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Groundbreaking Camera Use in 5 Classic Albums

Since my one-man show is so crazy busy these days, I have consented to publish this guest blog by Ellie Brown. Enjoy!

Despite their age, ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s records have remained timeless and unwavering in music culture, hence their
status as classic albums. Unsurprisingly, even younger generations are drawn to these eras of music, which has
seen a resurgence of interest online. For instance, Cass Elliot’s 1969 song “Make Your Kind of Music” has made
waves over TikTok— driving curious young listeners back into the music of decades before. But besides the music,
their album covers have played an essential role in establishing the iconography and staying power of the works.
Many of the photographs used for these covers greatly influenced pop culture and the use of cameras for music in
general. Here are five examples of groundbreaking camera use in classic albums:

Abbey Road – The Beatles

It’s nearly impossible to look back at The Beatles’ illustrious career without remembering the famous Abbey
Road cover. The image of the four members crossing that titular street has become one of the most iconic albums
and photographs ever. The story behind the photo is just as interesting, filled with many anecdotes and a rich history.
They shot the cover outside EMI Studios—now renamed Abbey Road Studios—where the band spent most of their

The Fab Four only had a limited time to shoot the cover. Photographer Iain Macmillan had to wait for a policeman to
halt traffic so he could climb up a stepladder in the middle of the road with his Hasselblad camera. The band crossed
the road several times while Macmillan took shot after shot to get the perfect picture. Paul McCartney decided that
frame five out of their six shots was the best. More than 50 years later, the groundbreaking photograph still inspires
homages and brings people looking to recreate the image to Abbey Road.

Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan

The Highway 61 Revisited album was a significant change for American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who switched
from his signature acoustic sound to rock for the album. His top song, “Like a Rolling Stone,” particularly highlights
the loss of innocence and harsh reality— which is why it’s impossible not to notice Dylan’s glare on the cover album,
which, like his music, confronts the viewer. Dylan worked closely with photographer Daniel Kramer who relied on
Nikon’s 35mm Rangefinder to achieve the shot for the album’s cover artwork. Nikon models were a game-changer at
the time, although the brand has evolved since Kramer’s days.

Celebrity photographers like Matthew Jordan Smith now rely on advanced camera models to replicate their
rangefinder precursors with an extensive list of adjustable settings. These features are available on the mirrorless
cameras you can buy on Adorama. The Nikon models listed on the site have CMOS sensors, an impressive ISO
sensitivity range, and the EXPEED 6 Image Processing Engine for high processing speed and image quality. Still, the
35 mm Range Finder in Kramer’s hands created iconic imagery for Dylan’s career— allowing him to convey his
intended message against inequality and cultural corruption in Highway 61 Revisited.

Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Jimi Hendrix is one of the most influential electric guitarists of all time, so it’s no surprise that even his album covers
would be just as prolific, artistic, and groundbreaking. Upon release in the UK in 1967, Are You Experienced spent 33
weeks on the charts and later reached number five on the US Billboard Charts.

There are two versions of the album cover, as Hendrix notably disliked the original UK cover. With the help of graphic
designer Karl Ferris, the band was captured in color using the newly-released Nikon commercial fisheye lenses,
which became essential to the Mod sub-culture in the ‘60s. This lens brought a unique perspective on the band’s
image; bandmates Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell peered at the viewer, while the icon Jimi Hendrix was at the
center and seemingly looking down on them— much like an idol with a higher position, perfectly encapsulating
Hendrix’s rising star. The artistic title also gave a psychedelic vibe, fitting the rising ‘60s pop artistic style.

Rumours – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s music is timeless across multiple generations. Their 1977 album Rumours is their most successful
record and one of the best-selling albums ever. “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “The Chain” are still well-loved
by today’s audiences. Besides the iconic music, their album cover is incredibly recognizable, drawing intrigue to this day.

