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Sound and Vision: This House of Marley turntable is turning me into a vinyl fan

OPINION: With Record Store Day 2024 almost here, I thought it be worth turning this column’s eye to that of the vinyl world and the renaissance of a physical format some had cast out to the peripheries.

Quite what stirred the re-interest in vinyl I’m not sure – like with recent resurgences in VHS and tape cassettes, these revivals seem to come out from left-field, likely because we hi-fi fans, like a magpie, seem interested in shiny and new things, while what we liked before gets washed away.

But things never work like that it seems. Records were a part of my upbringing, though not in the sense that I was ever playing around with them. There were just in the background, whether it was my father’s records to my brothers trying out their DJ sets (this being close to the turn of the century, there was a lot of DJ EZ booming from their bedroom).

house of marley
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

But times change, and as I’ve got older, I’ve wanted to try out different things. So when I was offered to chance to review the House of Marley Stir It Up Lux turntable, I thought why not. I’ve dabbled with turntables, read plenty about them, but not put the words into action. I also have vinyl records in the house without the means to hear them – it felt like it was about time I should give it a go.

It’s an entry-level model with Bluetooth wireless support, a built-in phono stage, and good looks. I quite liked the physical feel of setting it up and putting things together and then came the part I was a bit terrified by – setting the tonearm weight.

In my mind this process takes on some sort of horror-esque situation where I feel if I do something slightly wrong I’ll break the tonearm, destroy the stylus, or gouge the records and the stylus tears through it.

House of Marley Get Together Duo

It was a process that took me a long time to do in the most traditional way, so I settled for a much easier alternative way, put a record on platter, turned the player on, crossed my fingers… and I was pleasantly surprised. Everything seemed to work – I didn’t mess it up.

And then there’s the ritual of playing the music itself. Taking it out of its cover, having a look to see if there are any scratches or dust, placing it A-side up and once that side is done, flipping it over. In this ‘modern’ age there’s an expectation that things are delivered fuss-free, without. You finish an album on a streaming service, here are some recommendations we think you’d like as if you’re on a conveyor belt that never stops.

But playing vinyl feels different. There are pauses and stops, moments where you’re flipping sides over or when you want to lift the tonearm and ‘search’ for a track to hear it again. The physical aspect of vinyl is one I find engaging – I’m not just a sloth sitting on the couch listening to my playlist of 2000 songs in shuffle mode.

Like in the ‘old days’ you listen to an album from start to finish rather than skip a track you don’t like in the first ten seconds – it’s an activity that requires attention, not something that always goes hand-in-hand with music streaming.

house of marley
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

And there’s the quality of vinyl itself, hearing a well presented album compared to one that feels a little… rustic. Though the pops and crackles do annoy me. And vinyl is so expensive…

Vinyl is turning me into a fan, and if you’ve ever felt on the fence about it, I’d say jump in and give it a chance and see what all the fuss is about.

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