Why we ❤️ game music: Scratching the vinyl itch

LACED WITH WAX Why we ❤️ game music: Scratching the vinyl itch

Five avid VGM vinyl collectors wax lyrical about their passion for game music and soundtrack records — and offer crate-digging and tech tips for beginner hobbyists.

By Thomas Quillfeldt

At Laced Records, we cater to a variety of people: those who love a video game enough to buy a physical soundtrack; those who enjoy video game music as its own medium and collect memorabilia; those who like video game music and actually have a turntable; and those who love video game vinyl, have a turntable and are building a modest collection…

And then there are these guys.

We chatted to ardent collectors Frederik Lauridsen (AKA Blip Blop AKA rpbtz), Michael McCartney (who runs the Games on Wax Twitter feed), and the crew from the Video Game Grooves podcast — Messrs Jeremy LaMont, Paul Watson and Anthony Agnello — to find out what drives their love of gamey wax and what their wallets ever did to them to deserve such persistent punishment.

A quick glossary:

  • ‘Video game music’ is often abbreviated to ‘VGM’.
  • ‘Vinyl’ (a singular ‘piece of vinyl’, ‘vinyl record’ or ‘vinyl’ plural) is often fondly referred to as ‘wax’ or simply as a ‘record’.
  • A full vinyl album is an ‘LP’ (long-player), whilst a 12” or ‘12-inch’ is a single or EP (four-ish songs).
  • You will often see two or more disc sets described as ‘2xLP’, ‘3xLP’ and so on.
  • A vinyl record player is more commonly known as a ‘turntable’.
  • ‘OST’ stands for ‘original soundtrack’, i.e. music composed especially for a given game, rather than licensed from an external source.
  • ‘Chiptune’ is a catch-all term for video game music where programmed notes are voiced by a console or computer sound chip; the original chiptune era runs from the early 1970’s to the mid-1990’s, but there is also a more recent nostalgic, revivalist movement where musicians aim to recreate the chiptune sound through software (or using old hardware).
  • ‘Red Book audio’ means CD quality digital music (stereo, 16-bit, 44,100 Hz sample rate); it became available in video games once game-playing machines became disc-based.

The esoteric allure of game music on vinyl

These five collectors were drawn like moths to multiple flames: to video games; to in-game music; to soundtrack releases; and eventually ending up as certifiable VGM vinyl-heads. Their individual journeys usually required an ‘ah-ha!’ moment — a dawning realisation that game music was its own medium, and that there was a niche within a niche, within a niche (game music on vinyl) that catered to audiophile fans.

Co-host of Video Game Grooves, Paul Watson, is up front about his passion for games and games music, as well as the industry underpinning it all: “Video games have shaped my life and my career. Of all the entertainment industries (film, music etc.), it feels like only games are still evolving at a rapid rate, and I find that very exciting.

“My affinity for ‘games as art’ means I pay special attention to the craft behind creating music for games; I’ve seen the development process first-hand, so I’ve gained a real appreciation for the work that goes into game scoring.”

Watson is a Senior Account Manager at Gamer Network, where he’s involved with the vinyl-producing merch label Gamer's Edition, which recently released the Stardew Valley 2xLP, now in its second pressing:

Stardew Valley vinyl available from Gamersedition

Blogger Blip Blop came to the hobby from a different direction: as he explained last year in his piece for Laced With Wax on his passion for vinyl, he went from being a serious CD collector (whilst working in a record shop) to being a super serious vinyl collector. And while he is an authority on video game vinyl and a man in the know about seemingly all upcoming releases, his video game wax only comprises less than 25% of his overall collection of over 1,300 records. “It's becoming a bad habit, haha,” he jokes, in a decent impression of the King of Understatement.

