What have I gotten myself into?

Over the holidays, Jillian and I took the plunge into hi-fi, and bought a new stereo and turntable.1 It's something that we've wanted for a long time, but never really considered until we were relatively permanent in our location. The world of hi-fi is a little intimidating, especially regarding vinyl. Nevertheless, fidelity aside, I've found that playing physical vinyl records, or even CDs, forces me into a more engaged act of listening than when I stream music. On top of this, I've always enjoyed hunting through used bins at record shops and thrift stores to find the next gem that I've never heard before. Even though streaming services like Spotify essentially put all of the world's music at our fingertips, the abundance of choice can be paralyzing. When I find a great record at a store, I seem to forge more of a “relationship” with the music, and listening to it becomes more meaningful and enjoyable. Maybe that's a little hippy-dippy, but I think it's true. Or I've huffed too much record cleaning solution.2 I dunno.

The new rig

  1. For anyone curious, the new setup is: Pioneer Elite A-20 integrated amplifier, Rega RP-1 turntable, DCM CX-07 speakers. Most definitely at the bottom end of things as far as audiophiles are concnerned, but it's the nicest sounding rig I've ever owned.

  2. The variety of opinions on cleaning records is absolutely astounding. A seemingly endless number of snake-oil concoctions, fancy machines, and homemade remedies abound across the internet. Apparently some people even use wood glue to clean records. I'm terrified to try it.

Bryn Hughes
Assistant Professor of Music

My research interests include music perception and cognition, popular music, and pedagogy.