Why I Run a Shop instead of Hoard Gear

Seattle Store Owner Turntables Trails

Gear can be an addiction. Many people might laugh at this, but it’s true. I’ve met more gear hoarders in the past 9 months since opening this store than I have in my entire life. People on a regular basis walk in and say “wow, this looks like my basement.” Or, “My garage has almost as much stuff as you.” We are a nation of people that collect things, and it’s awesome! Personally I love Audio Gear and Outdoor Gear, which is why my store is filled with these items. I feel lucky that I was able to turn my collecting passion into a way to pay the bills!

Of course, I didn’t open this shop solely to make money. I’m here for a bigger reason, passion. I LOVE gear but I LOVE LOVE when I get to share that passion for gear with someone else. I want to be the Seattle shop that people leave and say “That guy made me exciting about hiking and listening to music!” I dream of running this store as a place where people can come for advice with no obligation to purchase anything tangible but always leave with something (a smile, new knowledge, excitement about gear, hope for their next adventure). A common phrase I hear people say when I offer to help them is “Oh I’m just looking, I don’t need you to do that”, and I respond often with “I love this stuff, if I can help and you enjoy the shop then my day is made! If you buy something then I also happened to make money doing what I love.” What many people don’t realize is that I WOULD BE DOING THIS EVEN IF I COULDN’T MAKE MONEY AT IT.

In fact, I WAS doing this before I was making money at it. I was collecting the gear and loaning it to friends, setting them up with HiFi speakers, or allowing them to borrow my GoLite Backpack for an Overnight in the Woods, or telling them to take my Kayak on their camping trip, or offering to setup a vintage Kenwood receiver at their house for their next party. That is why it’s so great to be able to run a shop that pays the bills while doing this. Instead of making money at a job I hate and then doing what I love on the side I get to do what I love and occasionally make money at it! They say money can’t buy happiness, and it’s true! Surrounding yourself with stuff you are excited about sharing and teaching people about can give you happiness though. Doing what you love and are passionate about as your means of income can also give you happiness. \

So that is why I run a shop instead of hoarding this gear, so I can SHARE what I love. I run a shop so that I can hang out with people who share similar interests. I run a shop so that I can be surrounded by the things and people I am excited about! In a word, I run a shop because of PASSION.

Or maybe I just run a shop so I don’t have to call my addiction what it is, an addiction.

 

RECORD STORE DAY IS COMING – APRIL 22ND 2017

APRIL 22nd 2017 is RECORD STORE DAY in SEATTLE.

RECORD-STORE-DAY-SEATTLE-2017

 

That is THIS SATURDAY.

 

We will be open our REGULAR HOURS 12:00 – 6:00PM and having a SALE.

 

All Audio Equipment will be 10% OFF

All Vinyl Records will be 20% OFF

 

Come take a look at our selection of stereos, record players, receivers, speakers, albums and more!

 

Even if you don’t make it into the store we highly recommend you spending some time listening to your collection of vinyl at home or browsing the other local Seattle record stores and supporting them! We highly recommend saying hi at Jigsaw Records if you like hand selected indie artists, Beats and Bohos if you like digging through used albums and vintage clothing, or Light in the Attic Record Shop if you want a specially curated selection of used and new albums that everyone should have.

 

 

The Descriptors of Vintage HiFi Sound

How do you compare speakers? How do describe the difference in receivers? How do you accurately portray the sound of any turntable or audio device? This is a challenge that has confronted myself and my customers since opening the store. Finding the right adjectives and descriptors is a difficult challenge, but one that can greatly help give clarity and understanding to whomever you are talking to. I have often found we use a lot of the same terms and phrases to describe sound, and they are typically rather boring and lacking in detail.

“This sounds better.”

“That sounds bad.”

“It sounds right.”

These are the phrases commonly used and that give hardly any detail of what is truly meant. To combat this issue I recently purchased some Chalk Board sticker/wallpaper stuff. I then spent time coming up with some words that I believe help us characterize sound quality. Now if anyone is struggling to explain what they hear or want to hear they can just look over at my wall and see some helpful hints.

