Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back to STEREO!

You know, there may come a day when I’m ready to concede to the ipod /hard-drive /music-server model with my music collection. I have moved relatively few times in my life and even moving my record collection from one place in my house to another can be an arduous task. There’s a lot to be said for the portability of new music hardware devices.

But that’s not what floats my boat for, what is, essentially – my hobby. Some people build model airplanes, trains, gardening, golf – I dunno. For me it’s music – in all its weird and wonderful forms. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that I am a “format junkie”. I have 8-tracks, open-reels, 45s, etc….. and I love comparing sound quality amongst different formats (or even pressings of LPs). Think all copies of the Beatles White Album all sound the same? Guess again! Some people collect stamps – I do the music thing. Whatever.

Problem is – physical music products are slowly starting to recede from the main marketplace. I ended up at fairly big shopping mall this weekend with my family. It’s a big one with lots of shops – no place to park – not very far from New York City – that kind of place. The only store I would bother to spend time in was the Borders and – guess what? GONE! A big American shopping mall – and you can’t purchase physical music products there (or books for that matter).

So I realize I am like a hobo yodeling in the forest here, but I’m gonna do this anyway………there’s nothing like owning a nifty, old fashioned stereo to play your physical music products on. And chances are, for not much money – you can have something better than an ipod with a docking station – at least in terms of sound. Here’s what you can do:

Check out ebay. Look for an integrated amp / receiver that’s in decent shape – from the 70s or 80s. Don’t be afraid of Japanese products – in fact, that’s generally good stuff from this era. You could probably get something even at 60 watts per channel. Heck – try to find something with inputs for a turntable – hey, you never know!

Then, look for some vintage speakers. You want something with woofers no smaller than 8 inches. 10 inch woofers will do you – at least in a smallish room. Got a big room? Get some speakers with 12 inch woofers – if you want to hear bass, you’ve got to move some air. Like what? KLH, Advent – shop around – get something half-decent. Don’t skimp too much on the speaks, man.

Then – get a CD player. Just about any SONY will sound light years ahead of an ipod. Want something really fun? Get a first edition SONY Playstation 1 – make sure it has RCA outputs on the back of it. I got one for $10 at a Goodwill. Naw, you don’t care about playing games on it – you just want it to play music. Those things sound real smooth for some stupid reason. G’head – find one somewhere and give it a try. Don’t pay stupid money for these though – keep looking at yard sales, Goodwill, etc……..

THEN – go to Amazon. There are plenty of third-party sellers selling used CDs for a few dollars a pop – great titles. And what’s awesome about used CDs – chances are they won’t skip or do anything weird a used record or tape might do. It’s gonna sound – like NEW. Really want to have some fun? Go to the music prompt on Amazon, and type in “Original Album Classics”. SONY has box sets of albums from everyone from Miles Davis to Spirit – several “albums” in one box – and here’s the best part: CHEAP! What? You never heard of “Spirit”? Well, for $20 you can own ALL FIVE CLASSIC SPIRIT albums on CD from this series – NEW. Those discs sound great. Way better than MP3 downloads and, here’s the other great part, CHEAPER than MP3 downloads of the same material. Your ears will thank you.


  1. Yay big speakers, there is no other way!!! Nothing like crankin' up the volume!

  2. All hail analog :) ...Just ask any producer trying to do remasters of digitally recorded music from the 80's. "The ... drum track ... is CORRUPT!!!"