As well as Cameras, Photography and cycling I have another love and that is music. Unfortunately I can’t play an instrument but I love listening vinyl. I know it’s all files and disks these days and those are fine; I like to listen to music on all formats (especially live when I can) but Vinyl is still the best at least for analogue music (in my opinion). Analogue music? I here you say.. What I mean is, if music was originally recorded to play on an analogue device, it still sounds better played on an analogue device, more modern stuff that was recorded and intended to be digital probably sounds better played in the format it was intended for too.
I remember when music turned digital, I was of the age when the best I could afford was a hand held cassette player (this was before the Sony Walkman came about… just) and later although I did own a low-end stereo (combined cassette, radio and turntable) as soon as I had a full time job I wanted a good quality turntable. I remember going to the hi-fi shop and deciding what I could buy with my money and having almost decided on a cool Kenwood system I discussed with my friends my impending purchase; “Nooooo!” they said, don’t buy an overly technical Japanese amplifier and turntable, get a pure sounding English set. This came as a shock but after going to another store (a specialist) I listened to what they had and there was no turning back. I walked out with a Rega Planar 2 turntable and a Creek Amp plus a couple of little Royd speakers (the best I could afford with what I had left).
The Rega deck was really simple, just an on/off switch, a motor and the tone arm; nothing else. No speed switch or automation; all the money went on what was important; the tone arm. If you wanted to change from 33s to play 45s you took the platter off and moved the drive belt!
The Creek amp was similarly simple and yet sounded amazing, no need for graphic equalizers or anything like that it was built well enough so that if the treble and base were there it went though to the speakers; no need to boost or mess around.
Not to say I am against CDs they are/were very convenient and I did own a couple of CD players later which were part of compact systems; never really owned a actual CD player as part of my system. I was never completely sold on the idea if I am honest despite me being in my late teens when they became popular (so I should have been ripe for it). The concept was good and as I say they they are convenient, a disk that didn’t need turning over, was small and could withstand a lot of abuse. However those robustness claims of the laboratory produced disks didn’t translate so well when it came to mass production and as time went on production costs effected quality. It was similar with vinyl and that is why CDs got a grip, vinyl records were getting thinner and poorer quality just as CDs came out. Also, record players similarly had for the most part become cheap plastic add-ons to cassette based machines; so everyone wanted to replace those scratchy things with clean digital sound. I always had a theory that if people had spent on turntable, the kind of money that they suddenly were willing to spend on CD players, then maybe they wouldn’t have noticed such a change in audio quality. As it is, CDs are now disappearing as file-based audio takes over, yet vinyl still has a grip.
Anyway, just as CD players were mainstream, I bought a proper turntable and never regretted it.
I kept that setup pretty much as was for nearly thirty years with the only changes being to the speakers which were upgraded to Kefs.
So a year or so on and it’s time for a change; my Fiancee and I have been collecting mid-century furniture as part of our decor and the Kef speakers are starting to look out of place. My Fiancee admitted that she never really liked them anyway. We were browsing a vintage store recently and spotted a pair of beautiful old Grundig speakers, unfortunately the years hadn’t been kind to them; we didn’t buy them but it set some things in motion.
I started researching to see if I could find a pair in better condition and as the search went on I kept spotting old stereo consoles. You know, those large cabinets with a turntable, radio etc built in with the speakers. Our minds gravitated more and more to getting one . This makes practical sense to us as it also resolves some other furniture issues we have and I am also less snobbish recently about being quite the audiophile.
A fully restored, working example however not cheap but I decided that my speakers are good and desirable and my little turntable is also worth a little so the selling of those could offset this expense.
The other option I thought would be to buy one that is in good shape in terms of cabinetry but needs the electronics replacing and installing most of what I have (excluding the speakers). We looked at a couple of candidates for this but nothing quite hit the mark for what we thought was a reasonable cost; then…
Then I found an Emerson stereo console with a Garrard deck; it looked the part and was a good price but there was no information about the electrics and whether it worked. It was being sold by some sort of warehouse-based organisation and they offered a full money-back guarantee if you ordered it online and then when you came to collect it was not what you expected….
“add to basket”
I went to the warehouse next day and tried it out – the radio works fine, the turntable does spin and will play a record but is sticking a little with the mechanism. It’s probably just a lubrication issue and failing that, worst case is I can drop in a working unit and sell this turntable of parts. The speakers sound okay but may need replacing at some point. Overall a good deal.
Just got our new baby home, I want to give it a good cleanup before arranging it in our living room.
Excuse the lighting in these pics it was dark in the garage;