Sunday, April 21, 2019

A record player for my office!

I have been with my current employer for almost 14 years.  About a year ago, I was lucky enough to move into an office of my own.  It is probably 12' x 12', very roomy by my standards.  When I got it, I did a ton of work: drywall, electrical, paint, carpet cleaning.  Did some work to the desk/credenza, made some modifications there.  Moved some other furniture in/out.  Got some cool diffusers for the florescent light fixtures.  I hooked up some LED lights around the perimeter of the room which required additional modifications, more parts, more electrical work.  I got stainless steel wall plates for the outlets, network jacks.  Got a USB outlet near my desk and an automatic light.  It was a long time coming.  Very, very proud of it all.

But early on, I am some ambitions.  I decided that if you have an office of your own, and you can MAKE it your own (as I have), there are three things that take you to the top of the list:

1) a couch
2) a refrigerator
3) a record player

Well the couch was first.  I went down to my local St. Vincent store where I have bought vinyl many times.  I had some measurements in mind but that was about it.  I knew I didn't want anything ratty or nasty looking.  Funny because I have been in many, many thrift stores but I don't look at couches, or furniture generally.  I was surprised to see that the couches at St. Vincent looked really nice for the most part! I ended up picking a green couch which seriously looks brand new.  I paid under $30 with tax because I was there on a sale day.  It is absolutely perfect and I love it.  I have taken a few naps after I punched out for the day on particularly stressful afternoons.

The fridge was next.  My dad long had one in his office.  His company moved and in the new building they don't allow any food or drinks outside the cafeteria so the fridge sat in his basement.  He offered it to me but early on I wasn't interested.  Why would I be? There was another small fridge in the shop just outside my door, so close to my old desk where I stored my lunch for years.  There is even another full size fridge in the office! Well one day the snobbishness kicked in and I decided that I could not possibly bear to let my food and drinks touch others.  So I did grab the fridge.  I shortened the cord and put a right angle plug on the end (I love these things) so I could push it really close to the wall.  I keep it filled to the brim with my favorite drinks which is pretty awesome.  I just dropped $40 at Whole Foods this weekend to refill it with La Croix, Steez and iced coffee.  I am a very lucky man.

Well the record player was last.  I thought it would be cool to leave some vinyl at work and listen to a few tracks now and then.  I knew I wanted something small, portable.  Maybe even with an internal speaker.  I wasn't really sure because I had never explored these kind of products though I had seen them around.  Initially I even looked at some of the old Fisher-Price record players on eBay.  They don't sound half bad! But I decided those are all so old some random part is bound to go out before long then I have to refurb the whole thing.  So I did a bunch of research on portable style players and came across a couple units that Numark makes.  I certainly like the brand due to my long time use of my TT1625s.  So I found they make the PT-01 USB and another called the PT-01 Scratch.  Apparentely you can actually scratch on the latter, which is a bit ridicolous as it is so small.I thought about buying the scratch brand new as it is under $150 but of course I am quite cheap so instead I went to ebay.  I ended up buying the USB version used for $35 (made an offer, asking price was $40).  Shipping was a ridicoolous $30.05 but even at $65.05 total, this was cheaper than anything else, and the seller said it was in great condition (the photos backed this up) and it worked great.  So he accepted my offer and I paid and started getting excited.

He first refunded $10 becasue he said the shipping was so high.  Yes it was, but I already paid - he was foolish to refund it, I wasn't about to ask.  But of course I was glad to have it.  So now I am down to an $55.05 investment.

In the meantime, I started looking at speakers.  The PT-01 USB has a small internal speaker but when I saw it actually has stereo RCA outputs, I knew I'd have to get some proper speakers.  My girlfriend has a set of Bose Companion II Series III computer speakers and man do these things sound great! So I started looking at Bose speakers and ended up on a set of Series II speakers.  The seller admitted they had some scratches etc but said they functioned great, I got them for $33.25 with shipping.  Not half bad.

So everything soon arrived and I could not wait to get it all hooked up.  Big problem: the turntable had no AC adapter! I went back to the auction page, wondering how I could be so stupid not to notice this in the description.  But it wasn't! So I sent a message to the seller, here is our full exchange:


If it’s my call, $10 so I can just get the part I need is way easier than a return. We already agreed to this. What am I not understanding?

Let's just do a return. You file it and I'll shoot you a label and refund all costs. Sorry for the inconvenience. I don't remember using anything buy the USB cord when transfering a bunch of '80s punkrock 7" records that can't be found anywhere anymore. That's why I got it mainly.
I know it's a hassle for you but I think a return would be best. Your call.
Your previous message

Btw I’m looking at the manual on Numarks website right now that clearly states “please note the turntable cannot be powered through the usb connection”. See attached.

