Analog Corner

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Michael Fremer  |  Jun 25, 2018  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2002  |  1 comments
VPI's Harry Weisfeld shows off the aluminum platter for the TNT HR-X turntable at Home Entertainment 2002.

Was I spoiled by the proliferation of analog gear at the High End 2002 show in Frankfurt, Germany? Nah. Home Entertainment 2002 just wasn't a very analog show. Some new and exciting gear appeared, and there were plenty of turntables playing vinyl. But the agenda of HE2002 was multichannel sound and home theater. That's what the organizers wanted, and, at least on the surface, that's what they got. They also got almost 15,000 attendees—a major increase over last year's turnout at the same venue, the New York Hilton.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 11, 2018  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2002  |  12 comments
A.J. van den Hul's vintage, limited-edition Thorens Reference turntable was a hit at the 2002 Frankfurt Show.

"I was worried about doing it," Speakers Corner's Kai Seemann told me. "If it didn't sell, I'd be out a substantial sum, but I took a chance and pressed 1500 copies, figuring if I did manage to sell them all, it would probably take three years."

Seemann was talking about Ella Fitzgerald's legendary 1950s Gershwin Song Book boxed set, originally released on Verve, which his reissue label had meticulously reproduced on vinyl. "Seven months later, and they're all gone!" he exclaimed wonderingly.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 02, 2018  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2002  |  3 comments
Sign of the times: My local Compact Disc World store in Paramus, New Jersey, now has a vinyl section—a good one. The LPs are selling well enough that some folks I know shop there often so they don't miss out. Even Burger King is in on the action. If the artwork on its new soft-drink cup is any indication, the fast-food franchise has transferred its familiar "Have it your way" slogan from hamburgers to music carriers...
Michael Fremer  |  May 17, 2018  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2002  |  3 comments
A recent bid on eBay won me mono copies of Nat King Cole's Love is the Thing and Nat King Cole Sings/George Shearing Plays. The descriptions said that the records had some "marks" but that they "shouldn't affect play." The rest of the wording led me to suspect that the seller knew nothing about vinyl, but since the winning bid was $3.15 ($5.65 with shipping), why not take a chance? I have some mono records that look unsalvageable but play fine—especially using the mono Helikon cartridge.
Michael Fremer  |  May 07, 2018  |  First Published: May 01, 2002  |  5 comments
Setting tonearm geometry with Wally Malewicz's WallyTools (see later)

In his "Manufacturer's Comment" response to my writeup on the VPI Aries Extended turntable in March 2002, Harry Weisfeld wrote that, among other things, he wasn't pleased with what I'd set his 'table on. So I tried supporting the VPI with a piece of very heavy slate resting on six of those big AudioQuest Sorbothane half-spheres and made a series of recordings of LP tracks on the Alesis Masterlink's hard drive at 24-bits/96kHz.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 23, 2018  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2002  |  0 comments
Classic Records' Michael Hobson announced at the 2002 CES that he is releasing 15 Blue Note mono albums.

My assignment: to cover analog at the 2002 Consumer Electronics Show. Want the bad news first? There wasn't any bad news. The good news started with a flood of new software. Fresh vinyl will help drive hardware sales while preventing the industry from trading solely in nostalgia.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 06, 2018  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2002  |  6 comments
It's a circular mound of semi-gelatinous goop in a box, onto which you gently lower your stylus. After a few seconds, you lift the stylus, and it's as clean and residue-free as the proverbial whistle—or baby's butt. In fact, a baby's soft skin is what manufacturer Onzow likens Zero Dust to. The dirt left on the transparent mound is testimony to the effectiveness of the process.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 26, 2018  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2002  |  9 comments
Next time someone tells you that nice guys finish last, tell him or her about Bob Irwin, founder, owner, and president of Sundazed Records. He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, he's currently on top, and odds are he'll finish there—for all the right reasons.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 12, 2018  |  First Published: Jan 01, 2002  |  1 comments
Every fall and spring, Groovy Productions runs a giant record convention at the New Jersey Convention and Expo Center at the Raritan Center in Edison, New Jersey. In 2001, despite September 11 and an unusually warm, sunny day that saw temperatures close to 80°, vinyl fanatics turned out in gratifying numbers. And while attendance was down compared to last year, according to Groovy's organizers, those who came were in a buying mood. I was among them.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 05, 2018  |  First Published: Dec 01, 2001  |  0 comments
I sat staring at a blank cursor for a few hours trying to figure out how to begin this column and I still haven't come up with anything worthy, so I won't even try. Coverage of hi-fi shows in the UK and Italy? I don't think so. My flight out was scheduled for the evening of September 11.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 26, 2018  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2001  |  12 comments
All four standard record speeds have now been covered in this column: 16 (2/3)rpm, 33 (1/3)rpm, 45rpm, and this is "Analog Corner" #78(rpm). Seventy-six columns and going strong. Hard to believe, considering that vinyl was declared "dead" a decade ago, and is still so declared by the digital hardcore.
Michael Fremer  |  Feb 16, 2018  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2001  |  8 comments
First, the news you've all been waiting for: the name of the winner of the "Send in the funniest caption for this picture and win an autographed copy of Mikey's 1970s comedy album, I Can Take a Joke" contest (see p.44 of the August 2001 Stereophile).

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 09, 2018  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2001  |  4 comments
In their "Noah's Ark" TV commercial, what DaimlerChrysler seems to consider worth hauling up the Ark's gangplank is a pair of Mercedes Benz E-Class sedans. There's also a guy schlepping an iMac (what else?), and another carrying recorded music—not CDs but a stack of LPs, the top one appearing to be an original of Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool. (Other recent analog sightings: a full-frame Clearaudio Reference turntable in Tomb Raider, and a Rega Planar 2 or 3 'table in Sex and the City.)

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 05, 2018  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2001  |  1 comments
"Corned beef and pastrami aren't exactly health foods, but when did clogging your own arteries become a crime?" I asked myself as I approached the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd. But my first Carnegie Deli triple-decker in years would have to wait: yellow crime-scene tape encircled the entire block, making it look like a movie-set. Unfortunately, this production, teeming with police, ambulances, television news crews, and spectators, was real.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 29, 2018  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2001  |  5 comments
A few issues ago, Sam Tellig gently mocked me with a comment about mobile record players. For those of you too young to remember, or who thought he was kidding, here's a photo of the late, great Lawrence Welk enjoying "Highway Hi-Fi" in his 1956 DeSoto convertible. The players, made by CBS-Columbia for Chrysler, featured a new 7" format record, the XLP, which provided up to 45 minutes per side thanks to its 162/3rpm speed and its pitch of 550 grooves per inch—twice the density of a standard LP. Playback required a special 0.25-mil stylus tracking at 2.5gm—about half a gram less pressure than, say, a $7600 Clearaudio Insider needs to track a regular LP in your living room! A flywheeled motor (there's nothing new under the sun) kept the 'table's speed stable under impossible conditions, and an ingenious arm design supposedly kept the stylus in the groove even around hairpin turns.

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