POTTY PUBLISHING

PRESENTS

VINYLMANIA©

THE REMEMBERING

THE ART OF GROOVY BLACK MAGIC

Dr. HARVEY "GIZMO" ROSENBERG Mdh.

AKA

MAYOR OF VINYLVILLE

INTRODUCTION

I was surprised when the voice at the other end of the phone announced..."This is Rupert Murdoch, I am a big fan of Positive Feedback and The Triode Guild and as you suggested I am reading your articles while I am on the potty, and you are right...some subjects are more exciting when we are sitting, reading and studying on our thrones...so here’s a real deal Gizmo".

During the next ten minutes, while I could hear the flushing in the background Rupert made me an offer I couldn’t refuse...he would finance a new Internet publishing company that had a very focused target customer...hi-IQ men who love to read on the potty...not the Playboy potty crowd....but the crowd that knows that very intellectual subjects, those requiring our best thinking, are better understood on the potty because context effects perception....like mountain monasteries in Tibet are better places to meditate, and the River of Life is the best place to sit and listen to the sound of one Triode clapping...the potty is one of the best place to wrestle with difficult concepts.

Rupert who is, as you know, very autocratic told me that this new company should be called POTTY PUBLISHING, and that if I agreed he would wire transfer to my account $1 millions...and intrinsic to the deal was his insistence that my first book should be about black magic.

This is a dream come true for me because I always wanted to be a media mogul with his own publishing company. But beside my goal of being the dominant force in the potty publishing niche , I also want to create a company that is a model for the millennia...just like everyone else.....but the most important reason for me to have my own media company is to help me in my run for the Presidency in the year 2,000.

This is a very challenging enterprise and competing against Disney, Time Warner, and Seagram demands the highest level of management skill so even before my new media company gets going I have decided to prove to Wall Street how smart I am, and I am down sizing before I begin operations, and making Potty Publishing super efficient, cutting costs and fulfilling my responsibility to the environment and the whales. I have fired everyone that I was about to hire. I even fired myself. The only way you can read our books is either to download them or to "special order" them on rolls of two-ply powder blue toilet paper. In this way we save millions of trees. I also insist that you use what ever pages you download as toilet paper and then flush them down through your sewer system and out to sea so that the whales can read what I have written...proving that it possible to be entertaining, informative, environmentally responsible and....this is most important...create the right entertainment for the right man in the right context....all of which sets the perfect stage for my presidential platform.

Which brings me face to face with the ongoing complaint so many have voiced about audio journalism....which is so boring. But hold on one minute. These complaints are not very accurate. The reason that so many are complaining that these publications are not-inspirational is because the publishers prohibit their writers from writing on the potty for the potty. I can tell you with certainty that none of the editors or writers for Audio, or Stereo Review have ever written one article on the potty, which explains alot. On the other hand, I also know that many of the writers and editors for AUDIO, at Corey Greenberg’s insistence (who loves reading all of his favorite magazines on the potty), have tried to write on the potty, but have squeezed as hard as they could and failed miserably to produce anything big.

I know for a fact why Listener is such a buoyant read. I have used Art Dudley’s potty, which is very beautifully decorated by his wife Janet, so that Art can spend a great deal of time writing in his throne room, and I noticed many different car magazines at the base of Art’s throne and that is a good sign.

From the land of the royal throne, Ken Kessler has sworn to me that all of the Hi Fi News and Record Review staff are required to spend at least two hours a week writing, and editing while sitting on their Victorian thrones, which I think explains why this magazine is such a joy to read.

Why do so many audio publishers think that their journalism should be held to a lower potty artistic standard than Playboy, Road and Track, Guns and Ammo, and Soldiers of Fortune, all of which reach their peak of inspiration while we are on our thrones?

Perhaps we have stumbled on the most profound insight into why women are not more passionate about the audio arts: America’s repressive socio/sexual taboos have never permitted women to enjoy reading and studying really cool things on the potty. If you doubt this..... try and remember the last time you saw a women take Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or Cosmo into the throne room and spend a good thirty minutes, smoking a cigar, and enjoying a magazine. We should not expect women to get into audio until they have struggled to overcome their potty inhibitions and can imitate men’s most noble and innate desire to advance their knowledge, This is just a hint of one of my campaign issues: Equal potty rights for women.

And let me make this clear...vinylmaniacs are a special cult of men; the most passionate, wigged out seekers of musical cream; the most sensitive of the sensitive, and it is clear, based on our national exist poll, that these are the men who are most into their potty as a spiritual and creative sanctuary. It is therefor appropriate that vinylmania should be the subject of Potty Publishing’s first book.

If you think this is insane bantering of a mad gizmologist, let me point out that the hot new product at the Tokyo Consumer Electronic Show was Sony’s multi-platform POTTY MAN, which is an integrated computer, game station, audio system, fax/answering machine/telephone for the bathroom, so that the whole family can interact with the rest of the world and have fun while doing their daily duty.

So grab a six pack, light up a cigar and enter your private sanctum sanctorium; your white castle of honor and duty and enjoy POTTY PUBLISHING’s first book...VINYLMANIA.

GIZMOLOGICAL METACONTEXT

Most men (not you) are confused mad dogs, because they have lost their way. Men suffer terribly because they have screwed up values, and I intend to do something about this plague of masculine pain...which also explains why I am campaigning for President. My campaign, which I shall not detail now is very simple. It is based on a very simple and easy to understand notion: For a man to be happy they must have "basic units" of important stuff in their life. If any of these important units are missing, life becomes unbalanced, we become unstable and start acting like mad dogs...leading to family breakdown, violence, addiction, listening to transistor amps, riding Japanese motorcycles, and chronic flatulence.

I have seriously studied the male soul for more than four life times, and I am certain my formula works. Let me give you an example: Every man needs a "basic unit" of a high quality music system in his life, and that includes a "basic unit" of tube electronics and a "basic unit" of vinyl. Latter on in my campaign I will outline the other "basic units" that every man needs, which includes a unit of classic air cooled V-Twin motorcycle, a unit of really cool leather jacket, a unit of non-lethal tobacco, a unit of beer, a unit of sports, a unit of fishing and hunting, and a unit of a righteous car....but for the moment I am concentrating on this challenge...convincing you to create your "vinyl basic unit". It can be very simple or very complicated. It can be very cheap or it can break the bank. It is your choice. The only thing that matters is that you have a vinyl unit in your life, and that is why I am writing this Nobel winning book on Vinylmania, which I am sure will be number one on the New York Times Potty Best Seller List.

When I told my friend Steve I was writing this monumental tome he reminded me that the new generation of gifted listeners grew up in the digital age and probably didn’t have a clue to what it was like during the Golden Age of Vinyl, when the world’s vinyl mines, especially those in New Jersey and Scotland were being worked twenty four hours a day to meet demand, and the South African diamond mines were being taxed because of the demand for diamonds for stylii.

