Vinyl Records Sales Data, Demographics & More: A Full 2022 Statistics Report

Vinyl Records Sales, Demographics & More: Full Statistics Report

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The most recent statistics on the sales of vinyl records are quite amazing, taking even many industry analysts by surprise. It turns out that, in the last complete year (2021) around 46% of all permanent music sales were of vinyl records. This reflects a 51% increase over the previous year in unit sales of records, and a 61% increase in US dollars spent.

Indeed, new vinyl records outsold CDs by around $450 million dollars in 2021 and even outsold digital downloads of all types combined by a similar margin.

For a format that was predicted to die so many times in the last 40 years – retail sales of the CD and widespread digital music consumption began in 1982 – the huge surge of record sales is, again, quite remarkable to say the least.

This phenomenon has inspired us here at Speakergy to put together a complete report on the phonograph record in our time, with sales and demographics figures, analysis and projections, and even a bit of the history and trivia behind these most resilient vinyl discs.

The statistics alone are, we hope, well worth pursuing this report – to have all of these figures together like this is not only useful, it is quite rare (unless, of course, you are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a professionally compiled report from a market research or industry analysis firm).

But we also hope that the article will give not just numbers, but a nice, enjoyable, and insightful bigger picture of the phonograph record and the industry.

Please note that all of our sales and demographic data is for the sales of new vinyl records, the used record market being a vital but much smaller force and not applicable to our analysis. Except where noted, data is for the United States market, and all sales amounts are in US dollars. Also, we have brought together data from many different sources, and while some data sets may not seem to perfectly jibe with others, it is our belief that this variety of cited sources gives us a better overall picture of the market.

Table of Contents

  1. A Brief History of the Phonograph Record
  2. Vinyl Record Sales in the United States Overall – 2017-2021
    1. By Units Sold
    2. By Dollar Amount
  3. Vinyl Record Sales Demographics 2022
    1. Sales by Age Group
    2. Sales by Gender
    3. Sales by Race/Ethnicity
    4. Sales by Genre
  4. Vinyl Record Sales vs Physical CD Sales – 2016-2021
  5. Vinyl Record Sales vs Digital Download Sales – 2020-2021
  6. Top Selling Vinyl Records – Now and Then
  7. The Most Important Vinyl Records of All Times – 5 Different Looks

A Brief History of the Phonograph Record

Phonograph records, which are also known as gramophone records, vinyl records, LPs (for 12-inch “long-playing” records) and 45s (for a 7-inch single track record) discs, wax, or simply records, were first invented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1877, though the first records did not resemble the round, flat discs we think of today.

Skip forward to 1889 and we see the first lateral-cut flat, round phonograph records similar to current designs, which were made and marketed by Emile Berliner and sold in Europe.

The first 12-inch records were seen in 1903, although they could only play for up to 4 minutes – this was about twice the playing time of the cylinder records of the time, but much shorter than the 23 or more minutes per side of the modern LP record.

It wasn’t until 1948 that a true LP record was introduced, though they had been in development for many years before this. In that year Columbia introduced their 12-inch 33 ⅓ microgroove record, which they claimed would play for at least 20 minutes a side – the first example of what we use today.

The first commercial LP music record ever released was a recording of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, as played by Nathan Milstein on violin, with the New York Philharmonic led by Bruno Walter.

Originally records were made from shellac, but in the same decade – 1940 – we began to see vinyl (specifically polyvinyl chloride) in widespread use, and in 1949 the 7-inch 45 RPM record was introduced.

Although the stereo recording was actually first realized successfully in the early 40s, it wasn’t until 1958 that stereo records were really readily available to the public, and at that point, all of the elements were in place for what many would consider the modern era of record production and sales.