If that's satisfactory with you then fair enough. Consider it done.
Your previous message

It was listed as ‘includes all accessories’ - it does not. I’ll take $10 refund (an adapter will cost me at least $15) and we will be done with it.

We honestly never had an AC cord with it. It powers via USB but does have an AC mains jack, again just never had that cord. If you'd like to return it you may wish to file an eBay return. But first: Were you wanting to use it as a standard turntable and not a USB turnatble? It's more suited to transfer vinyl to digital files--wave, mp3, etc. It is plug and play. If you were wanting to use it as a regular turntable you would not be impressed (as it is a USB turntable--the stylus and needle characteristics are better suited for transfering as opposed to listening pleasure play back).

If you have a USB outlet that will power it.Or, your phone charger's wall brick.

If you are the least bit unsatisfied we can walk you thru the returns process which you file thru ebay.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We are here to help.
Your previous message

Just got the record player. It does not include the AC adapter. Auction states ‘all accessories included’ and ‘works great’, which I don’t understand as it cannot work at all without power.

What do you recommend we do next?
So he ended up giving me $10 off, but I immediately had to buy an adapter, which was $9.99 plus shipping.  So here is a full accounting:

$35 (record player)
+$30.05 (shipping)
-$10 (shipping refund)
+$18.30 (speakers)
+$14.95 (shipping)
-$10 (refund for missing AC adapter)
+9.99 (AC adapter)
+5.99 (shipping)
TOTAL=$94.28

Out the door for under $100 - I can live with that. So I finally got it all hooked up and it sounds GREAT! But a few more modifications had to be made.

Power is at a premium in my office unfortunately.  I have a two-gang on one wall (this powers my fridge and the printer on top of my fridge).  I have another two-gang on another wall (this powers the surge protector that controls my PC, monitor, etc).  So I do have a free outlet on the latter.  But this doesn't help me much as it is 12" from the floor and I intended to put my new hi-fi up near the top of a bookshelf.



So the first thing I did was to take a hole saw and cut a 2 1/2" hole in the side of the steel shelf.  I have a variety of hole saws, I used this one because initially I was going to make a custom length extension cord with put a three way splitter on the end.  I couldn't fit the female end of the plug through the next smallest size hole saw so I had to go with the biggest one I have.  But soon after that I decided to go with a 4-way surge protector instead.  I set up that, the record player on the top shelf, and the speakers on the shelf below.  Initially I had it all up high but quickly noticed the sound was, well....up high.  And I am 6'3 but it was frustrating to have it up there, so I moved them down.



Because of the placement of my hole, I ended up building a wooden baseplate for the surge protector so it would sit flat.  I used two boards nailed together and sanded, and four screws to slide the surge protectors mounting bracket onto.  I notched out the corner of the second board to fit around the bracket that holds the shelf in place.  Works and looks great.



Next I had an issue with the bulky AC adapters for the speakers and surge protector interfering with each other so I grabbed a spare short cord from home.  I don't know what else to call these, but it basically is a 4" cord so your AC adapter can plug in with a standard plug.  Maybe call it a pig tail?



But that was no good, it was too short and the record player plug was suspended in air.  This is stressful to the cord so again I got a right angle plug and put it on.  Again - not enough, I had to put the end of it on a grinder so it wouldn't interfere with the speaker adapter.



I also went out and got some command hooks so the surge protector cord is neatly put away and not out in the open - very happy with the way this looks.

Lastly I built myself a quick crate for 45s.  While the turntable can play 12" I decided it would be fun to just bring a bunch of 45s to work.  For one thing, I never listen to these at home.  Also it is good for any vinyl fan to have to get up frequetly to change the record, it makes you active in the process and it is something I haven't done in many years.

So I grabbed a board and got to work.  I drew up a very quick plan, cut the boards, sanded them and Kreg'd it all together.  I ended up using a really light color stain and I'm very happy with it.










Thursday, February 28, 2019

Attractions [Cowansville QC]



I visited Vermont about 6 months ago and got a rare chance to go back to the same place in St. Albans (by way of Burlington).  As I already had Vermont checked off the list, it wasn't on my radar to look for more to do.  I did however have a full afternoon to waste.  Surely I'd love to spend some more time in Burlington but I had a better idea - drive to Quebec!


My plan became this:

  1. Drive from Burlington to Bedford for lunch
  2.  Drive from Bedford to Cowansville to check out some vinyl
  3. Drive from Cowansville to my hotel in St. Albans and prepare for the work day tomorrow.
All in all this would be about 2 1/2 hours behind the wheel but I had plenty of time as my flight arrived before 1pm.  And before 1 I was on the road, soon after in Bedford where I stuffed myself with poutine and headed east.

