It is quite incredible that in the age of Spotify and Apple Music a teenager has actually looked for and purchased a turntable off the Internet. Vinyl records sales have surpassed the CDs a while ago. Digital music does no longer need a physical support. Compressed formats have reached an almost accetable quality even to hifi geeks like me. Teenagers largely use their own phones to download or stream their preferred music and MP3 players are disappearing. Nonetheless people have continued to buy vinyl records at an increasing rate. What surprised me was that teenagers would do it, too!
When I first upgraded my Thorens turntable’s cartridge I was adviced to look into Grado’s catalogue. I choose the top of the Prestige series, which in 2005 was the Gold. I was happy with the sound I achieved on the Thorens, so when the time came, I replaced the needle with a Gold1 which was the available choice in 2010.
The vinyl record boom of the latest years is often explained as an acknowledgement by new and old fans of the superior sound quality of the analog medium over the digital one. Many do not even imagine how well can a vinyl record sound, though we should make clear what kind of digital we are talking about. But that is not the point. Vinyl’s charm is completely different. It has now become a matter of fashion, following the attraction for “vintage” that many have now, as if modern times were less attractive than the past; it’s as if the objects that remind us of a time gone appear more and more desirable. But there’s more to it…
It is some time now that, in the rare occasions I have to listen to some music with my hifi system, I choose to play a vinyl record on my old Thorens TD-165 instead of a CD. It’s not about what kind of music to listen to, it’s just about listening to a vinyl record: unfolding it, cleaning it, letting the stylus descend, they all are gestures of a time gone but that are part of a relaxing ritual which is typical of using a turntable. Playing a CD would be faster, no time lost, but it would be no different from the frantic life of today’s world. What I’m looking for is an escape from this stress: we’re always on the run, so when I have some time to spend listening to music, I’d like to take a break from the frenzy. Preparing to listening to a vinyl record takes time – and this is just the point.
For the same reason I thought about starting a semi-commercial activity: restoring old turntables like mine and enjoy the hand work needed to eliminate the small defects due to aging; then I would resell the product, taking advantage of the vinyl resurgence of the last years. Where’s the dilemma? My own Thorens TD-165 was given to me by a friend who did not use it. It was the basic model of the brand’s production in the 70s, it was the cheapie. The top of the line was then the TD-160, more expensive still today and also widely considered still worth of high-level modern hifi systems. If I’ll be servicing old Thorens TTs, the TD-160 will sure be one of the models to focus on. But how could I work on one of them for weeks only to part from it without ever thinking about keeping one for myself?
How convenient is following your feelings, making heart choices when looking for a HiFi component? I admit it may be rather dangerous. High Fidelity is a quite expensive hobby, even a lot sometimes. Before spending those amounts of money we earned by hard work, we should be very cautious. We should use our rationality and choose what better suits our needs. Always? Not really, especially when quality is not in doubt.
Il bello di un giradischi analogico è che è passibile di miglioramenti graduali che ne aumentano le prestazioni in modo tale che per avere qualcosa di paragonabile con un lettore CD bell’e pronto bisogna spendere cifre ben più alte. Ad esempio, il fonorivelatore, detto comunemente testina, è il maggior responsabile della qualità sonora di un giradischi. Il suo stilo, la puntina di lettura, è la parte sottoposta a pesante usura, il cui degrado inficia fortemente il suono (e danneggia pure il supporto). Leggendo una recensione di una puntina di ricambio sulla mia rivista audio di riferimento, mi era venuta un’idea per migliorare forse ancora un po’ le prestazioni del mio giradischi; ma si trattava anche di una possibile strategia per fare in modo che il cambio per usura della puntina non incidesse troppo sulla gestione economica del sistema.
Forse mi ripeterò un po’ rispetto a qualcosa che ho già scritto in questa sede, ma tant’è che questo sito è il mio, non è commerciale e ci scrivo quel che voglio, anche per chiarire le idee a me stesso. Parlo molto di HiFi in questo sito, anche perché tento di diffonderne la conoscenza, visto che oggi per molti HiFi significa un impianto multicanale con sorgente digitale, mentre io mi ostino a dire che l’alta fedeltà vera si raggiunge solo con la stereofonia e che il suono del vinile è molto spesso superiore o più godibile a quello del digitale. Il soggetto di oggi è questo: il “collo di bottiglia” del mio impianto stereo è forse il mio lettore CD. Ha senso oggi come oggi acquistare un lettore CD nuovo (e di un certo livello, visto il resto dell’impianto), anche alla luce del fatto che prediligo il vinile?
How do you listen to your favorite music? Do you feed a CD to the player, hook earpads to your iPod, or organize playlists on the computer? Are you staying seated while listening or hang around doing other stuff? I’m guessing: first choice is earpad listening on the move, second choice is listening in the car, third is a cheap system with CD player and loudspeakers included. How many are today interested (or even know it exists) to a way of listening to music infinitely more enjoyable than the above mentioned? Just a few, I believe, really few. We’re in such a hurry today that we just can’t afford a relaxed listening session of good quality, one that would be focused on music only, with proper tools, the only ones that could guarantee for a sensational experience, similar to the “live” event: a source, and amplifier and a pair (meaning 2) properly placed loudspeakers.
The unstoppable advance of the technologies that “make our life better”… (?)
Since when I was a kid, I have been amazed by the magic of audio reproduction. I began singing when I was about 3 years old, at 10 I was gifted with a tape recorder and I started to experiment. Soon after, at the home of an uncle of mine, I listened to a stereo system for the first time and I was captured by the effect created by the two loudspeakers emitting different sounds.
As a naive kid, I thought that maybe, if each instrument was played by a different loudspeaker, the reproduction of a musical event would have been even more realistic. But it does not work like that. To cut it short, we have two ears, so two loudspeakers recreate at the best the live experience of a musical event.
Così cantavano i Pearl Jam nel lontano 1994, nel loro album Vitalogy, il primo dei loro che ho comprato, ma in formato CD. Mentre il “black circle” è il disco nero, quello in vinile. Hanno scritto una canzone apposta per decantare le lodi del loro supporto musicale preferito. Beh, che dire, sono miei coetanei e sono cresciuti con i dischi in vinile, i 33 giri, i 45 giri, il mangiadischi, ecc. Tutto molto bello. Ma oggi? Ne vale ancora la pena? Sono in tanti a pensare di no, davvero molti. Eppure da qualche anno le vendite dei CD sono in calo costante; quelle degli LP crescono. Intendiamoci, non si parla di sorpasso, non accadrà mai. Ma c’è una possibilità: che il CD scompaia definitivamente distrutto dalla musica liquida, quella su file, l’LP no… 😉