A glimpse of part of Blip Blop’s collection:

It was inevitable that his record collecting habit would intersect with his love of video game music, and he traces the latter back to a particular game and track: “It’s all down to Final Fantasy: as a kid I found myself humming the tunes after playing the games, to the extent that even my siblings would be humming the Final Fantasy IX chocobo theme despite not having played the game!” He had an epiphany: “When I realised that the Final Fantasy soundtracks were available on CD, I had to grab what I could find (and afford) so I could relive that nostalgia.”

Head of Social Media at VentureBeat and Video Game Grooves co-host Anthony Agnello also remembers the turning point for him: “It was really Chrono Trigger (YouTube; VGMDB) that changed me. I remember lying on the floor, listening to the Guardia Castle theme over and over again. That was the first soundtrack that I went to the trouble of importing.”

Collector Michael McCartney also felt the tug of nostalgia that soundtrack recordings could provide: “Listening to game music on vinyl brings back a lot of memories.” He also finds it to be a revelatory format: “A lot of in-game background music might get overlooked whilst playing, but listening to it on vinyl can foster a real sense of appreciation for the composers.”

Watson agrees: “To me, the ritual involved in playing a vinyl record makes it feel like the best way to appreciate a piece of music. If I’ve gone to the effort (and it is an effort) of putting on a record, I’m much more likely to sit down, relax, and listen to the entire thing.”

Jeremy LaMont, co-host of the Game Bytes and Video Games Grooves podcasts, started out with vinyl as the gateway drug to a wider world of musical discovery: “As a kid in the '80s, my parents' soft rock and country musical tastes (via the household turntable) consisted of the likes of Air Supply, John Denver and Alabama. Understandably, I gravitated away from that towards classical music; and, logically, from there to film soundtracks like Star Wars, Dances with Wolves, Dune and TRON.”

He remembers employing workarounds to obtain game music on an external format, recording in-game music to cassette tape to enjoy later. Collecting soundtracks was the obvious next step: “My first CD was the Sierra Soundtrack Collection (YouTube; VGMDB), which featured instrumental versions of tunes from many beloved adventure games of the day.

“Game music always felt more personal than pop and rock albums to me, whilst being more alive and relevant than the average classical symphony. Game music was, and continues to be, more reflective of my interests and resonant with my passions.”

Going to great efforts to listen to game music is something that unites them all. Agnello admits: “When I was very little I would save passwords for Castlevania 3 to hear songs in specific levels, or beat Mega Man 2 just to hear the music play over the ending.”

VGM ≠ A unified genre

Agnello also points out the inherent problem with talking about VGM as a singular type of music: “Video game music is such a hard beast to classify. It's like referring to electronic music as a genre unto itself — the term is way too vague to give you an accurate summation that actually encompasses it.

“The video game music I love the most doesn't just comprise ‘soundtrack albums’ but the stuff that couldn't have been made in any other medium. And not just chiptune, but work like Keiichi Okabe's NieR soundtrack (YouTube; Discogs), or the reactive music of PixelJunk Eden (YouTube; Spotify; Discogs). These are soundscapes borne of an utterly specific mindset, using the most specific instrumentation.”

Blip Blop is buoyed by this fact: “What keeps me going now is the variety of music under the VGM umbrella. There’s a wealth of music genres found within games but, even though they’re varied compared to each other, they still have to fit a particular game’s style and atmosphere.

“At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I’d say that there’s an energy and creativity in game music right now that I don’t see elsewhere in commercial music.”


It took a while for podcaster Jeremy LaMont to become an out-and-out collector: “I'd been aware of video game music on vinyl records for quite a while before I took an active interest. I was intrigued by the 2009 vinyl release based on Marvel vs Capcom 2 (OST – YouTube; Hip Hop Mixtape vinyl – Discogs) as a Comic-Con exclusive; also by a limited edition vinyl of one of my favourite soundtracks of that year, Shatter (YouTube; Discogs). At the time I treated them mostly as oddities and didn't pursue them — Marvel vs Capcom 2 still eludes my grasp, but I finally got hold of Shatter this summer!

