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Friday, September 21, 2012

Vintage Audio.

Over the course of the past two decades I have been purchasing audio equipment to build the best vintage audio system ever.  A few components were in need of repair, other components malfunctioned over the years while in use.  In November of 2011, I renovated the Finished Room Over the Garage (FROG), which became the music room.  By June of this year all the components had been repaired and set up in the FROG.  This system produces an amazing soundstage, the music sounds so realistic, at times I can barely believe my own ears.  Here are the components in the system and please feel free to post comments or ask questions.

Turntables

Marantz 6300 with Grado Green cartridge.
Mazantz 6100 with Audio Technica 71ELC cartridge

I picked up these vintage Marantz turntables in local pawn shops many years ago for less than $15.00 (USD) each.  They are classics and they sound great especially with the two different cartridges

 Tape Decks

Akai GX-4000D Reel to Reel

Akai CS-702D II Cassette Deck

I purchased the Akai reel to reel at a local flea market years ago, and the Akai cassette deck belonged to my father.  He is one of the reasons that I am so passionate about music and vintage audio gear.  He reads this blog from time to time.  Hi Papa :-)

Pre Amplifier

McIntosh C24 Solid State Preamplifier.

This preamp is as simple as it gets and it does the job well.  I purchased this preamp at a local audio dealer years ago.  I trust this dealer to make repairs to my McIntosh equipment as they are the only authorized McIntosh repair center in the area.

Power Amplifiers

McIntosh MC40 Mono Block tube amp, left channel.
McIntosh MC40 Mono Block tube amp, right channel.

One of the contributing factors to the great soundstage I experience is partly due to these mono block tube amplifiers.  These McIntosh 40 watt mono block amps have a lot of power.  They reproduce bass that is deep and sustained, the mids and highs are clean with minimal distortion.  These mono blocks were given to me by a former co-worker and friend who is a fellow audiophile.  He has owned his McIntosh amp for over 30 years and swears by McIntosh products.  I can see why now.  Thanks Kevin.

Speakers

Vandersteen 2B right channel with MC40
Vandersteen 2B left channel with MC40




The other contributing factor to the great soundstage I experience, and perhaps the most significant, is due to these Vandersteen 2B speakers.  These speakers radiate sound from the front and all sides, including the back and the top of the speakers.  This unique design is credited for creating a three dimensional soundstage, which gives the music it's realistic qualities.  These speakers are also described as having an "open" sound, a term that is typically associated with electrostatic speakers.  The music I play sounds so realistic, as if I am in the recording studio with the artists.  Live recordings sound as if I am at the concerts where the recordings were made.  Another friend and audiophile informed me that these speakers were for sale and I purchased them from an outstanding Audiogon member a few year ago.  I am eternally grateful to both individuals, thanks Gerry and Skip.

The Complete System

Vintage audio equipment in the FROG.

Well, it's time to get back to the tunes.  It's because of this awesome system that I spend less time on this blog and more time listening to music.  But in my defense, all this music listening is really research :-)  Research that provides me with material that I translate into thought provoking material for future blogs.  Ha ha ha..., no really!  :-)

Look out for these up coming blogs from yours truly.
- Thrift Store Vinyl, Part IV of How To Build The Best Record Collection Ever.
- Record Labels, How To Recognize Vintage, Imports, Re-Issued and Promotional copy LPs.
- Record Care, How To Clean And Care For Your LPs.

Don't forget to Join This Blog, and please check out my other posts in the Blog Archives.

Happy hunting,
The Vinyl Dude.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Deftones in DC.


Tomorrow, I will be driving to Washington DC with a my friend Jason to see the Deftones at the Verizon Center.  SOAD opens for the Deftones and I'm sure it will be a great show for both bands.  This past Saturday, I had a Deftones pre-concert party at my house and invited my friend to come listen to White Pony and a few other records.  I purchased White Pony at Vinyl Daze in Virginia Beach during Record Store Day this year.  The LP was sealed and remained sealed until Saturday when I cracked that baby open and played it for the first time.  I purchased the limited edition CD when it came out in 2000 and listen to it in my car or on my iPod.  I love this LP, it sounded amazing on my vintage audio system, Marantz 6300 turntable, McIntosh tube amps and Vandersteen 2B speakers.

Check out my systems on Audiogon.  I have since merged the systems into one awesome vintage system.  Updated pics to follow on Blogger and Audiogon.
Mac Tube Heaven
70's Vintage Audio

.
Last night, I had a little pre-concert party on my own and broke out a sealed copy of Diamond Eyes.  I purchased this LP at Fantasy in Newport News a couple of years ago, and it was the first time I had heard any of the songs from that recording.  I was surprised to see that it was a white vinyl LP, and needless to say I loved this LP and it sounded fantastic on my system.  White Pony is definitely my fav but I do like Diamond Eyes too.

