Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday!

I dug up some old pics of my set up from a few years ago when my collection was smaller and my system was kind of screwy.  I already revealed in another post a shot of my set up previous to this one, with the old beat up 1200s and Vestax mixer.  The image above is from 2010.  The turntable you see is an Audio Technica which I paid about $100 for at Best Buy at least 10 years ago.  I actually had it previous to the 1200s, then put it in storage.  Then I dumped the 1200s, the mixer and an old stereo with speakers I had in the other room on Craigs List.  I used the money to buy the speakers you see here, which I think I paid about $150 for (again, at Best Buy).  They are Insignia NS-82111s and I still have them today and they still sound great.  The Kenwood receiver you see below I also still have, I got it from a guy that used to live in my building who is now unfortunately no longer with us.  It is an absolutely great unit that I've had for a long, long time.  I gave my girlfriend the turntable at least two years ago and I listened to it as recently as this week.

The woofers are R-F 12s as you can see, once upon a time I had a decent system in my car (I don't even have a car anymore and haven't for almost 10 years).  I eventually sold all the components, mostly on eBay (where I bought some of them) after my head unit got stolen and my dash got all messed up.  I never sold the 12s because they were way too heavy to ship.  They were blown and I got them reconed at a place on Diversey in Elmwood Park a long time ago.  Then about 3-4 years ago, I signed up on a message board with audiophiles asking for an easy way to crossover the high frequencies out of them (as the receiver does not have EQ or a subwoofer channel).  I bought some really cheap parts from Parts Express and soldered them all together.  On top of the subs is an 8-track player from a period where I got into dissecting 8-track tapes and rebuilding them, I still have a small collection, this player died but I have another (which is not currently hooked up).  On top of that is the remote for my receiver (which I never use as it is arm's length from where I am sitting right now, same as it was then) and behind that is the transmitter for an ancient wireless speaker I no longer have.  It was an outdoor Advent speaker which I bought on ebay and had for at least 10 years.  I had it setup in the bathroom so I could listen to music while I took a shower.  The sound was pretty poor and sometimes the signal would break up.  Worst of all it was a giant green 'orb', everyone used to come over and be like 'what the hell is that'.  It ran on a DC adapter but it also could take four D batteries and even recharge them.  You had to actually take the whole thing apart with a screwdriver to change the batteries.  I eventually got sick of looking at it and didn't really listen to it anymore so I dumped it at an electronics recycling spot.

Obviously, I also eventually ditched the ugly, beat up folding table and also built some racks for my vinyl.  The pic below is from 2009.  As for the vinyl, what you see here are 14x14x14 boxes from Uline which work great as 'poor man's crates'.  You can even see that in the two below pics some time has passed as the stickers are different.  On Box #2 is the retail promo sticker from the 'Rise' LP promoting the single.  It's adhesive just died one day and the sticker fell off so I taped it on there.  I still have one of those boxes which I have some tools in and other random junk.  I estimate the collection was no more than 200 at that time and probably less.  In both pics it looks like box #3 was my hiphop vinyl and box #4 was my Stones Throw vinyl.  Looks like maybe 'Lincoln' is in the front of box #1 in the first pic.

World Record Shoppe [Indianapolis IN]

You get the feeling they've been 'remodeling' for a long, long time.  And there is no 'sale' anywhere beyond that door that I saw.
Found myself in Avon again - couldn't wait to get free from my work and head back to that Goodwill I had so much luck at.  Of course, there was nothing this time.  Oh well.

I went back to my hotel and laid low for a minute then decided I wouldn't strike out that easily! I checked the map and found a couple record stores but none were that close.  One was especially odd, it had only a couple reviews and they were really bad.  There was no photos for the place and I was convinced it wasn't a legit, operating store.  So I called and asked if they had records.  Someone answered the phone - then they answered yes.  And I was off!

World Record Shoppe is a real dump - about half the store is CDs in those old plastic 'racks' and they are all $10-15 and looked like mostly junk.  The records are along the back wall and sort of organized by genre, but then there is a large $1 bin as well.  The place is on Keystone Court, which is kind of just part of a larger parking lot for a whole bunch of other stores.  I actually parked, got out and walked about a block because I didn't understand where the place was.  It is in the back of the little strip mall, kind of in another strip mall of it's own.  Inside, there was a lot of cluttered junk around and I swear there was no heat in there.  At the counter, a fella sat behind the register, surrounded by all the other stuff he sells like marijuana smoking junk like pipes and what not, cologne, dollar store type stuff.