Photographer Herbert Worthington frequently utilized a 35mm single-lens reflex camera and likely used it for the
album cover shoot. This type of camera incorporates a mirror and prism system that enables the photographer to
preview the exact image that will be captured through the lens. The props in the image also give a nod to the band’s
history. The wooden balls hanging between Mick Fleetwood’s legs were actually lavatory chains, which became the
band’s good luck talisman on the road. The Cheatsheet notes that the Rumours cover also seems to give off an
illusion. It’s often believed that Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood are holding hands, but he’s actually grasping a
crystal ball while she has both arms outstretched behind her. Though it’s a simple cover, Worthington’s masterful use
of the camera and love for photography has helped make it a stand-out image for decades.

This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello is widely renowned for his influence in the new wave and punk rock genres, with classics like “Pump It
Up” and “This Year’s Girl” under his belt. This Year’s Model was his second album, and while not his best-selling one,
it established his place in the industry. His work with his backing band, The Attractions, gives the album an iconic and
addictive sound.

The cover of Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model cover has a more literal take on camera use, as it features the artist
with a Hasselblad camera, seemingly preparing to take a shot. He wears an emotionless expression, representing his
role as both observed and observing. Photographer Chris Gabrin intentionally provided Costello with the same
camera and tripod he used, giving a mirror effect during the shoot. The album also has multiple versions released in
different regions. These variants have Costello in a different pose or framing, but the most notable is the original UK
cover, featuring his sharp gaze and taller posture.

While these albums showcase some great camera use and iconic photos, they’re most notable for the music that has
established their classic status. If you want a great listening experience when listening to them, we recommend using
a turntable to play your music. Our post “Logo or not Logo” notes how these timeless devices are well-designed
based on math and science, so it’s worth setting up one in your listening room.

Written by: Ellie Brown

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Why I favor a new Rega RB-330 OEM over most vintage arms in the same price range…

A brand new Rega branded RB-330 arm sells for $675.  The OEM arm, the TA-3, which I include on my base Thorens TD-160 Super reproduction package, sells for about $100 less retail. At $575 dollars or so, one could very well consider buying a nice quality vintage tonearm like the SME 3009 Series II or II Improved.  However, when buying a fifty plus year old tonearm, there are many potential pitfalls. First of all, unlike the Rega, the SME suffers from 50 year old wiring, including one of THE worst rca cable connectors ever designed (not only loose-fitting, but also oxidizes seemingly before your eyes.)  Rewiring the arm at SME tonearms in Canada is $400 plus shipping minimum.  Many customers who have sent their arms there report spending twice that once other issues are found.  The other pitfall with the vintage SME arms is missing doodads that quickly add up. The stringed bias weight is $29, the acorn screws are $30 a piece, the oft-needed coupling rubbers are $40. Suddenly your $500  vintage arm is closer to costing you twice that.   And it’s still not warrantied.

There are other vintage arms that also beat the price of the RB330 OEM arm, but they also suffer from potential issues.  The old Linns have leaky counterweights. The Grace arms also suffer from missing doodads, and unlike the SME, these are no longer supported.  The Black Widows, a sexy looking arm, are frequently a victim of breakage in the arm tube..and if you don’t know if it’s been repaired in its past, you discover you may never be able to achieve correct alignment at any geometry.  So yes, when I started out in the early 2000s selling custom turntables, I was only including vintage arms. However, in the past ten years I have come round to appreciate a well designed modern arm with up-to-date wiring and a warranty.  I have also come to appreciate these medium mass arms fit a much wider range of currently manufactured cartridges: Hana, Dynavector, and Ortofon all have a range of cartridges with matching compliance.

The custom turntables I sell have always been about great value. To me, pairing your Vinyl Nirvana restored vintage Thorens with a new warrantied Rega-made arm offers the best of both worlds.  You have a turntable manufactured at the height of German manufacturing, restored by one of the most respected restoration specialist, paired with a British arm that has won a multitude of awards and pairs with myriad contemporary cartridges.

