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Crutchfield: The Podcast Ep. 4

Drummer, his turntable setup, and transitioning to digital

In this episode:

Drummer, a Crutchfield Advisor and serious vinyl collector, talks about his analog roots and how his listening routine has changed since investing in digital media. J.R. also references our helpful video on setting up a turntable.

Some of the gear discussed includes:

After the interview, J.R. and Eric respond to a customer comment on our turntable buying guide about reviving a retired turntable — invest in restoration or buy a replacement?

Explore more episodes

Read episode transcript

Hello and welcome to another episode of Crutchfield. The podcast. I'm your host, jay are joining me in studio again is my co host, eric. How you doing eric I am. Well, thank you. Here's what we're doing here today, this episode and this show in general, it's all about exploring the items, the cool stuff that the Crutchfield employees are buying. Right, we've got 600 employees, we have access to the cooler here on earth and what are we using it for? What's the last thing you bought there? Eric, A wireless charging pad for my new phone for your new iphone. So I don't know if that's good enough for a whole episode. So instead we're going to do this, let's talk about something a little bit more interesting than So in this episode, I sat down with a sales advisor, we call a drummer. As you will hear his mom and dad did not actually decide to call him drummer more on that later. But let's talk about who this guy is. He's been at Crutchfield for a couple of years now. He's a sales advisor. He's one of the people you might end up talking to if you call us or chat with us on the website if you want to help. He is an analog dude and he just absolutely loves music. He actually has his own Youtube channel on which he reviews albums. He's got over 1000 followers. You can find him at youtube dot com slash gig ins. That's G I G G E N. S. I even talked him into reviewing my band's CD, which you may have heard as the theme song for Crutchfield, the podcast, shameless plug. I thank you for pointing that out. Yes, So we're going to interrupt the interview with, with our nonsense and hopefully some sense. I'll provide the sense you'll provide the nonsense drummer has recently been embracing the world of digital. And uh we wanted to talk to him about his willingness to expand his horizons just a little bit and uh and see what that has been like for him and what it might be like for anybody else that might be going through the same thing. Remember when we were in training, we many advisors that would have phone names, jr is not my real name, I went with something easy for customers to remember and I would ask for me and stuff like that. Plus we had another adam on the phone, so to Adams didn't make sense. Real name is Doug And we have another Doug I know Doug, he's upstairs getting calls right now and so you couldn't be Doug. Tell me about the dream that inspired the phone name, drummer. Remember I wanted to be Bowie, but we thought it might be too much of a mouthful to try to get that out. It's a little bit of a weird jumble that you have to really clear with your name. It doesn't it doesn't roll off. Roll off. And so I was on my mind a lot and I do a lot of dream interpretation. So I'm constantly thinking about dreams and how they relate to my life and because of that vice versa, so your life affects your dreams and yeah drummer just sent me in a dream one night. I was like I am a drummer, that's a cool name. It's totally weird and different. It's not like a common name and you're heavily enough into vinyl and know enough about it that when I'm training a new class of sales advisor, I purposely bring you in. Yeah and I love doing that. How many records do you have? Last count? Probably 600. 600. And I've sold probably that many too. So I probably had around 1200 at the most, but probably right now probably six or 700. Where do you get your vinyl everywhere? Antique stores, garage sales. Um New places you do buy brand new vinyl records, old records, whatever pops up people's collections are getting rid of. Yeah and vinyl is huge. You're no longer that weird guy that listens to vinyl your mainstream. One of many weird guys listen it's everywhere. Target sells records now. Really? I did not know that big stuff. Pink Floyd Beatles Zeppelin but the stuff they know their records. So it's really cool. The stuff that still sells after all these years. Always sell Abbey Road was one of the best selling albums again for like 30 year in a row. So it's and it's not selling on cd cds are vastly dying vastly dying and it's not selling on cassette. Although you're into cassettes cassettes. Coming back is eight track gonna come back at some point funny enough they do make new eight tracks but they don't they're like blank tapes wow. Yeah once in a while band will do it blank like blank eight tracks. Okay so you can record like if you have an eight track player you can stream audio from Spotify directly to an eight track tape and then play that in your eight track player wow. People have done it. I don't know why. Hey Jr yes you remember eight tracks. I actually do remember eight tracks. I used eight tracks. Not the way everybody older than me remembers eight tracks. So I came into the world of listening to music. Maybe on the slight little tail end of the eight track world. I worked in a raid the station for a few years back in the nineties when you played a commercial between the songs on Cd at that time. So of course now radio stations are