Additional refinements and developments since that time include:

  • Direct-to-disc records – where the original recording session was put down not on a master tape but cut directly to a master disc. First available in 1969 by Nippon Columbia, this became a popular option with audiophiles in the 1970s, though never widely used for mainstream releases.
  • Quadraphonic records – instead of two-channel stereo sound, the quad record employed 4 channels – two in front and two in back – for an immersive sound experience. While this was a fairly short-lived phenomenon, it did presage modern surround sound.
  • Original Master Tapes – audiophile companies, inspired by the superb sound of many studio master tapes, began to issue very high-quality vinyl reissues of popular and/or significant albums in a variety of genres. These reissues used the best possible source tapes and pressed the master onto high definition and low noise “virgin” vinyl.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, founded in 1977, was the most well-known and highly respected of these audiophile record companies, but others included Nautilus, Sheffield Labs, and later Speaker’s Corner, as well as several of the major labels, notably CBS  MasterSound and A&M, reissuing high-quality pressings from their own master tapes.

  • Digital – of course, the digital recording itself is one of the biggest developments in the history of recorded sound, but here we are talking about the use of digital recordings to make vinyl records. This actually began in the early 1970s, and we began to see more commercially released digital LPs around 1978 – still 4 years before the first commercially available compact disc.
  • CD – in 1982, the first music CD was sold to the public. There are some conflicting reports as to which CD was actually first available – probably Claudio Arrau’s recording of Chopin Waltzes, followed closely by Abba’s Visitors and Billy Joel’s 52nd Street- and the CD’s promise of “perfect sound forever,” its convenience and its novelty made many predict the death of the LP record – however, in 2021 the LP actually outsold the CD!

Vinyl Record Sales in the United States Overall – 2017-2021

The most recent full year, 2021, was remarkable in every way for the vinyl record, with record-setting sales and growth, as well as increasing support from artists and record companies.

One industry source shows unit sales increases of over 50% from 2020 to 2021 full year, while another leading expert source shows an even greater increase in dollar sales – over 61%.

2021 US Sales of Vinyl Records – By Units Sold

In the United States, not only have vinyl record sales increased every single year since 1986, they spiked this last year by 51.4% – the biggest single-year increase ever. As a comparison, physical CD sales also increased in this same period, but only by 1.1%.

In the five-year period covered by the above graph, unit sales of vinyl records overall have increased by over 550%, with sales in 2021 more than 35 million units higher than in 2017.

2021 US Sales of Vinyl Records – By Dollar Amount

RIAA’s data shows an even larger increase in the last year, at least in terms of dollar amounts, with sales in US dollars going from just above $640 million dollars in 2020 to well over a billion dollars in 2021 – a 61% increase in just one year. Overall, from 2017 to 2021 there has been an approximately 167% increase in dollar sales 

Speakergy Forecast

What is even more remarkable about these numbers is that vinyl record sales, unlike digital streaming or downloads, require physical manufacturing and distribution. Given the enormous difficulties with the logistics of production, wholesale and retail shipment, and more in the last two years, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, we might have expected a very different result.

While industry experts are expecting a more modest CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next few years – one leading firm predicts slightly more than an 8% increase each year – we believe that there are many factors that will make this growth rate far stronger, including:

  • Artists and record labels, encouraged by recent sales, will produce and release not only far more albums on vinyl but also special editions, EPs (extended play records), singles, and other items. With an established base of customers, who not only have interest but also the proper playback equipment, this increase in releases will be well supported and welcomed.
  • As supply lines, production problems, the economy, and consumer confidence all improve, with the decreasing negative influence of Coronavirus, growth will be even more fully supported. 
  • We can also not discount customer sentiment – as so many surveys indicate that customers want to actually physically own their music collection – in preference to not only streaming digital services but also even digital downloads and that people love the sound of vinyl and the whole experience of playing records.

It seems likely that vinyl record sales growth may moderate, but still be in the two-digit range for the foreseeable future.

Vinyl Record Sales Demographics 2022

In this section, we will break down the US record buying market, by age, gender and ethnicity.

Vinyl Record Sales by Age – 2019

In this chart, we see that among adult buyers the distribution of record sales is very even, with the four oldest age groups all within 2 percentage points of each other, and the youngest adult group only 7 points behind.

As we might expect, buyers under 18 years of age were by far the smallest group, accounting for only 7% of total new record sales.

Vinyl Record Sales by Gender – 2019

Here we also see a very even distribution between men and women, with the former being slightly in the lead in terms of percentage of the record-buying public in the United States – 52% of new record buyers are men, and 48% are women.

