Bill Evans on a Denon DP-2000 Turntable

Monster Cable Alpha 1 Cartridge, missing stylus

The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience.”

– Alex Gregory, in The New Yorker.

The last integrated amplifier I had that had a phono input was a NAD 3020. I gave it away one of the times that I moved because I had two or three other amps.

I still have a Denon DP-2000 turntable that I got from Kenny sometime in the 1980’s. There’s a Monster Cable Alpha 1 cartridge mounted on the Denon DA-50 tonearm. The Alpha 1 is a low output moving coil cartridge (0.3 mv), so Kenny also bought a SOTA Head Amplifier. Such is the era of my HiFi equipment.

When I thought about setting up the Denon with my NAD 317, I tried to take a closer look at the condition of the stylus of the Apha 1. There wasn’t one. Through years of moving the turntable, even with the tonearm tied down to the arm rest, the stylus had disappeared. (“That’s why we can’t have nice things.”)

Even the idea of low end high end stereo components has lost its interest. I bought an Ortofon 2M Red Moving Magnet Cartridge. When I attempted to mount it on the Denon headshell, the Ortofon cartridge was too wide. I bought an Ortofon SH-4 headshell.

The NAD 317 doesn’t have a built-in phono stage, so I needed a phono preamplifier. After a little research, I settled on the ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier.

After finally getting everything to work, the sound was a revelation. I have been listening to streaming audio (Google Play, SiriusXM, Spotify) through a Sonos One. The sound always seemed compressed or canned – maybe the electronic processing to get the sound out of that little speaker bothers me. In comparison, the sound out of the NAD, Denon and KEF RDM Two speakers (SP3254) is clear, open and deep.

Though that Alex Gordon New Yorker cartoon is often quoted by cynics and audiophiles, the sonic results do seem to be worth it.

Bill Evans – Montreaux II record album playing on a Denon DP-2000 turntable

Move Over Roz Chast – Eugene L. Madsen’s Cartoons

When your professional life involves the study of microorganisms – microbiology – at some point the more creative thinker may start wondering what kind of conversations are going on in these teeny populations.

Expand that examination to the conversations of bakery rolls, shifting desert sand grains, bowling balls, underwear, ogres, hooligans, philologists, armpits, clocks and mountaineers and you will arrive at Parade of Unconventional Voices: Cartoons of art, humor, and philosophy, a 30 year collection of the hitherto unknown thoughts of what we once considered inanimate objects.

While Antonie van Leeuwenhoek‘s lenses magnified before unseen microorganisms, Eugene L. Madsen‘s pen and ink cartoons extend our vision to a humorous, more thoughtful world. We may need to be reminded of Dr. Madsen’s characters’ humanity and sense of humor -maybe that’s why he sends them out every year around the holidays.

At the International Convention of Mosaic Tiles: “So fellow mosaics, I think you will agree that violent clashes occur only when designs force hard edges where they do not fit. Rigid edges and myopic designs are the sources of strife; while soft edges and flexible designs are the cure. By blending with one another, we create new designs. Remember, mosaics of the world, fitness is really measured by readiness for peace, not war. Fitness is gauged by the tolerance of our edges, not by muscle tone and cholesterol readings. Your patterns are bold, your beauty is alive. Enjoy the NEW YEAR.