Spring, huh?

Well, that was an interesting snowfall Monday. I initially thought my two stage snow thrower had broken its impeller as I was having to stop every thirty feet or so and unjam the chute. But when I garaged it and pressed my single stage snowblower into action, and it behaved virtually identically, it dawned on me that what was coming down was not snow, but some sort of white adobe. And plenty of it.

I only mention it because I remember thinking when Kaitlyn wrote about Richard Vandersteen coming and you all “joining us on a most welcomed Spring night in East Tosa” a few weeks ago. With the thought that if it were this nice in February, imagine what March 22 will be like. Now, I’m thinking it might be like the weather we were supposed to get in February. But the weather doesn’t matter when Richard is in town. We’re gonna have fun! And, while we won’t be unveiling any new product, we will have a cool retro surprise worked into our demo setup. So if you’ve missed the other umpteen ways we’ve tried to get the word out, consider this your last warning. A good time is in (the) store next Wednesday, March 22. RSVP by phone (414) 221-0200 or to my email address jonathan.spelt@ultrafi.com . Technically, we are full, but we’ll make room.

This past Saturday almost felt like a spontaneous similar session. A whole bunch of good people showed up, impromptu, and Bob and I led a little jamboree of music lovers. I decided, about mid-party, to trot out my soapbox and again make my case for full bitrate CD rips. Eh, what?

Well, most people reading here probably already know we don’t fool with no lossy digital formats (MP3, Apple AAC, etc.) if we can help it, and we almost always can (internet radio being the one exception, but that’s background anyway). But a lot of people seem to think that “lossless” formats, which carry all the original data, sound just as good as full bitrate rips. The facts are quite different and all in attendance agreed that a WAV or AIFF rip makes a lossless version sound quite anemic by comparison. Ask for a demo next time you are in; it will likely have you rethinking your CD copying protocol.

Also, worry not if you’ve spent the last half lifetime ripping your collection at a lossless rate. You can “transcode” those files to full bit rate and all the sound comes back, whereas if you’ve ground them into lossy MP3 hamburger, or are streaming or downloading iTunes tracks, or listening to Spotify and the like, well, I’m afraid it can’t be steak again. And before I tread too heavily on lossless, let me say with no ambiguity Tidal and Deezer, which both stream lossless, blow the doors off all other streaming services and iTunes sonically. If you don’t have a substantial CD library, or aren’t up for ripping it, you can live quite well with a lossless streaming service.

Soon, we will have a guide to vinyl record care and feeding, but I’ll leak a little about an exciting new product. By the end of March, we should have the new AudioQuest Conductive Record

Brush. No, it is not a “battery biased” tool for cleaning your records, but it does have gold plated contacts where your fingers grip it to let your body dump static charge to ground, and it has zillions of much finer carbon fibers for greatly enhanced “reach” into the grooves. If not a replacement for a liquid and machine deep cleaning process, expect this to radically improve daily dust removal, all for $20.

The weather, as it happens, is perfect for curling up with a good recording. See you in the store or online soon.