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How and when did you begin collecting records?
Started in the 50’s with 78 RPM shellac discs. Leopold restaurant (of 26/11 attack fame) was the first in Bombay to have a juke box. They would change their music every fortnight. My brother (who got me into listening to music) worked out a deal. He would give us the older records. We got to select what we wanted for half the going price! The collection totalled 450+ by the time one switched to LPs. The player was an HMV changer with, surprisingly, a sort of induced magnet cartridge. The steel “needle” was held in place by the internal magnets!
That was early 60’s. Stereo records were being released. Most discs were available in mono as well as stereo as mono players were not compatible with stereo discs. Gradually, mono versions were phased out. Not much “good” music was released locally. One had to rely on friends going abroad to pick up stuff. Interests then were classic rock, jazz and a bit of blues. That has now mutated to predominantly rock and blues. Another source for foreign pressings was Stanley and Co. On Arthur Bunder road, near Radio Club, Colaba. He ran a lending library too. Would pick up some to transfer onto cassettes to add to the music collection. Other sources were Rhythm House (around the corner from my residence) and Melody Salon, on Colaba Causeway.
Started off with a Garrard 201 record changer. And soon graduated to a Garrard 4HF. Turntables along the journey included Garrard 301, 401, B&O Beogram 6000, amongst the noteworthy. Finally got myself an Oracle Delphi with Alphason tone arm with silver wiring and a Koetsu Signature Red. The cartridge was only available on order and it took 5 months of waiting to get it! It was a set up that, even after 40 years, would, arguably, hold its own today. By then, the record collection had built up to 2,100+ . All through the turntable and speaker changes, the amplifiers remained home built (by myself), including phono stages, using valves, until late 60’s - early 70s, when solid state become practical. Some of the speakers that completed the system were: Tannoy Monitor Golds in Rectangular GRF cabinets, KEF 3 way speakers with home built cabinets, B&W DM 2, DM6, 801 (the model number was a “series 80” because of the year they were introduced), KEF 105, Magneplanar, Thiel, Yamaha NS 1000, BC Acoustic ACT 4 and others. Cassette recorders were from Sony, Technics ad Nakamichi.
Other milestones, though not vinyl related, were early adoptions of recording formats that were superior to the best that cassette had to offer (I had a Nakamichi 100 MK II). That was digital recording onto a video cassette via a PCM encoder/decoder (A-D and D-A) soon followed by the same concept with a DAT machine. Sony made some seriously good audio products then and they had the world’s first - and only - DAT machine with “off the tape monitoring”, a major technological feat.
My present set up is:
Vinyl: Goldnote Bellagio turntable with Goldnote B7 titanium arm and ceramic bearings, Goldnote Machiavelli Red. Have also toyed with a Rega Apheta 2. Phono stage is Einstein.
Digital: Bluesound (NAD) M 50 CD transport and ripper with M 52 HDDdrives
Common: Hegel H 360 amplifer with integral DAC playing through Scansonic MB 6 (lite version of Raidho) speakers. Supra digital interconnects, Nordost Blue Haven analogue ICs.
I moved from town to the suburbs, end 78. Even with a fair sized living room of about 30 sq mts, when compared to one twice that size, the task of storing so many LPs in an easily accessible manner become virtually impossible. Added to that was the assumption - rightly or wrongly and to be looked at later - that CD was the medium of the future. I virtually gave away the whole collection for a pittance.
So the collection reset to zero. Its now at 400+.
The Analogue vs Digital debate
I speak wearing both hats. I have a very good vinyl set up, and a relatively cheaper digital one. Both have strengths and weaknesses. But digital has come of age and can sound phenomenally good. I have heard good and bad versions of both formats. I do feel, though, that the “vinyl is better” notion comes from an unduly romanticised image. My take is that whatever system I have now or will in the future, must make music sound as accurate and close to “real” as possible. Reality often bites. I don’t shy away from it. Give me accuracy over a cuddly security blanket anyday.
And that can come from both formats, but at lower cost and greater convenience, from digital.
Vinyl playback has dropped considerably in the recent past as I have been tweaking the digital set up and doing a lot of experimenting. Also, because of the increasing cost of buying vinyl (I would prefer to buy new), the collection is increasing relatively slowly. So less “new” music to listen to and discover. My average listening is about an hour and a half, most days.
Advice to a “vinyl newbie”