Music Monday!

Yes, you read it right, Music Monday, that’s what today is and hopefully it will become a regular thing, but what am I going on about?

Music, you know, the stuff you listen to, as I’m certainly no musician and if you heard me sing you’d be reaching for the cheese (one for those who remember ‘Allo ‘Allo).

If you’re like me, you probably listen to music when you paint. I also listen to music when I play solo games too, and so, as I combine two hobbies of mine at home, I thought I’d bring them together on my Blog.

I’ve been collecting vinyl since I was 14, maybe even earlier but it was a long time ago and I can’t quite be sure. CD’s popped into existence and became readily available in the late 80s and so I added those to my collection too. Things dropped off in the mid-90s, as I was moving around a lot and stopped visiting the record fairs – Walsall, my home town, at the time hosted the largest record fair in the UK outside of London.

So, over the last 25 years, whilst I have added a few CD’s to my collection, my music has mostly taken a back seat. This changed recently when we moved things around in the house and I managed to get my old Hi-Fi system set up again, including my record deck. I added a new set of speakers, and my music could once again be played in all its glory.

My Set Up

Hi-Fi Set up

To be honest, most of it is pretty ancient. The amplifier is a Pioneer A-443, which I paid for weekly when I bought it out of my mum’s catalogue back in the early to mid-80s. It has a dynamic power output of 75W + 75W at 8Ω rising to 150W + 150W at 2Ω. It also has some nice features such as a switchable Subsonic filter for when playing those records with coarse grooves, as well as a selector for turntables with a MM or a MC cartridge (Moving Magnet or Moving Coil), so any deck should be compatible.

Given its age, it still preforms outstandingly. Yes, it hums a bit (the actual unit not through the speakers) but then it always has – I’m guessing its transformer hum – though this can’t be heard when the music is playing, well, hardly!

Connected to the amp I have a Pioneer PD-M435 multi-disc CD player. Again, this is getting on in years though not as old as the Amp. I think I bought it in the early 90s, that sounds about right. It has all the functions you’d expect on a top of the range cd player (for the time) such as programmable, tape deck sync, auto-fade, timer, all the stuff that you, and I, never actually need or use. The important thing, though, is it sounds good, at least to my ears!

The multi-changer is great. I shove 6-CDs in and press random, and off I go.

The sound it produces isn’t as harsh as a conventional CD player, at least at the time. It rounds some of the harshness out and gives a nice, warmer feeling to the music. It also reproduces individual frequencies superbly, and I remember the first time I played Brothers in Arms on it, I heard instruments I’d never noticed before and the whole thing sounded, how can I put this, ‘fuller’, more ‘complete.’

The turntable is the weakest part of my system at the moment. It’s an Ariston Acoustics ATT-420. I originally had a Pioneer something or other, but it didn’t stand up to all the moving around and died a death, which was a pity because it was a much better deck. The Ariston was a cheap stop-gap. It doesn’t have a grounding cable, which would ground it to the Amp, and because of this it produces a low frequency hum through the speakers.

It plays records, 12 and 7inch, and is automatic – it is what it is, and this will be my next upgrade.

I say next upgrade because I’ve recently made my first. Gone (at least moved to the loft) are my Bang & Olufsen wall speakers – which were actually exceptional speaker, just a little worn and, well, wall speakers, which I didn’t have use for – and in comes a set of Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 stand speakers, though at the moment their sat on my cabinet.

Speakers are often one of the most expensive parts of a system, especially if, like me, you’re not hitting high end components like the amp. The Wharfedale Diamonds have been in manufacture for a while now and when they first hit the scene (and for some time after) they were the speakers to buy under £200. Now, you can pick them up for a little over £100, and their still rated as some of the best for their price.

These are bi-wired to my amp. The speakers have separate terminals on the rear, a set for the tweeter and a set for subwoofer. These are usually connected together but removing the metal connection allows for the tweeter and sub to be wired independently. When doing this, it is important to ensure all cables connecting them to the amp are the same type and length. Bi-wiring, in my opinion, gives a more dynamic sound when the music is moving from low to high frequency, through the crossover frequency of the sub, and those intermediate sounds are clearer and more defined – at least that’s what my brain is trying to tell my ears!

