Monday, June 14, 2010

Adventures in Vinyl : The Record Player

Two weeks ago, I launched a blogging series of sorts called "Adventures in Vinyl." Going light on details, I promised future elaboration after a quick rant on the diminished value placed on listening to music as a sole activity. I explained that my main objective in this project is to change the way I listen to music, or rather, take it back to the way it used to be when I could listen to an album without feeling guilty for not "multitasking."

While not an end-all answer, I figured the best way to go about this would be diving into vinyl. In the past I avoided starting a record collection because certain members of my family may or may not already have enough to program a radio station. Recently though, I couldn't help but think of the warmth of an album not burnt onto plastic or stored somewhere inside a palm-sized slab of metal. Digital files are something novelty for me because they defy standard conventions of space, but at the end of the day I really want something to put my arms around-- a nice big, glossy, square, well-illustrated cardboard sleeve. I want to gingerly slip out the record like it's made out of crystal, like if something happened to it, I might never hear those songs again.

It's only fitting that something begging of that sort of care become the center of my attention at the expense of whatever else I should be doing.

That's where the record player comes in. With modern advances, there are tons of turn tables out there, loaded down with USB ports, radios, cassette and CD players. They can be cold, silvery devices aimed at serving multiple purposes, namely converting vinyl to MP3s.

I just wanted something to do what the record player was originally intended to do-- play records.

Meet the Crosley Traveler Turntable, a portable record player whose fanciest feature is a feeble lever that raises and lowers the needle. It's simple yet specific. When I turn it on, I know I'm going to be doing one thing, and one thing only-- listening to a record. Therein lies the point of "Adventures in Vinyl." You can't put a record player in your pocket. The music ceases to be about your uses for it and returns to being about you making the effort for the sake of the music.

Phew. Still with me?

Well, turns out picking out a record player was relatively easy. The hard part is building the collection. Could there be such a thing as a perfect 10-record collection? What would that look like, more importantly, what would it sound like, and how would you even put it together? Guess we'll see. Stay tuned for my next post, "Adventures in Vinyl : The Plan."


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