Lull before Christmas

Well I haven't been up to much musically recently, apart from rearranging sections of my vinyl collection to tidy it up and make a little more sense. I now have a folk cum blues cum gospel section. I'm not sure how much sense that makes but it'll do for now. 

 As for recent buys err, not many if any. I did receive a Lykke Li 7" in the post but that was ordered at the same time as the album a few weeks ago. An album I haven't listened to very much since.

I do want to get Vampire Weekend when

A) I have the cash

B) I see it in a shop

 I've just opened up a shop selling computer supplies in the heart of Dublin. I figured that the start of a recession was a great time to setup a new business. Anwyay the upshot is that I'm broke and I won't be spending $300 on that new Miles Davis box set. Crazy prize. Seems like a bit of a ripoff to me. Do you not get a bulk discount when buying that many record in a box??

 Currently listening to


MGMT – Nice quirky pop from Brooklyn. 

Soundsmith stylus retip


Ok here are some of my musings about the Sound-Smith Top Of the Line Re-Tip (UPGRADE) so before any Shure V15VxMR owners go out and pay 500.00 ++ for a factory original or decide that the cart is not worth keeping please consider the below. 

FIRST (11-24-2008, 02:02 PM) 
Just received the call from Sound-Smith my Shure VN5xMR Re-Tip is being shipped today. 
It delivered to their facility 09-Oct-08 shipping today 24-Nov-08 not as bad as I was expecting. 

I had them do this service: 
For those who demand the best, this is our top-shelf capability for upgrading of almost any cartridge or styli assembly. We install a RUBY "Single Crystal" cantilever which holds a Nude "Optimized Contour" Contact Line Diamond. This diamond shape closely resembles the actual cutting stylus that is used to create the master record, resulting in a near perfect tracing of the record groove walls. The Contact Line Diamond has three times the contact area in the vertical direction of the groove wall, thus lowering the "force per unit area" on both the diamond as well as the record groove, resulting in lower record and diamond wear. This combination creates an ultra low mass system, capable of the finest reproduction from your cherished vinyl. This upgrade can be done to almost any cartridge and stylus assembly, and again, often allows reduction of tracking force. 

Now I will be able to compare the Sound-Smith to the original since I still have an original stylus for the Cartridge and its still in good shape. 

so you all are asking why…. 
Some years back, someone (not me) but someone (I dont know who) broke the cantilever smooth off! 
Back when they cost about $190.00 for an original replacement and before they were discontinued I bought a new one. 
hindsight wish I knew then what I know now and bought 2 but I did not so here we are today. 
for some reason I kept the original stylus insert and put it away. 
Then shortly after that I went to an Audio-Technica OC9 ML/II MC cartridge. 

Recently I decided to get another "Zupreme" head shell and mount it so I could have some fun switching around the carts every now and then. 
One of the life's little joys is a removable head shell. 

set it all up and WOW I had forgotten how good that cart sounded then I got worried that I would not be able to get a replacement stylus for it, then saw how much the remaining original styluses were selling for. 
Which is a whole lot more that I paid for the entire cartridge Whoa the price $500.00 plus. 
Heck I can get a new cartridge for a that. 

So I am doing this 
1) out of curiosity to see if it is as good or better than the original. 
2) to keep my legendary Shure V15VxMR cartridge alive 
3) to save a few bucks. 

Once it arrives and I have had some play time on it I will report if its a deal or dud. 

SECOND (12-01-2008, 06:02 PM ) 

First received the re-tip but a very short post 

No question about it now this re-tip is worth every penny (and the wait) and is a whole lot better than the factory original stylus. 

The cart now retrieves information from the grooves that even my MC cart was glossing over. 

It will supercharge the Shure V15VxMR. 

THIRD (12-02-2008, 11:47 AM ) 

More detailed follow up 

I received back my Shure VN5xMR Sound-Smith Re-Tip 
with their top of the line RUBY "Single Crystal" cantilever which holds a Nude "Optimized Contour" Contact Line Diamond. 