See ya after the show......

The Vinyl Dude.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Frank Foster.... a jazz legend.



A couple of years ago, I promised that I would do a piece on Frank Foster but I never imagined that it would be on such a somber note.  Last year on this day, July 26 2011, Dr. Frank Benjamin Foster III passed away and the jazz world lost another great musician. He was a jazz tenor and soprano saxophonist, and was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra since the early 50's.  Frank left the Basie band in 1964 to pursue other ventures but returned as the leader of the Basie band in the mid 80's and continued in that capacity until 1995.  His contributions to the jazz and music world are immeasurable, and he will forever be remembered by those whose lives he touched and those who got to know him. I was lucky to have met him and we hung out a couple of times and listened to and talked about jazz.  Yes!!... little ole me hanging out with a jazz master like a Frank :-)  On one occasion I got to hang out with Frank (bottom right), at the Wynton Marsalis concert at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk Virginia on April 30th 2006.  In the picture below, Wynton is introducing Frank and his wife Cecilia Foster to one of his band members.
Back stage at the Wynton Marsalis concert at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk Virginia April 30, 2006.
 In 2003, Frank was introduced to Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade Records by Marquetta and Gerry Jones, who is pictured on the right above Frank. Pierre Sprey jumped at the opportunity to record Frank's latest venture, an eighteen piece big band called The Loud Minority. I met Frank for the first time a couple of years later at Gerry and Marquetta Jones' home; and I got to spend the afternoon with him talking about jazz.  It's a day I will never forget.  I asked him lots of questions, mostly about Miles and Coltrane.  I asked him how well he knew them and what it was like in the jazz scene then.  Frank talked and told me stories of times gone by as if they happened yesterday, his memory was sharp as a tack.  He told me that he spoke to both Miles and Coltrane from time to time.  Miles had even asked him to join a quartet  he was starting but Frank politely turned him down.  Frank had joined the Basie band a few years earlier and was committed to sticking it out and Miles understood.  Frank told Miles that he should consider Coltrane for the job and the rest is history.  Both Coltrane and Foster went on to have illustrious careers with their respective ventures as we all know.  Later, we got on the subject of fusion jazz artists, some of whom Frank knew and had done some recordings with.  We talked a lot about the fusion jazz era, a topic I'm apparently well versed in.  At the end of the evening I mentioned to Frank that I learned a lot about jazz talking to him.  He turned to me and said that he learned a lot about jazz talking to me.  I was floored, flattered, I may have even passed out :-)  Actually, I didn't but what a compliment.
Wynton Marsalis getting some pointers from Frank Foster.
In the picture above, I happen to witness a moment that I will never forget. Wynton Marsalia had been working on a song and consulted Frank on the arrangement. Wynton Marsalis listened intently as Frank broke it down, which is evident from the picture above and the video below.  The dialogue on the video is not very clear due to the other conversations in the room and the harsh acoustics back stage, but here it is anyway.
video

Frank and I talked on the phone several times after the Marsalis concert in 2006, which was the last time I saw him before he passed away.  I called him every year since 2006 on his birthday and other times to talk about LPs that I picked up to get his take on the artists.  He was always very gracious, receptive, talkative and very appreciative of my calls.  If he was not available I left a message and he always returned my calls.  I miss having that dialogue with him but I will always have his music to listen to.

Original Superband - Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Chesapeake, Virginia.

I attended Frank's funeral on August 2nd 2011 at Oak Grove United Methodist Church in Chesapeake Virginia.  When I entered the church my eyes lit up when I saw that the stage was setup for a big band performance to honor Frank.  I quickly ran out to my car and got my DSLR.  The band was the Original Superband, a crew of gifted entertainers hand picked by Frank over the years.  It was a 17 piece band, 13 of which made up the horn section.  Along with the instrumental performances, there were two different singers that accompanied the musicians on a few of the songs.  The band played several numbers during the service.  The powerhouse sounds of the Original Superband filled the church, there was plenty of brass.... just the way Frank would have liked it.  There were friends, family, former band mates of Frank; and others from the music world that filled the church like Branford Marsalis and Jae Sinnett to name a few.  Everybody loved the music, the music that we all know Frank loved too.

Heart felt words spoken by Branford Marsalis.
Jae Sinnett saying goodbye to a friend.







