Music and audio bling make terrific presents, so here's a nice assortment of goodies. While audiophile gear can be quite expensive, picking out a selection of terrific gift ideas that won't break the bank is still doable. Prices start at $10 and go up to $100. I'll trot out another list of $100+ gift ideas in a few days.
Most cheap turntables sound cheap -- they're rumbly, thin and distorted -- but the U-Turn Orbit Basic suffers no such faults. Before the $179 Orbit's debut, audiophile turntable prices started at around $400. And while used turntables might be a way to get into vinyl for less, turntables are rather delicate devices, so used buys can be risky. If you're ready to take the plunge and explore new vinyl frontiers, you need a decent turntable to hear what the fuss is all about. The Orbit Basic will take you there.
I first heard about the Orbit when … Read more
I know, times being what they are for the music business, it seems like a crazy, even contrarian thing to do. But Rough Trade just opened a 15,000-square-foot record store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in New York. The store only sells new CDs and LPs, no used stuff, along with various music-related merch like books and magazines.
Rough Trade NYC is a big, wide-open, converted warehouse space -- it feels like it's been there for a long, long time. Rough Trade has a similar, but much smaller, shop in London, which opened in 2007, and it's doing fine. … Read more
There's no sense denying vinyl's imperfections. First there are the noise issues -- pops, clicks, and rumble -- and they all get a little worse every time you play an LP. Then there are problems with speed stability, off-center pressings, warped records, less than accurate vinyl and phono cartridge frequency response curves, poor stereo separation, and limited dynamic range. That was all true back in 1983, and digital has only improved since then. So why are vinyl sales up year after year since the early 2000s?
Most formats wither and die soon after the replacement format takes over … Read more
I covered the best-sounding new digital recordings last Sunday; this time it's the choicest new vinyl.
'The White Stripes' Most tracks are stripped down to the basics, just Jack White on vocals and guitar, and Meg White's minimalist drum kit. An amazing debut record, not exactly an audiophile classic, but it wins points for emotional honesty. It feels right, and White's analog loving roots are on full display.
VPI has been making turntables in New Jersey since the early 1980s when Ronald Reagan was president, and everyone thought the CD would kill the LP in a few years. Well, VPI is still there and is currently experiencing a sales boom.
Harry Weisfeld has been at the helm since Day One, but he's about to step down and let his son Matt run the company. Harry will continue to design turntables and tonearms. He makes prototypes, listens to his handiwork, and then goes back and tweaks the design. I spotted lots of failed designs all over the factory, … Read more
Paying for recorded music is a voluntary act -- you can get almost any tune you want on demand from streaming music services or YouTube. Of course, musicians wind up making little or no money from this arrangement, but thanks to crowd-funding, bands can get paid in advance of making a record. At least initially there are no freeloaders, so the band really has an incentive to record! The same Internet that made it harder than ever to make a living from recorded music has made it possible for bands to directly connect to their fans.
If you still buy music in a physical format, Record Store Day is for you. Stores stock special releases and have sales on LPs and CDs, so if you're lucky enough to live near a record shop, drop by on Saturday and see what's up. Check the RSD Web site to find participating stores, and touch some (physical) music.
Here in NYC, two of my favorite shops, Downtown Music Gallery and In Living Stereo, are pulling out all the stops. Downtown's Bruce Lee Gallanter and Manny Maris are two of the guys I count on for their … Read more
Have you heard? Vinyl is making a comeback. No, really -- a growing number of artists are releasing (or rereleasing) albums on honest-to-goodness LP platters.
So maybe you're into that, or maybe you've got a milk crate full of your old records and want to enjoy them again. Either way, this deal is groovy, man. (Groovy. Get it?!)
For a limited time, Shoptronics.com has the Electrohome Archer Turntable Stereo System for $79.96 shipped. That's after applying coupon code ELEBRIEF at checkout. Regular price: $99.99. (And I've seen it elsewhere for as much as $… Read more
I've heard the naysayers for years, the ones that say vinyl is a fad, or that kids buy records just because they think LPs are cool. But the fact is vinyl sales keep going up year after year. I'd be the first to admit that playing an LP is more of a hassle than listening to Spotify, so why do people who grew up listening to CDs and files invest in a turntable, and search out their favorite music on LP? Why do they do it?
Recently, I talked with a few music lovers who grew up in … Read more