all computer. All of this is on a computer but in 1995 the songs were on C. D. And the commercials and the sound effects for the morning show. Those were all on what we called carts which were basically eight track tapes. And if if you google it you can probably find an eight track recorder and then an eight track player. That's what the drummer is referring to here uh It's not quite making the comeback that cassettes and turntables and final is for those of us that remember the progression of how we listen to our music. There was a good reasons that we progressed from eight track to cassette and then from cassette to cd. Uh Meanwhile vinyl was just always kind of over you know that was portable music for us. And vinyl was always kind of still there and it kind of still belongs there where maybe eight track and cassette are best left in the I get I get the turn that the cassettes coming back. I don't see a tracks making the huge comeback. If you were annoyed by having to rewind a cassette. Don't worry. There's no rewinding on an eight track, you just listen to the entire thing and then wait for it to start over again. That's how it tracks worked. I think that's going to be holding it back for making it. I think that along with maybe the audio quality maybe a little bit maybe you're not necessarily a digital person. Slowly. Slowly. Very a digital. So yeah I imagine you've had a smartphone for a while, couple years a couple of years but you weren't an early adopter of the smartphone had a flip phone forever. Yeah you were that guy was that guy that that when when friends were inviting their friends to parties using the apps on their phones. You were just left out. Yeah. If I had made a text message, I was sitting c 14 times to get to the sea. But And Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, so but then you finally relented and got a smartphone. Yeah. One of the jobs I had, they maybe have one for work. They gave it to me for the job ahead and I was like, this is awesome. I can go online. I can take pictures, I can. All right. I'll do it. What do you know about smartphones? From what I understand? They they do a lot. There's a lot of potential there with a smartphone. It's relatively sort of like a new device allows you to do a lot of different things. Like you can check your email on it and you can watch Youtube videos here. They have a flashlight built in. Yeah, you can light your way down a darkened path. Absolutely pictures, google things, take your lights on feed, your pets, record things, pay your taxes, get a mortgage, play games, interact with your friends on social media. Of course. Finally, drummer has a smartphone. You listen to music on your phone, definitely Spotify. So I got the premium Spotify on there and you primarily use that in your car car home home to. So I've started to integrate digital stuff home, which has been a lot of fun. And how does it compare sound quality wise. I mean you listen to a lot more vinyl than the average person. How does, how does that feel to you? Listening to Spotify? I think it depends on what you are using. Spotify premium does have a better sound quality than the cheap with everyone does, but it also depends on what the speakers you have our like the Ue boom that I have. I love that little thing. It gets the job done really, really well. Um you know, it's never gonna be analog records, big speakers kind of a thing, but it's a nice little speaker. So you have a bluetooth speaker which doesn't fit with what I know of you as as the record and tape guy. But now where do you use it, do you leave it plugged in in the house or do you carry it around? You take it out with you carry throughout my apartment. So this is this is your wireless music audience solution for you. I mean I can totally appreciate the hole in ceiling speaker stuff in the wireless setup. That's great. If you got a big house, knock yourself out, that's a really cool option for me. I have two rooms, have a kitchen, combination living room and a bedroom. I can pick it up and walk with me tonight. There's actually a lot of carrying it around. Yeah, it's super lightweight. It's not going to hurt my back because we're good for, for where drummer is in the world of transitioning from being all analog to embracing a little digital. He's doing pretty good, he's doing okay. And the ue boom is actually a fantastic sounding bluetooth speaker. It is totally portable and sounds great. Super popular for good reasons for it. Little apartment. I'm kinda with him here. Yeah, yeah, it's okay. It can be done better, it can be done better. But the music streaming over wifi will probably sound better than music coming from bluetooth from your phone to a to a speaker and you probably have more flexibility, You can do more cool things with it. And so yeah, so we we think drummers future certainly uh certainly involves a true wireless, multi room audio system. But for now bluetooth speaker seems to be getting the job done. I do have a pair of clips PM 15 powered powered desktop monitor speakers. Yeah, there are a lot of fun. They're louder than they have any right to be with more bass than it seems possible coming out of those little surprised by and they get better, the more you play them, the more they warm up. So I've had them for almost a year now and I can't get enough of those things because you got one of my setup is a turntable with those speakers has a little compact because you can plug it right in the back of the phone and put yeah, it sounds great. That's becoming actually pretty popular now to do it. Just a turntable and a set of powered