In rotation: 2/11/20

Your Vinyl Record Collection May Have Just Tripled In Value: A tragic fire means that new pressing of vinyl records will decrease, world wide. If you’re the kind of person who loves listening to music on an actual record player, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that there might suddenly be a worldwide vinyl record shortage. The good news is that this may increase the value of the vinyl records you already own. Here’s what’s going on. On Friday, Pitchfork reported that Apollo Masters — a manufacturer of lacquer — had a fire that completely destroyed their facilities. This means that one of the only makers of lacquer in the world is not in a position to help create new records. According to Ben Blackwell (quoted in Pitchfork), “this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide.” Why? Well, although the early 21st century has seen a spike in the vinyl record industry, the fact is, it’s still relatively niche. This means, beyond Apollo Masters, the only other major producer of lacquer is a company called MCD, based in Japan. And according to Blackwell, they had a tough time keeping up with demand even before this happened.

Denver, CO | Vinyl records strike gold in Colorado as sales poised to surpass CDs for the first time in decades: Vinyl outselling CDs. We love music in Colorado! Now there’s a blast from the past, that’s turning into cash for local record stores. For the first time in 35 years, vinyl records are expected to outsell CDs in the U.S., and Colorado is no exception. Paul Epstein, owner of Twist and Shout on Colfax, said he thought vinyl had seen its day more than 20 years ago. “Ten or 12 years ago, vinyl started slowly picking up. Then probably five or six years ago, it started at breakneck,” said Epstein. “It has wildly passed CDs.” Written off for dead in 1986, vinyl records are back and poised to outsell CDs nationwide. But why? “You can say I have 50,000 songs that sit in a little box in my underwear drawer, but it’s not the same as saying, ‘look at my records!'” said Epstein. Epstein said in today’s streaming age, people are coming back to the physical appeal and sound of classic vinyl. Records and record players are his top sellers.

Shibuya, JP | Second Bloody Angle Dougen Tong Vinyl Café Bar Opens in Shibuya: A café by day and a record bar by night. MC/Producer Ryuzo has opened a second “Bloody Angle Dougen Tong” vinyl café, located in a back ally of Dogenzaka street of Shibuya. Inspired by classic Japanese styled coffee shops, the location serves caffeinated beverages, hot sandwiches, spaghetti and other refreshments from 8 am to 8 pm. Then from 8 pm, the cafe transforms into a record bar where patrons sip alcohol while listening to carefully curated records. Many influential figures, such as Poggy, Verdy, and Kosuke Kawamura attended the opening of Bloody Angle Dougen Tong’s grand opening as well. The interior was designed by Japanese graphic artist Yoshirotten and features the store’s signature retro atmosphere, with contemporary red fixtures reminiscent of the Showa era. Customers can also find Bloody Angle merchandise such as tumblers, key chains, lighters, mugs, hoodies, T-shirts and more exclusively at this location.

Chicago, IL | Chicago Humanities Festival offers sneak peek of ‘High Fidelity’ series: Fans of the hit movie “High Fidelity” and the Nick Hornby book of the same name have the opportunity to get a look at the first two episodes of Hulu’s new “High Fidelity” television series. Chicago Humanities Festival will host a public screening of the first two episodes of the show at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St., Chicago. A Q&A with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, one of the stars of the series, will be featured after the screening. Randolph, who appeared in the film “Dolemite Is My Name,” also starred as Oda Mae Brown in the Broadway production of “Ghost the Musical.” As film lovers will remember, the movie “High Fidelity” told the story of a Chicago record store owner, played by John Cusack, who sells vinyl records in an age where new technology is all the rage. He deals with a failing business, romance hardships and the uncertainties of life. In the new series, Zoe Kravitz is the record store owner and the locale is now Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Actress Kravitz is the daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, who starred in “The Cosby Show.”

Record Roundup Volume 2: Is Half-Speed Mastered Vinyl Worth The Extra Cost? …With the continued growth in popularity of records has come a growth in popularity of a technique to improve sound quality. Half-speed mastered vinyl promises to deliver records that sound superior to traditionally mastered versions. What does the process involve, and why does it produce better sounding records? I’ll let the certificate included in my recently purchased half-speed mastered copy of Ghost in the Machine by The Police do the talking: “This record was pressed from a master cut using a precision technique known as half-speed mastering. The procedure requires the source master and the butting lathe to run at half speed on a specially adapted Neumann VMS-80 lather. This rare and specialized technique transforms difficult to cut high-end frequencies into relatively easy to cut mid-range frequencies. The result is a cut with excellent high frequency response and very solid and stable stereo images. In short, half-speed mastering produces a master of the highest quality that enables the pressing plant to produce a superlative record.” Does all of that actually result in a record that sounds better?

Best turntables under $300 in 2020: Audio Technica, Pro-ject, Fluance and more: Sure you can get a record player for $100, but it’s worth spending a little extra on the turntable that brings your vinyl collection to life. We test six of the top contenders. The time is right to get into budget hi-fi. From cheap, amazing speakers to a high-quality turntable, it’s never been more affordable to get a great-sounding system for vinyl records. One of the first questions to ask is: How much should I spend if I want the best turntable? Name a price from $40 or up, and there’s no doubt you’ll find a record player to fit your budget from vintage turntables to the newest fully automatic and Bluetooth turntable options. For example, the Audio Technica LP60 is a great little turntable for $100. But there are even better choices for the best turntable under $300 out there. I’ve chosen $300 as the sweet spot because it opens up the options for finding a high-quality model. These vinyl record players are no longer simple toys but can be considered hi-fi turntables: They offer elevated vinyl record sound quality and high-quality components. With an analog turntable or manual turntable, you’ll be constantly removing a vinyl record, moving the tonearm and spinning up an actual motor — so it’s worth spending a bit more for record players that will last.

Inside the Oh Sees’ year-long effort to put their albums on 8-track box sets: Creating box sets from scratch. The Oh Sees’ latest release is a 12-album box set in an unexpected format: 8-track tapes. It’s the culmination of a year-long effort by Seattle-based DIY label 5Seven Records, which restored vintage 8-track tapes and transformed them into albums from musician John Dwyer’s bands, variously known as Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, and OCS…No manufacturers make 8-track tapes today, so the entire box set had to be created by tracking down existing tapes and then turning them into new releases. 5Seven Records founder Maximiliano (who prefers not to disclose his last name) brought together more than a dozen artists and designers to create the box sets from scratch. Together, they worked on everything from creating art for the tape covers, making an accompanying zine, and crafting a custom-fit box to hunting for specific colors of 8-track tapes and restoring them to a listenable quality.

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