“The seeds of attraction to VGM vinyl properly took root about five years later: I was really inspired by the Hohokum Live Music Jam during the PlayStation Experience 2014 and fell head-over-heels for label Ghostly International's eclectic mix of electronica artists and tracks for such a quirky game (Hohokum soundtrack – YouTube; Spotify; Discogs). I received the record as a gift soon after and once it was on my shelf, well… It was lonely, and wanted some friends! It only takes one to hook you.”


Blip Blop started his VGM collection in earnest around the same time as LaMont: “I'd already bought my first few VGM vinyl and realised more and more releases were being announced, including for really cool games.

“The real kicker was probably when Data Discs announced that they would be releasing the soundtracks for Streets Of Rage (YouTube; Discogs) and Shenmue (YouTube; Discogs).”

Streets of Rage and Shenmue vinyl

“It struck me as seriously fantastic that someone would source music from old hardware, remaster it and put it out on vinyl. That’s amazing dedication, and something I wanted to follow more closely. Around that same time, I started looking out for what had already been released and trying to find (and ultimately create) one place to keep this information — what is now Blipblop.net.

“I usually inspire jealousy when I mention that my first VGM vinyl record was the score for Red Dead Redemption (YouTube; Spotify; Discogs)”, a soundtrack that he wrote warmly about for Laced With Wax previously. “Even though I only had a few records at the time, I instinctively knew I had to buy it so I saved up for a while, visited the Rockstar site... and it was sold out! I kept an eye out for used listings and even passed on some €40 listings as too much — hilarious considering the price it can fetch today [£400+]. More or less by accident, I went to Wax Poetic’s website (the label that released it) not long after and saw they had a listing with the warning ‘LAST COPIES’ — I didn’t hesitate.”

red Dead Redemption vinyl

Like Blip Blop, Michael McCartney came to VGM vinyl as part of a wider record collecting hobby: “I started my record collection around 2011 with vinyl from the likes of Daft Punk and Amon Tobin.

“When I learned that video game soundtracks were being released on vinyl and not just on CD, for a long time it baffled me. I’ve always been interested in novelty records and hidden gems, so I picked up a few things like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (YouTube; Spotify; Discogs) and Street Fighter II (YouTube; Discogs). I figured there might be a few more, but not hundreds — and now it has blown up in parallel with the vinyl revival. How long until there are over a thousand releases out there?

“I picked up my first actual VGM vinyl at a car-boot sale around 2003. I found a picture disc for Parappa the Rapper 2 (YouTube; 12” – Discogs). It was just a really odd thing to find secondhand at the time. I didn’t actually listen to it until years later!”

Parappa the Rapper vinyl

Paul Watson admits that he wasn’t as sonically motivated as his collector colleagues when his record collection began to take shape: “I still cringe when I think about it. During my university years, I bought a whole bunch of vinyl for the sole purpose of hanging them on my wall… But it gets worse... it was mostly Blink-182! 😳 It wasn’t until several years later that I decided that, instead of decoration, I ought to be listening to my records as intended.

“At the time, there weren’t really any vinyl records featuring contemporary video game soundtracks, besides the older G.M.O. records of Sega music from the 80’s and a few others. With that in mind, I resolved to pick up any and all VGM on vinyl that I stumbled across. I wasn’t prepared, however, for the massive influx of releases that we’ve seen since.

“The first brand-new VGM vinyl I picked up was Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy VII soundtrack on picture disc (YouTube; Discogs). Final Fantasy VII is a huge touchstone from my childhood and the music is still present, fully-formed inside of my head, so a soundtrack on vinyl was pretty much a dream release for me. The release itself was very much an imperfect product (I’m not a fan of picture discs and the packaging is actually made of a material known to destroy vinyl), but it’s still a personal favourite.”

Final Fantasy 7 vinyl picture discs

As with his podcasting pal Mr LaMont, Anthony Agnello grew up in a house full of vinyl, despite being a “CD generation kid. My parents preserved most of their 1960’s-80’s collection, but sadly I didn't truly appreciate the bounty until I was a teenager; almost the entire collection of original Beatles, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder etc. records were destroyed in a basement flood.