speakers and that's that's your whole two channel audio system. Listen to records. You are you have a subwoofer hooked up to that too? No, you're not a subwoofer guy. Our two speakers with enough low end of the speaker itself and that's enough for me. I live in apartment two so I can't crank it up. Yeah. Yeah. Are not awesome in an apartment unless you have the coolest neighbors, best neighbors. Yeah. So what turntable do you have connected to those clips speakers? Do that? Want to have the tm 300 from T. S. Okay. And does that have the built in phono pre so just a simple set of audio cables from that to your tables and you're done that switch in the back and that's it. But then when you want, when you want to hear something that's not on one of your 600 pieces of vinyl, it's on Spotify. You can bluetooth into those same speakers and listen anything you want those sound fantastic on Spotify. They sound great. So this is sort of a new take on how to listen to vinyl. Right? I mean, I don't know about you. Eric but my parents had a turntable and was it connected to a big bulky stereo? Yes, with a big knob, a big huge volume knob and a tuner for an AM FM and lights and it went left and right and it was probably silver. I could control both the base and the trouble that's right, that's like turn them both all the way up well, uh more is always better but and you can still set up a turntable with a awesome component stereo system like that, you can have a pre amp and an integrated amp, an amplifier, a tuner, you can just do a stereo receiver, any number of components can get the job done to power whatever speakers you want to listen to. Uh that's not what all the kids are doing these days, they know they've kind of cut out the middleman. Yeah, so like what you just heard drummer talk about there, it's a it's a turntable connected directly to a pair of powered speakers. Like the clips PM 15 Yeah. Now what's interesting about this kind of evolution to me is, you know, when I got started in this industry, I would think of powered speakers, it was kind of like those little speakers that might come with a Gateway computer. Right? Powered speakers, they weren't really necessarily known for audiophile quality, but a lot has changed. No, they were so you could hear the little noises your computer was making, not, not even thinking at the time that you would have high resolution music on a computer and that you would want it to sound amazing. That's not what they were for. So yeah, powered speakers were just computer speakers and we still have those, however, it's a whole new category of product that has grown exponentially over the last few years and a lot of it is so that you can simply buy a turntable and a set of speaker and you're done and there's no other components needed. It's kind of sleek, looks nice. He takes up less space, especially, yeah, minimalist turntables these days. They're not exactly like open the box, turn them on, plug them in and start playing music. There's a little bit to setting them up and getting them ready, calibrating them and all that good ones certainly aren't to plug and play. No, there's things you might have to set up, like you might have to set up the waiting on the tone arm, there might be an anti skate weight hook to a fishing line that you have to hang on there, right. Uh and uh so these are some high end, really nice sounding turntables and you kind of want to get it right as far as setting it up goes. Uh we've got help for you there, we've got of course articles on the web about picking out the right turn table setting it up. We've even got a sweet video that really takes you through kind of step by step, a specific turntable as well as just some general how to set up a turntable stuff and we love it if you're even considering getting a turntable or if you've already purchased one and you want to make sure yours was set up correctly, check, check out this video. It will be uh there will be a link to it in the show notes for this podcast episode. Does it mess with your, your ethics, your morals, your analog sort of psyche, is it are you okay with being digital now? You've gotten over that hump. It took me a little, I'll be honest. It took me a little while to get over that because my, I got my first ipod In 2011 or 12, which was already eight years behind at that point, it's kind of old technology at that point, that was my first one and I got itunes for the first time. I downloaded my first itunes track, so I'm already years behind. But my biggest thing was like, if I get a new album, I could hear it on my turntable with my big speakers, that was my code for years. And then I got this Spotify um the premium thing and have unlimited data on my phone now. And so one of my New Year's resolutions this year was to play a new album every single day of this year that I've never heard before. Like the whole thing, maybe I've heard a couple songs or nothing just exposed myself to 365 brand new albums and you can do that with Spotify because 98% of the music out there is on it. And so I broke a lot of my rules where I was like I need to hear it in my room with my speakers hold the jacket. And I was like you know what? I got nice big speakers in my car. Now I got an amp, got a whole M. T. X. Setup, it sounds great. Let's just play a new album for the first time in my car. And it was a bit like this feels a little funny. But then I was like this is awesome that I can do this. It's been so fun because if I did that with a record I'd have to buy 100 new records the cost of this way. So for 10 bucks a month for Spotify, whatever it is. You