Vinyl VVednesday: What Is Some Good Hardware For Listening to Portal?
You all know the band Portal. You all know that they’re one of the best bands in existence. But do you know a great way to listen to the great band Portal? You might think you have been listening to them on the best possible hardware… and you might be incorrect! But you might also be correct, I don’t know what your rig is like. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
What’s the album?
Portal’s Ion. Dubz did a fantastic review of it in the year it was released, 2018. He likes it a lot. Every human being I know likes it a lot. Let’s just get this out of the way, it’s one great record from one great band. I found it on vinyl at a terrific place in St. Louis, a place where I’ve found a shit-ton of other Toilet-friendly bands have been found—Planet Score Records in Maplewood.
Ion itself gets 4/5, because no matter what it does, it just can’t top its predecessor, Vexovoid. Having said that, the packaging just might be the best in my whole record collection. The kind folks at Profound Lore even include a beautiful 4×2 poster!
What’s the record player?
This record player, the Audio Technica 120, costs a cool $250 at Best Buy, and I found the price to be justifiable because of its purpose as the spiritual successor to the extremely high-quality legacy product, the 1200 series. Now I’ve never owned one of those bad bois, but there’s no shortage of lore about how reliable and awesome they are. The AT-LP120-USB unit has great features which include the following: adjustable tonearm, direct drive, adjustable speed, and a bright LED light that shows when there’s too much cat hair on the record (more on that later).
So far, the AT-LP120-USB has been stellar for my needs. It was extremely easy to assemble and adjust (the tonearm is still doing its job perfectly after my first try setting it up). This turntable is a big step up from the belt-driven Audio Tecnica AT-LP60 that I was using before—a piece of hardware that was no slouch itself. I just wanted something fancier.
How does it all hook up?
I use the amplified signal coming from the turntable and run it into the “Line In” input of this beautiful, antique graphic equalizer. My antique JVC tape deck (spectacular at playing Toilet ov Hell Patreon subscriber tapes) goes into the “Tape Playback” input. Then I ran the “Line Out” of the EQ into my home theater receiver, so that it can stay on the same input whether I want to listen to vinyl or tapes. When switching physical media, I just hit a button on the graphic equalizer that switches from the turntable to the cassette deck. The wires are super cheap, just steal them from your parents’ home theater system next time you’re visiting. They’re old, they’ll think their TV is broken and go buy a new one with HDMI.
My genius home audio install job gets a 6/5. Here’s a photo of the whole thing.
Which mounting hardware?
The 4×4 EKET Cabinet is a compact, sturdy piece of hardware which can be obtained at the human maze known as Ikea. It is extremely effective at housing several records, a tape deck, a graphic equalizer, and a turntable. This piece of hardware will set you back $60 and comes in a multitude of colors and configurations. The four cube EKET gets 4/5 stars for being awesome but lacking in build quality just a little bit.
How to keep cat hair off this motherfucker?
The Vinyl Styl Anti-Static Brush can be found at your local record store for less than $20. It works fairly well some of the time! The carbon fiber bristles stand straight for the first 30-40 cleans, then lose about 25% of their effectiveness. This tool is kind of disposable in that way. It does work, just not as well as advertised (I guess this is true for any product that’s not made by Nissan).
So that’s my setup for amazing sound quality when entering this Lovecraftian portal of madness. Like I said at the top, it’s just one person’s setup and I’d be tickled pink to see what some of y’alls setups look like. Please discuss below (and post pics if you can).