Archive for CD’s

A New Way to Listen

Posted in Everday Living, Misspent Youth, Reviews and Previews, Stuff And Nonsense, The Soundtrack Of My Life with tags , , , , , , , , , on 12/12/2009 by gwenguin1

I know Christmas hasn’t arrived yet, but my Mum has given me one of my gifts early, actually my brother and I both got the same gift, and we got it early.  Anyone who has read my babbles for any time knows that my family are audio-and-videophiles, Matt and I have walls in our room that are pretty much filled by our stereo and television systems, which are hooked together via our DVD players.

The gift we both got was a new turntable for enjoying our vintage and new vinyl, this one however connects to a pc as well as to a component stereo system; I can hardly wait to do that- be connected to both!  

We got our hands on the Ion TTUSB10 from Costco.  This is the second time we have found a technical toy at Costco about two years before it is advertised to the general market.

I first checked the sound reproduction through my pc, and that is surprisingly good, and full of the depth and breadth usually reserved for CD players or turntables connected to stereos.  Granted my pc has a pair of Altec Lansing speakers for pc with a subwoofer connected to it. 

The Ion turntable’s performance and sound quality is close to the same as my other turntable, a Technics SL-Q200 that has been my workhorse from the early 80’s through today.

I have been favourably impressed by my new turntable’s ease of use and installation.  Less than an hour from the time I opened the box, I had it connected to my system and ready to go.  Unfortunately the hour had already grown too late to play with settings, so the next day I went at it again, with a refreshed mind, and changed the necessary settings. 

I then took the time to register the turntable and software, which includes I-Tunes. And found that the only way you will get left and right sides when you record is to register the software.  So… fully registered, and working in stereo I spun my first platter.

What did it sound like?  Matt popped his head in my room and went to Mum to tell her, “It sounds like a stereo Ma!!  Yeah, that’s from Gwen’s computer!!”.  I was sitting there with shivers on my arms because the sound wasn’t at all expected.

I had heard that the pc turntables offered near-Mp3 sound quality.   The sound quality I got was closer to DBx sound reduction to a metal cassette. The I-Tunes software converted all of my music to their format, and that improved the sound quality of all previously recorded music whether in Mp3 or WAV format.

Now, I’ve already talked about vinyl being back into vogue, and the difference in sound, so we don’t need to cover that ground again.  What I do want to talk about is where I get some of my best vinyl from, there is a series of stores across the Valley and beyond that sell quality new and used vinyl, CDs and DVD’s as well as some of the neatest extra goodies you’d want to find.

That is Zia  Records, with locations in Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas.  The Zia we visit regularly is at Dobson Rd. and Chandler Blvd..  Of all of the record stores we frequent, this store and location boasts the friendliest staff, the widest selection, and great offers.  They also have an E-Zine that I subscribe to.

They have in stock, replicas of the Leg Lamp from “A Christmas Story”, posters, books on music, and exotic incenses to match your every mood, and gifts for music lovers of all ages.  I think they are the only place that one can find Beeman’s Gum (remember that one kiddie-ohs?).

So, if you’re in the Valley of the Sun, and you are looking for some awesome vinyl, or CDs hit your nearest Zia records to find what you’re looking for and more.

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Welcome Back Vinyl!!

Posted in Everday Living, Family History, Stuff And Nonsense, The Soundtrack Of My Life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01/02/2009 by gwenguin1

Once upon a time all that was available for listening to music was records  and the radio. 

When they came along, 8- tracks were good, but their construction had inherent problems.  Like, clicking from one portion of the tape to the next in mid-song because of time limitations.

Reel-to-reel came along, and that could play the whole piece in one fell swoop.  Unfortunately, reel-to-reels needed special, expensive equipment to use, and they had a tendency to lose the magnetic particles carrying the sound  with every playing.

Then came cassette tapes, small, portable, and playable on everything from a portable cassette player to a high-end cassette deck as part of a component stereo system.  They lost magnetic particles at a faster rate than reel-to-reels and they were limited to 1/2 hour per side.

Through all of these vinyl records- LP’s(albums), EP’s(long-playing singles), and 45’s(singles) hung on, they were still more reliable than any of the tape methods, unfortunately, they scratched easily, so they required careful handling.

I got into the habit of buying high-end vinyl-Japanese and European Imports, and Half-Speed Master and Master recordings.  I would play them once on my component system, recording them on to cassettes as I did so.

Then came the day… the world went digital, with Compact Discs, and MP3 players.  So many people thought that that was the end of everything else, so they dumped all of their passè  goodies in favour of CD’s.

I still had my component system, and so I kept my vinyl and cassettes, and still used the cassettes as I slowly replaced them with compact discs.  I was very ‘into’ CD’s, they could be played over and over, were tougher than vinyl, and had an advantage in clarity of sound.

Recently, vinyl has begun making a comeback, and CD’s are not as favourable as they once were.  I have listened and have noticed a marked difference in the feel of vinyl, as opposed to CD.

I have the soundtrack to Walt Disney’s “Fantasia”, on CD, and I recently was gifted with a double-album of a “Fantasia” cover, I sat there listening to “A Night on Bald Mountain” by Moussourgsky and I had gooseflesh running up and down my legs from the subtleties missing on CD.

My brother and I have talked about it at length and we thing/feel/intuit that difference lies in the fact that the LP reproduces exactly what the musician and producer wanted, and the CD reproduces what it ‘percieves’  to be the music.

We have also noticed that when the music was recorded after the advent of digital sound reproduction there is little difference in sound quality, but… when the music was recorded prior to digital it is better on vinyl than CD.  So… we now divide our music into P.D. (pre-digital) and A.D. (after digital) categories.