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Vinyl Records are Back – Sony to Make Vinyl Records in Japan

Digital music sucks. Lets face it, your Apple/Microsoft digital music is pretty bad if played on anything other than your phone or iPod equivalent. If you listen to anything that is not synthesized music, you are missing a healthy percentage of what is there. Don’t believe me? Listen to a digitally downloaded version of a Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, or Thelonious Monk compared to a Vinyl version on any decent system. Gosh! Half the music got lost in the translation.

Vinyl is the fastest growing segment (and only growing segment) of the Music distribution industry Which is why the Millennial Generation is making a fast track to buy up Turntables, old amplifiers (especially vacuum tube) and speakers capable of producing. Look at the prices of what used to be relegated to the Yard Sale table! Even modest quality turntables made by the venerable BSR are selling into the hundreds of dollars. Vacuum Tubes? Yeah, those 1930’s generation technology devices long ago replaced by the transistor in the 60’s are making a comeback because of the sound they are capable of producing. The price of a modest tube amp versus its original outperforms Uber stock. We won’t even discuss high end.

Maybe I’m an old timer – but I enjoyed record stores…except for the usual teen staff who thought somehow that playing music at ear shattering volume would somehow induce you to enjoy it.

There is a business lesson here. Not everything new is good, or an improvement. I see this in the technology markets. The rush to adopt the newest shiny technological bauble often overlooks the key rationale of why the previous technology did what it did. Technology alone doesn’t solve problems – what it does is just fail faster because of the same human problems the previous iteration did. The Internet of today is obviously a vast improvement over the technologies which came before it. However it brings with it a number of issues, such as poor security which the old networks didn’t have much of an issue with. Lot of focus on making it faster, or more far reaching – not much thinking on how do we construct a system which by its design solves the major issues. Lot of thinking inside the very small box.

Gosh…I’m going to need a “new” tube amp to replace the one I sold 10 years ago. Lucky for me I kept the old Turntable!

If you enjoy Jazz Music from the 50’s through the 70’s this is very important. Th Japanese bought up all the original Analog tapes they could of Jazz Musicians, to feed their local market of Jazz aficionados. This could well mean some of that may be available in the original Vinyl format again.

Sony Will Start Making Vinyl Records Again In Japan, After Nearly 30-Year Hiatus

Sony Music is preparing to make its own vinyl records again in Japan, in another sign that albums are back from the brink of being obsolete. The company says it’s installing record-cutting equipment and enlisting the help of older engineers who know how to reproduce the best sound.

Vinyl sales have seen a resurgence since around 2008. And while records are still a small part of the market, the fact that in 2016 “a format nearly a century old generated 3.6 percent of total global revenues is remarkable,” as NPR’s Andrew Flanagan has reported.

Years of double-digit growth in record sales have left vinyl press plants in the U.S., Japan, and elsewhere struggling to meet demand. Sony’s plan reportedly includes the possibility that it will press records on contract.

As the creator of the Walkman and a co-developer of the CD format, Sony helped to end the era of vinyl albums. And while sales of digital music have been hit in recent years by the popularity of streaming audio on Spotify, Pandora and other outlets, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper quotes Sony Music Japan’s CEO Michinori Mizuno saying that when it comes to vinyl, “A lot of young people buy songs that they hear and love on streaming services.”

Fans of vinyl cite the rich sound it provides; they also say album art and liner notes gives them a more tangible sense of connection to the music they love.

Here’s what a 28-year-old record store customer told NPR about the format’s appeal, back in 2014:

“The way I consumed music has been so instant and so immediate, especially with Spotify and online streaming services,” Veronica Martinez said. “I kind of just want to go back to the way I used to listen to it as a kid.”

Sony has already installed record-cutting equipment at a Tokyo studio; it will start pressing records again in the spring of 2018 — nearly three decades after it made its last in-house vinyl back in 1989.

“Cutting is a delicate process, with the quality of sound affected by the depth and angle of the grooves,” Nikkei reports, “and Sony is scrambling to bring in old record engineers to pass on their knowledge.”

With the move, Sony will make records that could be played on the new turntable it sent to market last year — although we’ll note that the player includes an audio converter and a USB outlet for converting songs into digital files.

At the end of 2016, sales of vinyl records outpaced digital music sales for the first time in the U.K., as The Guardian reported.

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Getting Into Vinyl Records and Bad Advice

Vinyl Records are the only growing segment of the audio industry. And driven by consumer desire for better sound quality, that market is growing by 200-300% per year.