The world has changed a great deal, but the audio arts continues to be the stage upon which the great paradoxes speak, and it is true that the most brilliantly produced new digital recording employing the latest extended sampling do not surpass the beauty of the best vinyl from forty years ago...Smoke that paradox for a while.

Gifted listeners who did reach maturity in the 1960s and 1970s may find some of these tales fantastic....like...once upon a time not long ago there was a time when adults had sex and didn’t worry about disease or AIDS...yes, truth can be stranger than fiction....like the average price of new record was $6.99....and you could buy a great tonearm for $99. Truth is stranger than fiction.

CHAPTER ONE

BLACK MAGIC

A NEAR FATAL ACCIDENT

My dearest audiomaniac bro’ Steve Sullivan, is a vinylmaniac and feels that his record collection is threadbare because, at last count, it was just under 10,000 records, so every Saturday morning he drives to City Island to his favorite vinyl shop to buy more vinyl. I decided to join Steve one Saturday morning on his ritual vinyl hunt, and on the way to his happy hunting ground we were rear-ended by a sixteen wheeler truck. It was a freak accident because absolutely no harm came to me, but Steve was seriously hurt, and soon an ambulance was rushing him to the emergency room. Quite frankly I was terrified for Steve. When the doctors burst into the waiting room telling me that they had a very serious problem, my heart sank and I almost fainted in fear.

"Dr Gizmo, we have a very sick patient and quite frankly we are completely confused. When we took a blood test, what came out of Mr. Sullivan was a thick black liquid, which to our amazement was a long polymer of petroleum...the stuff they use to make vinyl records, and your friend needs a transfusion and we don’t know what to do".

The police rushed me to Steve’s house. I opened the refrigerator where he keeps a fresh supply of liquid vinyl, for just such emergencies and I grabbed the bottle labeled DECCA TYPE A 1960 and rushed back to the hospital just in time for Steve to get a transfusion of fresh whole vinyl.

After his recovery Steve told me that during his time of mortal crisis he had a typical near death experience, and traveled up a tunnel filled with white light, and arrived at a pastoral setting where he swore he encountered Mike Kaye of Lyric, Andy Singer of Sound by Singer, and Harry Pearson...all now transformed into adorable chubby cherubs with wings, flying about playing their trumpets. ( So many gifted listeners who have had near death experiences describe exactly the same scene..so it must be true)

But Steve’s most amazing thrill, and I dare say this is more startling than the discovery of life on Mars, is that he not only listened to God’s vinyl system, but has a picture of him standing next to it. (Steve suggested that thunder is click and pops on God’s vinyl collection) Don’t ask me how Steve was able to take a photograph during a near death experience. It is a mystery even to Steve, yet I can prove it to you. Here is the picture. That is Steve waving to us. Doesn’t the two story high tone arm look very much like the Graham 1.5? The reason that God is not in the picture, according to Steve, is that She was playing golf that afternoon.

After looking at the picture of God’s vinyl system I called Bob Graham and asked for his comments, and this is his reply: "I must confess. I really did not design my tonearm. One day while hiking in the Vermont woods I came upon a burning bush, from which a beautiful female person emerged, and said to me, "You have been chosen to make My tone arm". She handed me all of the engineering drawings, and in a puff, She, the smoke and fire disappeared. I apologize to everyone for any pain and suffering I may have caused, and have to admit that I feel much better now. But I still say this prayer in repentance: Yeah though I walk through the valley of digital I fear no evil, because She will keep me in the groove. Amen."

CHAPTER TWO:

VOLVO STATION WAGONS VS. HAWGS

After a hard day of shuffling papers, I get into my quiet, computer controlled Volvo 960 station wagon, turn on the air conditioning, turn on the stereo, turn on the coffee maker, and on my way home I pick up one thousand pounds of frozen diet-lite cholesterol free TV dinners. I love my Volvo because if a sixteen wheeler rams me I will survive because of all of the steel crossbracing and air bag. My Volvo is my safe, reliable form of transportation.

And then there is my Hawg, my worst form of transportation and my best form of transformation. Nothing could be more opposite than my Volvo. The bugs, heat, noise, the shaking, the wind and the exposure to the weather, which I would never tolerate in a car, I love on my Hawg. I gladly risk my life every time I get on it because I know that this mortal vulnerability is the price I pay to experience the magic of the American road. My Hawg is one of my totems.

Tweaking the carbs, the valves, the mufflers, polishing and waxing is all part of the bonding process that makes me more sensitive to the my Hawg’s unique harmonic persona. And what could be more fun than hangin’ out with the bro’s comparing notes on motors, frames, and sharing mystical tales of the road and wind?

Harley-Davidson management knows why there is a two year waiting list for Hawgs. It is because so many men, like me, live a Volvo station wagon life, and because of that our souls are on fire for the mystical, the magical, the tribal, the non-normal. In lives that are risk free, men dream of the weekends when they can risk their lives for the poetry of the open road.

And belonging to the brotherhood is as important as owning a Hawg. Harley-Davidson management calls it "relationship marketing", but this tradition of belonging to a tribe of like-hearted seekers of the mystery of the black snake, was operating long before any of these MBAs were out of nursery school. The brotherhood kept Harley-Davidson alive during its dark hour, and its most powerful marketing asset.

Digital audio systems are Volvo station wagons. Vinyl systems are Hawgs. I dream about Hawgs and vinyl, not Volvos and digital. When will the audio industry learn to talk about our dreams?

Well bro’s, let’s get down the road. We are headed towards AUDIOFUNVILLE, USA. We are members of the most outrageous righteous outlaw audio gang, THE VINYLMANIACS©...let’s kick butt!

A SHORT TECHNICAL POEM ABOUT DIGITAL AUDIO

Humpty Digital sat on the wall.

Humpty Digital had a big fall.

All the King’s horses and All the Kings men

Couldn’t put Humpty Digital back together again.

This classic poem created spontaneously at a Triode Guild meeting by Edgar Allen Poe, is perhaps the best insight into digital’s staggering technical dilemma of dis-integrating the musical signal and then re-integrating it further down the path, so no further technical critique of digital is needed. Let me make it clear that digital audio is a very important part of my life, and shall continue to be. Perhaps there are more, but these are the only three absolute advantages of digital audio over vinyl I could think of:

  1. I love to cook, and make some of the world’s best four star soups. The other night I was feasting on my extra thick gourmet turkey bean soup while looking at a new CD and accidentally dropped it into the thick soup. I dug it out, licked it clean and listened to it later in the evening.
  2. I love to dress up like Madonna, spin her latest CD release and dance... I have never admitted this before and I hope you will keep it a secret. This probably makes me the only rock and roll female impersonator thermionic techno-shaman vinylmaniac on the face of the earth....do you share my excitement about Madonna being a mother ? Dennis Rodman who is a close personal friend of mine ( I taught him everything he knows about basketball ) was over my house during one of my Madonna sessions...and well you know what happened...he dressed up as a bride, and well you know what Dennis did after that.... Men who are confident about their masculinity can be...so free.
  3. I love remote controls. I love them so much I made a special vest that looks like a fisherman’s vest with lots of pockets so I can keep all of my different remote controls where I need them. I am the only audiomaniac in the world who created a master regulated battery back pack power supply for all of my remote control units. Regulation improves their sound quality. I love the sense of power I get when standing one hundred feet from my digital equipment I can make it obey my commands.