I initially glanced through the genre/artist specific bins looking for a few odds and ends but nothing panned out.  So I went over to the dollar bin and just went through it all.  The bins were so stuffed I had to pull a pile out of each so they would flip.  There were also a few stacks just laid on top which I had to move around.  Found absolutely nothing of interest except a marginally cool Tom Jones live album (which I already have) with a cool retail sticker.


Speaking of this album, I was always told that on Parrot releases, if the Parrot logo is in a box, it is a stereo only release.  If the Parrott logo is NOT in a box, it comes in mono and stereo.  I have proven this correct already on the first two Engelbert albums and the first 5 Tom Jones albums.  But this one is a mystery because it has the logo without the box but I have never, ever seen a mono version.  Now, you might say that I haven't seen many so how would I know.  Well of course you can look through this blog and imagine how many 100s I've looked at in thrift stores (as Tom and Eng are populated in every thrift store in the land).  But that isn't why I think I have a strong case the record doesn't exist.

I have the eBay app on my phone which is really cool because you can 'follow' searches.  So you have your set of keywords and refinements and whenever there are new items, a little dot appears next to that search in your list.  Then you click and see the new items.  I can assure you that people list at least one copy on eBay every single day of the year.  So I have looked through many more hundreds in this way, I even have a couple different searches saved to make sure none fall through the cracks.  So unless someone can show me a mono USA pressing, I don't believe it, logo be damned.

Back on track - after I dug the entire dollar bin I decided I'd go back and just look through everything else top to bottom.  I didn't have anything else to do and there weren't that many albums in this dump.  So I started at 'A' and just kept on truckin'.  And what do you know - I found something that has been on my want list for years, plus it was sealed and it was only $4 (which says a lot as everything was overpriced in this place).

So I started to walk over to the counter when I noticed a whole ton of 7"s right by the register.  As soon as I started to stoop down to start digging again, the clerk said 'those aren't for sale'.  I couldn't believe this attitude in a place this corroded.  I have a lot of trouble believing they sell many records (or CDs) here, period.


So I casually said 'that's interesting....the records aren't for a record store'.  He responded with "c'mon, they do that everywhere".  I asked who exactly 'they' refers to and he elaborated: he claimed that all record stores have huge inventory that they refuse to sell.  Well I hate to brag but I have more hard evidence of record store visits than most people (even if I haven't visited the most), so I beg to differ on that.  But I just shook my head and laughed, paid and got out of there.  One last time: what a dump!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Books N' More [Bemidji MN] (POST 300!)


After striking out big time at the Goodwill in town, I gave up as I have already been all over MN.  But our last day in town, we were at breakfast at the 'Minnesota Nice Cafe' (horrible name, nice place, good food) and I checked my phone and saw Books N' More just a couple blocks away.  Book stores often carry a few records (at least), so I was trying to scan their website and the pics on Google Maps to see if I could spot some vinyl.  It didn't take long - the first pic on their maps profile showed a wall of DVDs and two three-tier bins beneath.  Only problem is that it was about 8 degrees but of course we toughed it out.


The bins were unfortunately pretty well packed with junk.  But I checked each one before I gave up.  The clerk was behind the desk running an industrial grade CD duplicator and swapping the CD-Rs out constantly, it was pretty impressive.  It looked like it was dubbing two CDs every minute or so.  We browsed through the books and I glanced at the vintage video game stuff which was kind of cool. Still, the vibe in the store was warm and inviting, they had some arcade stand ups running and they were nice on the way in and the way out.  Nice place.