Sound Adjectives and Descriptive Words

 

It can really help allow people to explain what they are hearing in a speaker, cartridge, amplifier or other piece of equipment. Instead of “I don’t like the sound of it.” they can now say “That cartridge sounded sort of hollow, and toneless. Do you have one that happens to be more accurate and clear?” Or maybe they say: “This receiver sounds incredibly honeyed and velvety which is pleasant to listen to, but I was hoping for something more accurate and forward sounding.”

What adjectives do you like to use for describe sound? How would you describe the current audio setup you either have or you want to have?

Personally my setup at home has a “pure, appealing, and melodic sound with just a little honey and smokiness.”

Funny how describing sound is almost like trying to describe a wine.

 

Other adjectives I can think of: full-bodied, neutral, breathy, airy, sounds-like-its-underwater, plain, open, condensed, compacted, compressed, buttery, flowy.

How We Compete with Amazon as a Local Business

amazon-sign

 

Amazon is a massive company. Amazon sells millions of items at incredibly low prices. Amazon is also headquartered in the same city that our small business is. So, how do we compete?

We don’t. 

The trick to this is finding a niche that isn’t going to directly compete with companies like Amazon. As a small local business we can’t win a battle of price or convenience vs an online shopping giant. So with that in mind we decided to focus on the things we can do better. Things like being personal. If you’ve ever purchased off Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, Overstock, or other online sites you often feel a sense of detachment. We like to create an experience when you walk in our store that makes you smile just being here. Coming into Turntables & Trails isn’t just about buying something, it’s also about spending time exploring a small passionate oasis of northwest hiking items and vintage hi-fidelity audio equipment. We have many customers who love the experience and feeling so much that they come back time and time again, not to buy anything, but just to say hello, see what’s new, and enjoy the store.

 

What else do we do well? We sell the things you often can’t find on Amazon. Have you ever tried to purchase a vintage 70’s receiver or turntable via Amazon? Good luck. Sure there is eBay which will sell them, but what happens when you’ve spent $60 on shipping just to realize that it has burned out bulbs, doesn’t function right, or that the “small mark” the seller described actually is a massive scratch across the tuner glass? Well you can either accept it, or send it back and eat that cost. It might even be as simple as the fact that you don’t love the sound of it since you didn’t hear it in person first! We can solve that! We let you test any of our equipment before purchase in the store! Listen and play all you want. Plus we offer a 2 week exchange policy for any reason! We also sell hundreds of outdoor pieces of equipment that are used and bargain priced. This helps you get outside for cheaper than buying some knock-off Chinese made backpack on Amazon that hopefully functions okay.

On top of all this we are a local business. This means our tax dollars that we collect are given back to your own neighborhood, and the money we make often goes to local businesses for creating our signs, advertising, shelving, or just our coffee. When you purchase from a massive online company it goes to some faceless group of investors somewhere.

In the end, we don’t compete with Amazon. We just do what we do best; share our passion about Hifi and Hiking Gear!

6 Months Old and Happily Growing

Turntabels and Trails is almost at the 6 month mark. WOOT! We are so excited to be successfully running a small local business in a niche market! We could take all the credit saying it has been all our hard work and dedication, but truly, the success belongs to you! All our wonderful customers and supporters in these first 6 months have been critical. If you stopped by and bought something, or stopped by and spread the word, you are the reason we are still here! THANK YOU.

 

So what have we learned in 6 months?

1: Invest in Good Shelving up front! It helps a ton!

This is what we looked like when we started:

Come shop at my store and be my first "REAL" customer

This is what we look like now!
Gear to the Ceiling P1012314 P1012315 P1012316

 

2: Don’t use a personal cell phone for your business purposes.

This should be self explanatory, but it took me a few months to realize. Luckily we now have our own shop phone and number (it’s 206-508-6841). This helps keep WORK and WORK.

3: Renting gear is AWESOME, but ALWAYS get a credit card number saved.

p1010217

Yep, we rent snowshoes, and it’s great! We can provide a valuable asset to our community and neighbors at a low cost, but, we learned we need to ALWAYS get a Credit Card saved. As much as we expect people to be awesome and return items when they say they will, it doesn’t always happen. If perchance you happen to be that person who rented a pair from us and never returned them…. we would appreciate if you brought them back. 😉

 

4: Don’t change what makes us different!