THE VINYLMANIAC BROTHERHOOD

There is a brotherhood of vinylmaniacs all over the world, and this legion of audio outlaws is dedicated to the audio art form which we all know is still the concresence of audio coolosity ( I have eliminated master tapes for this discussion); and the most authentic form of home music. Vinylmaniacs, the keepers of the Ark of Musical Truth, are now custodians of lunatic music fringe, which is always the coolest place to be. They eat a special breakfast cereal, GROOVIES, The Vinyl Breakfast Cereal of Music Champs, which snaps, crackles and pops just like their vinyl records. They bathe in vinyl because they love its liquid quality. Of course there is a black side to vinylmaniac and some are suffering with substance abuse addiction and snort lines of vinyl. I know vinylmaniacs who carry records in their attaché cases and when feeling separation anxiety rub the record all over their face. I know one vegetarian vinylmaniac who sprinkles vinyl dust on his tofu.

But the best place to observe this peculiar incurable disease is in Japan, because here vinylmania is a high art, and American vinylmaniacs can learn a great deal from these completely wigged out artisans.

During the course of this infinitely expanding book (1) You will learn the secrets of building a real Japanese vinylmaniac system (2) Learn the secrets of America’s leading vinyl techno-shamans (3) Learn how to build truly great cheap vinyl system (4) Learn how Picasso, Michaelangelo and the Hell’s Angels artify their turntables so you can do the same...I call this the vinyl artification process (5) Learn how to get into the 78 groove, which is so cool that you have to wear a goose down vest to try it. (6) Learn How to create an exact copy of Elvis Presley’s vinylmaniac system (7) Learn how you could win the POSITIVE FEEDBACK VINYLMANIAC TURNTABLE ART TROPHY, and much more!

CHAPTER TWO

THE TASTE, SMELL, AROMA AND COMPLEXION OF VINYL

HOW TO GET A VINYL WOODY

My room mate from college, Ed, made a killing, and to let the tribe know that he was a great hunter he went out and bought a perfectly restored 1948 Chrysler Woody convertible. He knew what he was doing because his Woody gave all of his male friends a woody.( One of my favorite books: WOODYS, from Classic Motorbooks, 1-800-826-6600, #121479AP) In tribal culture the great hunters have a responsibility to fire up the young men, to make them jealous, so they are motivated to go out and be great hunters.

As we all know from our days sitting around Boy Scout Camp fires, young men need stories, and old warriors and hunters need to tell them. This process of passing the wisdom of culture from generation to generation through story telling is as old as language. This is the ancient wisdom of male culture, and it is also the ancient wisdom of Bible schools, yet the high end audio business has forgotten how important it is to keep audio culture alive.

In that sense vinylmania is the cultural revolution of the audio business, because we are hunting not for the latest and the greatest, we are hunting for our artistic tradition. Here we value the Goyas, the Rembrandts, the Vermeeers of the vinyl arts as much as we value the Picassos, the Warhols, and the Litchtensteins, the modern masters. Custodians of the vinyl aesthetics need to bath in the Holy Mother River, the Ganges, the Nile, The Black River of Vinyl, that has been the Madonna of the audio arts through its first century. Vinylmania is becoming the custodian of an artistic tradition that Digitalians, in their artistic embarrassment would like to forget. Vinylmania is the remembering.

Let me quickly paint a picture of the awesome dude who is the new vinylmaniac. Mr. Musically Expanded is not Mr. Big Bucks, yet he has three turntables. One he bought new and it has a top notch cartridge. Next to it are two vintage turntables with vintage cartridges. These two are the ones that get all the attention when friends check out his audio equipment. These are his Woody. He bought them used or at a flea market or in Audiomart. He found two broken cartridges and sent them back to one of the cartridge retiping services so they work perfectly now. We also note his digital equipment that he uses for playing his favorite rock group..The Crashing Lesbian Bagel Pumpkin Merchants from Hell.

American audiomaniacs, until this time, have never grasped why their Japanese brothers were coming to America and buying up all of our audio classics. Boy are those Japanese guys weird. Why would someone want to listen to an old piece of equipment when the new and improved stuff sounds so new and improved? Do you remember when those vintage cars and vintage motorcycles, which now cost a fortune, where being bought up by cunning men who knew what would happen to their value? Wasn’t the same true for those old wooden sailboats that nobody wanted when Fiberglas arrived? Why have old brass navigation instruments, made obsolete by electronics, become valuable works of art?

Now do you understand those pictures in Japanese audio magazines where the "Best Audiophile" has a Garard 301, next to his Mark Levinson DAC?

Vinylmania is intimately connected to this artistic maturing of America. We are following the development pattern of older cultures like Japan and Europe that have long venerated beautiful old objects. Old turntable systems make beautiful music in the same way a Goya painting makes beautiful music. Listening to music on these vintage works of audio art is exactly the same as standing in front of La Pieta, and being in the wonder, the wonder of experiencing the triology of time: I am in the present, yet I am in the moment that Michaelangelo’s statue was seen for the first time, and I am in eternal time, which burnishes the beauty of time gone. Vinyl is the only audio art form that competently expresses this classic triology of time. This also explains why vinyl and triodes are such a sublime couple.

On my first trip to Japan in 1980 to negotiate the distribution agreement for New York Audio Laboratory products, I was to meet the Chairman of a very large trading company. I was advised to bring an appropriate gesture: a very old book as a gift. Get my point, and why, when I bowed to this great man I handed him a moldy leather bound copy of Walt Whitman’s poems printed in the 19th century to show my respect?

Vinylmania is not for everyone. Young men who love neon green Ninja Mutant Turtle rice burning crotch rocket motorcycles that go 160 mph and turn to junk in twelve months just wont get it. Thank God!

Vinylmania is the renaissance of pride in the American audio culture. Vinylmania is all about the emergence of a new artistic consciousness amongst gifted listeners who have the capacity to embrace America’s first century of audio art. Do you have a great vinyl folk tale? Email it to me. Be part of the remembering.

CHAPTER THREE:

HOW NOW BLACK MAGIC CHARM?

The Vinyl Techno-Shaman

Why is vinyl so charming? That is the question Sherlock, and to answer it I will, in three short paragraphs, give you the benefit of twenty years of investigation..about our magic craving mind.

