Turntables are tragically retro-cool right now, witness the fact that there are no less than nine different models for sale at Urban Outfitters, most in portable cases reminiscent of a something a 1960s flight attendant might carry through the terminal, others massive floor-standing models—not to mention all the cool wire record shelving they offer. What’s even more interesting is that, not only is the store’s young clientele purchasing these record-players, they are buying the actual records to go with them. My own daughter Maisy (14) included. This means they have album collections to build and cherish, long after their first inexpensive turntables perish.
Now, we all know that these portable turntables don’t sound very good, but methinks cool factor alone is enough to breed an entire new generation of purists. Maisy, for example, takes great pride in going to the “record store” and gingerly pinning the included posters on her wall. She sits on the floor doing homework and listening to Bon Iver or Vampire Weekend. It’s hard for me to abide it, knowing what a really good turntable can sound like, but I appreciate the intent. She is getting the experience, rather than the quick fix. She has to appreciate the album front and back, track to track, not just select downloads
that are easily skipped.
Later, we watched Sound City together—Dave Grohl’s fascinating documentary on the making of some of the most legendary albums of all time on an analog recording machine. And the next day Maisy asked how she could get better speakers, so we’ll be upgrading her system soon. For kids like her, Urban also has a couple sturdier models from the likes of Audio Technica , one of which plugs into a computer via USB. I know, I know, it defeats the purpose, but maybe turntables like these are the ‘gateway’ fix these teens needs to start appreciating the good stuff.