I was worried that I may have been throwing away good money especially since the recently purchased Denon AU-300LC STEP-UP Transformer 
has now fully bloomed and my Audio-Technica OC9-ML/II has never sounded better! 

But I had already committed to the re-tip so here I am. 

Removed the Head shell with the Audio-Technica OC9-ML/II and remounted second head shell that holds the Shure V15VxMR on Sunday 30-Nov because I knew the re-tip would be delivered Monday, 01-Dec. so I could listen for a day before I switched out the stylus. 

Yesterday pulled the head shell and checked the overhang with both the original and new stylus, perfect match GOOD! now I know I wont have to readjust for testing. 

Played the 1st song from Cisco reissue of The Guess Who "American Woman" with the original stylus OK it sounded good… cued pulled the original slid in the new one. 

Whoa, stunned and shocked at the remarkable improvement fact there is so much more information in the groove than I ever heard before! 

Talk about a soundstage! The Shure V15VxMR is now amazingly wide, extremely natural clean and clear with detail that is mind blowing. 

The bass is a whole lot tighter, faster but still deep the highs have now become silky and smooth no hint of harshness or brightness and the mids are so there I could not believe it was the same cartridge. 

I am hearing stuff the OC9 and the factory Shure Stylus was just glossing over especially on the lower transients, Put on the APO 45rpm "Myra Taylor "My Night to Dream" 

Before the re-tip and with either cartridge in some places on some of the songs I could only hear her voice I thought (that place) was unaccompanied but there was a guitar picking every so slightly in the background never knew it was there till the re-tip. 

I don't see how or understand why the Ruby Cantilever and Optimized Contour contact line diamond would make that much of an improvement, 

especially since the original Shure beryllium cantilever with micro ridge diamond tip still has many years left on it 

but it does, it has taken the Shure to a level I would say the very least is at a 75% improvement. 

It has supercharged the cart well beyond the factory stylus and my beloved the OC9-ML/II which I did not think was remotely possible. 

The folks at Sound-Smith are truly gifted craftsman and a real credit to the trade. 

FOURTH (12-04-2008, 03:11 PM) 

I am still freaking! 

Ok I know I should stop but just wanted to share one more thing 

Last night I played the Cisco Reissue of Aja and for the first time ever I actually got Goosebumps from listening to that album well any album for that matter! 
I never experienced holographic imaging from that album as I did last night, 
Aja always sounded very good fact it always sounded fantastic. 
The imaging was is off the hook! 

With this upgrade there is a real sense of center stage presence they were floating right in front of me. 

FIFTH (12-05-2008, 03:11 PM) 

And then I played some 1/2 speed stuff. 
Holy cow!!! 
I thought they sounded great before but I was only hearing a sampling of what 1/2 mastering process can offer, 
there is indeed a great deal more to the 1/2 speed than I ever knew. 

Calling it just a re-tip is not an entirely accurate description for it, (to me), implies that is is merely a meager 
repair so one will only be hearing it the same way it was when it was new with nothing extra nothing better than the original stylus. 

The Sound-Smith Re-Tip is nothing short of a Full-On Upgrade they are a credit to their profession. 
It is so much so that I am as excited about it as I am with the Yamaha C-4* there is THAT much of an improvement! 

* BTW I am still stoked over the Yamaha C-4 such a fine sounding piece of equipment.

Buddy Holly-From The Original Master Tapes

20 of the greatest songs by the late great Buddy Holly, Digitally remastered by the great Steve Hoffman. Well this is one of the albums that made Steve Hoffman famous to us lovers of great sounding music. Steve did a masterful job on this one, it sounds like you are there with Buddy and the Crickets in the studio. Great deep bass and crisp highs, Norman Petty did a wonderful job recording Buddy Holly, these recordings still sound fresh though they are 40 years old. If you are a Buddy Holly fan or just a music lover, this is the Buddy Holly for anyone's vinyl collection. You won't find a better sounding Buddy Holly collection on vinyl anywhere.

