a record player at last

Years of resistance gave out as I started my 39th year and decided to build a record collection. I’d avoided buying physical media for cost and clutter reasons, but in an effort to get back into listening to music instead of podcasts at home, I decided to keep making my little home jazz bar a thing. I added soft lighting during COVID, and amassed a collection of whiskey and novels, so this is the final step.

record player

The collection

My first records are a mix of rock and jazz, with Portico Quartet, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and Low added to my solitary Ragana record from years before. The ideal record, to me, is something I want to listen to from start to finish; evoking a mood or making me want to dance by myself. It also helps if the record is high-quality and comes from well-mastered original audio. I haven’t learned the difference between 180g and whatever weight other records are, but I have seen the significant difference in price, and faced the frustration of albums I love being unavailable. It’s clear now how people spend days combing through bins in record stores, looking for their shortlist of gems.

The setup

The typical record setup seems to involve bookshelf speakers, a reciever, and a record player. Since I’ve invested heavely in Sonos products in the past, it seemed silly to have a 3rd speaker system in my house alongside it and my Homepods, so I went with the USB-C to headphone adaptor plugged-in to an Era 100 with a second one paired. Since the whole system is wireless, it’s possible to broadcast playing albums from the turntable to any of my home speakers via the connected Era. Lag seems like it isn’t an issue, and the sound quality is excellent, despite my instant conversion of analog to digital signal. This configuration is far from audiophile grade, but for an initial setup I’m happy. My T1 Phono SB Project Turntable is very nice and easy to use too.

The experience

As much as I still think it’s silly to use records instead of simply playing music from Apple Music to my Sonos speakers, the ritual is nice. Everything from the smell of the record and sleeve to the tactile joy of placing the vinyl on the turntable and placing the needle onto the outter ring is joyful. Since it’s winter, I’m lighting candles or incense and relaxing to dulcet tones with a glass of Japanese whiskey in my hand. I also picked-up a Freewrite keyboard during the holiday so I can type essays like this, or even chapters of longer-form work while relaxing without the distraction of Slack or iMessage. It’s a little device with WiFi for syncing drafts online, and that’s about it. The keyboard is tactile, and the version of the device I got is pleasantly transparent. Putting these two purchases together may not get to to finally finish a novel, but it can’t hurt.

Next albums

I’ve got more Godspeed!, Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Balmorhea, and Bill Evans on the way, and I have a sinking suspicion I’ll have quite the collection by January of 2025. Buing records could be a fun way to explore cities as I travel too, since I rasely buy clothes or tchotckes on trips. After my first few weeks I’ve already collected over forty records, simply by buying favorites.