On this day I will remember Frank in my own way and perhaps you will do the same.  Tonight I will play a selection of Frank's material in his memory.  If you don't have any of his material, then I think any music will do.  After all, it's all music right?

The Vinyl Dude.



Friday, June 29, 2012

Record Stores in Virginia, Part III of How To Build The Best Record Collection Ever.

Broadway Records - Portsmouth, Virginia. (Photo used with permission)

Part III of How To Build The Best Record Collection Ever!!!

If you live in Virginia or plan on traveling here, there are a variety of record stores to choose from.  Go online and search for “record stores”, “vinyl LPs” or “records” in the area you plan on visiting.  Any one of those searches or other similar searches should yield results that you can further research online.  Check out the store’s web page, if they have one.  They may have a page on social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace too.  Check out the reviews on the store's website or on third party sites like Yelp or the stores social networking webpage.  Take the time to call the store to make sure that they are still in business.  You can also ask about the types of records you are looking for like jazz, classic or modern rock or whatever you are interested in.  You can also ask them if they can recommend other record stores in the area.  I get great tips about record stores from referrals like this. 

American Oldies - Newport News, Virginia. (Photo used with permission)


I have shopped in all of the record stores in my local area, (Hampton Roads), and visited a few more within the state of Virginia.  There are many advantages to the local record store; the biggest one is that it’s LOCAL!!!  You don't pay for shipping so that's a cost savings; and you can check out the records before you buy them.  Some record stores have a turntable so you can play the records before you buy them.  If you are ever in the Hampton Roads area or in Virginia; I highly recommend the following record stores listed below, in no particular order.

    1. Broadway Records – Portsmouth, VA.  Awesome Classic Jazz records, lots of original pressings at unbelievable prices. They offer the largest selection of Soul, R&B, Funk and Hip Hop records in the area.  They also sell cassettes and DVDs too.  Often, they run special sales like 50% off on all vinyl LPs, or $1.00 for any vinyl LP in the store.  Owner is very helpful and knowledgeable.
    2. American Oldies – Newport News, VA.   The largest Classic and Modern Jazz and Classic Rock selection in the Hampton Roads area.  Lots of 80’s Pop LP's and new releases on vinyl in stock.  The records are priced to sell and they are in excellent condition.  The owner, manager and staff are very helpful and knowledgeable.
    3. Vinyl Daze – Virginia Beach, VA.  One of two new record stores in Hampton Roads, and the only all vinyl record store in the area.  They sell Classic and re-issued Jazz and lots of new and used Modern and Classic Rock records.  They sell T-shirts and Turntables and they have a listening station to listen to LP's.  The store has WiFi and has recently doubled there square footage and filled it with more vinyl like used Blues, Soul and Country LPs.  The owner and staff are very helpful and friendly.
    4. AFK Books – Virginia Beach, VA.  The other new record store in the area.  Lots of new and used Jazz, Classic and Modern Rock LP's to choose from.  They sell CD's and movies and they have a large selection of used books in the back of the store . The owner and staff are very helpful and friendly.
    5. Skinnies Records - Norfolk, VA.  Large selection of 80's Pop, Punk, Alternative and Modern Rock records in the Hampton Roads area.  They sell T-shirts, incense and guitar accessories among other things.
    6. Fantasy - Newport News, VA. Great collection of Indie, Modern and Alternative Rock, Medal and Punk records.  They sell body jewelry, gemstones, incense, candles, dresses and clothes and much more .  They have a Black Light room, a Sticker room, CD and Movie room, a Poster room and a Sword and Knife room too.
    7. FYE – Virginia Beach, VA.  This location has more new and used records than the other FYE stores in the Hampton Roads area.  Lots of new and used vinyl, CDs and DVDs.  The store has recently been downsized and remodeled and they stock more vinyl than before. The manager and staff are friendly and knowledgeable.
    8. Plan 9 - Richmond VA. Not as many great Jazz and Rock records as they use to have in the early to mid 2000's, but still worth checking out.  Their bargain bins offer some good Jazz and Classic Rock records at rock bottom prices, and they use to sell audio components from the 80's down stairs.
    9. Deep Groove Records - Richmond, VA.  Great selection of Classic Jazz and Classic Rock records.  Owner very knowledgeable.
    10. Orpheus Records - Arlington, VA.  They closed their Arlington store due to developers buying up the property to build condos.  But in its day, they boasted having the largest selection of used and new records on the east coast.  I believe that Orpheus Records now sells online.

      Happy hunting,
      The Vinyl Dude


      Wednesday, May 23, 2012

      Record Stores (Out Of Town) Part II of How To Build The Best Record Collection Ever.