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Upgrade to new Sorane TA-1 tonearm

The new 9″ Sorane TA-1 Tonearm

“Reproduced sound is precise and clean, thanks to hand assembly by highly skilled craftsmen.”

Sorane was founded in 1974. Katsuaki Ishiyama-san collected designing and development knowledge for various tonearms  manufactured by only handmade and assembled process, with his belief the fine tuning is only available by craftsmen’s precise and sensitive hand.   Even after applying modern CNC milling machine at their own plant for basic parts production, their tonearms still rely on craftsmen’s expertise for final assembly, in particular, to have idealized mechanical surface contact with each other, by hand-tuning and hand-adjustment.

The major key to tonearm quality is the sensitivity and stability in retrieving delicate signals, for which the bearings are the determining factor. The TA-l employs a miniature radial bearing for horizontal movement and a miniature pivot bearing for vertical movement. Very high performance is achieved at a reasonable price.  The body is constructed from a machine-tooled solid aluminum block. The hand-assembled arm wand satisfies every vital condition necessary for vibration-free and noise-free reproduction..

Reproduced sound is precise and clean, thanks to hand assembly by highly skilled craftsmen.

Comes with detachable Sorane headshell.

Included with the tonearm:
  • Custom DIN cable made with  Mogami Mini Starquad Tonearm cable, an angled DIN connector and Starline RCAs. It also has dual grounding ($159 value)
  • Five year “bumper to bumper” warranty through Vinyl Nirvana. Any issue, just contact us.



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Where’s the ADC LMF-1 & LMF-2 Tonearm Love

I get asked a lot about vintage tonearms.  The most asked about arms are the SME, followed by Grace and Infinity. Though all three companies made some very good to great tonearms, one of the great audio values on the market are the LMF-1 and LMF-2 made by ADC.

Peter Pritchard was the main innovator behind the ADC line.  Through the 70’s to 90’s, they sold phono cartridges, tonearms, turntables, and loudspeakers. (And some other peripheral equipment.)  Most, if not all, were innovative in some way and well reviewed.  The ADC cartridges, with extremely high compliance, could be considered their biggest selling line.  Since few low mass tonearms were being made at that time, Pritchard designed and sold the LMF-40 tonearm. This arm was continually refined, and I would argue the LMF-1 and LMF-2 were at the apex of their tonearm development.

Like the Infinity Black Widow that has a huge following, the LMF-1 and -2 used a carbon fiber armtube for low mass to high tensile strength. However, unlike the Black Widow, the ADCs do not suffer from a high breakage rate.  Unlike the SME 3009s and the Grace 707 and 747s, also low mass arms, the ADC does not suffer as many  missing or broken parts.  These replacement part costs can add up quickly.  In my own ADC LMF buying experience over the last 20 years, I’ve always purchased complete arms that were fully functional.

In terms of wiring, though all of these arms feature internal wiring that is now decades old, the ADC at least uses a common female DIN configuration which allows the easy replacement to one of the dozens of DIN cable replacements available. When buying a vintage SME 3009 or Grace 707/727, that is not so simple. The SME uses its own proprietary connector (one of the weakest points of the arms design, imo) and the Grace uses a male DIN cable, which is harder to source with much fewer options than the female configuration.

Over the past two decades, I have paired the LMF-1 and -2 with Shure V-15s, Grace F-9s, Ortofon OM20/30s and Micro Acoustics 2002e and 282 with fantastic results.  Of course, one could argue the ADC XLX and QLM offer the very best performance, as the arms were designed with those in mind.

Amazingly, as compared with the SME, Grace, and Black Widow arms mentioned above, the ADC are still available at very reasonable prices.  As of this writing, an LMF-2 sold on eBay for under $300.  The LMF-2 is the removeable headshell version, and I also noted when I was checking out the sold auctions, that a couple of companies are now offering aftermarket headshells for this model! How cool is that?!