More importantly, this is now the 300th post on this blog which I am infinitely impressed with.  As cliched as it may sound, I can't believe I've come this far and I never really even had intentions to.  I just did what I thought made sense and covered where I went, it wasn't until I was well down the road that I started seeking out new spots just so I could blog (and of course, check out the vinyl).  This is my life's work in a lot of ways, as small as it may be and I often think about that when I get down, how proud I am of all of this.  So here's to 300 more!

found a handful of picture sleeve 7" but nothing doing

This was literally the coolest thing I found.  It is a Time Life record - I didn't even bother to look inside.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Goodwill [Bemidji MN]

Been through MN too many times to count, so I wasn't huge on seeing much during this visit.  But alas, there was a Goodwill just blocks from where I was and I had time to kill.

I could not find any platters, so I asked.  The clerk began to wander, was not fruitless.  But almost.

A scant milkcrate of single digits, all junk.  Should have checked if Mr. Winter's debut was stereo, looks like it ironically (or not, for 1960) more rare than the monophonic version.

Mixer Modification

[note: a scan of the 32-1200B manual is located here]

I've had my 32-1200B for a few months now and I'm happy with it.  However, I am still quite annoyed by the bizarre way they insisted on wiring the cue channel.  I put some thought into it and determined that it might not be so difficult (electrically speaking) to modify this thing to suit my needs.

So let me set out a scenario: let's say that Deck 'A' is live and Deck 'B' is in cue.  When I listen to Deck 'B' through the headphones, what I actually hear is Deck B in my left ear and Deck A in my right ear.  I don't need that - if I did, I'd just let one of the headphone cups off my ear and listen to the live feed through the speakers.  It is always in the left ear, even if the scenario is reversed and Deck 'B' is live and I am cueing Deck 'A'.

So I figured that I could disconnect the right channel lead to the headphone jack and bridge the left channel across both 'tip' and 'ring' and I'd be good to go.

I found the above graphic online but it tells you all you need to know.  I need to disconnect the lead that connects to the ring and bridge the tip across both via a number of different methods.  So I sat down and cracked the thing open.

This quickly began to get scary as I took off the back panel and both sides, then realized I'd have to literally tear the faceplate off and even then I MIGHT get a glipse of the headphone jack.  The faceplate was screwed down but it was also stuck on with some kind of adhesive.  So I jammed my screwdriver underneath it and gingerly pried it off as carefully as I could.  Then of course, I put it in my scanner.

The manual actually has a very detailed schematic inside and I located the part that covers the headphone jack.  It didn't provide me with much info so I knew I'd have to put eyes on the thing to see how it was wired.

So I finally got to where I could see the thing but looking was about all I could do.  It was held in place with a tiny brace, presumably to prevent it from getting busted from all the in/out, in/out (as my friend Alex would say).  Which is actually kind of cool, and sad that Realistic is basically gone now.  I removed the screws that held the brace in place and even started to try to remove the entire circuit board assembly (there are screws that hold the faders to the top of the chassis, I removed them all then realized there would be even more work to unearth this thing, so I backed off.  I finally was able to reach in there and pull off the retaining clip that holds the jack into the brace so I could carefully pull it loose.  It was actually held on by a ribbon cable! Interesting since they actually put maybe 3" of wire on there, without that this would have been just about impossible.  I attribute this to the difficulty that even Realistic had cramming this thing together when they assembled it.


Now my next problem was that while it was obvious the yellow wire was the sleeve (and I don't care about that one) it was not at all clear if the blue or white wire was the tip.  There were a couple ways I guess I could have gone about this, but the simplest way that I could think of was to disconnect one wire, then go set the mixer up and plug in the headphones and see which ear got cut off.  

So I did, and of course cut the tip on the first try.  So I removed the blue wire (ring) and then bridged the tip across both points with a very sloppy solder.  And I tested again to make sure it worked - alas, it did.

So after being sure that all was well, I redid the solder as best as I could.  As you can see, I gave up on the solder points at the bottom of the board, they got full of jacketing from the ribbon cable and also some of the black plastic housing that holds the jack.  Some of this was done at the Realistic factor no doubt but I made matters worse.  No worries, just go right onto the board.  Putting this back together was no fun and I'm kind of surprised I pulled it off.  The worst part is that it became more evident (I was already aware) that the headphone pot is pretty beat and if I was going to change it, this would have been the time. (This is ironic since all the faders are in great shape).  But it isn't terrible and maybe I can squirt something in there.  Glad all is well and thank god I have two ears of cue now!