Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas! (and My Other Hobby)

Merry Christmas everyone!  This is the tenth Christmas that I've celebrated here at Shoebox Legends, and I figured it was the perfect time to show off one of my favorite ornaments on our tree, The Great One himself!

Instead of posting any cards today, I've got something a little different for the holiday.  Recently I mentioned that my spending on sports cards has taken a downturn due to another hobby.  Well, here it is...

Yup, after quite a while spent researching and saving I finally got a nice hi-fi setup going to play vinyl records.  Music has always been both a passion and a hobby for me.  I've played the guitar for many years now, and live music has been a big part of my life since I was just a teenager.  I've attended easily north of 100 concerts, and I can remember asking for and receiving albums as birthday gifts as far back as sixth (The Beatles) and seventh (Led Zeppelin, Nirvana) grade.

When I had part-time jobs growing up, my friends and I would hit the local Strawberries music store any time we got paid and load up.  At one point I had literally hundreds of CDs, in fact despite downsizing over time I probably still have that many today.  I went digital long ago though and hadn't purchased a CD in ages, but I've wanted a proper turntable setup for years now.

Well, in 2017 I finally made it happen, and I couldn't be more pleased.  For those of you who care or are interested, the turntable is from U-Turn Audio, and the speakers are made by Audioengine.  The speakers are powered so I don't need a receiver, and also have a built-in bluetooth receiver and DAC (digital audio converter), which is pretty great as it lets me enjoy my entire library of digital music, or any other streaming source like Pandora, from my phone with the same high-quality sound.

At this point I have to say I couldn't be happier with either product.  I can honestly say I've never heard music sound so crisp, clear, and rich before.  The only thing I plan to upgrade at some point is the pre-amp (the little black box on top of the right speaker).  My current one was a cheap ($49) but highly-rated model off Amazon.  I'd like to get something a little nicer aesthetically speaking, since my wife is being a good sport and letting me keep this in the living room.  Actually, she's been enjoying it just as much as I have and has already picked up quite a few records herself!

The long term plan is to get some vertical vinyl storage for either side of this little table to hold more albums and to move the speakers onto, but this is fine for now especially since it's getting cramped a bit by Christmas decor.  I picked up the stand on Etsi, handmade from reclaimed sanded and stained wood.  Had the look I was going for and only set me back around $150.  It should hold around 100 albums or so, which is perfect.

I don't have a ton of records yet, but I do have three Christmas-themed albums in the collection so far, with this Bing Crosby being the first.  When it comes to holiday music, I definitely gravitate towards the classics, and this album is chock full of them.  One of those where pretty much every song is a classic that you've heard countless times on the radio, in shopping malls and in holiday movies over the decades.

With these tracks having been recorded in the 1940s, this is a great album for the vinyl medium.  This was one of the first records I picked up, and it's gotten quite a few spins this holiday season.

Much like the Bing Crosby album, Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" is another seasonal classic where just about every track is a staple for this time of year.  I like this one every bit as much as the Crosby album, maybe more.

Collecting vinyl isn't all that different from collecting cards in some ways, there are rare pressings, serial numbered releases, and even colored vinyl!  As you can see based on the sticker, my copy is an exclusive "Red/White" pressing of the album, released by Newbury Comics, a regional chain here in New England.

Here's what the actual record looks like, almost equivalent to a colored parallel or refractor in the baseball card world I guess.

Here's the last of the holiday trio we've accumulated to date, the well-known and well-loved soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas", performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

This one's my favorite of the three.  Jazz sounds really spectacular with the setup I have, in fact this is one of the records that really got me into exploring more jazz artists over the past few months.  A true holiday classic in every sense of the word, and pressed on seasonally appropriate green vinyl to boot!

Well, now you know what will be competing with sports cards for my hobby funds in 2018!  Don't worry, I am still enjoying collecting cards too, and have plenty of great cardboard already stockpiled to feature in the coming year.

Merry Christmas to those of you that celebrate it!  I hope you are spending the day enjoying the company of loved ones, and I thank you as always for taking a few minutes of your day to stop by and read my ramblings.  It'll be back to sports cards tomorrow!


Angus said...

Nice! Enjoy collecting the vinyl.

Merry Christmas!

Commishbob said...

Nice set-up. I know it'll bring you lots of enjoyment. I'm always regretting that I sold off so much of my record collection.

Merry Christmas!

Jon said...

That stand is fantastic! As a fellow vinyl enthusiast, I can certainly appreciate your wanting to purchase such a system.

Billy Kingsley said...

If you have a specific vinyl wantlist you should get it to me somehow. Post it up here or pm me on the Database. Our local library booksale has vinyl records for 50 cents or less. Only hold it twice a year and I missed both in 2017 unfortunately. Merry Christmas!

Coast To Posts said...

Merry Christmas Shane!

I purchased a record player and set up about 3-4 years ago; I've accumulated about 30 records thus far but since I have a 2 1/2 year old and my wife doesn't like my taste in music, the player is hardly used. Have fun picking up your favorite stuff on vinyl!

SumoMenkoMan said...

That Bing Crosby Christmas record is a classic!

Hackenbush said...

Great updated setup. All of my hi-fi gear is in the 40 year old range. I have around 800 LP's that I've been lugging around four nearly that long as well. Can't say I've added anything is years though. Merry Christmas!

Brett Alan said...

Collecting vinyl is actually what supplanted the card collecting for me in college. Unfortunately much of my collection was destroyed in a flood caused by Hurricane Floyd. I do still have some things including a small stack of more traditional stuff --Andy Williams, Ray Conniff, some very nice Broadway cast albums, that sort of thing. Would certainly be willing to trade those if there is interest (although perhaps shipping would be prohibitive).

Mark Hoyle said...

Very cool setup Shane. Love the old vinyl.

Nick said...

Merry Christmas, Shane! You now share my dad's hobby -- his record collection is just as big as my card collection!

Bulldog said...

Great stuff. Love hearing about folks who still like vinyl. Thanks.

Fuji said...

Sweet setup! I really need to get a turntable, so I can start truly appreciating my vinyl collection.

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