“In 2011, I finally had my own place and space for my dad's old turntable and the dozen records I'd collected over the years. A year later, my collection was booming and its growth is frighteningly aggressive at this point. I vowed to keep it under 500 LPs early on — and I just broke that seal in the past month. The beautiful convenience was that the new vinyl boom kicked off in earnest a couple of years after I started collecting and brought a flood of new game soundtrack pressings with it.”

VGM soundtracks were a target from the off: “In the early 2000’s, I saw pictures of the infamous vintage game store Super Potato in Akihabara, Japan, on some gaming forum and there, in a glass case, were LPs of the Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest II and III Symphonic Suites (YouTube; Discogs) — music I already adored, preserved in gorgeous sleeves on an archaic format. It was like all of my tastes rolled into one absurdly obscure, perfect object.”

Dragon Quest II and III Symphonic Suites on vinyl

“Thus my first video game vinyl was a humdinger: Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest II (YouTube; Discogs).

“Hunting for vintage VGM vinyl from Japan has never been easy in the US, so it felt like a victory to find one at all. But this one in particular bears all the hallmarks of its time: there may be a symphony orchestra playing those sweet, sweet Koichi Sugiyama tracks, but big ol' synths blare up in the middle reminding you that yes, it was made in the '80s.

“I also love the B-side suite of all the chiptunes from the Famicom cartridge (you can hear a similar version here – YouTube). It's like an aural speedrun of the game.”

Technological shifts = changes in VGM

As ardent VGM fans, these collectors are fascinated by the different eras of game music. For instance, Michael McCartney is passionate about plumbing the depths of the VGM chasm that opened up between the original chiptune era (roughly ending with the SNES c. 1996) and the Red Book audio era (e.g. PlayStation and CD-Rom PCs c. 1994 onwards): “I love finding old remix records from the 90’s when games were transitioning from console sound chips to full-blown CD audio. Undocumented records from the 80’s and 90’s show up every now and then. There’s always something new to listen to around every corner.”

A fan of the tail end of the original chiptune era, Anthony Agnello opines: “A sample pumped through the SNES architecture sounds like nothing else on Earth. For something so inexorably linked to high technology (for the time) it speaks to a wholly organic part of my soul.”

The audio processing unit of the SNES, the S-SMP. Photo by Yaca2671:

The audio processing unit of the SNES, the S-SMP

Most cherished wax

The crown jewel of Agnello’s game vinyl collection, Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest III (YouTube; Discogs), is only a step away from his first VGM record: “This one has always been more sought after than Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest II, and took forever for me to find at an affordable price.

“It arrived the day my family and I moved to our new home; it was the first time I'd lived outside of New York City in 13 years. When I listen to it, I no longer see Dragon Quest — I see my then-six-month-old baby daughter trying her damnedest to sit up, my wife smiling at her, and a warm fall light pouring into the house between rumpled boxes. A different kind of high adventure, soundtracked by this wonderful music.”

Symphonic Suite Dragon Quest III vinyl

Paul Watson’s favourite wax was a special gift: “For my birthday last year, a couple of friends from Square-Enix gifted me a copy of Life is Strange (YouTube; Discogs) on vinyl — a promotional item that was originally made to send to press.

“Anyone who has played the game will tell you that one of the strengths of Life is Strange was the incredible soundtrack. I’d point to it as one of the best examples of licensed music in a game. Unfortunately, the complications surrounding licensing music means that a retail copy of Life is Strange on vinyl was never made available, although hopefully some solution can be reached in the future.”

And as for Jeremy LaMont: “I've successfully nabbed a few ‘chase’ releases for my collection recently, including Shatter, Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game and The Last of Us, but the one I never thought I'd land was Life is Strange.