We are a small local and specialty shop. That is what makes us great! Early on we tried to contact a bunch of companies to try and carry their new products in the store. We got a few companies to let us carry their product but they haven’t sold well (other than those sweet U-Turn Turntables!). Why is this? Well it seems obvious to me now. We are a niche store and the value we provide is in being DIFFERENT from say BEST BUY or another NEW retailer. So we want to provide BUDGET options, SAMPLE buys, CLOSEOUTS, or USED things for sale, not the generic AMAZON available option. Duh?

 

5: Another word for customer is friend.

Our customers are the BEST. In fact we don’t even like to call them customers, we call them friends! We aren’t here to make a million dollars, we are here because we LOVE what we do! So, if you come into the store and want to learn about outdoor gear, audio gear, or nostalgic games and toys, we are EXCITED to do that. A customer is someone you are trying to make money from. A friend is someone you want to help regardless of what they give you. We want to treat everyone that walks in our door as a friend, and we hope we do!

FRIENDS

 

So thank you all for supporting us. Let’s hope that we will make it another 6 months, 6 years, and possibly 6 decades!

 

 

JSE Infinite Slope 1 HiFi Speakers – FOR SALE IN STORE

Today we got a pair of JSE Infinite Slope 1 Speakers in the store. These are a unique speaker that use technology called Phase Shift bass loading and Infinite Slope. These two technologies are combined to drop the frequencies out much faster in order to prevent crossover distortion. I don’t claim to be an electrical wizard and so I won’t spend a long time trying to explain. Feel free to peruse the Pamphlet and Paperwork that was traded in with these speakers, and suffice it to say, they sound incredible!P1012176 P1012175 JSE infinite slope 1 hifi audiophile speakers JSE infinite slope 1 hifi audiophile speakers JSE infinite slope 1 hifi audiophile speakers JSE infinite slope 1 hifi audiophile speakers JSE infinite slope 1 hifi audiophile speakers

 

INFINITE SLOPE 1 Speakers (page 1 of 6) (1) INFINITE SLOPE 1 Speakers (page 2 of 6) INFINITE SLOPE 1 Speakers (page 3 of 6) INFINITE SLOPE 1 Speakers (page 4 of 6) INFINITE SLOPE 1 Speakers (page 5 of 6) INFINITE SLOPE 1 Speakers (page 6 of 6)

Download the Above Images as a PDF :Infinite Slope 1 PDF

DIY: How to Replace Light Bulbs in a Kenwood KR-5400 / KR-6400 / KR-7400

p1011958

 

We recently had a Kenwood KR-5400 come into the shop and all the bulbs were burnt out or dim (see photo above) behind the FM tuner. With some basic tools and about an hour of time you can easily replace these bulbs.

Tools needed:

-Wire Strippers

-Soldering iron

-Solder

-Replacement Bulbs (6v or 8v should work)

-Possibly spare wire


To start we remove the cover (sorry I didn’t take photos). Basically it’s 6 screws on the wood paneling on the left and right side, then the screws on the top of the metal case. Set these aside.

 

Now look at the front and see the small spongy yellow rubber pieces which have bulbs in them.

Vintage Kenwood KR

 

My finger is pointing at one below:

p1011951

Slowly pull this out carefully and it should look like this:

 

Knewood KR-5400 Bulb

The bulb is attached to the wires which run through the rubber sleeve. If you gently pull on the bulb and down on the rubber sleeve it will come out with the wires attached.

p1011954

Now clip the wires as high as you can (as close to the bulb as possible). This will allow you to have more room to solder. If you can’t clip the wires high, or just don’t have enough room, feel free to splice in some new wire.

Tuner Bulb Replacement

Once you’ve clipped the bulb you will want to grab your new bulb. It should be similar in size. I bought the replacements for about $1.00 each. Now you will want to solder one wire to the very bottom of the new bulb, and one to the side (the solder job below is very poor and was redone.)