This is similar to the numbers we see with all music purchases – that is, the purchase of physical records and CDs as well as downloadable digital music – where men account for 53% of the market, and women 47%. With music streaming, however, the situation is somewhat reversed, with women accounting for 51% of all streaming of digital music.

Note that the two above graphics may not always seem to add up to 100% of the new vinyl buying market, but this is primarily due to rounding of figures and is not an error.

Vinyl Record Sales by Ethnicity – 2019

People who identify themselves as Black/African American make up only 6% of the new vinyl record-buying market, which is compared to the same group accounting for 13% of the overall music purchasing market – that is, the purchase of physical records and CDs as well as downloadable digital music. This second breakdown is more in line with the most recent estimations of the Black population overall in the United States – 13.4%.

People who identify themselves as Hispanic/Latino make up 19% of the new vinyl record-buying market, which is compared to the same group accounting for 17% of the overall music purchasing market – that is, the purchase of physical records and CDs as well as downloadable digital music. Recent studies estimate the Hispanic/Latino population in the United States to be approximately 18.4% of the overall population.

Please note that 2019 was the last year RIAA specifically broke down total retail purchases of new vinyl records by age group, gender, and ethnicity, although their next two reports – 2020 and 2021 – seem to indicate a very similar demographic picture.

Vinyl Record Sales by Genre – 2018

The most recent complete data available shows that Rock is by far the dominant genre among those who purchase vinyl records, with Pop coming in a strong second. 

If we lump these two together – given the sometimes blurring of these two genres, or confusion in assigning music to one or the other – we can see that Pop/Rock accounts for over two-thirds of total vinyl sales in the United States.

Similarly, Rap/Hip-Hop and R&B – which can experience the same kind of blurring of borders, and whose musicians often employ a kind of “hybridization” approach – the two genres combined account for around 14.5% of total vinyl sales.

All the remaining genres combined account for the remaining 18.3% of overall sales, with only five of these 10 genres having more than 1% of total sales, and none of them individually reaching 5%.

Vinyl Record Sales vs Physical CD Sales – 2016-2021

Vinyl Record sales have been on the rise every year for the last 6 years, with even stronger increases in the last three years.

Looking at the same period for CDs, we see that their sales have actually decreased in the first 5 of those 6 years, and only increased from 2020 to 2021.

As a result, in 2020 the vinyl records actually outsold CDs, for the first time since 1986, and in 2022 there were almost twice as many sales of vinyl records as there were of CDs  – approximately $1.037 billion US dollars for LPs vs $584 million US dollars for CDs.

2021 is also the first year, again since 1986, that new vinyl record sales have exceeded a billion dollars in the US market.

Speakergy Forecast

The desire to physically own and have music in one’s collection is likely to remain a strong sentiment among consumers, and LPs seem poised to maintain their dominance in the sales of physical format music.

CDs have been suffering fairly consistent losses in sales and market share over recent years, and this is likely to increase, and probably even worsen. Several factors lead us to this conclusion:

  • The lack of high-quality playback machines and the apparent reluctance of manufacturers to design and make new CD players.
  • The similarity of CD sound to higher-resolution streaming and downloadable digital music files, and people’s preference for analog, or at least vinyl, sound – not to mention the “ritual” and experience of playing records.
  • The incredible support artists, and many both major and independent record labels, are giving specifically to vinyl records, with new releases, reissues, singles, and special editions, as well as sponsorship of annual record store days, and the lack of corresponding enthusiasm and activity around CDs.
  • The recent momentum of LP sales, coupled with the lifting of many logistical difficulties with manufacturing and distributing LPs as the impact of Coronavirus abates.

We suspect that LPs will continue to show excellent sales performance, and several more years at least of strong growth, while CD sales will level this year and begin to consistently shrink.

Vinyl Record Sales vs Digital Download Sales – 2020-2021

The enormous increase in vinyl record sales has now put them far ahead of all digital music downloads (including albums, singles, ringtones, ringbacks, and other digital music downloads) in the United States market – a shift in order few people could have imagined. 