You first must accept my notion that thought, the kind of language based activity that goes on in your brain, could not begin until there was language, and language is only about 10,000 years old. But we humans, in our current modern genetic, homo sapien sapien, form are about 500,000 years old. We human’s have been thinking for only about 2% of our modern genetic history. It is also safe to say that art, the creation of symbolic images, is about 40,000 years old because that is when we, during the late Paleolithic period, started to paint the walls of caves with animal pictures, carve figures, and certainly make a primitive form of music. We made art about 30,000 years before we could think. What this all means is that long before we could think in linguistic forms we were creating art as a way of knowing. In art we had an extremely powerful and effective way of knowing, knowing how to survive. The success of our species, its creativity, tool making and art making ability is proof that magic and magic charms worked, and by that I mean provided our species with an effective reference to deal with a very confusing and lethal world.

The real acceleration in the human species, and by that I mean moving quickly up the food chain, corresponded to the invention of art and art has always been magic. The human mind was magical long before it was rational.

Which is why we lavished so much time on making magic charms, and why old magic charms, those objects that had a history of effective power were very powerful indeed. An arrow, a spear, a carved head of an animal, and idol, a piece of carved bone, when properly used in a ritual empowered the user with knowledge; knowledge needed for survival. The making and proper use of magic charms was very serious business and entrusted to only those who had been initiated. Clearly magic charms possessed or were possessed by powerful spirits. The trick being to get the magic charm to release its power and do its thing.

You can call them Crucifixes, Rolex watches, Scarabs, Hawgs, Stars of David, but I call them vinyl records. Hold one in your hand. It looks just like a nice round black disc with lines cut in it. Not too dissimilar from objects I have seen in museum that were crafted by natives of the south Pacific or Pacific northwest. Smell the vinyl. Rub around in your hand. Put it up to your ear. Nothing much happening, is there? When you experience the vinyl disc this way you wonder where the magic is. Yet contained within this object is an amazing event, one that occurred maybe fifty years ago. Locked away in this magic charm, this flat vinyl disc, are the spirits of special people, who have the power, when released to grab us and carry us away to a far away place. Pretty scary, isn’t it? To think that we were smart enough to invent this modern form of magic charm that has so much power.

A skilled vinyl techno-shaman, our basic vinylmaniac, can take this magic charm, and using his skills and tools, can perform a ritual that will release the spirits living in the vinyl so they can be released and perform their magic. Obviously, different vinyl-techno shamans, the masters of vinyl’s black magic, perform different rituals, use different tools, and have very different opinions about how to use the magic...but that is what is so cool about being a vinyl techno-shaman...I mean a vinylmaniac....it is the work of the magician.

THE "C" WORD

Wine drinkers and cigar smokers use the word. Art collectors and sailors use it. Connoisseurship of the audio carts is beginning to emerge in America, because within our tribe a new group of cigar smoking, Mr. Musically Expanded are changing, and by that I mean expanding their relationship to the audio arts. These are the men who are endowing their expanded artistic sensibility on the audio industry. And in the Darwinian cosmos of notions, the strongest ideas survive, which is why I bet vinylmania will become the dominant notion. Connoisseurship embraces only the best of each epoch. It therefor embraces the aesthetics of audio modernity and also embraces the (vinyl) genius of our past. Again judging by the Japanese experience, which worships the American audio art, we are moving in the direction of celebrating an American audio arts tradition that is almost one hundreds years old.

If there is one person who is responsible for this historical/cultural negation it is Harry Pearson. The power of his Aesthetics of Audio Absolutism, which burst on the scene in the 1970s, obliterated every work of audio art that existed before this time, and the Japanese didn’t want to disagree because they were buying up every piece of pre-1970 American audio art. It wasn’t that St. Harry had an evil agenda, not at all. He presented a passionate, righteous artistic morality exactly at the right moment in history that was completely in tune with the moment. In the messianic tradition of Martin Luther King, Martin Luther, Ghandi, and Jesus Christ, he was the right rebel; the right morally outraged, saying the right thing, at the right time, to the right group of men. And for America, which only looks to the future and doesn’t want to be confused by the past, that was cool.

But Harry’s message only existed in one time dimension: the hope of greater artistic subtly through progress. It did not care about, or celebrate the genius of the American past, or consider the possibility that the American audio future would eventually hit a brick wall, and could not go beyond until the genius of our past was embraced...which is, as you know, the eternal cycle of art. As The Enunciator of the new, the modern aesthetics of high end audio art, Harry was, in his denial of tradition, negating the fertile roots of the audio arts. Again, this form of negation is typical of our adolescent country.

Yes, I am suggesting that the stagnation of the American audio arts is in large part due to this denial of the truth: all audio art is connected and by that I mean all the way back to the great works of audio art that are European cathedrals and the late Paleolithic caves of Europe. The twenty first century American artisan will do better than his ancestors ONLY if he fully embraces their work, and by that I mean through a direct ecstatic experience, not just an intellectual understanding. Young painters, sculptures, poets, dancers, playwrights, study the Masters of the past to give them a rich foundation for their own personal expression. Our future audio masters are being formed today, and they are more than ever immersing themselves in the entire thousand facets the American audio arts. And this is called connoisseurship, which implicitly is an artistic sensitivity to being connected to the flow of beauty over time.

Audio connoiseurship is being able to create an expanded experiential aural matrix, where the music from previous decades, are appreciated for their own unique beauty. I say it again because it is worth saying; this activity is not about acquiring the best new component, but about opening your musical imagination to the wealth of music beauty has been recorded during the twentieth century. Only a Philistine would assert that the only great music recorded was recorded in the last fifteen years, because that obliterates the art of the masters who created this century’s great performances. Why should you be denied those riches?

INSPIRATION

The readers of Positive Feedback know best how impressed I am by Nobu Shishido, the now eternal Japanese master of directly heated single-ended amplifiers. He has been a inspiration to me on many levels. Firstly, his works clearly says to me: the struggle and the pain are worth it because the victory is so glorious. A successful gizmologist is a person who has the skill to manifest their spirit in their work. The delicacy , transparency and naturalness of his amplifiers are qualities that thrived in him long before they were made manifest in his work.

It is Nobu’s vinylmania that really hooked me. His thoughts about vinyl clarified for me the meaning of vinyl in the modern audio paradigm, and it is called THE BIG HOT FUN JUICY PARADOX. While we boys are farting around at 33 1/3 Nobu’s is doing pioneering work at 78 rpm...why?..... because, now get this dudes, 78s may be the high point of the vinyl art. Yikes!

IT’S TIME TO GROW UP, BE A MAN, AND GET SERIOUSLY GROOVY

Let’s face it, the audio arts is a male dominated art form, and that is a good thing for men because men need powerful expressive forms which can be enlisted to transform our basic oversexed beer guzzling dickheadness. Male culture has always been hierarchical and creators of totemic objects. Museums are filled with all of those beautiful tribal objects that men used to define their place in culture, and things haven’t changed much in the twenty millennium of civilization: men need beautifying totems to define themselves. The point of male totemic art was and is always to define simultaneously our tribal allegiance and our unique identity. A man must grow and define his place in the world.

