I love music. For as long as I can remember, it's been an integral part of my life. It started with my fathers love of soul/r&b/dance music of the 1960s. Back in the day, he was quite the dancer, and when I was growing up, we always had some jam going in the house. True, much of it was simply the pop stuff that was on the radio when he was a young teenager, but it really meant something to him. That really stuck with me. When I was about 15, he gave me an old Masterworks British turntable that belonged to him when he was in college. It was a spindle player, the kind you could stack records on, sort of an analog precursor to the (now obsolete) multi-disc changer. It remains to this day one of the best gifts I ever received. That same year, I became stricken with a severe case of Beatlemania, which is a little weird, I guess, since I was 14 in 1990. As luck would have it, at the time there was a truly fantastic record store near my house called Disc Diggers. I managed over the course of a few years to collect a complete collection of Beatles first pressings, few of them costing me more that a few dollars. In the years that followed, I learned to play the drums, by listening to Beatles records on that very record player in the attic while I banged along. I've played in loads of bands, and was lucky enought to tour Europe once upon a time. These days life is much less Rock 'n Roll, but that doesn't change my love of music. That record player is long gone, and so is Disc Diggers, and I'm hardly likely to tour the small club circuit again, but the damage had been done.
One thing I will never lose is my habit of collecting music, and my absolute insistence of the vinyl record as the only real viable method of reproduction, preferably of course if the music was committed to magnetic tape using cardioid microphones in a big, open room. Here we see the current collection as it stands today. As with clothing, my tastes shift a bit now and then, and I try to pare things down occasionally. But there are plenty of records in there that I've owned for 20 years, that were already 30 years old when I discovered them. I realize that for many people today, the idea of a music library taking up a big part of the house seems inconceivable, when all those songs plus ten times as many can fit into a device in your pocket. But for me there's more to it than that. This is an honest to God music library, a fine collection I have spent my entire life building, a living thing that continues to grow. I could never feel the same about an expanding collection of MP3s. It's simply not the same. Non-audiophiles don't get that, which I understand completely. But vinyl junkies feel this on a level that is inexplicable to outsiders. But that won't stop me from at least attempting to explain it.
o-Ject turntable.In the last year that Mrs. G. and I could actually afford to buy nice gifts for each other for Christmas, I was stunned to receive this. That Christmas day, I spent two hours calibrating it, which of course I loved. In order to switch speeds from 33rpm to 45 rpm, you have to remove the platter and switch the drive belt to a larger wheel on the motor. Just my kind of pain-in-the-ass. The first record I played on it was "Ride This Train" by Johnny Cash, a record worthy someday of its own post. I won't lie, when I heard how beautiful my new machine made this old record sound, my eyes welled up. Really, they did. I told you, music has always been very meaningful to me.
The old Model Six speakers were a masterpiece. Check that high frequency toggle switch at the back. Ipods would be so much better if they had toggle switches.
Out in the other room, we run a pair of late 70s vintage Jensens. These are actually a recent acquisition, picked up at a local thrift, $30 for the pair, less than a year ago. Convenience be damned, a stereo should be a collection of pieces of furniture. Think of how much space amps and drum kit take up, not to mention an orchestra or a jazz outfit with an upright bass and a piano. There's no way you can boil all that down to an Ipod, not really.
I said earlier that music had a physical nature. Remember, I am a drummer. When people make music, it happens physically. Bang the drum, pound the piano, lay into the violin, or just milk the feedback out of those hot vacuum tubes. Thats where the guts in all this are. With records, there is a physical connection. You can actually touch the grooves, feel it with your hand. In order to play the songs, you have to take a big thing out of its cover, clean it, and lay the needle on it with a gentle touch. It's physical. It's true. It's real. Send that all out through some old wood, and the experience is second only to live performance. Ipods and MP3s will never even come close. The topic isn't really even open for discussion. I'm going to have to be hard*ss on this one. Analog recording, by way of vinyl, by way of wood, is incomparable. If you don't believe me or understand, find your way to a record player and listen to an old recording of the Budapest Quartet.
Feel free, of course, to voice your opinions. Just don't expect to budge me.