I’ve been wanting a turntable for a while now.. since I was still living in Italy.
Then I moved to Portland and as you can know from the TV show Portlandia, here we grow our own vegetables, we are into pickling, cutting own hair, homebrewing… so it is definitely the type of place where to find and play old records.
So why to go back to old radios and vinyl records when you can buy a new stereo with a cd player?
First of all because they are cool and legendary pieces of electronics: Marantz, Sansui, Pioneer, Yamaha, Kenwood, Harman Kardon and all those brands were really active in the 70′s and built amazing audiophile components. They usually featured a silver frontplate with knobs and lots of buttons. Big pushbuttons. The most common are the so-called stereo receivers: they have a radio tuner with a big backlighted dial display with a pointer. Old school.
And they sound great. They are something between tube amps and modern electronics. They have the rich warm sound of the 70′s. So put a candle on top of it, light a joint and put some Janis on the turntable!
Records are amazing. They sound better than cds. I’ll repeat: they sound better than cds. A cd just sounds cleaner, too clean, in the no-pops kind of clean. But a cd is a digital media, so all the music information is stored as a data (a lot of zeros and ones) in a representation of the sound. Imagine to draw a curved line as a sum of little lines. You can go close to the curve, but you will never get the same. Anagogic source, like a turntable, does that by nature. So records on vinyl are more dense, more deep, more powerful, especially if you listen to the ones produced in the 70′s.
Then there are the speakers that you can find for cheap.. while being comparable performance-wise as really expensive equipment that you can find in the stores today. It was the time when speakers were designed by people. No computers, just people, like Henry Kloss for example. And they were built by hand, like the amazing Rectilinear loudspeakers manufactured in Bronx, NY.
I started collecting items trying to recreate the stereo system that my dad had when we were kids. We used to sit on the floor in front of this thing with massive speakers and listen to tunes all together. Now I see kids sitting on the couch, with ipods and earphones, completely isolated skipping from one track to the other.
Get yourself a piece of great equipment and enjoy it.