Our Record Collection: How Can You Begin Yours?
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Elissa and I began dating four years ago!
We met at music school.
I studied music education, though my interests grew toward the audio arts industry. Elissa’s college experience began the same as mine; she was a music education major. Unlike me, however, she pursued her change of heart and opted to switch her studies to music business and performance.
Having close to all disciplines of music covered between the two of us, you can say we complement each other well. From our time at Crane to our lives together presently, we have piggy-backed off of each other's strengths as we attempt to conquer the ever-competitive music industry: not only as professional musicians, but as freelancers in multiple artistic fields.
When we are not occupied with work (which consistently seems to be the case less frequently), Elissa and I enjoy having a joint hobby: collecting vinyl. Whatever the occasion (cleaning the house, having dinner, dancing off dinner, or just getting a little bit of work done for the band and the blog), we take the opportunity to spin some records on our turntables.
You read that correctly: turntables…with an “s.” Elissa is an incredibly thoughtful gift-giver; for Christmas 2016 she gave me a portable Crosley record player. She knew I had been asking my parents to take their B&O 1800 (pictured above) out from retirement since I was very young. This never happened because the stylus had been worn down from previous years of musical enjoyment. My parents did, however, decide to gift the turntable to me along with a number of records from their collection. After some online research, I came across Sound Smith, an audio technology specialist group who makes their own version of the no-longer-available MMC5 (though what I bought was their version of the MMC4 needle). One major advantage to having this player is its ability to defend records from the wildly curious Calvin & Jet. They love to run on and around our sound system, and will occasionally take snoozes on top while a record is spinning.
My Christmas gift from Elissa is tucked away for the majority of the year now, but has been able to make special appearances when traveling. A few weekends ago (June 8 – 10), for example, it found its way to Finger Lakes Lodging in Skaneateles so “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino” could be enjoyed properly.
Below is a list of some of our top finds, though this list will quickly become outdated as our collection continues to grow. There are also some introductory suggestions listed on how to begin investing in a record collection and falling in love with an old/new way to experience recorded audio.
Pictures At An Exhibition - New York Philharmonic
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 - Vienna Philharmonic
Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet Suite - Bolshoi Theater Orchestra
Symphonic Treasures Series - Vol. 3 (Tchaikovsky Capriccio Italien and Romeo & Juliette)
Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherazade - San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (SFSO)
Rock n' Roll
Rubber Soul - The Beatles
Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys (whom Elissa and I get to see twice this summer)
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath
American Idiot / Dookie / Revolution Radio - Green Day (whom Elissa and I saw live last year)
Hot Fuss / Sam's Town / Wonderful Wonderful - The Killers
The Dave Clark Five American Tour
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle (20 Greatest Hits)
Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
Miscellaneous Broadway Show Soundtracks
Suck It And See - Arctic Monkeys
The White Album - The Beatles
In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery - Capital Cities
Sawdust - The Killers
Woodstock- Portugal The Man
S&M (Live With SFSO) - Metallica
How To Start Up Your Collection :
1. Buy Old Records
You get a sense of what analog reproduction sounds like. A lot of mass-produced vinyl (for some unholy reason) seems to be composed of mp3 files pressed on to plastic: a means to fulfilling a fairly recent fad, maybe? I know the quality and thickness of plastic effects the quality of sound as well (noticeable when comparing records from the 70s to those from the 80s), but this seems to go beyond that. When shopping at a record store, what you will find for new (unused) vinyl will be better quality than this. These records will be pressed from WAV Files (the same as a CD – so if this is the case, NO! the sound is not better than CD). Ideally, they will be reproduced directly from recorded audio on magnetic tape to vinyl; this is what a lot of people consider the pinnacle of recorded sound. It is much better sounding than wax recordings from the early 20th century, and 100% lossless compared to even the highest digital sample rates used in today’s sound recording.
2. Support Local
3. Shop the Clearance Section
I once bought twelve records for under twenty dollars… and only one of them ended up being a dud. It was Swan Lake… I learned to live with this reality without much grieving. It is a beautiful ballet, though.
4. The Art of Asking
Our newly wed (WOOT!) friends, Kari & Sam, just acquired a record player after having put this on their wedding registry. In celebration of the recent National Record Store Day, they took the time to head out and shop for records for the first time. They are on their way to having a new hobby that sneaks up and consumes you without allowing you to realize. I too did some shopping on National Record Store Day…I hid my $200+ receipt from Elissa. She found it, though. Luckily, she was fine with it.
- Asking for a record player (for starters), records, or gift cards to record stores will allow you to stock up on some vinyl nicely. Birthdays and Holidays are my most useful tools, you know since my earned money likes to be needed elsewhere so Elissa and I can live comfortably.
There are so many artists and tunes to explore. Why not listen to them in what we, and so many other people, have found to be a sincerely enjoyable form of entertainment? You never know just what you'll find by asking your friends for their album recommendations on your social sites.
The internet offers us quick access to all the music we want, so sure, there is nothing wrong with exploring new music online; I do it all the time! There is something rewarding, however, about seeing a record turning. To me, having that visual makes it easier to remember the creativity and brilliance humankind can possess. Turntables, though making a comeback, are incredibly outdated…but would you have been able to make music travel from grooves in plastic, bouncing a needle around sending signals through a cartridge, converting these signals into electricity to be amplified and sent out into the world as beautiful sound? Maybe. I don’t know you. I just know I would not have thought that up EVER, so I can appreciate the genius behind something that is now universally accepted as “old news.”
Listen to records, my friends!
What have you been listening to lately? Let us know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for tuning in, and we'll see you over on our next post.