We have choices. We can define our tribal identity through our Dennis Rodman autograph satin jacket, a 1941 Indian Straight four, a tattoo of the Devil on our chest, a 1956 pink Cadillac Convertible, with a 1952 Hacker Speedboat, a Fender Stratocaster, or our vinyl playback system. Of all the example used the vinyl playback system is the most powerful totem, because it speaks most eloquently about tribal affiliation and individual identity. It is also the most powerful form of transportation to the Nth Dimension of Music Hyperspace.

Here is a concrete example of the power of vinyl to define the reality of male hierarchical power: I have many friends in the fashion business because I was once a fashion photographer, and I am often invited to swank parties with legions of long legged nubile fashion models. These parties are also attended by every horny successful guy in New York, many of whom wear two or three solid gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches. They carry pictures of their yachts, their estates, their private jets....because, we all know what they are after. Stiff competition for this Yoda-like bachelor, Not! All that I have to do is stand in the shy corner and whisper with a slight French accent, that’s right whisper...vinyl playback system...and in a flash every part of my body is wrapped in an octopus of freshly shaved long legs. Any sensitive artistic man can spend $30,000 for a mint 1956 Harley FLH and cruise around Babeland, but it takes a man of ascended artistic sensitivity to create a vinyl playback system to cruise the mysteries of life. Which explains why so many young men, who have never owned a vinyl system want to know how to be groovy, and why so many who up-chucked vinyl for digital are getting back in the groove.

This shouldn’t surprise us, because all across the horizon of the American culture men are rebelling against the basic bogusity of Newer than New and tuning time back to the refined, subtle and mysterious; our souls are on fire for the profound and beautiful. We can no longer be conned into believing new is better. Will anyone argue with me about these three points: (1) that when it comes to reproducing musical magic in the home vinyl is the concresence of audio coolosity, (2) turntables systems are the most beautiful of all the audio artifacts (3) A man needs a totem.

As a side note: Japan makes more musical instruments..from guitars to pianos, than any other country. They are mass produced with the latest technology to a very high standard, which is why there is such a keen awareness that the latest is not the greatest, and why these people pay the highest prices for classic American musical instruments of all varieties. Where have all the vintage Fenders gone, Johnny Be Good?

Like our Japanese brothers American vinylmaniacs have grown out of their artistic adolescence and are not impressed by Audio Progress which is about as confused as one of Woody Allen’s heroines. Can anyone answer this question: Why spend $6,000 for the most modern digital playback system that can’t create more sublime music than a $1,000 vinyl system from 1984? If you answer is convenience, then please call me so I can send you an Arnold Palmer powder blue polyester double knit leisure suit that you can throw into the washing machine...like the one I wear on dates. My number is 1-800-EAT VINYL GROOVES.

Is the vinyl renaissance an isolated peculiar event? In early 1980s I wrote UNDERSTANDING TUBE ELECTRONICS:NATURAL HARMONICS AUDIO, and many laughed pointing out that tubes were approaching extinction which would cause an early termination of all tube gear makers. Who has the last laugh now?

We are having a vinyl renaissance for exactly the same dynamics that we had a thermionic renaissance. The whole point and the only reason for the existence of the high end audio industry is to deliver musical mystery into our living rooms, and nothing does that better than vinyl. During the next decade it will be impossible to consider yourself a serious searcher for musical ecstasy if you don’t have a unit of vinyl playback next to your DAC. So I am putting all of you potentially audio weenies on notice...get into the groove, before someone comes along and kicks some vinyl in your face.

CHAPTER FOUR

FACETING A DIAMOND’S FIRE

Diamonds are the vinylmaniac’s gem, because without our diamond styli what would we do?

I may be the only thermionic techno-shaman diamond cutter vinylmaniac in this industry. Because my father was in the diamond business, I, as a confused youth, became an apprentice diamond cutter. I was given a small rough diamond, and would sit at the polishing wheel smeared with diamond dust paste and practice polishing facets in the rough diamond, which took hours and hours of tedious, meticulous work. A diamond in the rough is as appealing as a chunk of broken glass, but once you polish hundreds of facets on its surface, so light can reflects back and forth off the facets, well then, you have a brilliant sparkling gem. The masters diamond cutters know how to polish the right kind of facets on each rough diamond so they will sparkle with the greatest possible brilliance. Facets are the secret to the diamond’s brilliant sparkle...or as we say in the diamond trade...a diamond’s inner fire.

Which is why the process of transforming a diamond from the rough into a sparkling gem is a perfect analogy for our efforts in the pursuit of musical ecstasy in our homes and the role vinylmania plays in that process. The more facets we polish on our gem, which is our love of music, the greater we sparkle. The more facets there are to our musical life, the more they reflect back and forth off of each other, the more intense the inner musical fire in our lives. Have many facets have you polished onto your musical gem in the rough? Are you limiting your inner fire by just listening to digital?

If the high end audio business has not been sparkling lately it is because it encourages the music lover to polish too few facets, and that is where VINYLMANIA comes to the rescue. VINYLMANIA is all about maximum musical faceting. It is about embracing it all, and reflecting on and with it all. We are not talking about the latest release of vinyl, we are talking about 78, 45, and 33 mono. We are talking about the musical gems of our past, as well as our modern greats.

It is cynical to assert that exploring the vinyl arts will somehow sabotage digital audio. Only the mealy minded would suggest that increased passion and fun, diminishes the total involvement of the music lover. Listening to mono blues records increases our enjoyment of the latest BLUE NOTE jazz releases on CD.

Implicitly the vinylmaniac is playing with music in the best sense of play: exploration, adventure, excitement, discovery and connection. The vinylmaniac has exactly the kind of instinctive curiosity that is needed across the board in the high end audio business. This is our most aggressive and committed musical lover. These are the people who sparkle with music’s divine energy and fire.

CHAPTER FIVE

WHY LOVING DIVINE CHAOTIC ENGINEERING IS GOOD

The reason that digital will never sound as "good" as a vinyl playback system is because vinyl systems store energy and resonate, and are in effect very precise "reverb" devices, and digital systems stores too little energy. Every vinyl playback system is like a violin, with its own unique harmonic personality. Vinyl playback systems, including the record, the tone arm, cartridge, platter, plinth, etc. that have multi-resonating points, that are interacting...which can be best described as divine harmonic chaos....just like a Stradivarius violin or your Fender Mothacaster. Or to put another way: a vinyl playback system is a transducer, a reverb device, a capacitor and a microphone...four for the price of one!

Gordon Holt, in Vol. 7, No 8 (1985) Of Stereophile said,

"Tonearms are particularly subject to analysis by black magic. We can make some resonance tests, we can check the geometry, we can test for friction and bearing play, and we can examine mass and vertical and horizontal resonance. We cannot really, however, agree on the exact sonic meaning of most of these measurements, or even on the merits of a given geometry. Does a straight-line arm really have better average geometry in all plans than a pivoting arm? Should pivoting arms minimize average distortion or distortion at the inner groove? It is easy to theorize, but little serious technical or listening test data exists which allows anyone to make a choice."