To put it simply, since the advent of CDs in the early 80’s, and digital music across the Internet, manufacturers and consumers have traded size and convenience for sound quality. To repair the damage, manufacturers further distorted the sound by emphasizing the bass and high end so the content sounded better on cheap small speakers and headphones.Sans Auto-Tune and lip-syncing – there quite simply no physical way that the sound coming out of your little Bluetooth Speakers or iTunes is in the same universe as a live performance.Worse, something on the order of 25-35% of the dynamic range (lowest bass to highest tinkle) is lost in translation.

Vinyl Albums record everything from a frequency of about 16 Hz (Lowest Bass) to 24,000 Hz (Higher than anything except your dog or cat an hear). Despite the numerous scurrilous claims, none of the little portable wireless speakers will produce much beyond 300 Hz to about 16,000 Hz. What manufacturers do is amplify the 300 Hz as high as physically possible so the devices don’t sound like something out of a tin can. Something like an electronic “SubWoofer”.

Subwoofers were originally invented to cover up for the deficiencies of tiny speakers.

And that crap level sound is even at the $250-1,000 price range for modern tiny speakers. You simply can’t beat the laws of physics. In the case of speakers, bigger, at least to a certain extent is better. However, you don’t need refrigerator sized speakers for audiophile level sound.

However, to truly enjoy Vinyl, if your goal is better sound quality – you need speakers which can reproduce the sound, which fortunately can be had used.

If you want to start in Vinyl, then your first decision is to buy a Turntable. Because of rising demand, the prices on used high level Turntables are skyrocketing – however, there are a plethora of medium level turntables from companies like BSR, Technics, Audio-Technica, Teac, and Pioneer which often can be found at Garage sales.Stay away from anything marketed or labelled as a “DJ” turntable as those usually are beat to hell. Stay away from almost any of the new low end product, such as ION or Pyle as they are junk. If you are interested, this site offers used equipment from the very modest ($100-200) to the esoteric – although it leans towards audiophiles. Paying over $500.00 for a Turntable doesn’t necessarily mean you can hear the difference – you should be able to get a very good used table in the $100-200 range as a beginner.

Ditto with speakers. The only problem with garage sale speakers is that the speakers themselves may be in bad condition. Speakers generally are made of paper, and as they get older the paper can rip or disintegrate. So it is important to take the front cover off and inspect the speakers themselves (the round things inside) to make sure the paper cone is still intact and not crumbling. Decent affordable speakers can be had from any of the Amplifier names I mention below, as well as dedicated manufacturers like Polk, JBL, and Boston Acoustics.

Amplifiers are the last and least important piece in terms of sound quality. The key here is to stay away from “Theater” or Home Surround” amps and get a true Stereo (2 channel) receiver or amplifier. There are lots of good choices, including Pioneer, Sansui, Harmon Kardon, Marantz, Technics, Onkyo, and to a lesser degree Kenwood. A Receiver has all the necessary parts to immediately play, including a AM/FM radio and connections for CDs,Turntables (make sure it says “Turntable” on the front selector switch!), and Tape decks. An Amplifier is just that, it usually requires a “Pre-Amp”, unless it is an “Integrated Amplifier” which has the Pre-Amp built in. For a home unit, you really don’t need much above 35 Watts output power, and 1980’s vintage units usually are the best. You probably don’t want to drop the money for a “Tube” Amp (yet), no matter how sweet the sound is. As a (very) general rule of thumb, the heavier a speaker is in the low and mid-range market – the better it is. If your 2-3 year old can pick it up…It’s junk.

With that and a few feet of double stranded wire (ask for 16 Gage) you are ready to go!

The following article purports to be good advice to the neophyte Vinyl fan. Some of the advice in this article is bad advice.

As for that (mostly) Bad advice?

How to Get Started With Vinyl Records

So you want to start spinning records in your living room. Here’s a collection of the advice I’ve given n00bs just like you over the last couple of years. Getting started can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Here’s how to get going.

What you need

Audiophiles and nerds will say you need fancy shit to listen to records, but basically any turntable from a reputable manufacturer is going to play just fine for the casual listener. If you let audiophile assholes tell you what to buy you’ll end up with a pricey turntable that takes specialized cartridges, and allows all manner of customizability blah, blah, blah. In the future, when you have amassed a massive vinyl collection and developed an ear for “good sound,” you can upgrade your setup.

First of all, what is the difference between a record player and a turntable? Today there is none. Technically, the record player is the whole machine and the turntable is the actual part with the platter that turns. The terms are functionally interchangeable.

