Monday, December 8, 2014

Goodbye, Shelf System

If you know me, you probably know I don't have a TV anymore. It seems to come up in conversation here-and-there. It used to be a point of pride, but now it's just a fact. We were moving – we owned a TV that wasn't that big, but was three decades old, and weighed as much as three of me – so I herniated myself getting it out to the curb, slapped a "FREE" sign on it, and washed my hands of having another screen...at least for awhile.

What is the focus of my living room, then? Well, I'm not as much an ascetic as I make it seem – this year I said goodbye to my old stereo set-up, and hello to a new era in sound. I'd been rolling with a $20 discontinued Nu-Mark turntable, Sony shelf system (with built-in phono input, as well as a dual tape deck and broken 5-CD changer) inherited from both of my brothers, and the Sony's particleboard speakers.

Here's what I ended up with:

First spin on the new deck was the new remaster of CAN's Ege Bamyasi. 
Because nothing else would do.
  • Pro-Ject Debut Carbon – this machine is pretty much a minimalist work of art, so much so that often when I enter the living room, I wonder, "Did I just walk into a museum? Why are there dirty dishes on a coffee table next to that gallery display?" With minimal, heavy-duty, high-quality parts, a glossy black coat, hidden power switch, and slightly beveled clear lid, the real thing of beauty is the only bit of color: the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, which produces the most detailed, spacious vinyl sound I've yet had the wherewithal to own. I cannot recommend this turntable enough if you are thinking about upgrading – it's worth the extra initial spend from the moment you drop the needle.
  • NAD 7125 receiver – just a lil' minimalist 25 WPC receiver I snagged for $20, and is more than plenty loud for our room. I'm not a big classical or electronic/hip-hop listener, so this suits my frequencies pretty well without super detailed EQ'ing (though I may spring for one of those components next).
  • Cerwin Vega D3 – these speakers are nearly as tall as my record shelf...almost too big for the room. But ran into a pair for $50 and rolled the dice. I still need to refoam them, but they were otherwise mint, and sound so much better than my old Sony shelf speakers that it's not funny. On either side of the shelf, they create a magic zone exactly where our couch sits. I've already given more than one Masters-level lecture on the audio aesthetics of Ege Bamyasi...is that a course I could charge for?

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