In closing, if you are in the market for a vintage arm, I cannot recommend high enough that you add the ADC LMFs to your search list. More info here.



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Ray LaMontagne @ MGM Theater Boston, October 2022

Don’t know about you, but the past 10 years, it seems more times than not, I have to really really concentrate on zen vibes to get myself through a concert.  The latest was a Ray LaMontagne concert last night at MGM in Boston with my wife.

Really nice venue, and I made sure we had great seats about 15 rows back, dead center. Opening act was Lily Meola, and it was kind of nice that a lot of people had not arrived yet. My wife and I enjoyed the young singer and her two piece band. She left, and then the first “situation” developed. I see this VERY tall man heading down the aisle of the row in front of us.  There are many many seats, so what are the odds he’s gonna be in front of me or my wife. Well, it turned out to be 100%. He is directly in front of me.  He’s got to be six foot five inches at least…and because we are fairly close to the stage, there’s not any way he’s gonna NOT block my line of sight to center stage I’d so carefully plotted.  My wife is bummed for me, but I assure her I’ll be able to see enough of Ray to the right of World’s Tallest Man’s  head. (And that turned out to be true, but more on the worlds’ tallest man later)

Some movement starts backstage, and simultaneously, a couple arrives directly behind us. They are fairly noisy and rowdy, but I tell myself it’s gonna be okay because the show hasn’t started yet, and anyway, who comes to a Ray show to be rowdy. (Then I remember the two twenty-something drunk girls at a Ray show in Portland several years back. Hmmm.)  We are all waiting for some indication the show’s gonna start, and the rowdy-ish couple are settling down.  I start to relax.  Lights go down and they are both shouting as  loudly as anyone in the venue, but to my relief, they quiet down. I am looking around the side of Worlds’ Tallest Man’s head, as Ray comes his mic.. I am able to totally enjoy the opening song, “No Other Way.”  Then, Ray goes into the second song, “Beg, Steal, or Borrow” and a new wrinkle in my lifetime of concert-going experience appears…the fellow directly behind me likes to sing…and with his mouth directly behind my head about 18 inches, it’s almost as loud as Ray.  My astute wife knows this situation is not good, and she grabs my arm and pulls me toward her, squeezing my hand tight. I squeeze back…and she leans in and says, “Don’t.”   I do my best to block out his voice and try to assure myself he’s not gonna sing all night…he just isn’t.

Turns out, every song that got radio play, Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray just belts it out.  So, I try to console myself with the fact he is not singing along to the lesser known songs in the catalog, and I really can see the stage okay even with World’s Tallest Man in front of me.  A tertiary issue has developed, but compared to the first two it’s not so bad.  The girl in the seat next to me cannot unglue her eyes from her phone.  She’s not recording or anything, she seems to be just messaging friends and maybe at one point shopping?

The show is progressing, and the song “Such a Simple Thing” begins.   If you have never been to a Ray show…it’s overall a pretty mellow crowd with not much standing going on. People sit to enjoy the show. Well, two rows in front of my wife and I, shortly into that song, a couple stand and try to slow dance in the row space. These seats are very tight…all night long, when anyone is getting up to the restroom, it was uncomfortable trying to pull your legs in so they could get by. Anyway, this couple tries to dance in that space.  They cannot, so it pretty much just turns into grab ass and smooching. Now, with this going on, Girl Who Cannot Put Her Phone Down finally looks up from her phone and is incensed this is happening in front of her. I am 99% able to ignore this standing couple because they are off to the left. That’s the good news. However, Girl Who Cannot Put Her Phone Down is telling the friend to her left this should not be happening, and I have trouble drowning that out, and so I cannot enjoy the song. Shame.

