Listening to music is one of the rare pleasures that almost everyone on the planet can participate in and appreciate. No matter the country, race, religion or economic stature, anyone can find an artist or genre that resonates with them in some way.

Personally, listening to music is a passion of mine. If I’m struggling emotionally or stressing over an assignment, I can just put in my earbuds, play some Bob Dylan and suddenly my fears begin to lessen. It is a brief moment where I can escape through absorbing the lyrics and instruments of the music.

With my belief in music’s spiritual-like qualities, I wanted to find a way to go deeper into my passion and discover an even stronger appreciation for the craft. Last year, I began collecting vinyl records. Since then, I have developed a pretty impressive collection of over 200 records and I have found the experience to be one of the most enjoyable of my life. With that being said, here are five reasons why collecting vinyl records is absolutely essential.

1. The sound improvement
A common rebuttal record collectors hear is “why not just listen to the music on your phone?” With the amazing services available today such as Apple Music and Spotify, it may seem difficult to come back with a legitimate argument. However, records have been proven to provide an improved form of sound quality.

Vinyl records have better sound because they use analog rather than digital. Reporter David Greenwald and Adam Gonsalves, a sound engineer at Telegraph Mastering, discussed the difference in a 2014 article from The Oregonian. To put it simply, a vinyl record will almost always have more musical data than an MP3 file, meaning the sound of a record is both an improvement and more complex compared to several streaming sources.

“Vinyl is the only consumer playback format we have that’s fully analog and fully lossless,” Gonsalves stated. “You just need a decent turntable with a decent needle on it and you’re going to enjoy a full-fidelity listening experience.”

Despite this, there can also be issues with the digital conversion process. When the conversion takes place, fatigue and delay amongst the sound could occur. However with analog, the sound is being fed directly to the amplifiers, meaning no delay unless there is sufficient damage to the vinyl.

2. It creates an appreciation for album artwork
When using streaming services, consumers cannot possibly engage with the impressive artwork that can be  found on and inside album covers. Sure, they may be able to see a tiny glimpse of the front cover. But how can one completely support an artist that they love and appreciate when they don’t engage with this particular aspect of their work? For example, consider the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.

There is so much more inside the record that is worth seeing. A majority of albums have posters inside them. The sleeves that protect the record are often times designed. Also, records have unique lyric guides that help listeners follow along to their favorite songs.

3. It helps you develop a connection with your family
This may only apply to those who appreciate old music, but record collectors usually do! When discovering classics from generations ago, it can create a new connection that involves conversations with parents or grandparents.

But despite the music itself, I have also found a tremendous level of support from my family when actually gathering the records. It has almost become a monthly occurrence to go to antique stores with my grandparents, and we will look through stacks upon stacks of records and I am given advice on which ones are or are not worth listening to. I also often look through my family’s old collections, and they are so ecstatic that the vinyl records which brought them so much excitement are now being used once again.

4. It is simply so much fun to scavenge for those gems
Speaking of looking through old collections, one of the most enjoyable experiences when collecting records is finding those special albums that you have been seeking.

And not to mention, looking through stuff is just fun! Consider people’s obsession with  scavenging for clothes, shoes, books, movies, video games and a boundless number of commodities. Looking through records certainly holds that same level of compulsion. And with the impressive amount of record stores throughout the U.S. —1,482 as of 2017 according to Mixmag the inventory basically promises to be different and unique wherever you may shop.

5. It invites you to listen to an album fully
Many view downloading sole songs through streaming services as a positive. I mean let’s face it, there are a multitude of albums where it seems only one song is perfect, while every other track is worthy of a skip. With records, you can always move the needle to the next track, but it is very difficult compared to pressing those two sideways triangles displayed on your phone screen.

However, I would strongly consider attempting to see the beauty in listening to an album fully. After all, it is the way the artist wanted us to listen to their work. Part of making an album is considering the tracklist, meaning several artists spend hours upon hours strategically placing their songs in a particular order, hoping that listeners will experience a desired feeling or emotion. When listening to vinyl, you are invited and encouraged to take part in this phenomenon.

Record sales over the past half-decade continue to grow, and I am not surprised by this. I feel that youth are tired of music-listening seeming so routine and are eager for it to be an intimate experience. There may be no better way to accomplish this than flipping through a stack of vinyl records, finding the record that causes a sense of infatuation, throwing it on the turntable, placing the needle on that first groove and absorbing the sound of your desired music.