But rewinding the clock briefly I need to explain.  Records were not originally on the menu as it looked like the region was too rural to have much to do aside from finding lunch.  The only thing that came up anywhere in the area for 'record store' on Google Maps was this place.  But there were no photos and only two reviews both of which were vague (and French).  I surely didn't want to drive way out there to find a CD store or something (which is what my hunch was leaning toward).  So I enlisted a Francophone I work with to do some investigation:


That exchange took place as I was still at O' Hare the morning of my flight.  So quickly I navigated a new route around the area and began to get really excited as my prospects.



Attractions is in a small shopping mall called Domaine du Parc.  While there are less than 10 stores in the mall of course I wandered like an idiot around the place until I found it.  This is a book store up front....with a GIANT magazine rack along one wall.  Then there are tons of CDs, plenty of DVDs....and finally, vinyl.  I was worried that it would be all new reissues but I was delighted to find tons of used vinyl.  I find some real gems up front but I didn't buy any.  Why? I don't know.  And it has been eating at me and it's getting worse by the minute.  The Raspberries LP on the right was the one I missed the most (still do).  I have always loved 'Go All the Way' before I even knew the name of the band that sung it (honestly I still didn't know until fairly recently).  I found out who the artist was when I was reading an interview with Eddie Trunk and he mentioned how he loved the song when he was a kid.  There is a 'live' (lip synced) version out there of the band playing it on the Mike Douglass show and I recommend you check it out.  Eric Carmen has a wig (or is it real?) that looks like Barney Rubble's wife and is wearing what can only be called a blouse.  Most of all he actually bats his eyelashes when he sings the chorus like a woman.  You might be thinking this is criticism - it isn't.  You can't help but respect anyone who is so confident.  I am a fan of some glam rock, early Motley Crue is pretty feminine but this takes the cake and many years before hand.  And of course the lyrics, kind of a passive aggressive way to be really filthy and of course I love it.  Anyways great song, probably a great LP, I am an idiot for letting it pass.

Moving to the right, why did I leave behind a Canadian press of the jazz classic? Don't know.  And of course, Anne Murray.  Only fitting I find this almost as soon as I crack the bin.  I used to have two copies of her debut and it is a great album.  This is her second and I shouldn't have left it behind.  I found two more copies later on while I dug.  Another stab in the back is just now realizing that while the debut was released in both Canada and the USA (once I found the Canadian press I gifted the USA copy to a friend), the second album was only released in Canada, so of course I probably won't run across another one.  At this point to keep from self destructing as I write this I can only plan that I get wind of it if anyone goes back so I can quickly sell myself on the job, that I am more qualified to do it.  Cross your fingers for me.


Just around the corner there was some more vinyl.  There was a little new stock but still mostly used.  Lots of French Canadian artists I never heard of, interesting that when I was in Ontario I don't remember seeing much French stuff but here there was lots.  Not surprising since I was in Quebec but you'd think you'd see something in Ontario.  Not really.  At any rate, a cool store in a quiet mall that I recommend others check out - and I added a review and photos to Google Maps so the next poor bastard that drives up from the States knows what he is getting himself into.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

OK in OK


Got to make a run through Norman OK through a strange turn of events.  Flew into OKC and hung out in downtown Norman very briefly, to ride a Lime scooter and also check out Guestroom Records.


I must admit I was a bit disappointed to find that the place retailed largely (or better) new vinyl, reissues and the like.  Totally unsure what to do with myself in such an environment, I got out of there and headed for the nearest Goodwill store.  Alas, they too were lacking in all things vinyl.  The lapse in quality I expect from such a place, but their 'selection' was so slim you could counter the available releases on just a few fingers.  No matter - another one receives a check mark! So long, Oklahoma!


STATE #37 COMPLETED!



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wax Trax II [Denver CO]


Got a rare chance to go west one more time and I booked a crazy cheap $200 ticket with United out to Denver.  I had connected in their airport a handful of times, I was eager to hit the streets in search of vinyl!


I decided on Wax Trax based on location and my own itinerary (I do have to work at some point on these trips!) and I'm glad I did.  This is an old school store crammed with vinyl, well organized but with just a hint of filth that keeps it from being terribly suave.


I dug through a good portion of their jazz section and found a number of delights but nothing I wanted to pull the trigger on.  I must admit, I hate bringing vinyl on planes.  Of course I will do it if I must but I don't want to fly with them on my lap or under the seat with my feet on/near them, and my bag is too small to hold them safely up in the overhead bin.  So maybe I wasn't trying too hard.  Or maybe I'm old and my obsessive zest for more records has waned just maybe 2%.  I'm fine with that, because I enjoyed digging around in here for a bit on a pleasant afternoon in what I have discovered is a great city.




STATE #36 COMPLETED!