Sunday, April 20, 2014

Good Grief! The Crosley - Peanuts Dilemma

Look at the adorable thing pictured above.  It's a Crosley portable turntable, adorned with Peanuts comic strips.  It was made available exclusively yesterday as a part of Record Store Day, that yearly gathering of the geeks (in a good way) for my chosen hobby.  Now look at it again, and this time ask yourself a question as you gaze: "how could something this absolutely lovable be a lightning rod for obnoxious snobbery?"

My darling fiancee Rhea saw a picture of one online on Friday, and immediately decided she had to have one.  Being the smart, well-informed cookie that she is, she immediately followed her joyful, gasping-and-shrieking discovery of the item with "Maybe I should research them first."  I told her not to bother, knowing exactly what she would find.

Let me pause for a second to make a bold, important statement: audiophiles are, more often than not, horrible human beings.  I'm not talking vinyl fans in general, but that certain strain of snob who seems to derive joy only from having something better than you.  They don't like music at all.  In fact, they don't really even like equipment at all.  They like snobbery, and they make me ashamed of my hobby every time I encounter their soulless bullshit.  They're like the Simpsons' Comic Book Guy turned up to eleven, with even less of a sense of humor.  And good lord, do they hate the very concept of a Crosley portable turntable.

I did a good job of shielding my darling from the internet trolls, but real life gets more troublesome.  We had to go to several stores to finally procure this awesome little bundle of cuteness, which should tell you a thing or two about the good taste of consumers in the real world.  At the second store we tried, my darling got IRL trolled, as the kids would say:

Rhea: "Did you get any of the Crosley Peanuts turntables in?"
Dickhead: "No,  We don't order that crap.  We respect vinyl too much for that here."

Fuck off with that shit, Slappy.  First off, I've browsed your used section more than once; the only thing you respect about vinyl is the ability to price-gouge for records in somewhat questionable condition.  Secondly, really?  REALLY?  High Fidelity wasn't a documentary, you know.  It was a parody.  Let that sink in for a minute or two, chief.

Happily, we found one a few stops later, at a store that was more than happy to make a $120 sale and keep its opinion - if it even had one - to itself.  Obviously, from what you've read so far, I'm familiar with the debate over Crosley's products, but I've never tried one for myself until last night.  And honestly, I'm wondering exactly what in the hell the problem is here.  To wit:

It's a small, mostly plastic, suitcase-shaped portable turntable.  Anybody mistaking this thing for a piece of HIGH-END, HIGH-FIDELITY AUDIOPHILE EQUIPMENT frankly needs their head examined.  It does exactly what it's supposed to: plays records at a consistent speed and emits the results through the small speakers at the front, which sound fine for what they are.  It's fun, it's cute as hell, and it just might get somebody who has no time - or desire - in their hectic life to deal with HIGH END, HIGH-FIDELITY AUDIOPHILE EQUIPMENT to spin a few records.  How is that anything other than wonderful?

While we're asking questions, my big one is this: what, precisely, does a portable Crosley turntable claim to do that it doesn't?  And what, precisely, is so wrong with enjoying vinyl on such a basic, plug-and-play level?

I'll answer the second of those questions based on my own experience from last night: nothing at all.  We listened to three records on our new Crosley: The Velvet Underground and Nico, Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic, and Laura Nyro's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.  The first two of those I know quite well, and they sounded just as fine as ever.  The Laura Nyro I'd heard plenty about, but had never actually sat down and listened to before...and I immediately wanted to know more about it.

I very likely found a new-to-me record to love last hearing it for the first time from a beat up, well-loved old LP played on a Crosley portable turntable. Respect the vinyl, indeed.

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