To take you further into the black magic abyss let’s do this simple experiment: Put your needle on your record, but don’t turn your turntable on. Connect the output of your phono preamp to a spectrum analyzer. Now play your digital equipment directly into your system so music is filling your room. The signal that is appearing on the screen of your spectrum analyzer is the music your vinyl system is making when it is not playing any music. Or connect a strain gauge to your cartridge headshell, or the pivot point of your tonearm, or the base of your tonearm, and play a record. If you had differential inputs to your spectrum analyzer you would see the energy that is being stored in your tonearm, and the nonmusical energy being created by your tonearm.

And what about all the energy that is stored within the vinyl itself, or in your platter? Our phono preamp is amplifying both the direct output of your cartridge and all of the secondary sound energy that is being "feedback" into the coils or magnets of your cartridge which is being released by the vinyl, tonearm and platter....which is why this old vinylmaniac spent so many years tweaking Win Strain Gauge and Stax FM cartridges...they have no coils or magnets. And of course... all of the above shifts with a change in temperature and humidity.

If you think I am going to point the finger and say " Shame on you, BAD engineering" you would be completely wrong. Quite the opposite. These dysfunctional aspects of vinyl systems, which make nerdy electrical engineers implode, gives goose bumps of delight to music fanatics, and explains why I kiss my turntable goodnight. That is what is so way cool about vinyl systems: they are musical instruments that we are challenged to tune.

From the same ancient issue of Stereophile mentioned above, Gordon made this comment, ..." to return to my comments about the "black magic" in evaluating tonearms. " this particular tone arm ...permits so many different combinations of headhsell, counterweight, and cable that its sound depends heavily on a particular choice of combinations and I could not find any clear "science" as to how to find the best mix to fit a given type of cartridge".

Gordon’s intellectual dilemma is the stuff that makes vinyl the highest, the concrescent art. The reason that vinylmaniacs inhabit the concresence of audio coolosity is that they posses the skill to "play and tune" with vinyl’s black magic.. This is no different than tuning your Fender guitar every day, or altering its tone by using a different brand of strings. We are talking about soul satisfying creative self-expressive play. (Note: the importance of this type of activity is explored in My Quest for Beauty, by Rollo May, a mentor, and one of America’s most brilliant existential psychoanalyst) Which is why vinylmaniacs own twenty different record mats, ten different record clamps, and always have a dedicated drawer filled with different types of headshells, headshell wires, arms tubes made from everything from wood to titanium, bottles of various gooey substances for dampening troughs, bunches of weird alignment gauges and stylus pressure scales, and a glob of Mortite.

SUMMARY: A vinyl playback system is a transducer, a reverb device, a capacitor, and a microphone. What a bargain!

Permit me a moment of tender vulnerability: Last night a tear fell down my check as I re-read Gordon Holt’s (Spring 1975 Stereophile) review of one of my favorite gizmos, the Transcriptors Vestigial Tone Arm. Oh, how I missed this $100 tone arm and the $69 ADC XLM cartridge. I called Bill Low of AudioQuest to share these vinyl longings, knowing that he too had a long love affair with the Vestigial. We cried together for hours over the phone. Ah, Sweet Bird of Vinyl Youth, whose head are you pooping on now?

CHAPTER SIX

AMERICAN VS. JAPANESE VINYLMANIA

The difference in the way American vinylmaniacs and Japanese vinylmaniacs express their search for musical ecstasy is quite different. My goal here is to get more Americans and American audio companies into the Japanese way of vinylmania, which I call Dedication to Non-Dedication, because it is a very Zen way to describe the process. It is time for American vinylmaniacs to become more playful, free and creative!

AMERICA: To illustrate the American ascent to the top of Mt. Vinylmania let me use a typical example of our high art: you buy a fabulous turntable, and that could be anything, from a Linn to a VPI. You attach a fabulous tonearm which is anything from an Eminent Technology air bearing to a Wheaton tri-planar, and then add your basic $5,000 cartridge. You are now in American vinyl heaven. Of course the truly insane may own another turntable system. You have achieved your goal and now own the finest vinyl playback system.

This tunnel vision is founded on, VINYL SOUNDS BETTER THAN DIGITAL PARADIGM, which is as intellectually and creatively profound as MEN ARE DIFFERENT THAN WOMEN. The new American vinyl paradigm is about exploring the thousands of facets of vinyl art. It is about dancing to the groove. It is all about removing the high end audio butt plug and having fun with the most fun filled audio technology. Vinylmania it is about taking a trip that is more entertaining than dropping 500 tabs of LSD washed down with two gallons of Magic Mushrooms dip at a rock and roll festival in California in June 1979.

JAPAN: The emphasis here is very different because the challenge is not how can I acquire the finest vinyl playback system, but rather how can I get the greatest pleasure from each individual work of vinyl art in my vast vinyl collection which ranges over forty, fifty or sixty years of vinyl creation and that means, mono, stereo, 78, 45, and 33 rpm. This means a vast variety of grooves and phono EQ ( the subject of Part V). Our Japanese brothers have the artistic maturity to look at each piece of vinyl as a unique work of art that deserves the optimum cartridge/tonearm interface. Obviously, getting the maximum musical pleasure out of a mono 1940s jazz recording require a completely different tonearm/cartridge than a just released 100 ounce virgin bride vinyl.

No problem, because once again we are in a culture where technology is the servant of art. Springing from this hot black groovy passion to experience the nascent magic in each piece of vinyl is an intense level of turntable and phono preamp creativity, that is as yet, unexpressed in America. But the concept is very simple to understand, once you embrace this shift of priorities towards each vinyl being a unique work of art.

You will note on the shelf above the turntable five or six different tonearms mounted on wooden, metal or marble blocks. Some of these tonearms are the most modern, and some are the classics of the past. Get closer and you will note another dozen or so cartridges in headshells including ancient Ortofons, Deccas, and EMTs. Is that a sixteen inch Fidelity Research or SME tonearm we see? Is that a wind up Victrola we see in the corner just for paleogroovic 78s? Is that one of those $10,000 Phono EQ boxes that is used to play 78s? Is that glorious objet d’art a Garard 301 turntable?

Look Jim and Judy and Fido. What a strange looking turntable. It is very big and round, and it has a very thin string going around it attached to one or two motors, but it has no tonearm permanently attached to it, and it looks like it weighs as much as a small car. This is the secret to unlocking the mysteries of vinyl: the tonearm is not permanently attached to the turntable. With this non-dedication we can dedicate ourselves to satisfying each piece of vinyl art’s demand to be played with the tonearm/cartridge combination that best reveals its nascent musical glory. Look Jim and Judy as the sensitive Japanese vinylmaniac picks up a "tonearm unit" and places it in exactly the right place next to his turntable and starts listening.

