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Analog and LPs Redux

Patricia Barber made me write this column. It was supposed to be about something else, but she grabbed me, shook me, made me feel all warm inside and the die was cast.

I was listening to her Modern Cool recording on vinyl-my first foray into LPs in more than a year I’m ashamed to admit-when she took hold of me so dramatically. Her voice was there: it was liquid, it was present, it was real. For that year previous, I had been lulled into complacency with the convenience of CDs, and my current rig, which employs Bel Canto’s fantastic DAC2 digital to analog converter, does create a way-better-than-average sound from those shiny aluminum discs. But when I dropped the needle into that groove, I knew within seconds I had been lying to myself. The sound was so much better I could hardly believe it. Her band shot out of the speakers like a rocket, with an immediacy and a dynamic presence the digital domain just cannot allow. I spent the rest of the evening pulling LP after LP off the shelf to revisit old favorites, particularly titles still unavailable, believe it or not, on CD.

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