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iPhone 5 vs. the VPI Traveler turntable

The iPhone 5 may be the star of the moment, but the VPI Traveler could stay in your life for decades.

The iPhone 5 and VPI Traveler turntable
Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Face it, most of today's shiny new gizmos will be hopelessly out-of-date in a few years and taking up space in landfills not so long after that. The iPhone 5 may be a marvel of engineering and marketing genius, but like iPhones of years past it's doomed to be cast aside when legions of Apple fanboys and girls stand in line to buy the iPhone 6 sometime next year. And so it goes.

Four years ago I wrote about my friend Gene and his Linn LP 12 turntable, the one he bought 30 years earlier. He's a musician and mostly works at night, but listens to a lot of music at home during the day. He prefers the sound of LPs over CDs and that Linn, which he still uses daily, is his primary music source. It was expensive to buy, but considering how many years of enjoyment he's gotten out of that turntable it was money well spent. How many iPods or phones will you buy and discard over the next 30 years? Americans on average replace their phones every two years or fewer.

Ah, progress. Nothing gets old faster than new technology, but conversely, old tech when made with care can last a long, long time. I'm not suggesting that phones and turntables are an either-or buying decision, just that if you love music, investing in really high-quality gear makes more sense than buying disposable headphones, speakers, turntables, CD players, or amplifiers. By spending more for the good stuff you'll have better sound and the gear might last practically forever. Yes, the best is expensive, but it's worth it.

The new VPI Traveler turntable ($1,300) would be a great place to start. Made in Cliffwood, N.J., the Traveler will probably be still going strong long after the CD format bites the dust. I've heard it at hi-fi shows, and it's really impressive. VPI was founded in 1978 and only introduces new models every few years. The new Traveler has already developed a buzz with the vinyl-centric crowd, and I love that it's one of the most affordable turntables ever offered by the company. The Traveler is sold with a VPI-designed and manufactured-in-the-U.S. tonearm. I've used a VPI Classic turntable for three years and absolutely love it.

In related news, the newly remastered Beatles LPs should be out sometime in November.