While in 2020 digital music downloads still enjoyed a slight lead – approximately $30 million US dollars – by 2021 vinyl phonograph records had outsold all digital music sales (does not include streaming) by an impressive $450+ million dollars.

If we combine the data from the two above infographics and also include other numbers, we find that in 2021 vinyl phonograph records sold nearly as much as all other digital music sales combined. This includes all forms of permanent digital music downloads (though again, not streaming), all CDs, Music videos, and all other forms of physical music sales, which altogether equal approximately 1.206 billion US dollars, compared to approximately $1.037 billion US dollars for vinyl records alone.

Speakergy Forecast

While we fully expect vinyl records to continue to outperform CDs, and for CDs to eventually dwindle in sales to the point where they are a far less significant segment of this market, the vinyl record vs digital download comparison may go differently.

We project that gramophone records will continue to perform well, and will sell more and more – especially for the next decade – but we also see digital downloads increasing in sales every year, and in the near future we expect that increase to be quite strong until eventually digital music – downloads and streaming – are overwhelmingly the preferred and most popular media. 

This analysis is based on several points of consideration, including:

  • While the desire to “own” one’s music should continue to be a consumer sentiment, helping physical media continue its strong performance, the desire to play that media on increasingly ubiquitous smart devices and digital gadgets –  smartphones, PCs, music players, wearables, smart home networks – will also continue to grow, and especially the desire to play music “on the go” – something not really practicable with vinyl records.
  • As older Baby Boomer and Gen X consumers become supplanted by younger buyers, and the memories and nostalgia of record playing begin to fade, these factors will have less and less power over the buying public.
  • Relatedly, while vinyl records certainly do offer real advantages, their recent enormous sales performance is undoubtedly at least in part related to a kind of “fad” energy, which will inevitably fade as well, while digital domain music – as well as information, entertainment, communication and so much more – has more solid and established foundations and reasons for increased long-term sales.

Top Selling Vinyl Record Albums 2011 – 2022

In our next section, we will look at the top-selling vinyl records in the two leading English-speaking markets – the United States and the United Kingdom. Our data will be for the most recent complete year – 2021 – and also show the same top ten sellers from a decade previous – 2011.

We will then look at the best-selling albums in the world in 2022, and after that have a look at the best-selling vinyl albums of all times. Spoiler alert – it’s a “Thriller!”

Best Selling Vinyl Record Albums in the United States 2011 – 2021

2021

PositionArtistAlbumOriginal Year of Release
1Adele302021
2Olivia RodrigoSour2021
3Taylor SwiftRed (Taylor’s Version)2021
4Harry StylesFine Line2019
5Billy ElishHappier Than Ever2021
6Taylor SwiftEvermore2020
7Prince & The RevolutionPurple Rain (OST)1984
8The BeatlesAbbey Road1969
9Taylor SwiftFolklore2020
10Kendrick LamarGood Kid2012

Although there is much talk about how vintage and retro sentiments fuel the vinyl market, in this last year (2021) there were only two albums in the top ten which might be considered vintage, and of the other eight, four were new releases, three were only one or two years old, and one was released nine years previously.

It is also notable that Taylor Swift, who is often mentioned as a leading force in the vinyl revival, has three of the top ten spots. She insists on releasing all of her albums on vinyl as well as digital formats, often releases special vinyl editions, and is an active participant in Record Day, an annual celebration of independent “brick-and-mortar” record stores.

2011

PositionArtistAlbumOriginal Year of Release
1The BeatlesAbbey Road1969
2Fleet FoxesHelplessness Road2011
3Bon IverBon Iver2011
4Mumford & SonsSigh No More2009
5RadioheadThe King of Limbs2011
6Adele212011
7Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago2007
8WilcoThe Whole Love2011
9Black KeysBrothers2010
10Black KeysEl Camino2011

Here too we see numbers that seem to somewhat contradict the idea of older albums dominating vinyl sales – even more so, in fact, as in 2011 in the United States there was only a single album in the top ten which might be properly considered vintage, and the other nine were either new releases or catalog items from no more than four years previous.