The one thing I am going to insist on is a truly stereo setup. You may be a child of the smartphone, and you may have a little Bluetooth speaker somewhere in your house. It might even be a very good one that simulates some stereo effects using signal processing. It’s possible to connect a turntable to this speaker. Don’t do it.

If you’re going to listen to stereophonic recordings, you should listen to them in true stereo. Buy some damn speakers. (Some dolt is going to point out that many records back in the day were originally mixed for mono. Acknowledged.)

There are a couple of ways to go about setting up your new system. I’ll break them into two convenient categories: new shit and old shit….Read The Rest Here

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Death of an Era

The fastest growing segment of the music industry is recordings on Vinyl. Yeah, it is antique by today’s standards – but the audio quality far surpasses anything on the digital medias. Turntables and Tube Amps are back – big time, as Vinyl sales are rising at 50% a year.

So the death of this Chicago institution has more to do with merchandising than product. The costs of maintaining a brick and mortar retail outlet versus warehousing and distribution through the Internet. What will be interesting to see is whether the internet model will work in an industry where impulse buying is integral to sales. Last count, I had about 600 Albums in my personal collection. Fully half of those were “impulse buys” while looking for something else, where in thumbing through the bins I saw something such as a particular musician or group of musicians doing studio on the recording. Such “Liner Note” information is seldom provided on Internet sites – making searching for a “find” particularly vexing on the net.

Chicago is a bit smaller today.

Jazz Record Mart closes

The Jazz Record Mart, which long billed itself as “The World’s Largest Jazz and Blues Record Store,” closed its doors at 11:30 a.m. Monday, 10 minutes after a deal was completed to sell the business, according to manager/buyer Kent Richmond.

Wolfgang’s Vault – a Reno, Nev., operation that buys and sells music, film and other cultural items – has acquired the store’s inventory and the Jazz Record Mart name and web site.

“We had a lot of people knocking on the doors this morning,” said Richmond. “We did open at 10 and did a fair amount of business for the short time we were open.

“Once the deal was finalized, that’s when we had to close the doors.”

Also sold in the deal were “record bins, all the art work and everything,” said Richmond. The inventory will be shipped to Nevada…More

For you youngsters who have never been in one of these – this is what the Old Skool Record stores looked like. It is sort of like the difference between a Kindle and a real book.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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Sonic Happiness

Moved a while back, and had to seriously downsize. Amazing what you collect through the years!

One of the “victims” of that was my mega-stereo… There is just nowhere rational that a single guy is going to live that will fit refrigerator sized speakers…

Damn.

So out with the Klipshs went the Conrad Johnson amps, the backup Nakamichi Dragon…The rock-a-small-stadium subs…

It was PAINFUL!

Fortunately I figured out I could keep a few things…On my way to find a tall building to leap from.

With a collection of about 1500 albums…I kept one of the turntables. My venerable Denon 62L (Forget lugging the concrete base of the other table…Don’t ask…)

I sold the tube amp (bad move), but kept a couple of Luxmans (The ones before they got bought and trashed by crappy Alpine) and  capable of powering my Infinity Kappa 8s (Don’t try this with most of your modern amps, these puppies will eat them and spit them out as they need about 200 Watts each in reserve power to be happy).The good news is Luxman (and McIntosh and NY Moscode) is back after a reverse IPO into capable hands. Unfortunately, they appear to be trying to pay for the entire IPO off the the sale price of the first two amps…I’ll keep my old babies running, Thank You.

Somehow the needle on the turntable got broken in the move. Now a needle on these things can set you back the cost of an iPod…And if you get crazy – the cost of an iPad…128G (Don’t believe me?). I thought prices had gone down, until I went on one of the Audio forums and learned about $400,000 Stereo systems! Checked on ebay…And the prices were stunning. Found a reasonable deal on a modest unit, and finally got it installed as one of my projects for the weekend.

Proud that my mechanical ability hasn’t failed me yet in a autotune world, In honor of the shutdown, I thought I’d listen to a little “Old Skool” from the Poet/Prophet…

This was the breakout album for Gil Scott Heron. And the lyrics eerily reflect today, even though the events they speak of are of yesteryear…

From “Winter in America”

…The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain

And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save…

From “H20Gate Blues”

…How long will the citizens sit and wait?
It’s looking like Europe in ’38
Did they move to stop Hitler before it was too late? (no…)
How long. America before the consequences of
Keeping the school systems segregated
Allowing the press to be intimidated
Watching the price of everything soar
And hearing complaints ’cause the rich want more? (Alright!)
It seems that MacBeth, and not his lady, went mad
We’ve let him eliminate the whole middle class
The dollar’s the only thing we can’t inflate
While the poor go on without a new minimum wage…

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in American Genocide

 

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Antique Radio Collection – Man Saves America’s Audio Treasures

Check out his picture. As an admirer of industrial design from yesteryear, I have to say Mr. Goldin’s antique radio pushes the “kewl” factor right through the roof!

