An unplanned quiet night at home has seen me pull out a new vinyl record that I received a few weeks ago, but have not had the opportunity to listen to.
I noticed some time back that my record player was running a little slow. A recording I had made of a Sleigh Bells LP showed songs were longer than their mp3 counterparts and the musical pitch was noticeably lower than it should be. Doing some checking, I figured that my turntable was running 3% slow.
The fix for this is a straightforward adjustment of a screw inside the turntable. But by the time I take off the base of the turntable and labouriously count platter revolutions (I have never sprung for a stroboscope) it takes a bit of time; time that I haven’t had recently. Tonight I finally got on to it.
The result has been a sublime listening session with Minuit’s latest recording “Last Night You Saw This Band”. I picked this up through a PledgeMe deal that funded the recording and scored me a digital download of the LP (same as CD, full lossless FLAC format sound).
Well, I’ve had that digital LP for a while now but I never really got into it. Tonight, after sorting my record player issues, I slapped on a slab of Minuit and engaged with this recording like never before.
The record was noisy because I washed it and had briefly forgotten my newly discovered infallible rinsing process. There was electrical hum because my preferred turntable-to-amplifier cables have poor electrical shielding (a bit of a no-no with turntables). There were a couple of moments of frequency fluctuation, due to an irritating speed consistency issue with my turntable that I must address. Despite all that, the record drew me in and held me from start to finish.
And here’s the rub. The sound was not distorted or coloured compared with the digital LP. I was not being tricked by doctored frequency response or retro nostalgia. The vinyl sounded better because there was simply more of what the musicians from Minuit intended me to hear.
The result was a sense of hearing the whole package and getting down for the ride. With the digital recordings I pretty much heard all the same detail as what I heard off the vinyl. My digital playback set-up is nothing to be sniffed at. But with the vinyl it suddenly all hung together and made sense like never before. It kind of helped that I was hearing more of a 3D presentation, the bass was full and rich and the high frequencies were extended and smooth.
Huge kudos to Minuit. This vinyl release was delayed for a couple of months as they ironed out production issues. They obviously paid huge attention to the quality of the product that their committed PledgeMe customers were going to receive. The experience of listening to this recording on vinyl is quite different and far superior to digital. Despite having seen them live several times and having all their CDs on hand, I have got a new appreciation of what this fabulous band is capable of.
The PledgeMe campaign that funded the pressing of 300 records was very cool. You were able to choose from a range of pledge dollar amounts. One of the options was to pledge a bit extra for the privilege of having one of the guys from the band come and mow your lawn with his shirt off. I settled for what was a standard LP purchase price, yet still scored my choice of handwritten lyric from Minuit’s singer Ruth.
“Me and the boy with the aubergine hair” with thank you note:
Cover and lyric sheet:
Check out my video of Minuit live at WOMAD 2012 playing their familiar repertoire accompanied by a full Gamelan orchestra.