Song ends, and Ray’s recent semi-hit “Strong Enough” starts. Well, Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray sure loves that and sings just about every word.  It’s a very upbeat song, the place is rocking just about as much as it was all evening, and so I am able to get into that vibe and tolerate it all.  (All while leaning to the left of Worlds’ Tallest Man’s head.)  Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray sure enjoys singing along to the next song too: “Roll Me Mama.”  If you know the song, Ray gets into the range of voice which comes from his deepest stomach cavity…just love that…and so does Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray. Sigh.  My wife grabs my arm again…she knows me so well. Song ends and he continues with a lesser known song from the new album…”We’ll make it through.”  Thank you, universe,  for the fact that Ray is not a hit machine.  I ignore the scrolling of Girl Who Cannot Put Her Phone Down and lean to the left of  Worlds’ Tallest Man, take my wife’s hand and arm, and we really enjoy that song.

Then, a special moment begins…Ray starts to play my fav song, “Jolene.”  As amazing as it is on album, it’s always better live.  However, I know it’s also a semi-hit, so it’s very likely Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray is not gonna be able to restrain himself.

Digression: “Jolene” is also the song that resulted in the face off with Two Twenty-something Drunk Girls  in Portland years ago. They had been talking through pretty much the whole show, and I could not take the fact they were gonna ruin “Jolene.”  So, I politely (but loudly because the song was starting) said something like “I’d really like to hear this song, could the two of you please stop talking.”   My request did not go over well, and they yelled at me for trying to “silence women” for the majority of the my favorite Ray song. Sigh.”

So, with the Portland Incident in mind, I decide I am NOT gonna turn and tell Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray to stop singing. It seems he doesn’t know all the words anyway, but then the song is building to its climax, and sure enough, he is belting it out  so loudly, eighteen inches from my ears, that I cannot take it any longer.  My wife has missed my rising frustration, and so she is unable to stop me from turning around and directly looking at Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray with DEATH EYES. I speak no words, but the expression is enough that his wife grabs his arm and he stops singing.  My wife has noticed me turned and pulls me forward.  The song still has 30 second or so to go, and I am able to completely enjoy the sublime ending. 

Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray has mostly stopped singing, when as Ray is talking about his time in nature,  a woman comes down Worlds’ Tallest Man’s aisle.  There are not many seats left empty, just one each on either side of Worlds’ Tallest Man and his partner.  This girl coming down the aisle has her phone light on, is standing directly in front of my wife and whisper-screaming to World’s Tallest Man that he is sitting in her seats and that he needs to move down one to create space for her and a friend. Ray is still talking, and so it’s not the end of the world this is happening at this moment. Finally she DOES convince Worlds’ Tallest Man he’s not in the right place, and he and his wife move down one seat to my left. Suddenly, I have direct sight of the stage!   Ray starts singing “Summer Clouds” which is one of my favorite songs from Monovision.  There’s no singing from behind me, and I am thinking this is gonna be the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for…that I’ve been deserving of for behaving myself so well. 

The song ends, the tiny woman leans over to Worlds’ Tallest Man and says a quick “Sorry” and gets up to leave. Ray is swapping guitars, and every bit of me is hoping the universe keeps Worlds’ Tallest Man in his new seat. Nope, he and his partner move back.  I tell myself, really it was mainly Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray hurting my enjoyment of the show, and so I could deal with a partially obstructed view.  A few more songs pass and then Ray announces his final song. He starts to play “Trouble.” and the place is alive again, and Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray braves a few lines, but I am okay because it’s not so bad when a third of the place is also singing along. Plus, no one can begin to imitate the range of voice Ray brings up at the end of the song…and even Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray gives up to listen.

Ray leaves stage. A few people get up to leave, and the rest of us stay and applaud until the encore begins. It’s a mellow not well known song called “Let’s make it last” and I am reasonably assured  Mr. I Sing As Well As Ray  won’t be involved. But wait, what’s this??? Worlds’ Tallest Man has his phone out, is steadying it on the now empty seat in front of him, and is recording…no, not just a few seconds, but the whole effing song! I can look past the side of this giant’s head, but I cannot miss this 3″x6″ bright screen right there held up at my eye level.  The guy one seat over from Worlds’ Tallest Man gets up and moves to the other side of his wife.  Ironically, Girl Who Cannot Put Her Phone Down is complaining to her friend about it. My wife cannot believe it…we are both shaking our heads. I say the word “Rude” out loud, with enough volume he can hear it but he doesn’t stop…my wife grabs my arm…again…and I just close my eyes and look down and after a few moments I am able to get into Ray’s voice and enjoy the song.