      Sweat Records - Miami Florida (Photo used with permission)
      Part II of How To Build The Best Record Collection Ever!!!

      Traveling out of town? If you travel out of town on business or vacation, take the time to research record stores in the city or cities you will be visiting. For me, this has been another great source for getting records that have not been available in my area. On some of my travels I have returned home with as many 30 – 60 records, which makes for a heavy carry on. If you travel by air, I recommend that you hand-carry the records on the plane. Do not check them in as checked baggage unless you absolutely have to. If there is a chance that you may have to check them in, pack and box them well for travel. Carry-on bags can be an issue due to overbooked flights so if you plan ahead and pack for the worst case you should be fine. Another thing to consider is to ship them to your home via UPS instead of traveling with them. If you ship them, be sure to box and pack them well. Personally, I prefer to travel with them on the plane despite the inconvenience and the weight. It’s a burden that I feel is well worth it because I have the peace of mind knowing that the records traveled well, and they did not get lost, stolen or damaged. To date, my out of town record purchases have been outstanding. I have purchased some great vintage records, discovered some great record stores and made some new friends along the way.

      Round Again Records - Providence, Rhode Island (Photo used with permission)

      Here is a list of records stores that I have visited on my travels in the US, in no particular order.
        1. Round Again Records – Providence, Rhode Island. Outstanding Vintage Jazz and Classic Rock records in excellent condition, owner is very knowledgeable.
        2. Jazz Record Center - New York City, NY. Perhaps the largest and most impressive collection of Vintage Jazz records I have seen. Records are in excellent condition, owner is also very knowledgeable.
        3. Sweat Records - N. Miami, Florida. Great record store with a really good Vintage Jazz section and an outstanding Indie and Modern Rock section. This place has an event area, a Café and a WiFi lounge. How cool is that!!
        4. Yesterday and Today Records - South Miami, Florida. Outstanding new and Vintage Jazz and Classic Rock records in great condition, owner very knowledgeable.
        5. Radio-Active Records - Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Great Classic Jazz records and a large Classic and Modern Rock section with a stage in the back for live performances.
        6. Zia Records - Phoenix Arizona. Great collection of used and reissued Classic Rock and new Modern Rock records and some used and reissued Jazz records too.
        7. Armageddon Shop – Providence, Rhode Island. One of the best and the largest collection of Modern Rock, Indie, Punk and Underground records I have seen, great Vintage Jazz and Classic Rock records too.
        8. The Time Capsule – Cranston, Rhode Island. Great Vintage Jazz records and great Classic Rock records too. If you're into comic books, collectable Action Figures and other memorabilia then you need to check this place out.
        9. Generation Records - New York City, NY. Good selection of Vintage Jazz and Classic Rock records.
        10. Bleeker Street Records - New York City, NY. I remember visiting this store in the Village in the 70's when I was a youngster, still in business, still a great record store, not to be confused with Bleeker Bobs.

        If you have a favorite record store please post a comment on my blog to let me and others know.

        Happy vinyl hunting,
        The Vinyl Dude
        Grado Green, Marantz 6300





        Sunday, April 22, 2012

        Record Store Day 2012...... the day after......

        Purchased at American Oldies - Newport News, VA.

        I hope that all the record stores and their customers had a great Record Store Day (RSD).  Needless to say, I had a blast.  As much as I wanted to hit all seven of the records stores in my area, I knew that my wallet could not support that.  So, I decided to do just three of them but only made it to two.  My first stop was American Oldies in Newport News Virginia and I got some great records there, a couple were still sealed.


        Purchased at Broadway Records - Portsmouth, VA.
         
        My second and last stop was Broadway Records in Portsmouth Virginia.  Unlike the other other six record stores in my area, Broadway Records did not participate in Record Store Day, or at least in the sense that other RSD registered record stores did.  Broadway Records does not sell new records and that is some of what RSD event is about.  But due to a tip about the event by yours truly (that's me) to the owner of Broadway Records, and some quick thinking by the owner, Broadway Records launch a special event of their own.  One dollar for any LP in the store.  That's right!!  One buck for any record and that set off a buying frenzy of sorts and I was so happy to be part of that.  I picked up vintage pressings of Columbia, Verve and Impulse records from noted recording artists from back in the day.

        Most of you may have noticed that none of the records I purchased above are New Releases, which again was some of what the RSD event was about.  To me, the event was also about getting people in the records stores and talking about and buying records, old or new.  I saw a lot of that while I was out and met some great people too.

        Don't forget to click on "Join This Blog" to follow my blog.  This way you will be one of the first to see when I post new blogs.  My next post will be about my favorite record stores in my local area and in the US.

