Vinyl has made a comeback. This has been going on for a few years now. At first it seemed a short lived fad to me, but I have to concede that there is more life to the vinyl beast than I initially thought. As a matter of fact, i joined the old school music medium train.
It took a little while, partly because I couldn’t be bothered and also because I did not have the gear to play records any more. I did still have my old record player (an Akai AP-D210) from the mid 1980’s but I did not own an amplifier that had a phono input. That has changed. My parents bought a new receiver because the radio section of their old Harman/Kardon HK 3270 RDS packed up. Knowing that from a very young age I usually find a use for anything with a power chord on it, they asked me if I would like to have it. As the amplifier part of the Harman/Kardon was still in working order I wholeheartedly said “Yes, please!”
So from our own attic and my parents place I now have a scrounged together hi-fi system consisting of the Akai turntable, the Harman/Kardon amp and a set of Tannoy Mercury MX1 bookshelf speakers. Through an M-Audio MobilePre audio interface (DAC/ADC; a component of my home studio) I can feed my digital music library to the amp. This is in no way a truly high end system. But it is the best that I can afford now. I bought a new stylus for the turntable (an Excel ES70EX stylus for the Excel ES70 cartridge), and a bottle of demineralised water to clean my vinyl with. That’s as much as I am able to spend at the moment.
And I love the hi-fi system I have now. It cost me next to nothing, the sound is good but I know its shortcomings. As an audio engineer I have trained my ears to listen ‘into the sound’ of an audio system. My training enables me to listen very analytically. So I know where I can improve the sound over time. I already made a huge difference by simple changing the loudspeaker placement. And by stages I will improve this system. Therein lies the joy of the hi-fi hobby. A hobby that started when I was 14 or 15 and endures to this day.
That’s where the vinyl comes in. When I was 14 or 15, vinyl and tape (both cassette and reel-to-reel) were the only sources for music that I had. They were finite sources. The amount of records and tapes constituted my music collection. I learned all my records and tapes by heart. Knew every note, every sound and yes, every imperfection. Be it scratches on records or drop-outs on tapes, I knew them. The imperfections, the finite nature of the music library, that is what I like about going back to vinyl. I admit: it’s pure nostalgia. There is also an element, a large element of relaxation involved. It’s a moment of peace in a hectic world. The record spins, I listen. I learn to appreciate music again as a conceptual piece of media. A whole that is bounded by approximately 20 minutes per side. I can look at the artwork, enjoy the music and interact with the medium physically. Indeed I have to if I want to hear the whole thing, Side B does not get played all by itself after all. In short I love the return of vinyl and I love the fact that the hi-fi hobby has returned in my life.