Miraculously, Ray introduces and sings “Morning comes wearing diamonds” and you can truly hear a pin drop for the first time all evening. Thankfully, World’s Tallest Man has put his phone away. Just a blissful experience hearing that song live. I figure that’s got to be the last song, but there’s one more…and one more time World’s Tallest Man  decides he’s gonna record it start to finish. My wife has spotted some open seats to our right, so we get up and she’s says loudly as we are moving, “That is so RUUDE.”  I add in “SELFISH” and we take the newly opened seats. We are able to enjoy the last song…but for all those people behind that guy….

With all of these distractions, you might ask, why does he bother to attend concerts in the first place?  Well, that’s simple.  Ray is one of my  favorite artists and it’s always enlightening to see how the album songs are treated on stage, in this case with just him and two bandmates. It’s also Ray telling a long story about camping alone on an island in Maine before “Misty Morning Rain.” It was the talk about his mom before he played “Ojai.”  There are those places where the inflection of his voice varies from the recorded version, for example, at the end of “Highway to the Sun” his voice soars on the final word “sun.”  It was holding hands with my wife during “We’ll make it through,” a song I played countless times in the early days of the pandemic. It was the absolute vocal perfection on “Summer Clouds” and “Morning comes wearing diamonds.” Those two songs, in particular, helped me to leave the surroundings and brought me to a place of beauty and grace. And that’s why I’ll keep attending concerts for Ray and for other artists I love. 


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Rotator Cuff Injury

Before the rumor mill inserts itself, I just wanted to let folks know I am having rotator cuff surgery today.  I got t-boned at a red light in April, and the MRI showed a complete tear.

This will mean Vinyl Nirvana will be focusing mainly on small parts sales for a few months. I am still taking custom orders on Thorens turntables, but delivery will be delayed to spring. I am also accepting mid-80s ARs and Thorens TD-125s for restoration service , but just establishing the place in the queue, and then taking shipment in late spring. Of course, I can still conduct consults as well.

I should add, in terms of small parts sales, at first I’ll be shipping every other week, with the help of friend and my wife, and then later in November I should be able to ship on my own a couple of times a week.

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Logo or not Logo


There have been many times over the past several years where my customers have asked me, after they have received their turntable, why there isn’t a Vinyl Nirvana logo or name plate placed somewhere on the table. There was actually a brief period where I had some plates made and I used to put one on the back of a custom unit…when I remembered. I may have ordered 3 or 4 dozen nameplates, but years later, there is still a one inch stack resting in a small dusty bin.

Somewhere along the way, rather unconsciously, I knew the Thorens logo meant much more than the Vinyl Nirvana one ever would. I am not a turntable designer. I have no engineering degree. Physics is a struggle for this former English teacher. However, I always loved music. And I always loved turntables, from a crazy young age. To me, even to this day, it’s more magical than mathematical. More emotional than rational. However, I’m no fool. I know that the legacy of these wonderful turntables rests on design principles based in math and science, and also the dedication of craftsmen to deliver a product of the highest caliber based on those designs.

At this point, having worked twenty years on Thorens turntables, I can say I am still just as much in awe of the design and the machining as the first time I set one up in my listening room.  Probably even more. No matter what customizing I have undertaken on any given Thorens unit, the heart is and always will be a Thorens. And I know the core of that is their design and machining. I’m a torchbearer for something larger, and hopefully in future decades, other Thorens torchbearers will follow.
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Some analog products I recommend…

I neither sell these nor was I given a free sample to review. 

Sota Reflex Clamp

Available here.