“The only way to obtain one was on the after-market or through the Square-Enix webstore using their confusing reward points system. I was in the process of conspiring with a friend for months to accumulate enough points through ‘eligible purchases’ but eventually, in secret, she and her husband pooled together their own points and got the record for me as a birthday gift. I had been out-conspired, but the chase was a lot of fun (only in light of the outcome!)”

Life is Strange vinyl

Michael McCartney’s prized possessions are a pair of 12” EPs featuring tracks from Rez (YouTube; VGMDB) — Rez Gamer's Guide To ... Analog 12 Inch EP Level 01 (Discogs) and Level 02 (Discogs). “The rhythm and how the player interacts with the techno soundtrack is what made the game work, and it gets stuck in your head. I loved it when I younger, so it was a huge surprise when I found both releases online years later.”

rez vinyl

Whilst Blip Blop is fond of his treasured Red Dead Redemption album, his personal favourite is the Final Fantasy Vinyls 5xLP box set (Discogs): “This is principally down to my love of all things Final Fantasy, rather than the actual vinyl package itself. It was released in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the series, only in Japan, and features a selection of Nobuo Uematsu’s music from all the games between the original and Final Fantasy X.

“For me, it’s a trip down memory lane to put this on. It’s not a perfect release by any means — the sound quality isn’t amazing and it has ‘VINYLS’ in big letters on the front — but it’s one that means a lot to me because it’s effectively a compilation of childhood and teenage gaming memories.

Final Fantasy Vinyls 5xLP box set

Arty farty

VGM vinyl releases wouldn’t be half as attractive if they didn’t feature big, beautiful pieces of art, either drawn from a game’s assets, key art or concept art; or custom designed artwork commissioned for that release.

One of Paul Watson’s favourite contemporary artists happens to be regular Laced Records collaborator, Niklas Åkerblad, AKA El Huervo. Watson recalls: “I first became aware of him through his artwork and musical contributions to Hotline Miami.

“His work on the sleeve for his own vinyl album release, Vandereer (Discogs), is absolutely impeccable, and he has continued to pump out incredible artwork for the VGM vinyl releases of the Hotline Miami (SoundCloud; Discogs) and Absolver (Spotify; VGMDB) soundtracks.”

Since Paul was kind enough to tee it up, you can check out our interviews with El Huervo:

(Top) El Huervo’s inside panel (left-hand thid), back cover (middle third) and cover (right-hand third) for the Hotline Miami Collector’s Edition Vinyl. (Bottom) his cover (left) and gatefold (right) for the Absolver soundtrack vinyl:

Hotline Miami Collector’s Edition Vinyl and Absolver soundtrack vinyl available from lacedrecords.com

Blip Blop, in trying to identify a favourite vinyl artist/illustrator, adds the caveat: “I’d likely change my opinion depending on the day of the week. Most game music labels have been really good at finding great artists to create new original artwork — or in some cases used original game art or promotional art to create a beautiful package for the records.

“At this precise moment, I’d say my favourite cover artwork would be Ian Wilding’s for Ship To Shore PhonoCo.’s SNATCHER release (YouTube; Discogs). I’ve bugged them about making it available as a poster, but it’s not happened yet — I live in hope.”

Ship To Shore PhonoCo.’s SNATCHER release

Beyond cover art, Blip Blop shouts out Takashi Okazaki’s full package artwork for the Furi soundtrack (YouTube; Spotify; Discogs), released by G4F Records: “The silver-foiled outline of the game’s main character and the neon cyberpunk-ish gatefold go together incredibly well.”

Furi on vinyl

“I’d also feel bad if I didn’t give an honourable mention to Drew Wise, who has been doing great artwork for so many releases in different styles and for different labels. I think he’s played a crucial role in maintaining a high standard of quality for VGM vinyl artwork.”

Michael McCartney’s particular favourite is the Japanese release of the Super Mario Bros. 3 soundtrack (YouTube; Discogs). “The Japanese box art is has a lot more going on than the American counterpart, and like all vinyl, the cover art is supersized! It’s a nice one to display.”