Best Selling Vinyl Record Albums in the United Kingdom 2011 – 2021

2021

PositionArtistAlbumOriginal Year of Release
1AbbaVoyage2021
2Adele302021
3Fleetwood MacRumors1977
4Ed Sheeran=2021
5Amy WinehouseBack To Black2006
6NirvanaNevermind1991
7QueenGreatest Hits1981
8Lana Del ReyChemtrails Over The Country Club2021
9Wolf AliceBlue Weekend2021
10Harry StylesFine Line2019

The picture in the United Kingdom is similar, but with a somewhat stronger showing made by older recordings. Half of the top-selling vinyl albums of last year (2021) are new releases – five of ten – and one more is only two years old.

Although Taylor Swift doesn’t appear in the UK charts, there are a large number of artists popular in the UK who also actively support and advocate for vinyl, issuing all new releases, and sometimes special editions and singles, as records.

2011

PositionArtistAlbumOriginal Year of Release
1RadioheadThe King Of Limbs2011
2Adele212011
3Beady EyeDifferent Gear Still Speeding2011
4Arctic MonkeysSuck It And See2011
5PJ HarveyLet England Shake2011
6Bon IverBon Iver2011
7Alex TurnerSubmarine (OST)2011
8Kate BushDirector’s Cut2011
9ElbowBuild A Rocket Boys2011
10NirvanaNevermind1991

2011 top ten in the United Kingdom shows the most overwhelming domination of new releases – again, somewhat contrary to analysis around vintage records fueling the vinyl revolution – with fully nine of the top ten vinyl albums originally released that year.

Best Selling Vinyl Record Albums Globally – 2021

PositionArtistAlbumOriginal Year of Release
1Adele302021
2Harry StylesFine Line2019
3Fleetwood MacRumors1977
4Olivia RodrigoAgria (Sour)2021
5Billie EilishHappier Than Ever2021
6Taylor SwiftRed (Taylor’s Version)2021
7The BeatlesAbbey Road1969
8NirvanaInsecticid1992
9Pink FloydThe Dark Side of the Moon1973
10Taylor Swiftevermore2020

Adele, who was number one in the United States for the same year, and number two in the UK charts, holds the number one spot globally with her latest album, and several other artists – Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and Olivia Rodrigo – feature in those other charts as well.

In the global chart, we see more of the tendency towards vintage or retro recordings, with 4 of the top 10 records being at least 29 years old. The remaining 6 were either new releases or from the previous 2 years.

Best Selling Records of All Times – Vinyl

PositionArtistAlbumOriginal Year of ReleaseTotal Sales (in Millions of Copies)
1ThrillerMichael Jackson198227
2Bat Out Of HellMeat Loaf197725.3
3Back In BlackAC/DC198024.5
4Dark Side Of The MoonPink Floyd197323.7
5Their Greatest HitsThe Eagles197621.6
6RumorsFleetwood Mac197720.2
7Saturday Night Fever (OST)Bee Gees et al197720.2
8IVLed Zeppelin197119.5
9Grease (OST)John Travolta, Olivia Newton John et al197819
10Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandThe Beatles196718.2

Here it is no surprise that all of the top ten all-time selling vinyl record albums are from the heyday of record sales – the late 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s – since their original releases were not available in any digital formats, and also simply they have had more time to accumulate sales.

It is interesting to see that the top-selling vinyl record album of all times – Michael Jackson’s Thriller – was released in the same year CDs were introduced to the retail market – a fine and fitting farewell to that heyday, and a remarkable achievement given that it was also released as a digital CD around the same time, and has been in current catalogs in digital format ever since.

The Most Important Vinyl Albums of All Times

In our final section, we are going to present a few different lists of the most important or significant vinyl albums of all times, from 5 (or maybe 6…) different sources. 

A couple of these lists use sound quality as their primary criterion (although few would argue about the musical merits of their choices) while others rate their top choices rather on musical value (but these tend to be very good-sounding LPs as well).

However they come to their final picks, clearly, these sources have different tastes and different criteria, and regardless of the unquestionable “importance” of each of these albums, they certainly will not all appeal to every listener – but that should not keep anybody from trying any – or all – of these great recordings.

