[The Chasing the Thrill posts chronicle my adventures in trying to capture that ephemeral moment when song and audio fidelity come together into a sound that makes me forget everything else. Mostly it will be my notes on the vinyl that I listen to, but may include some non-vinyl music moments as well. If you’re interested in the set up I use to listen on, here it is.]

 

round about midnight front

 

Like Rumours, which I recently wrote about, there’s not much that need be said about ‘Round About Midnight. It is as exciting to hear today as it was when released in 1956. If you’re unfamiliar with the record, one way to approach it is to just focus on an individual instrument for an entire song, and then switch your focus to another instrument. In this way you not only hear the performance, but also the harmonic cohesiveness that resounds throughout this record.

This listening approach is made easier by the fact that unlike many quintet records released up to this point — in particular, those performing hard bop — there is a surprisingly little amount of simultaneous playing between Miles and Coltrane (“Ah-Leu-Cha” being the brilliant exception).

Because of this emphasis on individual (but unified) parts, and because those who are playing these parts are other-worldly talents, what results is a recording that not only rewards repeated listening (and I’m not talking about ten or twelve times; rather, a lifetime), but demands it.

Listening with your eyes closed to this recording on the very fine 2011 vinyl release by Not Now Music will teach you things about yourself. (I purchased it from the very excellent Ernie B, which, prior to my buying vinyl again, I would purchase a lot of dub CDs from – glad to see him rolling with the times).

This double vinyl gatefold set includes the original release on the first disc, and the six songs originally recorded with what was then dubbed “The New Miles Davis Quintet” on the second. Both discs sound utterly fantastic, but what really resonates for me is the bass presence. Certainly, Paul Chambers is a master, but I had never before heard the resonance of his tone quite as I do on this release. Similarly, Red Garland’s “block key” piano playing takes on a more nuanced dimension to my ears on this release.

 

round about midnight inner sleve

Nice packaging too. I’d never seen the large photo of Miles that graces the inside of the gatefold.

9.5 out of 10.

 

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Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Sonos. We’ve got pretty much every product they’ve come up with in the house, and just can’t imagine living without it.

I recently decided that I wanted to add the ability to play vinyl into our arsenal (the kids are old enough so that they don’t seem too inclined to try to ride/draw on the turntable).

I’d been plotting my vinyl strategy out over the course of many years of insomnia-nights, and so when I finally decided to pull the trigger, it went very smoothly.

I’ve had in my possession an old Victrola that belonged to my parents for twenty years or so. It’s never functioned, but I’ve always loved the way it looks, and I have some good memories associated with it.

 

victrola logo

 

 

I’ve schlepped the thing from house to house. It’s big, heavy, and beautiful.

 

victrola closed

 

After much deliberation. I went with the Audio-Technica AT-LP120. It cost $250 on Amazon. What sealed the deal for me was that it has a built in phono pre-amp. Most amplifiers (including the Sonos Connect:Amp) don’t have phono pre-amps, and so you have to insert one between your turntable and your amp to get sound.

I knew that the space where the old, original turntable that had long vanished used to sit was roughly the size of current turntables, but it wasn’t until I laid my new turntable into it did I breath a sigh of relief (yes, of course, I measured, but…you know). The thing fits perfectly.

 

turntable

 

The AT-LP120 is certainly not a audiophile turntable (no turntable that includes its own pre-amp will fall into that category), but, as I was unsure how all of this was going to work, I really wanted to minimize the cash outlay and layers of complexity, and this turntable fits the bill. (I’m sure I’ll upgrade sooner rather than later, and it’ll likely be to one of the Pro-Ject turntables.)

The beautiful part is that because the phono pre-amp is built in, all you need to do to incorporate it into your Sonos system is plug it into the line in jacks on the Sonos Connect: Amp (the blue and red RCA cables below are coming in from the turntable).

 

sonos amp

 

Once plugged in, you just use the Sonos remote to label the new source. I chose to go old school:

 

sonos victrola

 

Like magic, not only are you now able to hear the turntable through the speakers that the Connect:Amp is powering, but you can push the sound to any other Sonos connected speakers. This means, I can be playing a record on my turntable (in the living room on the first floor), but push the sound to my daughter’s Sonos Play:1 in her room on the third floor. Awesome.

The Sonos Connect:Amp is a very clean amp, and I use it to drive a pair of B&W CM1s and a B&W sub. Not the height of audio fidelity, but in terms of the bang::buck ratio, this rates pretty high. I’ve had some pretty awesome audio experiences with this set up, and look forward to many more now that I’m rocking the vinyl.

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