The Beach Boys-Surf’s Up

Back in the late 1960's The Beach Boys were uncool, After the great Pet Sounds album in 1966 and the Good Vibrations single in early 1967, Brian Wilson set out to make Smile. When Smile fell apart due Brian's mental problems and drug use, many wrote The beach boys off, but after a label switch in 1970 the Beach Boys were back. Starting with 1970's Sunflower album and than this album in 1971, no longer just Brian's puppets, these were band efforts. This Album is known mostly for containing the center piece track from the aborted Smile album, the title track Surf's Up. Using the original backing track, with a new Carl Wilson vocal, and Brian's demo version to fill it out. But the album contains one of Brain Wilson's most personal songs, Til I Die, a beautiful track with haunting lyrics. Carl Wilson contributes Long Promised Road, the only Beach Boys Track he performed live  when he briefly went solo in the late 70's. This Album also contains  Feel Flows which was used in Camron Crowe's ode to the 70's Almost Famous.Bruce Johnson's Disney Girls is his best Beach Boys song, a tribute to the 50's. Overall The Beach Boys early 1970's is as good or better than their hay day in the early 60's, Gone are the car songs, but the beautiful vocals are still there. if you are a Beach Boys fan and have never heard this album, you are missing a lot. Picked up a few years ago for 5 bucks, a clean press with no clicks or pops. Great sound compared to the CD version

Daptone – vinyl perfection

Here's a label we all look like we should  be supporting. Despite being bankrupted bymusic twice, Gabriel Roth, the Jewish aetheist owner of daptone records, presevers, and does so in the most old fashioned of ways. He despises synthesisers, loves antique Ampex tape machines and thinks that all music made after 1974 is unlistenable. On his website, he post-titles teh CD selection with 'If you must'.

His record label is Daptone. He's had a lucky link with Amy Winehouse and the sound that we all love from her can be credited not just to her and Mark Ronson but to the Dap-Kings teh backing band on 'Back to Black' and also to be found singing with Sharon jones.


Here's the excellent  New York article .

Here's the label .

A 45 single review

And here's a video!


Redpoint Model A Testa Rossa Racing Red edition

It’s almost Christmas, which means just about everything goes red for a special edition.  If you’re going to pick up one festive-themed gadget this year, might we suggest the Redpoint Model A Testa Rossa Racing Red edition – the company’s classic audiophile turntable.  Built upon a solid aluminum billet base with a silicone-oil-damped composite Teflon platter, the Model A would make the ideal gift for someone who refuses to give up their vinyl.



To minimize any power inteference, the motor section is completely separate and battery-powered to avoid AC noise.  Inside there’s a 12V DC motor with precious metal brushes and sleeve bearings.  Multiple arm pods are available depending on your choice of musical style, and they’ll even make you a custom on if you’re still not happy.

Frankly, while the standard Model A looks pretty impressive in black, this red one is the one to have in my opinion.  Snatch it up while it’s hot, a snip at £10,500 ($15,399).

Jewish America on Vinyl


Collectors recover lost era of Jewish America on vinyl

Born into the traditions of both Modern Orthodoxy and Reform Judaism, Josh Kun grew up on the streets of Pico-Robertson trying hard not to stand out.

Still, Kun (who today calls himself a typical "dysfunctioning Los Angeles Jew") admits he was one of the few teenage boys to coast the neighborhood wearing hip-hop gear.

"That tug-of-war between secularism and the expectation of religiosity or the expectation of tradition, that tug was a big one in my life," Kun said in a recent interview.

Now a journalism professor at USC, Kun has found a way to meld his passion for music with the traditions with which he was raised. Namely, by discovering lost pieces of Jewish history through — of all things — vinyl records.

While other music fanatics visit Hollywood's nightclubs to discover groundbreaking music, Kun rummages through countless bins at places like the National Council of Jewish Women's thrift shop looking for Jewish records of the past. But he hasn't done it alone.