Not to mention his sucessful effort at saving some of the Nation’s audio treasures from thieves.

I hope the Police and Archives can recover those items which were sold.

J. David Goldin and his Antique Radio Collection

Amateur sleuth helps stop National Archives thefts

When J. David Goldin saw the recorded interview of baseball great Babe Ruth for sale on eBay he knew something was wrong. There was only one original record of that 1937 interview of Ruth on a hunting trip, and Goldin had donated it to a government archive more than 30 years ago. Now someone was auctioning it off, the winning bid just $34.75.

“I took one look at the record label and I said, `holy smokes, that’s my record,”‘ said the retired radio engineer.

From his home in Connecticut, filled with antique radios and tape reels, Goldin launched an amateur sleuthing effort that helped uncover a thief ripping off the country’s most important repository of historical records. The heist turned out to be an inside job. The culprit was the recently retired head of the video and sound branch of the National Archives and Records Administration — the government agency entrusted with preserving such documents as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Leslie Charles Waffen, a 40-year employee, has acknowledged stealing thousands of sound recordings from the archive, and prosecutors say more than 1,000 were sold on eBay. The thefts started as early as 2001, and the stolen recordings include items ranging from a recording of the 1948 World Series to an eyewitness report of the Hindenburg crash. Waffen was set to be sentenced Thursday by a judge in Maryland and will likely spend a year and a half in prison.

It was Goldin’s meticulous record-keeping and some sleuthing worthy of a modern-day detective drama, however, that brought Waffen to authorities’ attention and helped catch him.

The 69-year-old Goldin’s interest in radio began when he was a teenager. He taped his first broadcast at age 14 and studied radio production at New York University before working for CBS, NBC and other stations.

At the same time, he became passionate about preserving radio’s history. He started creating his own archive of sound recordings, in the early days storing records under the bed in his small apartment in the Bronx.

These days, Goldin has a computer catalog for sorting through his holdings, more than 100,000 programs in all. He paid to have the system custom designed for him in the 1980s and estimates he’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars obtaining and archiving broadcasts. Rows of neatly organized boxes of tape reels fill the basement of his Sandy Hook, Conn., home, which he shares with his wife Joyce, three dogs and 917 antique radios.

Now retired, he spends his days preserving recordings by transferring them from their original metal, glass and plastic records to tape. He cleans up the sound with a bank of equipment that takes up part of his living room and makes his catalog available on his website. He says he has enough uncataloged recordings to last the rest of his life.

Once Goldin has listened to and copied the recordings, however, he doesn’t need the original discs. That’s one of the reasons why he asked the National Archive in the 1970s if it wanted the originals, most of them radio broadcasts from the 1930s and 1940s. The archive said yes, and Goldin donated thousands of recordings ranging from political speeches and interviews to Congressional hearings. Then, he says, he mostly forgot about them.

In September 2010, however, he typed one of his routine searches for records into eBay and saw the Babe Ruth recording for sale.

Goldin wasn’t sure what was happening. He wrote to the National Archives. Were they getting rid of old material? If so, he wanted his records back. He got a call a few days later. No, the archive hadn’t sold anything. The record was missing, and it seemed likely it had been stolen.

Goldin, a meticulous record keeper, turned over the information he had, including documentation of his donation. He knew the eBay seller with the Ruth record was going by the name “hi-fi-gal” and lived in Rockville, Md.

Then Goldin did some detective work of his own. He ordered a different recording from “hi-fi-gal,” and when it arrived he traced the package’s return address. It came back as the home of Leslie Waffen, the man who had accepted Goldin’s donation to the Archives more than 30 years earlier.

“I was kind of puzzled at the beginning and then disappointed when I discovered it was Les Waffen,” said Goldin, who added the men hadn’t stayed in touch.

With that information and more, federal officials obtained a search warrant and raided Waffen’s home, carting away two truckloads of materials. Late last year, Waffen pleaded guilty to stealing government property. He and his lawyer have declined to talk to reporters.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in American Greed

 

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