Bang & Olufsen's Beosound A1 and Audio Technica's AT LP60
Hi there, remember me? It’s been a few weeks, but please don’t be offended - after a commendable run of no less than seventeen weekly entries in a row, I kinda ran out of things I was excited to share with y’all, if only momentarily. This isn’t work, this is fun, so I’d rather stay out of your hair than force it for the sake of creating more internet content, you know? Anyway, I’m feeling well-rested and energized, and wanted to share something I’m really pleased with: my setup for listening to records while washing the dishes every night.
You might have already deduced that I listen to a lot of music, and while I’ll listen to it any time / any place, I have my personal preferences. I find it most satisfying to listen while performing some sort of menial function - just slight enough of a task to keep me in position and undistracted, freeing up the conscious part of my mind to focus deeply on the sound. Driving by myself is great for this, though I find the humble act of washing dishes to be superior, perhaps the pinnacle of auditory experience. Over the past couple of years, I took the necessary steps to upgrade my kitchen setup for both ease of use (the fewer buttons I have to press, the better) and higher quality of sound.
Let’s start with what is probably the most important part of the equation: the speaker. Surely you can relate to having some dirty rubber Bluetooth paperweight kicking around your domicile - I know it well - but a couple years ago I upgraded to Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound A1, which stepped up my audio quality considerably. Not only is Bang & Olufsen my favorite-named audio company, they’ve made their reputation on crystal-clear audiophile quality and pristine, minimalist designs. Their amazing black-hole-looking floor speaker (which costs more than I spent on my car) is an immediate attention-grabber, even when tucked inside a Bang & Olufsen showroom in a busy mall and you’ve got your mind set on Sbarro. Anyway, the Beosound A1 was reasonably affordable (at least by comparison), and when it comes to playing much of the advanced techno music that comprises my current sonic diet, it provides both a supple low-end punch and a pristine clarity, which of course is even more impressive if one considers that it’s simply translating whatever sonic frequency is being transmitted to it through radio waves (rather than the artisanal-copper analog speaker wires it deserves). I brought it with me into the bathroom once for a particularly luxurious winter shower and it fell off my toilet (thanks in no small part to the bass from an extended Blawan track), yet it kept on playing with only the most minor of cosmetic imperfections as a result. I kinda like how it looks now anyway, a little beaten up, though I might just be telling myself that to keep from feeling sad.
As for the origin of the Bluetooth signal that reaches my A1, I took a chance with the affordable and not-nearly-as-flashy Audio Technica line, specifically this Bluetooth-enabled automatic-drive turntable. It comes set for two speeds and utilizes an automatic arm, which means I’ll have to take my 78 RPM thirteen-inch records elsewhere. I knew this turntable would be mostly comprised of plastic (it is), and the chance of it simply not connecting or connecting poorly to the speaker was very much on the table (I’ve had connectivity woes with prior setups), but it’s been a breeze from day one, even when listening to my ancient iPod (which requires its own ambiguously-bootleggy Bluetooth adapter plug to emit the signal (which in turn slurps down the iPod’s battery power with the quickness, but I digress)). My records sound great on this thing, nice and loud without ever feeling overly digital or tinny, and it takes me like twenty seconds or less to get it all going.
I know what you’re going to ask - “what happens if you’ve got a lot of dishes?” - and let me tell you, this might even be the best part: I take my driest knuckle, press the start button with it once again, and listen to the same side of a record twice or more. In this age of scattered distractions and minuscule attention spans, where we’re constantly itching our way through the first ten seconds of anything before “Alexa next”-ing it or retreating into our phones, it’s been downright glorious to subject myself to the same side of an LP, over and over, and I suggest you do the same. In my experience, bad records become good and good records become great if you simply listen to them a million times.
Been running a podcast-free household since day one, to be clear! I am sure there are so many great podcasts that I’d find highly entertaining, but I don’t know what to tell you, I haven’t diverged from music. Gotta draw the line somewhere. I’d probably rather listen to a recording of someone listening to a podcast, pressed up as some sort of social-commentary audio vérité than spend time with even the most compelling of pop-culture, political or serial killer podcasts. Sorry! I’m not like you.
What do you think their full names are… Johnny Bang and Regina Olufsen, maybe? I wonder how they met, who does what in the company, how they made it all happen… are they lovers (ala Malin + Goetz)? In-laws? Enemies, at this point? I also can’t help but pronounce the ampersand as an und, which is fun. Iconic duo I know literally nothing about.