Can you relate to this level of vinyl exploration and dedication? Why would you want to use the latest tonearm and cartridge when an Ortofon SPU and FR64 makes this particular record sound best? The commitment here is to achieving maximum musical beauty not to the latest rave audio gizmo. Let’s face it gents when it comes to grooviness, this is the one area, and maybe the only area, where Japan is groovier than America. When will these people learn the right way to wear ripped jeans?

BACK TO STEVE’S LISTENING ROOM FOR ONE MINUTE

Steve, who had an amazing recovery, while slugging down a cup of hot liquid 1960s EMI vinyl laced with brandy, played for me an amazing mono jazz record, recorded in a Mississippi church around 1950 that gives "progress" a bad name, and should make all CDs go to confession. But as amazing as this experience was, Steve’s system was not optimal for this record....just like 99.999% of other American vinylmaniacs Steve did not have maximum creative options! I am not complaining about the quality of his state of the art SOTA/ET tonearm/Decca cartridge system, but it was not optimal for his mono records, and there was literally nothing he could do about that because Steve, like almost all American vinylmaniacs are trapped in the dedicated/permanently attached tonearm paradigm.

America cast off your shackles of dedicated tone arms!

VINTAGE CARTRIDGES MAKE SENSE

In an audioland that worships classic vintage triodes, speakers and amplifiers did you think that cartridges were left out? Did you know that Ortofon, like Mac Intosh and Marantz reissued their classic products from the 1960s. This is not just satisfying the whim of collectors. Think about this. In the good old days the only thing that was put on vinyl was the midrange. There wasn’t anything else; no lower octaves and no upper octaves, and who cares? According to the Japanese vinylmaniac these ancient midrange records are best heard with some of the ancient cartridges because these cartridges are also midrange only cartridges.

And, doesn’t it make sense to listen to mono records with a cartridge whose stylus is designed for those nice thick juicy mono grooves? Can you buy a Micro-Benz whose stylus is optimized for mono grooves?

And, can you understand why magnetic cartridges are essential for listening to generation upon generation of vinyl that was created long before moving coil cartridge was conceived? And can you understand why there is a love for vintage moving coil cartridges like the Denon 103C, which is so admired it that it has gone back into production?

This is Koetsu land, the land of moving coil cartridge ( which was invented by Joe Grado) that costs as much as a house. Need to own one hundred different cartridges? We go to London for our custom suits. We go to Tokyo for our custom cartridges.

HOT TIP: Buy up some of those old moving coil cartridges with broken styli and get them fixed. Van den Haul the Master will do the work of giving your moving coil cartridge three Tanna leaves, which you know from watching old movies is the formula for bringing mummies back to life. For between $325-$550 The Master Van den Hul will personally perform the operation. Call Stanalog Audio, George Chadwick at 508-843-3070, for details and make contact with one of America’s totally out there vinylmaniacs.

CHAPTER SEVEN:

A SPINNING THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER

Bill Low was describing the crowds staring in the window of his store. They were staring at the Mitchell turntable in the window.. This objet audio art was a thing of beauty and a joy forever, and was exhibited in many museums. All across America, smart retailers put their beautiful turntables in their windows because they knew what the public knew...turntables are beautiful objects. Do you remember the excitement of owning the Oracle turntable? In 1982 mine had one of the original Herb Papier, Wheaton Tri-Planar arms.

Some of the most beautiful pieces of industrial art are tonearms. Their lithe spidery beauty, their shimmering metallica, makes them the most beautiful of all audio gizmos. They alone among all audio art seems to be alive, filled with a magically spirit as if they are about to fly right off our turntables. In a moment of pre-sleep reverie I recalled all the different tone arms and turntables I owned over a period of two decades...about twenty. arms and about ten turntables....which was typical. Each had its own splendor..from the massiveness of the Rabco SL8 modified my Miller and Kreisler, to the delicacy of the Mayware Formula Four. Oh how I wished I had all of them now!

Some of my most enjoyable evenings have been spent watching in wonder as I pushed my Eminent Technology tonearm back and forth in its air bearing, marveling at its apparent weightlessness. All of my friends are very impressed by its magic. Look at that vinylmaniac turntable standing there in its monumental glory..a turntable stand, Tip-Toes, air platform, turntable, tonearm...what a proud gizmological assemblage.

And next to this art, our digital gear...very ordinary ho hum black boxes indeed.

Some advice from Gizmo, America’s leading expert on the concrescence of coolosity.....you screwed up by not collecting 1960s Cadillacs, you screwed up in not collecting 1940s Indian Motorcycles, you screwed up by not collecting woody station wagons. Don’t screw up again...start buying up turntables and tonearms. Put them in every room of your house. Put one in the bathroom. Keep one by your bed. Keep one by your office desk. Put one in a little red wagon and pull it along when you jog.

VINYLMANIAC’S ANONYMOUS: THE HEALING

WARNING:

THIS SECTION SHOULD BE READ ONLY BY THE

ARTISTICALLY MATURE.

Implicitly the artist’s job is to wrestle with the dark forces in themselves. This personal descent into blackness, this wrestling with the dark forces, is the wellspring of the artist’s vitality. The famous Jungian psychoanalysts, and friend, Linda Leonard, in her book, Witness to the Fire, Creativity and the Veil of Addiction, explores the relationship between the artist’s fire, the descent, and the transformation. It is must reading for artistic types. The point being that every grand passion has its addictive element, which may not be a bad thing.

When I realized that there were many suffering vinylmaniacs who had descended so deeply into the black groovy abyss of their passion that they needed help, I decided to start the world’s first vinylmaniac self-help program just like the Alcoholic’s Anonymous 12 step program.

Vinylmaniac’s Anonymous self-help program embraces all of the profound wisdom of 12 step programs but goes further.. Because only you know how deeply you have descended into the black groovy abyss, you can choose between our 78 Step, 45 Step, or 33 1/3 Step programs. Contact me and I will share with you how to start your program.

CHAPTER EIGHT:

CARTRIDGES

IS POLYGAMY WRONG?

ADVICE ON STARTING YOUR FIRST HAREM

NO!. And that explains why it feels SO GOOD when you do it right, and why it feels SO BAD when you do it wrong. That’s right, I am suggesting that polygamy is good for us, if we do it right. To my thinking sexual polygamy is boring, possibly lethal and not cost effective. On the hand phono cartridge polygamy is a must do. What could be more thrilling than having three, six, or twelve exciting passionate and very different lovers...which have qualities that simply do not exist in our wife, because this blessed women in not perfect or, like all humans, finite. Polygamy is searching for the infinite Goddess, the whole balls of wax, the complete Kahuna. Sexual polygamy also leads to large sums of our money being transferred to divorce shaman’s bank account. Protect your fortune. Be what you have to be. Be a polygamist, and start gathering your phono cartridge harem.