Roger Bennett, a lawyer from England and co-author of their new book, "And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost" (Crown, $24.95), is also guilty of giving in to record-collecting pleasures.

Kun insists that putting together the 11-chapter book filled with hundreds of little-known album covers has been serious business.

"We realized we had this collection of stories that collectively added up to a whole other history," Kun said.

Specifically, Kun believes these albums can help listeners understand the three dominant narratives of postwar Jewish life — assimilation, the birth of Israel and the Holocaust — and also help to create new ones.

With chapters titled, "The Yiddish Are Coming: How Vinyl Kept a Dying Language Alive" and "Me Llamo Steinberg: The Jewish Latin Craze," it's not difficult to imagine the new tales these records may have in store for audiences.

But Kun says there are also plenty of questions he and Bennett are still asking.

"Who runs out to the store and says, 'Oh, I can't wait to get home, pour myself a drink, sit back, finish dinner with the family and listen to "Six-Day War,"'?" Kun asks.

In addition to including lavish album covers from the 1950s, '60s and beyond, Kun and Bennett also asked the likes of music critic Ann Powers, actress Sandra Bernhard, TV pioneer Norman Lear and others to write for the book about what they hear when they listen to the music.

Whether it involves forgotten Jewish artists like the Barry Sisters, who belted out a Yiddish version of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"; Johnny Yune, a Korean immigrant who got caught up in New York's Israeli club scene and learned how to sing Hebrew and Yiddish songs, eventually putting out a record; or Nat King Cole's rendition of "Nature Boy," a song that takes its melodic riff from an old Yiddish tune, friends, critics and music geeks chime in.

And Kun himself admits to having become a sincere fan of the old albums he has discovered.

"There are those that are kinda the research tools, and then there are those that bleed over to gotta get them on the iPod," he said.

Three Web sites, Reboot Stereophonic, And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl and Idelsounds, also offer fans of the records an opportunity to explore the music further.

Reboot Stereophonic, whose motto is "history sounds different when you know where to start listening," is a nonprofit record label that reissues the records featured in the book in CD format. Idelsounds offers a discussion forum that allows new conversations about the music to happen. Eventually, the three sites will become one, offering fans a one-stop hub on the Web, streaming the music online, in addition to combining the other features of the sites.

Kun and Bennett are also in the process of tracking down the artists who are still alive to talk about the music they once made.

All in all, Kun said, the project is about capturing a piece of history.

"We want to have these stories preserved before they go away," he said.

Still, it's impossible to separate Kun's and Bennett's boyhood passion for music from their current endeavor.

"If they played this at synagogue, we never would have left," they write in the book.

Josh Kun will be participating in a game of "Name That Tune" with Leonard Nimoy at a book signing on Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

For more information, visit and



Vinyl Records begin comeback

Interesting fact below. 10% of Subpop's sales are on vinyl. That its that much surprises me!


Vinyl records begin a comeback

Jesse Ruegg is a music fan.

So much so, in fact, he runs a concert series in downtown State College (Roustabout!) and owns a venue equipped for hosting rock shows (Chronic Town).

So it should come as no surprise he has a strong opinion about his music.

"Fans who are really passionate about their music want the best they can have, they want the best sound quality," Ruegg said.

For Ruegg, that quality can only be achieved through one medium: the vinyl record.

"When you buy a vinyl record, you actually have something unique," Ruegg said. "You can't download it; it's tangible. You have a nice canvas for cover art, a sleeve with liner notes on it, and the actual physical act of playing a record is a very tactile experience. It's almost ceremonial."

Ruegg's opinion may sound like old-fashioned nostalgia, but there is growing evidence he is certainly not the only one who feels so strongly about the mystique of the vinyl LP (long-playing record). Though the CD supposedly supplanted vinyl as the musical medium of choice back in the '80s, the sale of recorded music has struggled mightily in recent years. Yet, despite the drop in CD sales, vinyl has continued to sell. In fact, record album sales have thrived. And it's not just vintage vinyl; consumers are buying new records by current bands as well.