Speakers are Bi-wired.

The other part of my system worth mentioning, is my new headphones. Austrian Audio’s Hi-X15s are the bottom of their range, but still, at £100 were more than I wanted to pay, so I had them for Christmas instead! So far, I’ve only used them connected to my iPod, but boy, do they pack a punch. I need to get an extension cable before I go direct to my amp or CD player. Fortunately, you can get one that goes directly into the phones, replacing the cable it comes with, so you don’t get any connection loss.

The Music

I’m currently in the process of listing my collection on Discogs, which is essentially a marketplace for music, but you can use it to keep track of your collection and it will give you an idea of its worth – min, max, and median. I’ve logged all my vinyl and a shelf of CDs, just another 4-shelves to go! Discogs is great if you’re looking for something hard to find – the prices are competitive too.

I have a very wide taste in music, ranging from classical to rock, with a little bit of everything in between. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring some of the things I’ve been listening to, usually whilst painting or gaming, and talk about what it is about them I like.

Along with some of the better known stuff in my collection, I’ll be try throwing in some obscure things, such as We Are Going to Eat You, Ellen Foley, and a few rather good soundtracks.

So, I hope you enjoy the future posts, and it will be interesting to hear what you think of the upcoming bits of music.

17 thoughts on “Music Monday!

  1. Nice looking set up Justin, and if you can play your music at the level that you want, that’s got to be a good thing. Sadly my stereo system died, I had an Aiwa series 70 system that had a great sound, but a very big TV landed on top of it in a move, and only some of it still worked afterwards, eventually it gave up completely, and I haven’t got round to replacing it. Still have all my old vinyl records and no where to play them, but listen to the CD’s in the car mostly. Maybe one day I’ll get a new system ! LOL

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Dave.
      I’ve been lucky with my system, as old as it is. It’s still going strong despite all the moving around the country it’s done – it’s probably spent several years boxed up in the loft!
      Vinyl’s making a comeback and there are plenty of readily available turntables out there now… Go on, think of the nostalgia!😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks good, Justin, even if I didn’t understand any of it! 🙂 I’m like Dave Stone and mostly listen to music in the car, which was a pain when we changed cars and it didn’t come with a CD player (but it lets me plug in an MP3 player, so I’m sorted now).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers John.
      Ah! The trusty MP3 player. I use my iPod a lot with my headphones but you can’t beat the sound quality of a CD, or better still, a piece of old vinyl!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very cool setup. I love music, but never went as far in as getting the proper speakers, etc. I was late to adopt the digital age and still have a good chunk of CDs. But most my collection is digital is now digital, since it’s easier to store and I can stream across devices. Though I miss the days of listening to rare tracks and live recordings, which are not always available in streaming. So I’m certainly interested in this Discogs site and might just have to buy a few CDs. Looking forward to your future music listening posts too!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yeah, when it comes to storage digital is a God send. Trouble with digital is the quality loss, especially if you’re cramming a lot of songs onto a small memory. I like to have a physical thing I can hold and look at in detail – especially true of certain vinyl albums, such as the early Genesis ones, which always throw up something surprising if you look hard enough.
      I also like to see a collection, something that I can look at and think, ‘I collected all that!’ I just don’t get it with digital. All my digital content is ripped from my collection so I can listen to it on the go, otherwise I wouldn’t own any – each to their own!
      I’ve only bought a couple of things so far off Discogs and have had no issues at all. Everything has come as advertised and excellently packaged, so definitely worth a look.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I completely understand. I’m that way with graphic novels and books. I’m on a computer screen nearly all day for my job, so it’s nice to just sit down with a physical book when I want to do some reading. Part of it is nostalgia and there is also the collection piece as well.

        While I know that most digital songs are not high quality, I think there are lossless formats as well? I remember a few times I bought something and also received the lossless digital version as well. Those files take up a lot more space though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, Nostalgia, collection price, and having something that you feel you own rather than just a file on a computer!