In Vinyland one of the most important measure of a man’s wealth is how many wives (phono cartridges) he has in his harem. Yes, I know men of great wealth. Abdulla, the official haberdasher to the Exalted Punjab has a harem of one thousand wives. To keep them happy Abdulla has to operate, round the clock 200 VPI record cleaning machines to clean the records which play on Abdulla’s one thousand Linn turntables. Abdullah enjoys his harem by sitting in his golden cart while a team of one hundred proud peacocks pull him back and forth in front of all his turntables so he can grock the unique beauty of each of his wives. He feels very blessed that he can love so many completely different Goddesses of Musical Ecstasy.

Many of you are wondering why Abdulla owns one thousand Linn turntables, and not Thorens, or so other brand. Abdulla’s brother in law, Moe, has a monopoly, a trade charter, from the Exalted Punjab, on all trading rights with the Land of the Scots. And that includes all sorts of exotic products from smoked breast of Scotch Mermaid, Tannoy speakers, Linn turntables. Because of this family connection, Abdulla gets all of his Linn turntables at below wholesale prices, and considers them a bargain.

So even if we don’t live in Vinyland we can follow the wisdom of these wise people, and be polygamous. Some advice for the novice harem operator: Give each cartridge a name, and always use it when speaking to it rather than its brand name.i.e. Jezebel, Florentina, Rapunzil, or Rotunda. As you know every cartridge has a completely unique personality, and each will give more if you treat her with love and respect. Secondly, don’t forget their birthdays, and be sure to either send a card or a rose. I find reading poetry to my cartridges goes a very long way in getting the best out of my wives. And thirdly, have the courage to be honest. Never get manipulated into diminishing any of your other wive’s unique beauty. Be strong and be groovy.

If you would like to study more about the proper way to keep a harem of cartridges happy, order my new book, HOW TO KEEP A HAREM HAPPY, for only $14.95.

So here is the details about some of my favorite wives in my harem of cartridges.

Ms. DECCA HEALED MY BLEEDING HEART

To be honest I fell in love with Ms. Decca cartridges on the rebound. I had a broken heart. I felt like a miserable failure, unattractive, didn’t have much confidence, and I was loosing my hair at an alarming rate. I had been totally rejected by the Gods. I was a looser and a failure, and everyone knew it.

For two solid years I worked at trying to perfect the world most quirky and interesting cartridge...the Win Strain Gauge cartridge. While everyone was gah gah over Superex, Dynavector, Koetsu, I was into not magnetic, non-generator cartridges. I also had the STAX FM cartridge. I also collected a number of the Panasonic electret cartridges which could be bought as a spare part for $29, and was the heart of the John Iverson megabuck, ELECTRO PREAMP AND CARTRIDGE SYSTEM. I owned the MicroAcoustics cartridge, but the Winn cartridge had the greatest potential. To make my life miserable I was experimenting with Nuvistors: Tubes from Hell, because all Nuvistors used in audio circuits are from hell in terms of getting them to work right. ( Nuvistors are half inch tall all metal tubes) So after two years of being in Tweaker Hell I just gave up on doing what no one else was able to do....develop a nuvistor power supply for the Winn cartridge.

The Winn cartridge was enormously seductive, but it was a slut. It teased but never fully loved. Once you experienced its clarity, immediacy and transient response, well, you were a goner. Because the stylus is not connected to a generator, i.e. no magnets, no coils, the entire styli system has much lower mass and can track with an uncanny agility. Even the best of the moving coils sounded like they were dragging a load, and artificial compared to the Winn. But with its stock power supply the Winn has too harsh to use.

Was there any cartridge that approached the clarity and aliveness of the condenser or electret cartridges, and was a "real world" product?

My broken heart was on the rebound, and nothing mends a broken heart better than a new promise of eternal happiness and passion. I quickly fell passionately in love with Decca.

I loved my Decca so much that when I was alone with it in a dark room and no one was looking I would lick it all over with my big hot juicy twelve foot long snake tongue. With my Decca I entered the Garden of Musical Eden...almost ..the Decca has sins. It too has fallen from Grace, is not perfect ( the name of a great tonearm company) and is human.

But the Decca has exactly the right kind of flaws to create such intense passionate fire of gizmological delight that I had to wear asbestos Calvins, or my powder blue polyester double knit leisure suit with white shiny leather belt would have melted. For example: In my effort to get the cartridge and tone arm to attach properly I tried everything, including Wrigley’s chewing gun. The cartridge attaches to the tone arm with a little plastic doohicky that is about as stable as a 1948 MG-TC on a wet cobble stone road, so I was experimenting with what I could do to make a better connection. Every sticky substance known to man was tried, and then the light bulb went off. I stuck a wad of warm soft Wrigley’s into the joining area and let it get hard. Voila! the optimally solution. A good mechanical bond, that I could remove when ever I wanted.

Steve, the vinylmaniac, is also a Deccaphile and uses the GB record clamp on his Decca, but tells me that there is something very interesting about using Bazooka Bubble Gum as a bonding material.

Because Deccas are such a magical and quirky cartridge it attract a certain vinylmaniac cult...including Ken Kessler. Everyone in the cult has tons of DECCA TALES to tell around the fire. And naturally everyone has their own tales about which arm is optimal. Do you remember the famous debate broadcast by CNN from the Vinyl House of Commons? On one side of the aisle were the DAMPED UNIPIVOT PARTY, and on the other side was the UNDAMPED ARM PARTY.

You will note from the photograph that I have a special DOUBLE DECCA tonearm module which has one of each-a unipivot and regular bearing tonearm with different version of the Decca.

Some of Britain’s finest moments of public oratory, including a rousing speech by Margaret Thatcher, has been given to this debate, and it is still raging as I write. I would also like to suggest to all of you emotionally unsatisfied and artistic men, that a love affair with a Decca can be very stabilizing. It will love you and frustrate you exactly in the right balance to make you completely happy....if you are completely mad for music. Join the Decca cult!

Which is why Steve and I have decided to do the first ever survey of 40 years of Decca Madness. We will be conducting this survey with a medical team including Dr. Kervorkian nearby just in case either of us goes bonkers, needs a sedative injection, or wants to commit voluntary suicide.

The Decca cartridge is a classic and a survivor for only one good reason: it has qualities that are so tantalizingly musical that it is essential to the vinylmaniac harem. Forty years of heritage lead to the development of the $1500 Decca Jubilee, which has already developed a reputation as a new classic, and by that I mean, you will be listening to it and enjoying this cartridge twenty years from now, in exactly the same way that we Deccaphiles listen to our twenty year old Decca Golds...

MORE SPILLS, CHILLS AND THRILLS

FROM THE GROOVY WORLD COMING SOON IN THE VINYLVILLE MOVIE THEATER

CHAPTER NINE:

HOW I STARTED THE WHOLE AIR BEARING TONE ARM TREND

 

 

 

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