Kenwood Vintage Receiver Replacement Bulb

 

Once you’ve soldered it in plug the Kenwood back into power and flip the switch, make sure the bulb turns on. If it does power the unit back off and slot the bulb down into the rubber sleeve.

DIY Amp bulb replacement

 

Finally push the bulb and sleeve back into the Kenwoods matching hole. It should now look something like this photo:

Kenwood Bulb Replacement

Finally power the whole thing on and check if it looks good!

 

 

Hopefully this DIY on vintage bulb replacement was helpful for everyone even the Beginner! If you have any questions feel free to email us: turntablestrails@gmail.com, or if you are in Seattle you can always bring your vintage HiFi audio gear in to have it looked at and possibly repaired.

What does Stereo, Receiver, or Amp, mean? Is there a difference?

What is it?

A Stereo?

Marantz 2226b Sterephonic Receiver

A Receiver?

An Amp?

Hafler DH-200 Amplifier

An Integrated Amplifier?

Onkyo A-7 Integrated Amp

A Tuner?

A Stereo Receiver?

Akai Stereo Receiver

 

A Stereo Tuner Amplifier?

Kenwood Stereo Amplifier Solid State  Sansui Stereo Tuner Amplifier   Realistic Stereo SA-1000A Amplifier

 

Is there a difference? Is it all the same? Yes. Honestly the terms are all used interchangeably quite often, but they truly aren’t interchangeable. Here is a basic rundown.

 

Stereo – Stereo is really just a term that means you are hearing from two channels instead of one. Mono vs Stereo. Stereo is commonly used to mean any device that amplifies sound waves though. This probably comes from people saying “I like you Stereo system.” What this means is that you like a two channel audio system, but it now has come to mean that you like any audio system, whether one channel, two channel, surround sound, thx, 5.1, 7.1 or any other blend. Stereophonic is what Stereo is short for, just like mono is short for monophonic.

Amplifier – An Amplifier is simply a device that amplifies an audio signal. An amp or amplifier would not have any equalizer, volume, bass, treble, or other controls. An amplifier also has a set input and output, with no options to change between Phono, Aux, CD, Tape, Tuner or other inputs. If you plugged in your Turntable to an amplifier it would be very quiet most likely, and if you plugged in a CD player it would probably be blaringly loud since there is no volume control just amplification.

Integrated Amplifier – An integrated amplifier is an amp (see above) that also has the controls for input devices, along with typically equalizer controls and a volume control. This is one of the most common types of audio devices in our systems. You can plug in multiple devices to this, switch between them, adjust the sound output, use loudness controls, and mono vs stereo choices, etc.

Receiver – A receiver is technically something that receives something. You can be a wide-receiver (as in football), or a Stereo Receiver (you receive two channels of audio input) or a Radio Receiver (you receive the radio waves of AM and/or FM band). The term Receiver though is one of the most common used terms in audio equipment. People call amps receivers, integrated amps receivers, tuners receivers, pre-amps receivers, and more.

Tuner- A tuner is one of the simplest to remember terms, it means a radio tuner. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to an amplifier as a tuner. A tuner will only recieve radio signals and then output them via (typically) RCA jacks which you would connect to your integrated amplifier. Often an integrated amplifier will have a tuner built in, this is what often is called a receiver, or even a tuner integrated amplifier.

Pre-Amplifier – A pre-amp is the device you would plug into your amplifier that controls it. This will tell it the volume of amplification to apply, it also will switch between the signal inputs you have running into the pre-amp. A pre-amp has also come to describe a device that preamplifies your turntable for going into a standard AUX (auxiliary input). A turntable will only output sound at a very very low volume and decibals. This needs amplification before the main amplication. Older receivers, integrated amps, stereos, etc. usually have a PHONO input which is meant for your record player (AKA phonograph). Newer devices often lack a PHONO input so you need a phono preamp that can then allow you to run the turntable into your Aux/CD/TAPE input.

Phonograph – Same as Record Player or Turntable. Rarely used, yet for some reason most integrated amplifiers list PHONO as the input type for your record player.

Turntable – A device that spins a platter around, typically via a direct motor or belt attached to a motor, that has a tonearm and cartridge that translate grooves in a record (vinyl) into soundwaves.