"With music sales going down, vinyl's actually going up," Ruegg said. "It doesn't seem to make sense."

The Evidence

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Among other things, the RIAA is responsible for keeping track of recorded music sales figures as well as protecting the intellectual property of the artists it represents. The RIAA's 2007 year-end statistics show vinyl records experienced a 36.6 percent sales increase from 2006 to 2007. When compared to CD sales, which dropped 17.6 percent over the same period of time, it's quickly apparent something is happening in the music industry.

Liz Kennedy, deputy director of communications at the RIAA, said the group is hesitant to see the increase as a significant shift in consumer opinion.

"Our 2007 numbers do point to about a 30 percent increase over the year before," Kennedy said. "Any resurgence in sales is good news, but I don't think we'd be able to speculate on the future."

A statement the RIAA released to the media gives the group's official opinion on the matter: "The music industry offers a multitude of options to satisfy the many ways fans prefer listening to music, from classic vinyl to innovative digital services. Any way in which consumers can discover and enjoy legal music is ultimately a great thing for fans and the music community alike."

Others in the industry agree a single year's sales figures aren't enough to prove that vinyl's revival has any staying power. Richard Laing, who works in sales and marketing at Seattle-based independent label Sub Pop Records, said his company is cautiously encouraged by the increase.

"It still remains to be seen if it's a short-term trend," Laing said.

Sub Pop was the label responsible for the grunge movement of the late '80s and early '90s, when its stable of bands included Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. It continues to be one of the most influential indie labels with bands like The Postal Service and The Shins. Though RIAA's 2008 figures have not yet been released, Laing said Sub Pop has seen a continued increase in vinyl sales throughout the year.

Greg Gabbard, owner of State College's City Lights Records, said independent record stores like his own have benefited the most from the resurgence. He said some owners of smaller record stores who were discouraged by declining album sales decided to stay in business as a result of the sudden interest in vinyl.

"The increase was dramatic in the past couple years," Gabbard said.

Gabbard said independent stores were best prepared for the sudden interest, because the smaller stores were the ones that were still stocking vinyl records as well as buying used vinyl. Laing said the bigger outlets are catching on, with Best Buy and starting to stock new LPs.

The Theories

There are many differing opinions on the exact reason for vinyl's success in the face of the recorded music industry's recent struggles. Ruegg is willing to suggest what the RIAA will not: The resurgence is a reaction against poor business practices by the major labels. He said the major record labels have lost the trust of consumers for a number of reasons, which has contributed to an increase in vinyl record purchases.

"It's almost like a response to the music industry being like a stick in the mud," Ruegg said. "They're totally missing the point of pop music. I'm talking about the major labels here. Eighteen dollars for a CD is ridiculous, charging that much for crappy music."

Another reason for vinyl's recent success may be sound quality. It's common knowledge that digital music formats like MP3 suffer from a significant decrease in quality, but the vinyl faithful also believe part of the music is lost in translation to CD. Audio purists have long argued over which medium is superior, with many holding the opinion that vinyl records better recreate the live music experience.

"I personally think that music mixed and mastered for vinyl and played on vinyl records is the pinnacle of analog sound," Ruegg said. "If I have the choice between listening to something on CD and listening to it on vinyl, I'll go with vinyl every time."

Ben Sneeringer, a Penn State Berks student who is a member of a vinyl appreciation group on Facebook, said vinyl is less convenient than modern portable options like the iPod, but that he still prefers the sound of vinyl.

"I like the sound of vinyl better. It's much fuller and is far less compressed than MP3s," Sneeringer said. "I just think the sound quality is better on a record, if you have the opportunity, as opposed to MP3s or even CDs."

The final theory for the renewed love of vinyl is harder to quantify, vinyl enthusiast Joseph Lacombe, Class of 2008, said.

