You might already have a vast record collection at home, or perhaps a long wish list you’re expanding every year with new titles to add to your physical music library. Regardless of your taste in music, there are albums that an audiophile should own simply because they sound better in an analog medium.
If you’re looking for inspiration to expand your vinyl collection with classics across all genres and eras, here’s a list of albums that, in my opinion, every collector should have.
About the author
How I chose the albums for this list?
I based my selection on the unique sonic characteristics of these works when reproduced on vinyl, as well as the album’s impact on music history.
As you can imagine, these lists are often highly subjective. After all, aren’t the best albums to own on vinyl the ones we love the most, regardless of their success? Anyway, if there’s any other album worth mentioning, let me know in the comments below!
These are the best records and albums to own on vinyl:
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
- Burial – Untrue
- Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon
- The Beatles – Abbey Road
- Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async
- Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
- Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
- Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
- Radiohead – Kid A
- Pearl Jam – Ten
- David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
- Nick Drake – Pink Moon
- Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
- Genres: EDM, funk
- Length: 74:39
- Release date: May 17, 2013
A celebration of the iconic vibes of 70s disco, blended with funk, French touch, and a retro vibe that permeates the whole album, Random Access Memories is an album that became iconic the moment it was released.
Gathering together legendary producers across music generations, from Moroder to Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk’s final album should be experienced on vinyl simply because it’s a summary of 50 years of music, encapsulated in carefully-crafted compositions that feel simultaneously timeless and fresh.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Burial – Untrue
- Genre: EDM
- Length: 39:44
- Release date: November 5, 2007
To me, this is the best electronic album of the 21st century so far, and vinyl is the format that, more than any other, can intensify the power of this masterpiece.
Untrue is a sonic representation of dark, haunting landscapes: a perfect mix of dubstep and ambient textures that bring to life a post-everything dystopian world, where broken codes have souls and can be seen roaming abandoned cities at night.
On vinyl, the connection between sound samples, engaging beats, and ambient soundscapes is magnified, revealing the beauty of this timeless electronic classic in all its majesty.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of The Moon
- Genre: Rock
- Length: 42:50
- Release date: March 1, 1973
There’s nothing I can say that’s already been said about this album. After 50 years, The Dark Side of The Moon is still an album that should be on every bookshelf: a seminal, unforgettable work that defined generations of artists and successfully blended and transcended genres.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
The Beatles – Abbey Road
- Genre: Rock
- Length: 47:03
- Release date: September 26, 1969
A triumph of cutting-edge audio production and relentless creativity made this album a masterpiece. The quality of Abbey Road was recently enhanced even further by the new 50th-anniversary mix, giving more presence to the rhythmic section and giving the songs more punch.
Regardless of the version of the record you can grab, Abbey Road is a milestone in rock music that sounds fresh and captivating even after 54 years.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async
- Genre: Ambient music
- Length: 60:31
- Release date: March 29, 2017
I can’t hide Sakamoto’s death hit me hard. He was an exceptional composer, one among a handful of artists who could truly express the unpredictability and impermanence of human life.
Async, with its field recordings, analog synths, voice-overs, and evocative ambient textures, offers an immersive sonic experience that mesmerizes the listener: a poignant depiction of life’s fragility through melodies and sounds.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
- Genre: Jazz
- Length: 45:44
- Release date: August 17, 1959
If you want to test your turntable sound system’s ability to reproduce transients and detailed sound textures, Kind of Blue is the album for you. Davis’ masterpiece is an ever-changing work that evolves gradually, merging silence and carefully-crafted melodies into immersive compositions.
It’s one of those albums that changes depending on your mood, and the vinyl version offers a richness and depth no digital version can convey.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
- Genre: Rock
- Length: 65:02
- Release date: March 8, 1994
Eclectic, dark, and deep, The Downward Spiral is an abrasive album that combines industrial rock, techno, ambient and pure noise to create a tale of self-destruction, ending with the ethereal “Hurt,” the conceptual final step of a sensitive mind before oblivion.
On vinyl, the true nature of The Downward Spiral reveals itself: the impermanence of the medium magnifies the evanescence of human life described in the album.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
- Genre: Rock
- Length: 39:28
- Release date: June 15, 1979
You can hear the echo of Unknown Pleasures in hundreds, maybe thousands of albums that have been recorded since 1979. A turning point in rock music, Joy Division’s first album feels emotional and powerful, which paved the way for a more intimate approach to rock, contrasting the flashy and excessive vibe that defined the genre in the 70s.
The iconic bootleg cover of Unknown Pleasures, featuring the data signals from a radio pulsar, is an enchanting image that perfectly describes the beauty and breadth of this masterpiece.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Radiohead – Kid A
- Genres: Electronic, Rock
- Length: 49:56
- Release date: October 2, 2000
Haunting and atmospheric since the first track, Radiohead’s fourth album is as enigmatic as it’s evocative. A successful blend of genres, poetic brilliance, and an avant-garde approach to music composition brings to life a work that shines even more on vinyl, with subtle acoustic details and electronic textures further enhanced by the analog medium.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Pearl Jam – Ten
- Genre: Rock
- Length: 53:20
- Release date: August 27, 1991
If you want to experience the power of rock music in all its majesty, Ten on vinyl is unmissable. Aside from Eddie Vedder’s powerful yet emotional performance, all musical instruments in Ten feel meticulously balanced, creating a galvanizing and raw performance that exudes grunge energy.
You can listen to Pearl Jam’s first album a hundred times, and it’ll sound different every time, simply because no instrument is clearly under the spotlight: rhythmic section, vocals, and guitars blend together to create a wall of sound that’s impossible to forget.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
- Genre: Rock
- Length: 38:29
- Release date: June 16, 1972
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and is one of the best-selling records of all time, and for the right reasons: it’s ambitious, poignant, and unforgettable. Exploring themes such as alienation and inner demons, Bowie’s album had a huge cultural impact and paved the way to glam rock.
If you can, get a copy of the 2012 remastered version, released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this groundbreaking work.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
- Genres: Rock, Folk
- Length: 28:22
- Released: 1972
A solitary songwriter who became legendary after his death, Nick Drake was an artist ahead of his time. Pink Moon, his final album and released two years before his death at 26, is an intimate collection of acoustic songs with a minimal structure, depicting the loneliness and depression that marked the artist’s life.
I own a $25 copy of this record, and so does my father. It’s a precious gem that deserves to be reproduced through its original medium. Once, in a record shop in Northern Italy, I saw a first-press copy of the album for sale for $3000.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
- Genres: Funk, Soul
- Length: 34:56
- Released: 2006
Amy Winehouse was one of a kind, and her second album should be in every collection for the ambition, intimate lyrics, and timeless vibe that defines it. Winehouse’s songwriting and Ronson’s production are both extraordinary and together brought to life an album that inspired a generation of artists that followed.
The carefully-crafted blend of soul, R&B, and pop with heartfelt songwriting is better served on vinyl, which further magnifies the lasting energy of this 21st century classic.Purchase this album on vinyl at: AmazonDiscogs
The physicality of vinyl strengthens the bond we have with the music that’s stored within it. Unbounded by the physical constraints of CDs, cassettes, and vinyl, music can now roam freely in the aether, accessible anytime and anywhere through dozens of devices.
However, records today are not considered a vestige from a bygone past, but a reminder of a time when the scarcity of music made it special. Sacred, even.
Behind the vinyl resurgence we’ve experienced over the last 20 years, there’s a simple concept: even if music is omnipresent, we can still connect with the songs we love on a deeper level, and create a multi-sensorial experience that enhances the art, and elevates our soul.