Friday, April 18, 2014

In Other News...

Recently I've been dabbling in audio/visual technology, in hopes of getting into the industry a bit. Although both sides were extremely fascinating, I definitely was more partial to the audio section, for fairly obvious reasons. Audio technology is really the "man behind the curtain" that makes music appreciation even possible, so I totally geek-ed out learning about the science and equipment involved...

Yes. I modified it a bit. Otherwise it was the most boring certificate ever.
As a way to celebrate learning all the things and becoming a A/V tech (in theory), my reward was buying the stuff for my first turntable set-up. Growing up my parents had a small but sacred collection of records that for the most part went un-played. I was always intrigued, at least mildly so, but even I didn't find use for them with the ease of acquiring a digital collection instead. And in my generation, digital is always better, right? (Haaaaa.) Truthfully, I wouldn't have decided on this present-to-myself if a friend hadn't giving my husband and I a copy of The Smith's Louder than Bombs on vinyl. It was so wonderful of a gift that I just had to get the gear to play it!

Anyway, I did my research and ordered the equipment. When it arrived I was freakin' excited! I had a bit of trouble with the cabling involved -- after reading such mega-technical details about the equipment, to find that Amazon just lists the bare minimum on facts was super annoying -- but we got it to work anyway! (Yes, I had to enlist the help of the husband, but I did pretty good for being such a rookie!)

I've got to say I highly recommend the set-up I picked out! I know most audiophiles declare that a set-up doesn't qualify as "good"-- even for beginners-- until you've spent at least $300. But I call bullshit snobbery on that; all together I spent about half that and it sounds amazing. If you wanted to go the route of a lot of people and get a Crosley system, you could do that for even less -- you know the ones, the little suitcase looking things they sell at Target, Hipsters R Us, and the like. I've heard they aren't bad, but I didn't want the built-in speakers, and wanted the option to update parts as I got more familiar with it all.

The Equipment:
Audio Technica -- AT-LP60
Pyle Home PCA1 30-Watt Stereo Mini Power Amplifier
Pyle Home PCB3BK 3-inch 100-Watt Mini Cube Bookshelf Speaker

Those speakers sound flippin' amazing by the way. Sure they came in partly rusted and there was a suspicious rattle in one them too, but really for what little I paid, I don't care!

Not a great picture, I know. [Insert lame excuses here.]
It's been awesome building up our collection of records. Louder than Bombs wasn't my favorite Smith's album previously, but now I could listen to it all damn day. For the most part, the people in the few record shops in town have been super friendly, and we've found some great deals. (I can't believe I managed a copy of Led Zeppelin II for $2 because it had a beat-to-shit cover. The record was scratched a bit, but I think we can clean it up and it'll look as good as new and it still sounds fantastic). I gotta say, I didn't think analog would make that much of a difference, but it really does. You lose more than you think with the lossy file formats, like MP3s. And I love how intentional it is to listen to a record. I'm someone who has music playing pretty much all the time, but I don't really tune it out. I'm the annoying kid in a noisy bar that freaks out about a song playing when no one else can hear it. It's awkward. But anyway, I love that when I put on a record, I can just sit and enjoy it, without feeling like I should be doing something else. I am doing something, I'm listening to music.

If you've ever been intrigued by vinyl, or want to revisit it, I highly recommend that now is the time. I know a lot of people are bitching about the resurgence compromising the "original" fans' efforts of collecting, since their is more demand prices have admittedly gone up on a lot of albums; but I think they are ignoring the fact that access too has increased. Also, this Saturday is Record Store Day, where some shops will have special releases and festivities for shoppers. What fun!

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