Goin’ Analog 2: Spin the Black Circle

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Back in 2013 of January, I’ve made a post that I’ll be embarking on a journey — the analog way — that was an introduction. Same month of that year, I made my “first” planner review — Muji 2012 A6 Schedule Note Planner. Since then, I’ve been using pen and paper — I even upgraded to a Midori Traveler’s Notebook and some fountain pens.

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Above: Fountain pens: TWSBI Diamond 580 AL, Lamy Safari Umbra; Rotring Mechanical Pencil; a Pilot Gel Pen; Midori Traveler’s Notebook; and vintage-look Fujifilm X-E2

August of 2016 marks another pitstop on my analog journey — analog music. I’ve been eyeing a turntable since 2014, but work-related stuff and budget constraint put it on hold. Fortunately, 2016 is been good to me so far, so I bought myself one. With weeks of research, I finally completed the roster for my basic audio setup, which I’ll dub it “budgetarian hi-fi,” since all the audio components are all spec-basic, entry-level performance and value for money.


Audio-Technica AT-LP60. The first thing I bought. I saw a good deal online, so I grabbed it. The AT-LP60 is an entry-level turntable by Audio-Technica targeted for beginners like me who wants to be acquainted with LPs or records and be able to build up their first record collection. The AT-LP60 is very basic. No bells and whistles. Easy to set it up — a plug and play record player. Design-wise, it’s minimalist and stylish. Buttons are very straightforward.

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The Audio-Tehcnica AT-LP60 in blue

Rega Fono Mini A2D. Since the AT-LP60 has a built-in phono preamp — according to audiophiles — a dedicated phono preamp will make a difference in sound quality — it will further enhance the listening experience. So I decided to get what is currently available — the Rega Fono Mini A2D — it has good reviews online and it came from a respectable British audio brand Rega. Again, the design is minimalist and in black; stripped down to its basic functions.

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The Rega Fono Mini A2D front panel with USB port in black aluminum case

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The Rega Fono Mini A2D back panel with RCA “in” and “out” connectors. The unit is powered by 24VAC

Denon AVR-X520BT. A good integrated preamp or receiver is a must to any audio setup especially if you own a record player. The Denon AVR-X520BT 5.2 AV Receiver suits my budget and specifications for a small space like mine. It has 130 watts / 6-16 ohms per channel output. New receivers nowadays, like the AVR-X520BT, has no phono stage built-in, this is where the Rega Fono Mini A2D come into play and do its magic.

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The Denon AVR-X520BT 5.2 AV Receiver front panel

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The Denon AVR-X520BT 5.2 AV Receiver front panel: Volume dial knob with USB port

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The Denon AVR-X520BT 5.2 AV Receiver front panel: Source input dial knob with phone jack

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The Denon AVR-X520BT 5.2 AV Receiver back panel

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The Denon AVR-X520BT 5.2 AV Receiver back panel: Audio-video RCA input and output connectors; 5.1 speaker connectors; 5 HDMI ports

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1. Since I got myself a decent receiver, a good pair of Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 bookshelf speaker wouldn’t hurt my budget. It has a 100 watts / 6 ohms of power and a decibel sensitivity of 86, which is fairly standard for small spaces. I never heard of Wharfedale brand since I got this speaker and it has been recommended by the shop’s tech guy where I bought this. He said, Wharfedale’s line of speakers is a perfect match for Denon receivers because of its “warm” sounding quality. And I was in awed when we tried out the Diamond 10.1 together with a center, subwoofer and surround speakers of Wharfedale. It was crisp yet not that pitchy and not distorted at high volume. It was very balanced especially the bass.

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Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 bookshelf speaker in Blackwood finish

From this experience, I was introduced to the primer of electronics, like how to match speakers and receivers in terms of watts and impedance, etc. (same goes with headphones and DACs); I was able to pay attention to what to look for in a device or hardware that will complement to my listening experience; and the list goes on. I could say, it’s fun, educational, and interesting.

As for my current “basic” hi-fi audio setup, I’m very happy and content. And again, the journey wouldn’t end here. Upgrading to a “higher” spec of high fidelity audio is in the near future — a subwoofer and a mid-range turntable perhaps.


About battlefield_man

Jocas A. See. Visual communication designer. And a casual tourist

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