Record Player – See Turntable or Phonograph

 

Any other terms you are confused about? Just ask, or swing by our Seattle store and we will be more than glad to help you out!

You Can Save the World. Just Buy Used Gear

Save the World - Buy Used

You can save the world!

All you need to do is buy used gear.

I know it sounds simple, I know it sounds basic, but here is the catch….. It is simple and basic!

Global warming is a fact. Pollution, Smog, Co2, Oil, Gas and more are all being produced or used by our daily choices. Obviously when you drive to the store to buy your groceries it uses gas in your car, which produces bad byproducts that heat the earth and ultimately have a negative effect on life. Of course, you can always buy a new shiny electric car, but that doesn’t truly eliminate the problem. See, any new item that is produced requires all sorts of negative actions to build. Transporting new items across the ocean via boat (using gas/oil/coal/etc.), creating the metal or plastic that goes into the item (new materials required, and often heat…where does that heat come from?), or packaging the item in wasteful, colorful, and pointless cartons, boxes, labels, etc, your new item is far from eco-friendly.

I like to call this problem “the used vs. prius conundrum”. See I first started noticing this problem when people started selling their old cars in order to buy a new “eco-friendly” and “money-saving” Toyota Prius. The problem with this reasoning was that it really wasn’t money-saving, and it can be argued that it really wasn’t eco-friendly either. The Prius gets roughly 45mpg across all generations, and costs about $25,000. So when owners sell or trade in their older model of car, that say gets roughly 25mpg, they are saving about 20mpg thanks to the swap.  Time for math.

————————————————————————

Average Miles Travelled per Year per car 10,000 miles

10,000 miles / 45 mpg = 222.22 gallons of fuel per year

10,000 miles / 25 mpg = 400 gallons of fuel per year

1 gallon of fuel costs roughly $3.00

Difference in gas savings per year: $1200 – 666.66 = $533.34

Say you sold your old car for $5000, so you need to make up $20,000 difference to have “saved” money.

$20,000 / $533.34 saved per year = 37.49 years to save enough money in gas to cover the difference.

The average timespan of car ownership is 71 months, so just 378 months shorter than you would need to make up the cost difference.

————————————————————————–

Add to this the fact that your Prius had to be made with all new material, toxic batteries, shipped across the ocean via heavy polluting ships, transported via train or truck, before finally being sold to you, and you can see how it might not be the most eco-friendly, and DEFINITELY not the most budget friendly.

So what is the solution? Buy USED. This applys to both large purchase items like a car (hey, why not buy a used car for $9,000 that gets 40mpg like a used Prius!, then it only takes 7 years to make up the cost saving!) and small items. See buying used both prevents new material from being used to make the item, plus the shipping etc, and you save money because it’s cheaper. If you really want to be eco friendly why don’t you just keep your older car that gets 25mpg and donate money to plant some trees. It takes roughly 240 trees to offset the average cars C02 Pollution. The cost of 240 trees would be $240. For every $1 you donate to the National Forest Foundation they will plant 1 tree. 

PLANT A TREE
https://www.nationalforests.org/donate/plant-trees

PLANT A TREE

Pretty Cool! Let’s see, 1 car offset = cost $240. Savings over buying a Prius $24,760. Saving enviroment from pollution of new car creation? Priceless.

Anyway, what does this have to do with Outdoor Gear and Audio Equipment?

Well, for one, if you save the enviroment it means you can actually go hiking, backpacking, swimming, etc. because the outdoors will be beautiful! Moreso, the same idea applies.

EVERY NEW ITEM YOU BUY HAS TO BE MADE FROM NEW MATERIAL (well, some now are recycled).

Every used item you buy saves it from a landfill, gives it a new life, saves you money, and doesn’t kill any trees to make, or require metal to be mined, or plastic to be made from oil.

Audio Gear is full of toxic stuff; capacitors, diodes, transformers, etc. are all filled with chemicals, minerals, and toxic material. Buying used means we aren’t creating MORE toxic material.

 

So, how are you going to save the world? Easy, just buy used stuff!