08. August 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Comment · Tags:

After spending nearly the last 20 years with Mr Hifi Pig we get along pretty well and only have minor altercations and disagreements every now and again.

There is one subject that really divides us though, vinyl.

To Mr Pig it is the ultimate listening experience. 

Back in the day when he was a DJ we had a whole room full of records which would be physically abused on a pair of 1210s for our entertainment.

This wasn’t a problem, these discs were meant to be hammered…..they were for playing in smoky, sweaty clubs and rainy beach parties.

I even used to own records myself when the choice was LP or cassette but my Hifi system was , ahem, a bit Lofi so not much care was taken of it.

The falling out started when Mr Pig got bitten again by the Hifi bug.  The 1210s were long gone as were most of the records (children and sensible, grown up jobs had come along, you know the story).

Kit came and went, was swapped and sold and gradually upgraded until the Hifi started to become quite valuable indeed.

That’s when I got the fear.

Mr Pig bought a new cartridge.  The cartridge was from Japan and cost a small fortune.

Breathe at this thing from the wrong direction and you would break it….I kept my distance.

The prospect of imminent divorce if I destroyed it by putting a record on ‘wrong’ was enough to put me off playing records ever again.

Aside from the Technics which really are designed to be played in the most extreme conditions (I recall Mr Pig once DJing in a club in Edinburgh with decks that were subjected to condensing sweat dripping on them all night from the ceiling) most record decks seem such arsey beasts.

They are the prima-donna of the hifi world, and from my observations require constant tinkering with, aligning things ‘just right’.

 I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve walked in to find Mr Pig with a highly expensive deck in bits because he has to fettle it. Or pratting about with bits of paper and records that just play strange noises to check that everything is working correctly.

What is the point?

When I want to listen to a tune I want it there and then.  I want to pluck a CD from the shelf, flip it into the CD transport, press a button and then leap about like an idiot.

You just can’t do that with vinyl. 

You put it on (holding your breath and sweating with fear in case you break something) back slowly away to a safe distance and listen, as the music you wanted to hear is peppered with rice krispie noises that destroy the whole ambiance!

Records are a pain in the ass.  They take up loads of room; they have to have special shelves to live on.  They have to be cleaned with special machines. They can’t get too warm on the way home from the shop or they will warp.

Record decks have to have to have a special shelf too, bolted into the wall so that you can actually walk around without the needle skidding all over the place if you are a bit heavy footed.

Most of the time that I listen to music I am not sat down in front of the hifi…I’m doing things like cooking……I don’t want to have to leg it back to the hifi to turn a record over, especially not covered in flour when I’m in the middle of baking!

And what if you are throwing a party?  Do you really want non Hifi types whacking a record on when they have had a few drinks with little or no regard for the fragility of the whole set up?

Wouldn’t it just be easier to let them flick through the tunes on your lap top…or even their phone?

Times have moved on and so has technology, we have CDs and digital music now; we have no need for finicky record decks and demanding vinyl!

To be fair I have not wholly embraced the digital generation, I do actually like to hold the music in my hands rather than scrolling through on a digital music player.  Call me old fashioned but I can’t quite get my head around paying for downloads but not actually having anything physical to show for it.

Another thing I’ve noticed is the trend that if you decide to buy new release LP’s (aside from these costing a lot) is that they have a CD version with them….if vinyl is so fantastic then why put a CD in with it….do the manufacturers secretly know that the LP will sit on it’s special shelf while the CD really gets played?

The one thing I do like about vinyl is the covers.  Some of the best artwork of the past few decades has been produced to grace the covers of records….they don’t quite look the same miniature sized on a CD cover, I will give you that.  But unless you actually display the covers, how often does anyone see them….are they really worth the rest of the palaver that goes along with being a Vinyl Lover?

So there you go, we have to agree to differ.  I will roll my eyes at Mr Pig as he roots out another ‘classic’ bit of vinyl at a brocante swearing ‘it will be fine after a bit of a clean’.

And he will sigh in despair as I leave piles of random CD boxes scattered across the Hifi room in search of the perfect tune for a Saturday night.

Author – Linette

Just to point out that I’d like to distance myself from this rant against vinyl as I’m sure some of the team will – Stuart

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2 Comments

  1. Hmm. Yes. Pretty much every word written here is true.
    And I have given up on vinyl myself several times for some of the reasons given by Lin.
    But ….
    After decades of listening I have to regrettably conclude that a well done LP simply sounds better than a well done CD. Or SACD come to that.
    I really don’t want this to be true, but true it is, nonetheless.
    There’s a Direct-to-your-Soul vibrancy and connectivity with some LPs which makes all the faffing around worthwhile.
    And anyway, it’s so much fun rooting through boxes of old LPs at charity shops seeking the musical gold nuggets among the dusty detritus of cardigan-wearing 1960s crooners!

  2. What a good post as one who made the switch to digital many years ago and wouldn’t go back problems like VTA warped records moving coil cartridges made by vestal virgins in Neasden costing many thousands ,have been consigned to the dust bin of history .None of my friends could be described in anyway a hi-fi nutter although they all to a man or woman are into their music and isn’t that what it really all about .
    I haven’t begin to describe my hi-fi as I am not about to start playing that game! At some stage however I will by a turntable from e-bay and matching phono stage as a secondary source as the truly wonderful Patrick Williams A American concerto and the great Bobby Bland .Retrospective of the early years. have not issued on cd .Mean while I shall just listen to the music!

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