I think for every year since cassettes, CDs and MP3s became used more extensively, people have been saying “there’s been a big resurgence in real records this year”. I’ve heard it loads over the years and for the majority of my adult life chose to ignore it. But then in the last few years in particular with big name supporters like Jack White and certain bands producing vinyl only releases, it has felt a little more realistic that vinyl players could make a proper comeback.
One thing I’m not going to do is join the argument about whether vinyl sounds better, or more authentic, or whatever arguments are being banded around these days. That is just an eternal struggle and I can accept that it’s firmly a case of each to his own. But what I will say is that listening to vinyl is a much different experience to listening to CDs, and in particular MP3s.
Since the advent of iPods and iTunes the onus has been on owning huge quantities of music. The great ease of purchasing a particular song you like and building the ultimate playlist for any given situation, has become the ultimate statement about who you are. But what I find this breeds, is a culture of not really listening to music. Loads of people I know will put on a song and then skip it before the end because they suddenly think of another song in their 20,000 track library that they “need to hear”.
Whilst the convenience is nice it feels like music isn’t always given the appreciation it used to have. But with vinyl it’s different. The very act of placing a record on to a player and getting it going is an art. It takes skill, patience and care and so there’s no rushing at all to press play. You take your time putting it on and then subsequently spend time really listening to what you are playing.
So now I’ve preached to you, how about a look at the product in question. The Steepletone all in one record player is modeled on original players such as the Dansette, but has been brought up to date with improved speakers, a less weighty package and even usb/SD card inputs (so you can still MP3 it up if you must).
It looks like a retro chic dream come true. The brilliant red faux leather exterior is a joy, and if nothing else, makes a great design statement in your living room. But it’s what’s under the hood that counts and for the price you get a very smooth, fairly sturdy turntable. This is a budget unit after all so the fact that it has managed to play everything I have placed on it without jumping at all is worth celebrating.
The only slight downside is the lack of EQ control. The obviously small speakers have a tendency to veer towards the overly deep end of the sound. For most records this is ok. Put on ACDC’s Back in Black and you’ll find the accentuated kick drum happily pounds through. But try something heavier and you’ll find it becomes somewhat sludgy. When spinning Mastodon’s “The Hunter” album I found myself struggling to pick out all the intricate layers because of the muffled tone on the heavier tracks.
But overall this is a gem of a player to have on whilst at home, chilling out or even as background music if you’ve got friends/family round.
Music, like film is all about the experience and to have something so tangible, interactive and beautiful as this to play your tunes through provides something a bit more magical than pressing play on Spotify.