"What I like about vinyl is its physicality," Lacombe said. "I like the process of sliding a record out of its sleeve and laying it down, then placing the needle and hearing that first little audible crackle as it begins to spin."

Nostalgia, album art, liner notes and the actual act of playing the record all factor into the power of the vinyl record. Laing compared the phenomenon to the desire to actually own something one enjoys, such as a favorite book or, in this case, a record.

"A lot of people are buying records because they like the sound," Laing said. "But they also like to have the actual piece, the physical artifact."

The Response

Chronic Town, the hookah bar and concert venue Ruegg co-owns with Jeff Van Fossan, has begun buying and selling used and new records. The store is joining several other places to buy records in State College, including Gabbard's City Lights Records on College Avenue and Josh Ferko's Stax of Trax, a record store contained within Webster's Bookstore Café on Allen Street.

Ruegg said the decision to sell records was influenced by his own appreciation for vinyl as well as the wants of his establishment's patrons. He's a vinyl fan and he realized many of the patrons of his store were also vinyl fans, so it made sense.

"Sixty to 75 percent of our collection is vintage stuff, used vinyl," Ruegg said. "Stuff that's not in print anymore and stuff you can't buy anymore."

Selling records originally started as a way for Ruegg and Van Fossan to supplement the musical aspect of Chronic Town. They started by buying a few copies of LPs from bands that played Roustabout! and selling them in the store, but it has since grown beyond their expectations.

"We've actually sold more records than I ever thought we would," Ruegg said.

Even so, vinyl records won't be dethroning CDs just yet. Laing said vinyl records are more expensive to produce than CDs, which means Sub Pop and other record companies must gauge how well a record will sell before deciding to release it on vinyl.

"People still have their listening environments based around the CD," Laing said. "It's a different group of people who buy a record."

Laing said his company has begun offering records packaged with coupons redeemable for a free MP3 download of the album, which stimulates traffic to Sub Pop's Web site as well as meeting the demands of consumers in the digital age.

"The fact that we include a download eliminates some of the shortcomings of vinyl," Laing said. "It's relatively cost effective to do. Plus, to redeem the coupon, you have to come to our Web site."

Despite the innovations, vinyl records still account for only about 10 percent of Sub Pop's total sales. For now, it looks like vinyl will continue to flourish but still maintain a sort of counterculture status to the dominant music media.

And for Ruegg, part of vinyl's attraction is its separation from the ordinary.

"I don't need to hear any more Jessica Simpson. I don't want to hear any more American Idol bands. I want to hear something real," Ruegg said. "The bands that are doing that sort of thing are putting their stuff on vinyl."

Linn launch new ‘low-cost’ turntable

The history of LP12 starts in the 1970’s when it was a must have turntable. In fact your masculinity was doubted if did not have one. It was quite successful for a relatively expensive vinyl turntable then, and there were a variety of Linn and Naim systems were launched and which are still in the market. In the last ten years, LP12 has just been graded as just another addition to the already existing stock of turntables. It was quite expensive also and coasted around £4,480 pounds without cartridges.

The Linn Majik LP12 is the latest affordable version of the already existing version of LP12 turntable. It features solid base and standard armboard along with Mazak 8 platter and extremely low noise patented main bearing. This turntable is available in a variety of types and has a solid wood base board and is surmounted by a stainless steel which has the on and off buttons mounted on it. In order to get things moving, Majik LP12 turntable neoprene flat belt along with headshell and single piece carbon fiber armtube

This Linn Majik LP12 turntable features an internal power supply, Pro-Ject 9cc tonearm and Adikit MM cartridge. This latest high end turntable is highly intuitive and has an outstanding user interface. It is available in five different finishes and costs around £2000 pounds or $4000, which is obviously more than your basic and average turntable like the Numark TT 1650. It is capable of delivering outstanding sound quality. This turntable has its unique capability of bringing resolution, scale and at the same time wide bandwidth in order to rock the party.