Why I Fired My Media Player And Went Back To Basics

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

magnavox stereoThere are times when I feel I like an analog man trapped in a digital world.

While I have worked in the past immersed in technology, including working on prototype hardware and pre-release software, I am increasingly realizing that the disposable, non-tactile, vaporware nature of life’s latest consumer purchases are trivializing life.

Several years ago when I bought my current house it came with an old Magnavox Hi-Fidelity stereo–the kind that is more a piece of woodwork furniture than anything. It is of course, very heavy, and hence the “free” nature of coming with the house, which made it at the time at least “interesting”. It seemed to be a copy of the one my parents had when I was growing up back in the 1970’s.

For the first couple of years it performed remarkably as an efficient collector of ambient dust. But, I decided should at least put it to work and make use of it. Now, it is just one of the more reasons to go back living the analog life.


On a trip down to the Goodwill thrift store, the source of much of my everyday clothing I admit, I found some 331/3rd LP albums and bought them to listen to. Yet, the selection was not especially interesting since I am not really into Laurence Welk or Zamphir’s hauntingly beautiful pan flute rhapsodies. But a few months later I found a retro record shop downtown having a colorful variety of LP records and bought a few now and then.

record-sgt-pepperLast week I had some extra time and stopped by the record store. (how long has it been since many of you said those words?) to my great surprise I found they were now selling brand new records of old classics. Yes, ones still having the plastic wrap around them, newly made looked just like the original jackets. There were numerous titles. Unfortunately they did not have the Police’s Synchronicity album, which I greatly wanted (in fact this album was the first Cassette Tape I bought years ago). And, I found what for me was a treasure, The Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

At first I had a bit of sticker shock over the $23.99 price, but I later realized that represented about $3.50 in the late 1960’s so it seemed a little more fair for my thrifty ways. But, if it is necessary to resurrect a bit of history for my new analog, non-disposable perspective in life it is worth paying to keep the label companies in business.

The record jacket was as if it came fresh off the presses; not worn, torn, or faded. In fact when I tore off the plastic wrap I wondered how long it had been since I pulled a new record out of its cover for the first time.

While the nostalgic pop and hiss of old records is for many nostalgic and part of the vinyl experience it is refreshing to have clarity of pure music and when I thought about it that is actually the original experience of years ago since the first play of an record is this way.

The stereo has a few issues.  The potentiometer for the volume is scratchy, the tonearm needs adjustment, and the device that holds the record stack down is broken.  Unfortunately I have not been able to find a repair shop in the county that services these.  Back in the 1970’s we had a TV repair shop that you could get a service call to your own house.  The shop owner retired in the early 1990’s, probably at the right time.  So, I will make due I suppose.

I suspect that we no longer value such tangibilities.  As children many of us would be content with looking into the same reels of View Master photos for half an hour at a time.  We could study each picture until we memorized it and saw every aspect, hence appreciating every image.

Simple pleasures.  Try it some time.

Time to flip the record.

By Darren Smith

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

24 thoughts on “Why I Fired My Media Player And Went Back To Basics”

  1. Van halen……they were on records? We heard on cassette then cd…..shoot me for not knowing they cared about an internal record. Hell i am as bad as the fbi….not caring what happened twenty years ago….even though it is pertinent to today.

  2. Darrin,

    Was the Sgt. Pepper Album the thicker vinyl? My wife got me a new copy of Zep II and it the first thing I noticed was how thick it was and and flat! Plays great too. There’s just something about placing that needle that seems to connect you so much more with the music over a CD getting sucked into a machine. There is a sense of amazement at how that needle recreates the sound.

    The other thing most people forget is that the quality of the record goes down as you get towards the middle due to the speed that the needle sees reducing. So, placement of the songs was an important part for the artists. You would want to put what you felt were the better songs first. I once heard that, that was why so many of Van Halen albums were short since they said they did not want to use the center part of the album.

  3. Love the post and the comments! I was attached to my stereo system in the late 70’s with its wood cabinets, variety of dials and colored displays, and amazing, decent, satisfying sound. Had an AR turntable and Pioneer, NAD, Yamaha, Kenwood components, all workhorses. Perhaps music had to be “damped down” in some way–made less affordable, cool stuff made obsolescent—to keep those corporate income streams going and those odes of revolution less immediate. Of course, I see intent where the only intent, no doubt, was making more $.

Comments are closed.