Saturday, July 18, 2015

Vinyl Adventures in Super Mid-Fi

After probably 2 decades of incapacity, I am once again able to play record albums.  This is no small development for someone of my penchant for music.  We are now GO for vinyl in the OnceWereBachelorPad.  My new favorite saying is, "Come on over and let's listen to records!"

Billy Idol's Rebel Yell Spinning, Black Flag's Jealous Again On Deck
For years, I had been browsing Craigslist for a used system, but I couldn't find one complete that didn't smack of too much digitalia or oversensurroundsound.  No thanks.  Two channels, maybe a bank of levels.  Blue lights.  Finally, after driving Bill's MG, I also acquired his stereo receiver and awesome Bose 302 "bookshelf" speakers.  All I needed was a turntable, and for that I finally bit the bullet and simply ordered a basic one online, as well as a separate phono preamp.  If you're at all similarly inclined, stay away from the cheap self contained units that you find everywhere.  They're no better than the crappy plastic players we used to have as kids in the 70s, from Sears or worse.

I tell you all this not because I am a techie audiophile.  Lord no.  My music hardly calls for the highest fidelity.  With records, the journey's the thing, I think.  Besides putting the stereo components together, consider the act of accumulating record albums.  I've already waxed lyrical about sifting through album stacks at Tower Records.  Bringing out my old collection, which I've gathered since I was about 14 years old, the activity is downright autobiographical.  And now that I am again vinyl ready, I get to return to used record shops?  That's just a bonus to having the stereo.

Eames Fiberglass Shell Chair and Record Player
And what of the act of listening to record albums?  With CDs or iTunes or Pandora or Spotify, the experience is disposable.  One can skip past songs, assemble playlists, impose your own aesthetic on the artists whose songs you've downloaded.  It's also portable, in that one often does other things -- walk their dog, work out, read their email -- while listening to their iPod.  Those are not bad capabilities

Music Listening Space
by any means, but consider the alternative.  One occupies the same space as their stereo.  One has to set aside time to listen to the entire record because it isn't as easy to skip songs on an album.  Also, you'll have to listen to the songs in the order that the artist put them in on the record.  Do you think they put thought into that order?  I should think so.  And if you're going to listen to one record, you might as well listen to a bunch of them.  And what do you do while listening?  Maybe you could still clear your email, but just as likely, you could sit down, in your music listening space, and turn your attention to the cool stuff that came with the record album, the lyric sheet, the booklet.  Heck, even the picture on the album cover is reproduced in a stately, full size that lends itself to hours of scrutiny.  Don't think that it only holds the attention of teenagers.  It's happened to me since I got my stereo.  And I haven't been a teenager for decades.

5 LPs of Bruce Springsteen Live, and Collectible Booklet With Lyric Sheet 

Cheap Trick's In Color

Back Cover of Cheap Trick's In Color

Inside Foldout to Cheap Trick's In Color

This Calls For Super Mid Fi


M.Lane said...

Another great pal of mine just got a turntable too. But like me he had no library of records to play so he just had to start buying them. We had a martini and record night a couple of weeks ago and I have to tell you pally, "One For My Baby" never sounded so great.

Well played. Enjoy.


Ben said...

Yes, a night of martinis and Dean Martin is on the agenda.

Linda said...

It's funny how technology changes so quickly, and even when 'they' said that the sound was better on the higher tech CDs, etc., now they are saying that the best sound comes from the old vinyls. I thought so all the long. :)