) speaker are easy to hear. The A2+s produce legitimate, room-filling stereo far better than the Zeppelin Air. Granted the Zeppelin Air is wireless, prettier, and puts out more bass, but I’d much rather listen to the AT LP60/A2+. Those two sell for $230 less than the ‘Zep Air.

Willie Nelson and Leon Russell’s “One for the Road” LP of duets brought a smile to my face. The two men were clearly enjoying singing together, and the all-analog, two-LP set from 1979 perfectly demonstrated the virtues of vinyl. I bought the album a few years ago for $1.99! The White Stripes’ self-titled first LP showed that the wee Audioengine A2+ speakers were ready, willing, and able to rock out.

Downsides? There’s no remote for the speakers, and the A2+s volume control is on the back of the left speaker. I don’t consider that a major drawback; you’ll quickly get into the habit of setting the volume when you change records. When playing audio files, you can adjust the volume with the computer.

Substituting the larger Audioengine A5+ speakers ($399 per pair) for the A2+s will add bass, and they’ll play louder and fill larger rooms better. Upgrading the A2+ or A5+ sound with the addition of a Dayton Sub-800 subwoofer ($89) is worth considering, too — either initially or down the road.

18 signs of Vinyl Addiction



1. Music just sounds sorta weird to you if it’s not preceded by a bit of surface noise.

2. You’re willing to spend hours of your time making sure your collection is perfectly alphabetized.

Lee Meredith / Via Flickr: -leethal-

3. Your record collection is the focus of your home decor.

H. Michael Karshis / Via Flickr: hmk

4. Some of your walls look just like this, or you want them to.

Brian Lamb / Via Flickr: harry

5. Your dream house looks something like this.

Carl Collins / Via Flickr: carlcollins

6. You’re ready to drop whatever you’re doing wherever you are to check out a record store, flea market, or garage sale.

7. You thumb through every single record bin in every shop because you never know what you might find.

8. You look at a photo like this and think “vacation destination.”

Abi Skipp / Via Flickr: 9557815@N05

9. You are constantly worried about being outbid on eBay.

10. This is more beautiful than an actual flower.

Marcin Wichary / Via Flickr: mwichary

11. Looking at a photo like this makes you quietly freak out – THAT’S NOT HOW YOU STORE A RECORD! YOU’RE GOING TO RUIN IT!!!

Steven Snodgrass / Via Flickr: stevensnodgrass

12. You have strong opinions about digital audio.

Acid Pix / Via Flickr: acidpix

13. You also have some very intense feelings about colored vinyl.

Yonolatengo / Via Flickr: yonolatengo

14. You roll your eyes at expensive, inferior new pressings of albums that you can find in used bins all over.

They’re always sourced from digital and sound like garbage!

15. You’re always wondering, “is it time to replace my needle yet?”

Jemimus / Via Flickr: jemimus

16. You hope and pray that every new album you like comes out on vinyl.

Hey Kayne, why isn’t Yeezus on vinyl yet???

17. There’s at least one record that you can never find or can’t afford, and knowing it’s out there and you can’t have it slowly drives you insane.

18. You are ready and willing to argue about the superiority of vinyl over CDs at any given moment.

You are ready and willing to argue about the superiority of vinyl over CDs at any given moment.