know the wealth of music is out there not only the cost but the time and expense of your day trying to acquire you know shipping handling if it's it's not in stores. So it has completely changed how I appreciate music. So listening to new music, have you found a new band that you're now into? What have you discovered? What's your favorite thing you've discovered as part of this goal? It's funny because I took a lot of the bands that I know but stuff that I didn't know from that. I mean like earlier we were talking about cassette tapes. I mean back in the day you went to the store, you bought your tape, that was your world, You had this little cassette and your walkman, that was all the music you had not even phoned with everything ever made all the music. It's almost like we have too much, but it's if you use it wisely, I think it's pretty beneficial. I love the drummer is sort of approaching music in a couple of new ways, right? A couple of ways at the same time he he's really getting into and embracing the world of discovery, finding new music and using services like Spotify to find music that he's never listened to before, to broaden his horizons. It's one of the great things about this digital age of music and just how much there is available and how much how much new music you can find that way. But he's also doing it the old fashioned way when he has an opportunity to make time to listen to music. When he's not also driving in the car, when he's really trying to connect with that music. Um, and as someone, you know, I've got a turntable and not nearly the collection he has. Um, but there's something that's kind of visceral about physically connecting to your music laying that, that that record on your player and and treating it delicately because it's important to you and then watching the stylist, you know, lowering that stylist, care Actually on the track that you want and and hearing the pops coming right off that needle. It's something a little bit different and you do feel more connected to your music when you have an opportunity to do that. So I get it. I get it. I definitely do it. And so another thing I heard you recently purchased was a blu ray player. Yes, so this is getting pretty digital right on time to join 2009. They just can't know. Yeah I just heard about it. Is it a four K. Blu ray player? So you could put a four K blu ray in now? Do you have a four K. Tv? No you do not have a four K tv. I gotta get my tv minds that it's an old tv from like 10 years ago or 2011 so it's clean. It's probably 7 20. Okay. Maybe 10 80. And what size? 20 inch, maybe 2020. You do not need a four K. Blu ray player. I really wanted connections to the Internet so I can stream hulu on my TV instead of hitting my laptop all the time which is a little small screen which has done the trick for years now. I wanted to connect it to my 1991 on Kio receiver through my Philips speakers that I've had since I was 14 and play that way and it's amazing. I'm hearing stuff in theme songs I've never heard before. Like there's a baseline I've never heard of or yeah I've never heard that cowbell in the background like this is awesome. I can crank it up and really hear the show for the first time ever. So drummer likes to stream and what drummer uses to stream video from like netflix amazon things like that is a blue ray player and that is one of the many ways you can get streaming shows into your home. There are several ways to get that done. It's probably not the most common way anymore. Well probably tv probably has most of the apps built in and when I say most of the apps, we're talking netflix, hulu youtube amazon, those are probably the Big four. There are others HBO. Now a lot of networks are starting their own apps popping up all the time. How do you make sure you can stream what you want? It's tough right now. The way the way I personally do it, I have an apple Tv and I use that for all of my streaming and and the newer apple TVs, you can download new app. So if a new network has a new app where they're going to be able to stream, it's probably gonna be a subscription service. You can probably add it to your apple tv assuming they've signed a deal with Apple, right? That's the other backbone of all this is all these different companies have to have signed deals to allow each other to stream each other's content but streaming boxes like my Apple Tv, like a row coo like an amazon fire stick, like a Chromecast. There's so many ways to get the streaming done. Whether it's built into your Tv, built into your blue ray player, your gaming console or you have a separate box dedicated to just streaming. A lot of stuff. I think these days a lot of people have multiple ways in their existing set up and it's just a matter of figuring out what user, which user interface you're most comfortable using that. Hopefully has that deal struck with all of the provide of that content that you're looking to get. Exactly. So yeah, Apple Tv is a great option for that. Certainly you play any bands or anything right now. So you have been in bands for a long time. Do you have much chance to jam in your small apartment? No. Yeah, I have my entire drum set with me now but I can't set it up cause it's too big and yeah, have neighbors. You need to get like an electronic drum set. I thought about it, some headphones on and go to town. Yeah, I would love that. So what kind of music do you play when you do get to play your, the stuff that I write myself because I've been writing since I was about 15 or just whatever. Random. As long as I meant to say stuff by the who or the Beatles or Beach