A couple of weeks ago, we got a new piece of furniture for the living room—a low shelving unit to replace the tall, rack-like thing that has held the DVR, DVD player, CD player, and turntable for maybe 10 years. It is, in what seems to be the story of our lives, not quite right, not quite what we’d prefer if we had our druthers, but it’ll do. It takes up less space, which is a major consideration in a place as tiny as ours.
What kept us from replacing the old unit sooner was the necessity of un-wiring all the electronics and then wiring ’em up again. It would mean digging into the nightmarish forest of cords hidden behind, taking everything apart, and then trying to remember how it was hooked up in the first place, with the consequent threat to our marriage that such a project always seems to evoke. We still haven’t sorted it out; the TV is hooked up through a different input than it was, and I can’t figure out how to play the Dish Network music channels through the stereo like we used to. (We are still married.)
Not everything is back in place, though—I decided not to hook up the turntable.
This is not as drastic as it seems. I can’t remember the last time I actually used the turntable. If it were four or five years, I wouldn’t be surprised, nor would I be surprised if it were longer than that. But packing it away means I no longer have easy access to a working turntable for the first time since, well, ever. From Dad’s little portable to the console stereo in the living room to the first record player I could call my own and through all the iterations of my home equipment since, there’s always been a turntable. But we simply don’t have a need for one anymore. If we listen to music in the living room, it’s usually the Dish Network music channels. I occasionally put in a stack of CDs, but I’ll bet we haven’t used the turntable for an evening’s listening in 20 years.
And that’s not the only reason. If it’s been four or five years since I used the turntable, it’s been at least that long since I bought any vinyl. And I have a confession to make: crate-digging, which used to be something I enjoyed immensely, no longer holds much interest for me. I will occasionally flip through a box of records in an antique store, but the days when I could get lost for hours among sizable stacks are over. I still discover plenty of old stuff that’s new to me via the Internet, and I’m OK with that. I don’t miss owning the physical objects—and I’m completely out of space to store them anyhow.
Many years ago, before the advent of the USB turntable, I bought a CD player with a recording well, thinking it would be good for converting vinyl to digital, but it was a disappointment from the moment I took it out of the box. The recording well never really worked properly—the machine was astoundingly sensitive to vibration and would glitch at random in mid-recording, ruining the blank disc; although it was supposed to recognize silence between songs and create individual tracks, it never did, and so every album was essentially a single long track. The thing should have gone back to the store the day after I got it home.
I’d like to have a USB turntable. If I did—if I could easily convert vinyl to digital—I might pick up the crate-digging habit again. But until I find room on my desk—room that doesn’t currently exist and is unlikely to exist in the foreseeable future—for better or worse, we’re a turntable-free house.
One More Thing: This past weekend I was once again lucky enough to enjoy the hospitality of whiteray and the Texas Gal in Minnesota, where spring remains but a rumor although the liquor stores are well-stocked with good beer, so who cares. I’m grateful to them and their menagerie of cats for making me feel at home in their home.