A selection of McCartney’s Super Mario Bros. vinyl, including the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 3 (bottom, central):

Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 3

Jeremy LaMont insists: “You’d find it difficult to top iam8bit's Rez Infinite release (Area X tracks – YouTube; Spotify; Discogs) for the sheer deluxe quality of the archival style of the materials and added content. The album is a book of art and the story of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's conception of the original Rez and it's just a joy.”

iam8bit's Rez Infinite release

“I also have a real soft spot for Double Fine Productions' release of Brütal Legend (YouTube; Discogs). Although it's a single LP, the album art replicates the Jack Black-powered main menu of the game. The gatefold reflects the exact in-game art that so effectively evokes a heavy metal world... Of course that art style is itself a parody of heavy metal album art of the 1970’s.”

Double Fine Productions' release of Brütal Legend

For Anthony Agnello, it’s no contest as to his favourite vinyl art: “Akihiko Yoshida's cover for SQ Trax (Discogs). It’s probably the only vinyl I own purely for the sleeve art and not the music because, frankly, these are some of the worst dance remixes of RPG music I've ever heard!

“But Yoshida's art is just… It features a woman curled up on a favourite chair, playing some kind of weird cross between a WonderSwan and a Wii U pad, pet chocobo and dragon looking on, while hi-fi tracks bump out of a Dragon Quest slime speaker. Just amazing. I look at this LP like it's an inspirational poster — I want to live her life!”

SQ Trax

Vinyl tail wagging the gaming dog

LaMont points out that his VGM vinyl hobby has, in some ways, overtaken his gaming: “I'll frequently seek out music from a game that I like. But for me the weirder (and more difficult to explain) scenario is where a vinyl record is released and I'll buy it on its own merits — and then try to play the game later to get some context. To some extent, collecting VGM vinyl has become a case of the tail wagging the dog.

“That said, I've discovered less well-known games like Saturday Morning RPG (Bandcamp; Spotify; Discogs) and Risk of Rain (YouTube; Spotify; Discogs) through vinyl releases. I recently bought 140 (YouTube; VGMDB) because I knew the record's release is imminent, so I figured I should get ahead of the (inevitable) purchase.”

Blip Blop is humble in his acknowledging the privileges of his position as the VGM vinyl maven — producers will often make sure he is the first to know about new releases. “I’m really, really lucky because before I play a game, I’ll know with 99.9% certainty if a game’s soundtrack is either available or has been announced on vinyl.

“Recently, it’s been more the case that I’ll get a VGM vinyl, really enjoy it and then decide to give the game a go, for example with Earthbound (AKA Mother 2YouTube; Discogs) and SNATCHER.

“When I play a game where the soundtrack isn’t on vinyl yet, you can be sure I’ll pick it up as soon as it releases. Black Screen Records recently announced a release of David Housden’s score to Thomas Was Alone (YouTube; Spotify; VGMDB) — it has been on my Top 3 most wanted vinyl ever since playing the game.”

Anthony Agnello is constantly grabbing vinyl for games he has loved, but admits: “I have soundtracks for games I loathe playing! The Shenmue soundtrack is an absolute favourite, but playing through the game on Dreamcast, inspired as it may be, was an utter slog.”

Dream wax

Despite the seeming deluge, every collector has a list of game soundtracks that they’d chew off their right arm to see on vinyl. And on top of that list?

Michael McCartney’s #1 is Hideki Naganuma’s Jet Set Radio (YouTube; VGMDB): ”The whole game is propelled by a DJ spinning tracks and it’s only a matter of time until both Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future (YouTube; VGMDB) are released so that fans can spin them too.”

Unsurprisingly for Anthony Agnello, it’s the JRPG: “A box set of the complete Chrono Trigger soundtrack is my dream release. One day…” Square’s seminal 90’s classic also topped an informal poll of favourite JRPGs as part of our article: “We ❤️ JRPGs: Favourite games and tracks of the game music community”.