Boys. Yeah, all the old stuff, drummer. This has been great. This is fun, man. Thank you so much for coming down and talking to me. Uh and uh, and sharing with us your journey from a totally analog life to catching up to where a lot of people are these days in the digital realm. Anything else you want to talk about that? I haven't thought of Just that, it's okay to embrace change. And even if you're 15 years behind things are on sale at this point, cheaper prices. I love that. We have people like drummer that work for crutches. He's a really, really fun dude and I love to make him come down and talk to the new trainees about vinyl and all that. That's a really fun day of training. So I hope you enjoyed listening to me talking to drummer and listening to us rudely interrupt. It was fun for us. It always is. Yeah. Uh and if you have questions about like, turntables and stuff, there is a really cool art crutchfield dot com. It's called how to choose the best turntable. Uh it will be a link to it in the show notes for this episode. So it won't be too hard to find if you're listening to us now. Uh and as well, again, a link to that video on how to set up a turntable. A whole lot of turntable resources for you. Uh Speaking of that article, we routinely get questions from customers and those guys that write those articles and various others will try to answer them and I wanted to share some of those with you now, specifically on that article Bruce from I think it's to loom California. Uh He he writes a question on this article now. This article was penned by a sort of a legend here at Crutchfield. Dave Barr, I've heard that name when I started in 96. He was already a legend at Crutchfield. He had been here for like 15 or 20 years at that point he's an audio file and the music file, he's about the gear and he's about the music at the same time. He's all he also likes to garden which I think is what he's doing now because he is retired. So we don't have Dave to talk to here. However, we do have our customer Bruce's question and Dave's answer and I just kinda wanted to talk about that and share that with you. So Bruce from tulum California says, hey Dave, I have a huge vinyl collection acquired between the late sixties and the late eighties as I transitioned to C. D. S. I finally packed away my high end turntable in the mid nineties. It's been boxed and stored in the garage ever since. It seems. I'm succumbing to nostalgia these days. Finding myself anxious to break out the old turntable and haul my record collection up to the living room and start enjoying the vinyl vibe. Once again. My questions. Is it reasonable to think the belt on the turntable has survived 20 years of in activity. Should I expect some degree of degradation in the cartridge? Is it legit to think I could find a cartridge in a belt for a 30 plus year old turntable. Thanks Bruce. And uh it's a bunch of good questions. There's there's a lot to unwrap their. Uh huh. And what does the legendary Dave barr suggest? That's what I wanted? That's why I hope he suggests that he gets a new one from us. Uh That'd be smart. Dave's feelings are this if you're sitting on a classic turntable, like a lin, a soda, A V. P. I. A mission high end thorns or rega etcetera, they sound fancy. And so what he's saying to Bruce is if you have an amazing turntable uh and it seems to be functioning properly, it may be well worth your while to invest in a new belt in a cartridge, you'll most certainly need both due to long term deterioration. Yeah, that belt is not going to have lasted if if it hasn't been used regularly. So it'll be probably cracked, it'll be brittle. It certainly won't be accurate when it's trying to drive that platter. So you are gonna want to get a new one and most of these manufacturers, you can probably go to their website. Uh and they either have a parts department or a parts retailer, you'll be able to find one. You should probably just google that and uh, and see where it is. We certainly don't have parts for these old nostalgic, amazing high end turntables. Dave's also got a pro tip for Bruce here as he gets that old turntable out, assuming he's going to get the old one going. Uh, he suggests that he not forget to put a drop of good synthetic oil on the platter bearings, uh, for the table because it, that will certainly keep those bearings rolling smooth. Now on the other hand, Dave says, if your table is not functioning at all or was of average or lesser quality to begin with, the Dave goes on to say you would probably be better off buying a new turntable instead. So he didn't just say go buy a new one. The answer is really not that simple. That's a great point. The neat thing is some of the technology and materials used have improved and some of high end materials that are used today are, are actually, you know, becoming more and more affordable. So not only can you get a good turntable with good isolation, you can also get like an acoustic decoupling pad to put under your turntable. So I know in like in, in my house, if I didn't have that, If I was walking around, just the vibrations from the floor would transfer into the turntable and you could hear it and might even cause the record to skip. So lots of cool stuff you can get to make sure your turntable is sounding great. So that's it for this episode of Crutchfield, the podcast. If you have any questions on turntables for yourself, heck, you might just give Crutchfield a call. We have advisers standing by. They can help you pick out whatever you need. Yeah, that's absolutely entirely possible.

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