Back To Black

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO800)

Enter at own risk or only if you are an audiophile or if you simply love to listen to music.

OK. There are better warnings than that but at least it is not a red button with a warning sign “Don’t push the red button!”. Who could possibly resist that? That would be clickbait. And yes I do know what black most likely stands for in the great album “Back to Black” from Amy Winehouse. I still love the record.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO640)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO320)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO640)

Maybe you have realized that I didn’t update my blog as frequently as I used to do it in the past. There are a couple of reasons: I’m very busy at work and in my spare time I’m working a lot in my garden after I neglected it for a couple of years.

Same is true for music. I used to listen to music all the time. Not just as a teenager but even later. It was an important part of my life. Somehow this passion cooled down in the last couple of years. I rarely sat in front of my stereo to listen to music even though more music is available today than ever before.

I started to listen to music again on my business trips. In most of my flights they have announcements in at least two but often in three languages. If you start with your movie too early you will have it interrupted many, many times. It took my a while to learn it might be better to listen to some music on my phone instead. Then I started to listen to music in my car again. Soon I realized that my mood improved.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO1250)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO2500)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO2000)

At the end I started to listen to music again at home. I live in a house so there are no restrictions (well almost) regarding the volume. Within the last year I upgraded my stereo significantly. I got a new amplifier (after twenty years), a new streamer and I constantly upgraded my cables with stuff from Furutech and Oyaide. It helps that I go to Japan frequently where those items cost a fraction of what they cost here.

And last weekend I finally upgraded my phono preamp. Before I already exchanged the phono cable that came with my record player (also twenty years old already) with one from Furutech and already some time ago the MM cartridge with a low output MC from Dynavector also from Japan.

What can I say? It’s a new world! My records never sounded so good. I got the smallest phono preamp from a small company called WhestAudio. They build nothing but phono stages so they should know what they do. And they do. Just great! Since then I have even listened to some records that I haven’t touched in years.

And there is another device that have made a significant change in the sound quality of my stereo system: Those wall inlets from Furutech that you can see in the image below. I have no problem if you think now that I’m crazy but I think everyone who has a decent high end stereo system and still use a normal wall socket is the one who is truly crazy. Why spend thousands of dollars on equipment and never hear it’s full potential because you go cheap in a wall inlet. But I was the same. I just got those a couple of months back. Highly recommended! You can thank me later.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO1250)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO400)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO1000)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO1000)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO1250)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO640)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO1600)

If you think that photography is an expensive hobby you should visit a high end audio dealer. You think that Fuji lenses are expensive because the very best ones cost a thousand dollars or more. Well, that sum gets you a good power cable but not a superior one.

Every single item in the pictures in this blog post cost several thousand dollars. some well above 10.000 dollars. You can find those in shops in Vienna too but what’s different here in Seoul, Korea is that those shops are cramped with expensive equipment. In Austria or Germany high end stores look more like living rooms. In one room there are seldom more than one pair of speakers and some electronic to listen to. Here in Seoul and also what I have seen in Tokyo so far people have to listen to high end equipment like we used to listen to lower class stereo equipment in big electronic stores many years back when they still sold audio stuff.

But why should anybody in his right mind spend such an amount of money just to listen to music? Because hardly anything can evoke such strong emotions as music. To listen to a record you love on a good stereo can give you goosebumps or even tears. So money actually can buy you love!

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO320)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, ISO800)
FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (50mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO640)

Which finally brings my the vinyl records. In the pictures above you saw a lot of record players and hardly any CD or SACD players. I think the reason is simple: Black is back. And not only because some hipsters think it’s cool to play records on their parents turntable that they found on their attic.

Vinyl is back not only because it does sound better than digital, it is back because it gives you a much better overall experience. You pick a record, take it out of its cover and put it on the turntable. You turn on the platter, put the the tonearm in the right position and drop the cartridge down slowly. When you are back on your couch the record starts to play. You can enjoy the artwork of the cover or just put it away. There is no way to skip to the next song unless you stand up. That way you simply learn to enjoy songs that you didn’t immediately loved when you heard them for the very first time.

Now digital: You chose an album by clicking on a small icon on your iPad. The music starts to play. If you don’t immediately like what you hear you skip to the next song and if you don’t like that one too most likely to a different album.

It’s a matter of seconds. Songs or records can’t grow to you. There is no attachment to the music. If you are not careful enough – to listen to Tidal or Spotify can become very similar to watch cat videos on youtube. You jump from one video to the other only to get bored after a while and regret the time that you have just wasted.

Vinyl records slow you down, they decelerate life at least for the time that you sit in front of your stereo and listen to them. I think doctors should prescribe them!

By the way I’m just listening to Bruce Springsteens brand new record on Tidal and I have to admit that it’s hard to resist to push the skip button on my iPad on many of the songs. There are some true pearls but some of the songs I simply can’t stand and I don’t think that they will ever grow on me. Guess there is only one way to find out.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (50mm, f/2, 1/160 sec, ISO1000)