Jeremy LaMont dreams vividly: “I'd love for there to be a Katamari Damacy release (YouTube; VGMDB) for the music of the series to date. Picture discs that look like katamaris, perhaps some nice Keita Takahashi art, and a bonus disc with the King of All Cosmos standing proud and unashamed, his blush-inducing focal point obscured by the spindle hole in the middle of the disc… On second thought that last bit may produce an innuendo of its own. The idea could use some work.”

Blip Blop is a man of simple needs: “Give me a box set with the full (YES — all of it) soundtrack to Final Fantasy VI (YouTube; VGMGB) — remastered for vinyl, pressed at a top pressing plant, housed in a beautiful, minimalist box with nice art. I’d give almost anything for such a dream release.”

Paul Watson: “If we’re going for total fantasy here, I’d have to go for the soundtrack to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (YouTube; VGMDB). The theme for Dragon Roost Island gives me goosebumps to this day.”

“In terms of something a little more likely to actually occur, the guys over at Mondo have been doing a great job of putting out classic Konami soundtracks on vinyl lately. I’m hoping that means that we’re not that far off seeing releases of the first few Metal Gear Solid soundtracks, which are absolute bangers.”

Sound advice

Turntables. Arms. Needles. Amplifiers. Speakers. Large shelves. Tolerant housemates. Vinyl is a hobby that can require a pretty little mound of technology, time and space to enjoy. Our collectors have a few sage tips for those just starting out.

Jeremy LaMont offers some zen advice to get started: “Get a turntable that fits your budget and hook it up to your home theater if you have one. Play the records only when the mood strikes you, but listen to the digital versions primarily. Props to record labels that include digital Bandcamp vouchers in their vinyl releases!”

Anthony Agnello adds: “The basic rule is: don't worry about getting the best gear at first. Go for what's the most reliable. Get a turntable with a built-in preamplifier and go from there.”

Michael McCartney points out that perspective is important: “Think about how much time you will be investing into listening to records — is your budget proportional to that investment? Vinyl is no cheap game so start simple.”

Paul Watson warns against a particular approach: “I know that for people new to the format, it’s tempting to go for ‘completes’ [all-in-one turntable, amplifier and speakers], such as those gorgeous-looking briefcase players. They’re almost always absolute garbage from an acoustic standpoint though, and they’re not exactly cheap either.”

Blip Blop himself moderates a sizeable vinyl forum — you may have encountered the ever-helpful rpbtz on Reddit.com/r/vinyl or Reddit.com/r/VGMvinyl — so is well-practised at doling out advice: “I’d recommend to beginners that they look for used equipment on local classifieds (Craigslist, Gumtree, Kijiji, etc.) The amount and quality of stuff you can find varies a lot depending on your location, but often you can get better value for money with a little patience and diligent research on those sites.”

Blip Blop’s turntable set-up:

McCartney echoes this: “Look around at local flea markets or [the aforementioned] websites for secondhand equipment. Often you’ll find DJs looking to part with old equipment.”

Watson: “My first set-up was a Sony turntable from the 1970’s that I picked up from eBay; a generic £20 preamp from Amazon; and a pair of powered bookshelf speakers. For the money, it sounded rad! That was a great entry point.”

Blip Blop: “Alternatively, if you want to go for new turntables, I’d take a look at the following. There are other great and affordable turntables, so this isn’t a definitive list by any means:

  • The U-Turn Orbit (US-only, unfortunately),
  • the Audio Technica LP120 (much better than its little brother the LP60 and worth the extra money),
  • the Denon DP-300F (very nice fully automatic table),
  • or some of Pro-Ject’s cheaper models.

Watson: “Once you’ve got yourself a modest setup, you can upgrade each component as and when you can afford to. Nowadays, I’m rocking a decent Pro-ject turntable, a Cambridge Audio amplifier (a Gumtree find) and some colossal Techniks speakers that I found in a thrift store. None of it broke the bank, but I’m happy with what I’ve got — for now.”

