The Vinyl, It Is Back!

After much fiddling around with a mixture of stereo equipment best described as “ancient-to-nearly-ancient”, I was finally able to get some sound out of the speakers this morning. You have no idea how happy I was. The only new component is a phono preamp I got a few months ago; everything else is at least 6-10 years old.

To celebrate, I played some of my old 45’s, which had been collecting dust for years. “Red Rubber Ball” by the Cyrkle was first. I’ve loved that song ever since I was a little kid, hearing it from a 45 that belonged to one of my aunts or uncles. So I bought my own copy later, in my early 20s.

I played a bunch more (order is approximate):

  • “When Will I See You Again” – The Three Degrees
  • “If You Love Me Let Me Know” – Olivia Newton John
  • “Oh, Happy Day” – Edwin Hawkins Singers
  • “Me and Mrs. Jones” – Billy Paul
  • “Tighter, Tighter” – Alive ‘N Kickin’
  • “Right Back Where We Started From” – Maxine Nightingale
  • “Windy” – The Association
  • “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – Robert John
  • “Rock The Boat” – The Hues Corporation
  • “I Only Want To Be With You” – Dusty Springfield

They all sounded great. Room filling sound, bass you could feel in your gut.  Presence.

IPod, schmiPod!

And they sounded great for another reason, too: I love this stuff. It makes me happy. And for far, far too long, I’ve kept my records (albums and 45s) and tapes in storage, trying to just use CDs for my music collection. You know, the well-known “CDs are more convenient; albums are a pain to handle and take up too much room” canard.

Well, maybe, sometimes. But if you’re like me, and you have a bunch of music on album and 45 that you never replaced in CD format — because, I don’t know, maybe you are not made of money? — then to make that switch completely is to say goodbye to a part of your past.

And if it is a part of your past that you loved, then this is really not a good deal for you.

This, I have learned.

So now I’ll be trotting out some old albums from the basement, like “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison, and a few Delbert McClinton albums, and various Motown pieces, and “Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East”, and Magic Sam, and Al Green, and Nick Lowe, and if I still have it, Ted Nugent’s first solo album.

And I’ll be playing this on the simplest rig possible: a phono preamp, hooked directly to a power amp, feeding a subwoofer and two speakers. Fortunately, the phono preamp I bought from phonopreamps.com (thanks to CG Hill for the recommendation) has a volume control, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to hook it up directly to the power amp without destroying my ears, speakers, family relationships, and house, in that approximate order. It also has an extra “aux” input so I can hook up my cassette deck too.

So, I’m really jazzed about all this. Music used to be a huge piece of my life, and I guess I thought I was shedding youthful ways and becoming a “grown up” who doesn’t have time to feed my own soul. Smart.

There remains work to be done: my other “real” preamp needs fixed, or maybe it isn’t worth the money, so that issue needs sorting out. Plus, I have a grand plan to put sound in the kitchen, the living room, and the upstairs bedroom, which will require some cash and some forethought on the best way to do it. I’m thinking it makes the most sense to “go big or go home” here, and hire somebody to install speakers in the walls and provide some speaker switching and some input sources so I can hook up a receiver/amp, or an iPod, or even (someday) a music server in any or all of the rooms to pipe this joyful sound to all corners of the house. If that ends up being too expensive, I’ll just buy speakers myself, attach them to walls where necessary, and drill holes and route wires where I need to.

But those are details for another day. I think I’ll go in the basement and browse through my albums, now. ;^)

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