        Thanks for reading and happy listening.

        The Vinyl Dude.

        Friday, April 20, 2012

        Record Store Day 2012



        Marantz 6100 with Audio Technica 71ELC


         
        As some of you may know, Saturday April 21st is Record Store Day (RSD).  This event is being held worldwide at participating record stores.  A website http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home has been set up to help you search for participating record stores in your area, or to where you may be traveling to.  There are smartphone apps available for iPhones and Android phones at  http://www.recordstoreday.com/app  These apps work as an extension to the RSD website and give you info on Store Events, News, Promotions and Contests populating the RSD website.  You can also use the apps to locate RSD-registered stores near you. One of the many cool things about the RSD event is that there are LP's being released only at Record Stores.  You can find a list of all the releases at http://download.recordstoreday.com/free/RSD_2012_RELEASES_WEBSITE.pdf

        I am really looking forward to this event and I wish all my readers luck with the respective events in their areas.  I will post something about my purchases from the RDS event, and I hope to hear about your purchases too.  I will also be posting a blog on my favorite local and out of town record stores after the RSD event so check back from time to time.

        Happy hunting,
        The Vinyl Dude.


        Sunday, February 26, 2012

        How to build.....THE BEST RECORD COLLECTION EVER!!!! Part I

        It has been a while since I posted anything, my apologies.  In any event, I have put together some notes while listening to music over these past months, so I have lots of material for future blogs.  With that said, let's get right to it.



        There was a time when I had record envy.  I would drool when I looked at my friend’s record collections….but not anymore.  That’s because I have put together THE BEST RECORD COLLECTION EVER!!!!  To achieve this, I purchased records from a variety of places and I will be outlining those sources in subsequent posts.  Due to the amount of information I have on this topic, I decided to break these up into a few different posts for easier reading.  Here are my thoughts and recommendations as to where to purchase records so that you can build the BEST RECORD COLLECTION EVER !!!

        Part 1.

        Online…. eBay
        The records pictured on this post were purchased on eBay, my preferred online source, and that may come as no surprise to some.  With eBay, I have been able to get the hard to find records; and most of them were far less then what they are worth.  The large majority of these records more than likely would have never made it to my local record stores or any record stores for that matter.  Over the past several years, eBay has given me the opportunity to score some great, highly collectible records.  As a result, I have been able to complete my Miles Davis Colombia record label collection, and purchase some of his Prestige and Blue Note recordings too.  I have also built an awesome John Coltrane Impulse, Prestige and Blue Note record label collection; and a trippy classic rock quadraphonic record collection just to name a few things.  If you have been shopping for anything on eBay then you know what you need to know and what to expect.  For those who have done little to no shopping on eBay here’s some of what you need to know.
         
        1. Know what you are buying before you buy it.  Research.. research.. research, online or any where you can get info on records.
        2. Become familiar with the various grading standards used to grade records.  Some sellers on eBay make up their own grading system and they list the definitions on their page on eBay.  Others use a standard grading system like Goldmine.  If the seller does not list a grading for the record and cover, ask them to grade it using standards found online like Goldmine.  If they don't grade a record or claim that they can't then I would steer clear of that purchase.
        3. Know who you are buying from before you buy.  eBay rates their sellers so I protect myself by only buying from sellers with extremely high ratings.
        4. Know how much it’s worth and perhaps more importantly, how much you are willing to pay for it.  Be prepared to spend some money for the records on eBay that are in demand.  Collectible records are not cheap on eBay or anywhere for that matter.
        5. Always.. always pay on time.  Most sellers give you a max of 3 to 5 days to make payment.  If you can, pay on the day the auction closes or before the 3 to 5 day deadline or what ever the deadline is.  You will get more respect from sellers that way and it will keep your rating as a buyer very high. In return, the sellers will leave you a favorable testimonial, which is great and it makes you a valued customer.
        6. Don’t be afraid to contact the seller if there is something wrong with the purchase.  Sellers value their ratings and standings with eBay.  The last thing they want is a negative review so most sellers are willing to resolve problems if nothing but to keep their high rating with eBay…. and you want high ratings as a buyer too so communicate with the seller as much as you can.
           














          Please check out PART II and PART III of How To Build The Best Record Collection Ever.  If you have any questions or you would like to comment on this and other blogs please do so.  Please select "Follow This Blog" or click the "Sign In" link to follow this blog so that you will be apprised of when I post subsequent blogs; and don't forget to check out my other posts in the Archives.


          Hope this info is helpful and good hunting. 
          The Vinyl Dude.