For McCartney, taking care of your gear is paramount: “A good setup will last a lifetime if treated correctly.”

Blip Blop has dedicated a page of his website to getting people started with their setup and record collection, although he warns that the price suggestions on equipment haven’t been updated for a while.

VGM vinyl resources

There is no shortage of resources for VGM vinyl hunters.

Obviously we have plugged Blipblop.net throughout, but the chap really knows his stuff. He maintains a list of all the labels putting out game vinyl, including yours truly: Blipblop.net/current-vgm-labels

This list is mirrored on the subreddit already mentioned, which is itself a well-moderated place to find out about the latest releases: Reddit.com/r/VGMvinyl

At the time of writing, NeoGAF is in the midst of some controversy, with moderators and users leaving the site en masse — there is nonetheless a forum thread dedicated to VGM vinyl, BUT...

A similar thread has been set up at Resetera.com, which was recently set up by former NeoGAF’ers: Resetera.com/threads/game-soundtracks-on-vinyl-45rpm-all-new-cartridge.446

Paul Watson points out the vibrant Discord group (here is the invite link: Discord.gg/Gzsc64R): “It’s a great place to shoot the breeze. The guys there never miss a release, too — so if you hang out there regularly, you won’t miss out on anything good.” In case that link doesn’t work, try this one: Discord.gg/aKpZJCt

There are the big databases:

  • Discogs.com for record releases (vinyl, CD etc.),
  • and VGMDB.net is dedicated to game soundtrack (and other related) releases.

Michael McCartney comments: “VGMDB was a good starting point for me. It has many customisable search options to find soundtracks on vinyl, cassettes too if that’s your thing. Discogs is great, but the odd time you’ll find a gem on VGMDB’s marketplace.”

Blip Blop backs this up: “I’ve found VGMDB to be a fantastic resource with a very knowledgeable community. If people familiarise themselves with their advanced search features and forums you can learn about almost any game music release you can think of.”

Anthony Agnello chips in: “People should also check out CDJapan.co.jp — it’s a very reliable way to order imports.”

Jeremy LaMont adds: “I've subscribed to TheReginaldProgram on YouTube, which is essentially a collection of line-in recordings of a very good quantity and variety of VGM vinyl.

“Part of the idea of our podcast Video Game Grooves was originally to use line-in recordings straight from the record, flaws and all. I quickly found out that my setup wasn’t sufficient to support this, but I can still listen to TheReginaldProgram's playlists and videos, and even links to art and other pack-ins. Recommended!”

On cue, co-host Agnello enters plugging mode: “Ah, Video Game Grooves — that lovely podcast is a fount of information for collectors and it's mildly entertaining to boot."


The Video Game Grooves podcast covers all things VGM vinyl – www.videogamegrooves.com | Twitter: @vg_grooVes | iTunes feed

It is co-hosted by Jeremy LaMont (Twitter: @Jeremy_LaMont), who also runs the the Game Bytes podcast – www.gamebytesshow.com | Twitter: @gamebytesshow

It's also co-hosted by Anthony John Agnello (Twitter: @ajohnagnello), Head of Social Media at VentureBeat; Anthony also appears on the GamesBeat Decides podcasts – iTunes feed

It's also also co-hosted by Paul Watson (Twitter: @walnutsoap), Senior Account Manager at Gamer Network and executive at Gamer’s Edition – www.gamersedition.com | Twitter: @Gamers_Edition | Facebook.com/GetGamersEdition

Frederik Lauridsen AKA Blip Blop AKA rpbtz blogs about VGM vinyl – www.blipblop.net | Twitter: @blipblopwax

Michael McCartney runs the Games on Wax Twitter feed – @VGMVinyl

This article is part of a blog series: “Why we ♥ video game music”:

– ‘Nostalgia

– ‘The background soundtrack to our lives

– 'The feels'