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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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GIGO – Trying to Make Digital Music… Sound Like Music.

Interesting article in Popsci – a Tube amp for your IPOD…

Trying to fix the truly crappy sound coming from digital devices with an analog band aid.

Garbage in… Garbage Out.

May be why the fastest growing segment of the Music sale industry is again…

Vinyl.

Popsci's IPOD Tube Amp

How to Build a Sweet-Sounding Tube-Amp iPod Dock

Half a century ago, vacuum tubes were very common in audio amplifiers. A small voltage applied to the grid of a vacuum tube controls a relatively large current that drives the electromagnet in a speaker, creating movement and thereby sound. Modern solid-state amps are superior in cost, size and reliability, but many people still prefer the warm sound and mesmerizing orange-yellow glow of a tube amp.
Fortunately, there’s a way to combine the distinct sound and look of tubes with the utility of an iPod dock. I’ve seen a few commercial and DIY tube-amp docks, but they’re expensive, uninspired or both. So I’ve come up with a version that anyone can build for about $400.
It uses a number of off-the-shelf components, including the dock itself and an easy-to-assemble tube-amp kit for the heart of the system. I used the 16LS kit from s5electronics.com, but there are many options depending on how much money you want to spend and how loud you want the amp to be. I built my dock into an aluminum enclosure from Hammond Manufacturing. You can replicate mine or design your own.
Once you’ve made those choices, the most time-consuming part of the project is putting holes in the enclosure and mounting the components. Add a set of speakers, and you’ll have a functional and cool-looking amp you can control with a remote. It isn’t outrageously loud, but it will easily fill a living room with fantastic sound.

Anybody know where I can get the license to the defunct Heathkit or Dynaco products and name for a new retail store line?

The Grandaddy of Home Built, a Dynaco ST-70 Amp

Yeah… You don’t want that Pumpkin again…

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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