My new record player: Denon DP-300F

So Doist offered me a welcome gift when I joined, and I bought something I’ve always wanted—a record player. It’s been on my wishlist for ages, but I never really bought it because 1) it’s expensive, and 2) it’s hard to justify in this age of electronic, streaming music. I initially thought of a Fluance RT-82 but it was out-of-stock, and so I picked a Denon DP-300F. It’s a bit more muted-looking than the Fluance, but honestly it works better: fully automatic, and it’s much easier to setup.

The last time I felt this way after getting something was when I bought a bike[1], and I’ve since realised I like nice, tangible, lovely things. It’s part of the reason why I really like Apple products or a Leica camera, or a Royal Enfield. It’s the sense that when you use them, you are holding something thoughtfully, intentionally designed for a purpose.

This is how it looks & sounds:

I played Beatles first—of course.

I bought some records too, and have been listening to em non-stop since I got this 😀

Each record is just wonderful—both to listen to, and then experience its covers and how it feels inside. Here’s the Beatles one:

This is music from a different age.

So why records? I got into this knowing it’s an extremely temperamental medium: I had to adjust the tonearm quite a bit to even get the record to play. It’s from an era ago: and there’s cracks and pops in the music at times. Sometimes the stylus skids over the tracks, causing echoes or distortion. The records get dusty, just like books and have to be cleaned, and they have to be stored strictly vertically, otherwise they may warp or bend. It’s… difficult, and I’m sure many a record owner would have breathed a sigh of relief when cassettes came around, and then CDs, and finally the end of physical music.

Why records? Because:

  1. It is physical music. There is a sense of certain tangibility in owning real things that you’ll never get from a virtual medium. The texture of the cover as you take out a record, the act of cleaning a record with your brush. Placing it carefully on the mat. Picking up the stylus and placing it down for the music to come alive. This is part of the reason why beautiful hardware from Apple still sells.
  2. It slows you down. There’s only a handful of tracks on a side before you have to manually flip the record around. You have a limited music collection, and you tend to re-listen, and find nuances in music instead of searching for the next fix. It’s much like the archaic focusing tech on a Leica M: so much slower than auto-focus, but that is the whole point. You slow down and sometimes you take better photos.
  3. There’s a bunch of bad things in old tech, but there’s a lot of good too: records are physical, it won’t ever disappear from my library because of artists rights issues, and my copy will wear with me the more I listen, it’ll be my own unique sound. If you have a favourite concert pressed direct to a record, it’ll be the closest you’ll come to actually being there—there’s no remixes or editing possible here.
  4. And then there are memories: of a record you’ve always wanted to own, but somebody gifted them to you. Of the first time you listened to a record with friends. It’s a piece of a dream come true.

That’s enough about records. As you probably can guess, I love this gift. 🙂

[1]: It’s a tale of woe for the bike unfortunately. I had to move away to Bangalore, and then my back pain really acted up, and the bike remained unused for so long that it started to rust. I sold it off. Some day, I’ll buy another.

2 responses

  1. […] point. The mechanical watch is pure indulgence, and that’s because just like my Leica and my record player, it’s the love of the device, its history, how it feels, and the intangible that attracts me […]

  2. […] I go to a different room. If I’m shut in a hotel room like I am now during quarantine, I at least go to the toilet and spend some time there. This helps me mentally switch off from “work mode”. In Delhi, I used to play a record. […]

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