        Yes, there are lossless versions, but as you say, they take up a lot of memory and so you’d be limited what you could put on a standard phone or such like.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice setup, I’ve always loved those separate systems. I bought one from a second-hand store in Cardiff back in 2001 or so, an amp, CD player, radio and double tape deck (I didn’t have any tapes, I just wanted it for nostalgic reasons LOL) and a couple of decent speakers. I think the whole system cost me around £160 and it was excellent. I sold it when I moved to the US.

    I’ve long since ripped all my CDs to MP3 and sold them, and despite having thousands of songs on my PC I don’t use it as it’s 10 years old and pretty slow, and it’s also on a desk that’s covered in hobby crap. These days I use YouTube to listen to music on my laptop and I bought a pretty decent Bluetooth speaker to improve the sound.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Matt.
      I used to have a tape deck, another Pioneer and a really good one. I sold it about 10-years ago and now wish I hadn’t, as I still have a few tapes knocking around. To be honest, tapes were just the worst thing. Sound quality wasn’t up to vinyl or CD and then there’s that moment when it all goes sqiggly and you just know what you’re going to find when you try to take the tape out!

      I think the majority of people listen to YouTube, Amazon Music, or some other streaming service, or have their collection purely in purely digital form. I can’t blame them, I have most of mine ripped, it makes it easier to listen to wherever I am, but there’s something about having the physical copy and listening to it on Vinyl is just the best!😃

      I’ve been thinking of getting a decent Bluetooth speaker for the kitchen. I like the retro Marshall ones, but it will have to wait until the current radio gives up the ghost.


  5. And here I was thinking you were going to talk about your new favorite band, Cthulhu and the Hairy Shoggoths or something like that 😉

    I built up a large CD collection but all of my music is in iTunes now and I’m finding myself a bit stumped as to what to do with the CDs. I love them but at the same time, the cases take up a lot of room and space is at a premium in my condo. It sounds like Discogs could be a helpful solution so thank you for mentioning it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I seem to be in the minority when it comes to how I listen to music; I’ve not moved with the times!
      Yeah, you can sell over Discogs, but take note on how to grade you CDs – all the info is on there.
      Right, I’m off to Listen to Syzygy Eats the World… I may not be back!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I started working full-time and realized that I could listen to music through Spotify at work much more easily than any other way, it forced me to accept digital music. I do listen to CDs in my car but I drive less and less these days so digital music has more or less taken everything over for me.

        I’ve also realized that I stopped buying new music because I can listen to it for free. I want to support the artists but without collecting CDs, I haven’t been able to force myself to spend the money. It isn’t good but that is the result of all these changes for me anyway. Its amazing how things change over time and I certainly wouldn’t have predicted much of this happening!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I Hunt for CDs in charity shops and such like, sometimes you can pick up some gems, like I did recently. A Cyndi Lauper CD Single for 50p in almost brand new condition – it’s actually worth going on £30 on Discogs!
        I never part with anything, though, a bit like books really, I like to hang on to them. Again, it comes down to having something physical.

        Nowt wrong with digital though, it’s certainly the most convenient way to listen to music, and as you say, most of it’s free these days, one way or another!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That is a fun way to spend some time. There are a lot of Youtubers for various hobbies that do what you describe. Its getting harder and harder to do it for many things so I’m glad to hear that you can still get deals.

        I used to collect books and quickly ran out of room because I was and still am a fairly voracious reader. I’d love to be able to keep more but I just don’t have the room. Good on you for being able to keep what you love! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m hoping to visit a few record fairs this year, but the one I used to frequent as a lad is no longer held😢

        Yeah, books take up so much room. I have boxes of them in the loft because I can’t part with them. I spend ages trawling through them looking for a certain book and come away with six or seven that I want to read again, which is a good thing – I really need to catalogue them too.

        Aren’t our hobbies time and space killers?🤔

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That is a shame but I hope you find some other ones to visit. My wife thinks that hobbies are meant to take time and keep us occupied and I can’t argue with her. Of course the expense and storage is the tricky part of it all. I mostly buy a book and then donate it when I’m done reading it unless I absolutely loved it (or it would be hard to find again) but I recognize that I’m privileged to have enough disposable income to do that and many people cannot.

        Liked by 1 person

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