Last February, my mother died. Her passing wasn’t unexpected -- she was 84 and not in good health. Still, it took me by surprise, and shook me up far more than I’d anticipated. The two years and more that I’d had to prepare myself didn’t mean squat. I’d thought I was ready, but -- there was no way to be ready for the death of my last remaining parent.
Last November, I accompanied Doug Schneider to the Warsaw Audio Video Show (read our coverage here). The AVS was wonderful -- a huge affair hosted by a city whose history goes back a thousand years. We found tons of new, exotic products, and the show -- and our coverage of it -- were raging successes.
When discussing a turntable, it’s common practice to lump together in that term every bit of gear that precedes the phono stage. The turntable includes the platter and the motor that spins it, and often the tonearm as well. Then there’s the cartridge, which is an honest-to-god system component all by itself. The internal tonearm cable is most often captured -- but unlike the old silver plastic record players of my youth, most modern turntables have some sort of junction to facilitate the connection of aftermarket interconnects. So add an interconnect to the list of components that make up this rigmarole. And I guess we can continue to add to this catalog -- let’s include any item that remains in contact with the turntable while the record is in play, OK?
This is my column, so I get to make the rules.
If you’re reading this column, there’s a good chance you identify as an audiophile. I’m with you -- I grudgingly apply that label to myself. But along with all the glory of having a smokin’ system on which to listen to music comes some baggage.
Welcome to the world of the analog LP. In case you weren’t aware, there’re whole catalogs full of stuff for record collectors that you never knew you needed. It’s the same in any hobby. Fishing, shooting, stamp collecting -- for any pastime you can shake a stick at, cool gear and bits and pieces abound. Companies throw accessories at it and hope some of them stick.
It’s embarrassing for me to admit this, but adversity builds character: This year will mark my first participation in Record Store Day. There. I said it. While the idea of dragging buyers back to bricks-and-mortar stores to buy records, find community, and actually look each other in the eye is, in every respect, a great idea, and one that should be championed by all fans of vinyl, with me the concept has fallen flat. I’ve never been fond of crowds, and this event always made me think I’d have to line up in hopes of getting any of those limited editions.
This morning, I polished my turntable with Speed Wax, from Tirox, which makes cleaning and maintenance products for motorcycles. Speed Wax smells like vanilla and, when buffed off with a microfiber cloth, leaves a wonderful, streak-free shine.
Yes, I polish my turntable. I’m proud of the thing. I smile at it. We understand each other.
It is with intense pleasure that I find myself writing this introduction to the inaugural installment of “For the Record,” a bimonthly column in which I’ll share with you my love of all things vinyl. I’m hoping that -- as a reader of the SoundStage! magazines -- you’re familiar with at least a few of my reviews. As of 2017, I’ve reviewed audio products for SoundStage! for 16 years, and the subjects of a good portion of those reviews have been analog products. And for 40 years now I’ve owned a turntable of some sort, and for nearly all that time have played LPs.
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