So we simply present the lists, and where they came from, without any commentary of our own – except, of course, for the “great” I snuck into the last sentence! – in hopes that our readers might find new and interesting music to listen to, as well as to give some props to some of our favorite sites.

RadioX – 25 Essential Albums to Own on Vinyl

  1. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)
  2. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)
  3. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  4. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  5. Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994)
  6. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)
  7. Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
  8. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
  9. Kate Bush – The Hounds Of Love (1985)
  10. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971)
  11. The Clash – London Calling (1979)
  12. David Bowie – Low (1977)
  13. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
  14. Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde (1966)
  15. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (1989)
  16. The xx – XX (2009)
  17. AC/DC – Back In Black (1980)
  18. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
  19. Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988)
  20. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
  21. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black (2006)
  22. Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)
  23. The Who – Live At Leeds (1970)
  24. Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger (1991)
  25. Blondie – Parallel Lines (1978)

Source: RadioX

Discogs Poster Marhubeng’s The 25 Greatest Vinyl Records of All Time

(Abridged from the original 100 Greatest Vinyl Records of All Time)

  1. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon
  2. Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
  3. Simon and Garfunkel* – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  4. Carole King – Tapestry
  5. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà Vu
  6. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
  7. Led Zeppelin – IV
  8. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers 
  9. The Who – Tommy
  10. The Beatles – The Beatles
  11. Pink Floyd – The Wall
  12. Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline
  13. Santana – Abraxas
  14. The Who – Who’s Next
  15. The Beatles – Help!
  16. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  17. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
  18. Joni Mitchell – Blue
  19. Pretenders – Pretenders
  20. Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde
  21. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  22. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  23. The Clash – London Calling
  24. David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
  25. Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life

Source: Discogs

The Manual’s 24 Best Vinyl Records

Classics

  1. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
  2. A Night in Tunisia by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers
  3. Zombie by Fela Kuti
  4. Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers
  5. The White Album by The Beatles
  6. The Yes Album by Yes
  7. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
  8. Jesus Christ Superstar
  9. Tusk by Fleetwood Mac
  10. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
  11. Mothership Connection by Parliament
  12. The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie

Modern Classics

  1. To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
  2. Black Velvet by Charles Bradley
  3. Heaven and Earth by Kamasi Washington
  4. Emmaar by Tinariwen
  5. Black Star by David Bowie
  6. Is This It by The Strokes
  7. Kid A by Radiohead
  8. Kaputt by Destroyer
  9. Melody A.M. by Röyksopp
  10. The Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson
  11. We Will Always Love You by The Avalanches
  12. Agaeits Byrjun by Sigur Ros

Source: The Manual

Louder’s Best Vinyl Records to Test Your Turntable: The Albums You Need to Own

  1. The Beatles: Abbey Road
  2. Metallica: Black Album
  3. Guns N’ Roses: Greatest Hits
  4. Ghost: Impera
  5. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Mother’s Milk
  6. Nirvana: MTV Unplugged In New York
  7. Tesseract: Sonder
  8. U2: Achtung Baby
  9. The Cure: Disintegration
  10. Fields Of The Nephilim: Elizium

Source: Louder

The Absolute Sound’s Super LP List

A quick word about this list, which has long been considered to include the most truly superb sounding vinyl albums ever made – both in and out of print, from today and from 60 + years ago.

The whole list runs to hundreds of records, with especially extensive coverage of Classical music, and it is definitely worth a read-through – literally, every single record listed is a pure audiophile experience, as good as it gets.

We are limiting ourselves here to the two “Best of the Bunch” lists – Classical and Popular – but you can find the most recent complete list here: The Absolute Sound: Super LP List.