This clamp has been something I have wanted to try for a long time. The only thing holding me back was the price @ $285.  Well, one appeared on FB Marketplace for less than half price and I snapped it up. My history and opinion of clamps has changed over time. I still sell and use the Bren-design Record Weight, but instead of using it for all lps, I have now reduced use to just my thinnest lps…the ones that really need the most help making firm contact with the mat.  The Sota Reflex Clamp is about 8oz and the Bren is closer to 14oz.  That 6 ounces makes a big difference  when you are talking a belt drive turntable with a spring suspension. It can easily be the difference between your platter bottoming out on a 180 or 200 gram lp.  Most assuredly, its less wear and tear on the motor and belt. The great thing is the reflex action easily makes up for that 6oz difference…really helping the lp to make good contact with the mat.

I don’t know why, but I always got the impression the clamp was plastic or delrin. It’s not. It’s very nicely machined black anodized aluminum.  It really feels great in your hand and the clamp action is sure and smooth.  I’m not one to make hyperbolic statements about products, but I do believe in the benefit of a good clamp or weight, and the Sota is definitely the nicest I have used.

Turntable Lab Triple Operation Record Brush

Sold here. 

A little easier on the wallet is this great record brush from Turntable Labs.  I’ve been using a Carbon Fiber Brush for a lot of years now, and the one thing that’s disconcerting about using one is what happens to the dust accumulated in the carbon fiber bristles as you go to remove/lift it off the record.   Sure, some seems to adhere to the bristles, but if you ever looked in good light, quite a lot also ends up on the top of your deck, no matter how good your technique is. The Triple Operation Brush solves that by grabbing the excess dust onto its microfiber surface,  The directions state to place (the leading) cleaning pad gently on the spinning record, slowly sweep upward using the carbon fiber (CF) bristles, and then finish with the second pad.  This makes sense to me. The first pass of the microfiber removes surface dust, the pass with the CF bristles gets dust a little deeper in the grooves, and then the second pad ensures everything gets off the record AND not land on the top of your deck.  I like this so much, soon I will have one next to each turntable in the house.

The Dr. Feickert Universal Protractor

Available here by mail only. But also sold elsewhere online.

This is another item I admired and lusted after from afar but never took the plunge to spend the money. (Which is entirely stupid given how much time I spend per week mounting and aligning phono cartridges. )  I love using this device. It is well thought out in every way, and makes correct alignment a cinch, provided you can accurately determine the pivot point of your tonearm.  The picture on the website shows a Jelco arm with a damping well on top.  Drop the pin into that well, and you are good to go. I can tell you from experience, it’s a little trickier with Rega variants and other arms that don’t have a readily apparent pivot point like the Jelco 550/750. Still, I use mine almost every day and love the heck out of it.  It’s awesome to have all three of the major alignment geometries there for you to use. I know it’s expensive for casual listeners who align a cartridge once every several years, but perhaps you can find a couple of analog friends to split ownership???

I neither sell these nor was I given a free sample to review. 

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When emailing a question…

When emailing a question regarding your AR or Thorens turntable, it is best if you keep your email as brief as possible and restrict yourself to the most important question or two.  This will increase the likelihood of a response.  I continue to be a one man show here, and the emails from actual customers will always come first.  I don’t mind answering questions when time permits, but honestly it’s just too overwhelming to open an email that is several paragraphs long with a half dozen questions. More often than not, an email like that is “starred” but I never seem to get back to them.  Especially when nearly every day brings the arrival of questions from past and present customers.  Some people have accused me of being aloof and unwilling to help others…believe me, if that were the case I would not have posted literally hundreds of responses in various forums and published dozens of instructional youtube videos that are free for the viewing. (After a few seconds of AD preview.)  I continue to offer a consult service for those who have more indepth questions. You can access that service here. If you don’t want to pay the fee, I still highly recommend the AR and Thorens forums at Vinyl Engine as sensational resources.