BEST OF THE BUNCH: Classical

  1.  Arnold: English, Scottish, & Cornish Dances. Lyrita SRCS-109
  2.  Brahms/Debussy/Bartók: Sonatas/Abel, Steinberg. Wilson Audiophile/Analogue Productions 8722*‡
  3.  Brahms: Symphonien 1–4/Rattle, Berlin Phil. Berlin Philharmonic Recordings BPHR 160041*‡
  4.  Gerhard: The Plague. Decca Head 6
  5.  Gershwin: Porgy & Bess complete/Maazel. Decca SET 609-11*
  6.  Herold-Lanchbery: La Fille Mal Gardée. Decca/ORG 0109-45 (45rpm)*‡
  7.  Hi-Fi a la Española. Mercury/Classic SR-90144*
  8.  Holst: The Planets/Mehta, LA. Decca/ORG 122-45 (45rpm)*‡
  9.  Mahler: Ninth Symphony/Barbirolli, Berlin Phil. ERC/EMI ASD 596/597*‡
  10.  Prokofiev: Scythian Suite. Mercury/ORG 118-45 (45rpm)*‡
  11.  Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3. Mercury/Speakers Corner SR-90283*‡
  12.  Ravel: La Valse/Paray. Mercury/Classic SR-90313*‡
  13.  Respighi: Feste Romane/Maazel. Decca SXL-6822
  14.  Stravinsky: The Firebird/Dorati. Mercury/Classic SR-90226*‡
  15.  Widor: Symphony No. 6, Allegro. Mercury SR-90169

BEST OF THE BUNCH: Popular

  1.  Bachrach: Casino Royale. Colgems/Classic Records 5005Q‡
  2.  Balalaika Favorites. Mercury/Classic Records SR90310-45 (45rpm)‡
  3.  Belafonte At Carnegie Hall: The Complete Concert. RCA/Analogue Productions LSP/AAPF-6006 (45rpm) *‡
  4.  Ellington: For Duke. M & K Realtime UMK&K101*
  5.  Ralph Hunter Choir: The Wild, Wild West. RCA LSP-l968*
  6.  Dean Martin: Dream with Dean. Reprise/Analogue Productions 076-45 (45rpm)*‡
  7.  Music for Bang, Ba-room, and Harp. RCA/Analogue Productions LSP-1866‡
  8. Peter, Paul & Mary: In the Wind. Warner Bros./ORG 071 (45rpm)*‡
  9.  Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon. EMI Harvest SHVL-804‡
  10.  The Sheffield Track Record. Sheffield Lab-20*
  11.  Don Shirley: Water Boy. Columbia CS-9196*
  12.  The Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall, 1963. Vanguard/Analogue Productions 005*‡
  13.  Winds of War and Peace/Graham. Wilson Audiophile/Analogue Productions 8823‡
  • New entries on the list
  • Still in print
  • * Exceptionally natural and musical

Source: The Absolute Sound

And finally, just because it’s fun…

HMV’s The 10 most expensive vinyl records ever sold

RankingVinylSale Price
1Wu-Tang Clan: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin$2 million
2The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album)$790,000
3Elvis Presley: ‘My Happiness’$300,000
4The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (signed by all four Beatles)$290,000
5John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy$150,000
6The Beatles: Yesterday & Today$125,000
7The Beatles: ‘Til There Was You’ (10” acetate)$92,113.01 (£77,500)
8Aphex Twin: Caustic Window (test pressing)$46,300
9Tommy Johnson: ‘Alcohol and Jake Blues’$37,100
10Frank Wilson: ‘Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)$30,595.78 (£25,742)

Source: HMV

Ending Notes

If you are a data nerd and want to dive deeper, you can access our Google Sheet with all of the numbers, charts, and sources listed.

As new and younger artists seem so excited about the phonograph record, and so intent on releasing new material on vinyl, and as record companies seem willing to back up these activities, it seems likely that sales and popularity will continue for quite some time.

Eventually, of course, digital music will become such a deeply ingrained part of modern technology and life that no other form or medium will be able to compete – but whatever you do, don’t you dare predict the death of the record! Many have done so before, and these wonderful spinning discs prove them wrong again and again, year after glorious year.

We really hope that you have had as much fun reading through Speakergy’s market report on the vinyl record and that you have found some useful data, gained some valuable insight, and gotten a nice bigger picture of the market, the history, and the culture of the record.

Please check out our website – Speakergy.com – for other industry and market reports, informational articles and tutorials, reviews and buyer guides and so much more!