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.

Rare Heath Kirchart Alien Workshop SubSeries Skateboard Deck

We are first and foremost a used Audio and Outdoor Gear store. We like to call ourselves the Seattle Hifi & Hiking Store.

Nonetheless we occasionally get some really cool and rare stuff in that isn’t the typical gear. If it is unique, rare, and somewhat related to audio, outdoor or nostalgic toys, we like to have it in the store. With that said we recently picked up this older Heath Kirchart Skateboard deck. There is hardly any info on this board online, but it looks like there are a lot of similar Heath Kirchart / Alien Decks that are rare and high valued. Nonetheless we just had to have it in our store. We would love to hear some info on it if you know a year, how many were produced, etc.

Take a look:

p1011793 p1011797 p1011799 p1011800 p1011802

Beginner Advice for Buying Snowshoes

Snowshoes are a simple piece of equipment, and yet the number of features and differences can make, or break, your day in the snow.

SIZING

The first thing most people think about when picking snowshoes is size. Snowshoes are typically measured by length, which translates to an  ideal users weight range. At basic, big snowshoes for big people, small snowshoes for small people. The most typical sizes are 25 inches, 30 inches, and 36 inches. Nowadays though there are so many options that you find a lot of sizes even smaller, and in between.

Here is THE MOST HELPFUL THING I CAN SAY about sizing. Pick what is most comfortable for you. The smaller a snowshoe is the lighter it typically weighs, AKA: more comfort. A smaller snowshoe is also going to have a smaller profile so it is easier to maneuver and walk in.

A Bigger snowshoe will float better on snow. This is basic physics. Ever see a movie where someone is on ice and it’s starting to crack so they lay flat on their stomach? Same principle. Spread the weight as wide as possible so you don’t sink in the snow. What this means, is that if you are the type of person to get out on powder days, or like to travel off the beaten path, or simply hate sinking into the snow period, you should get a bigger snowshoe.

So, if you stay on trails on standard snow days, get small. If you like to only go in the back-country and big powder days, go big. If you are somewhere in between, then boom, medium size.

 

Material

There are two standard types of snowshoes, Aluminum Frame and Composite Frame. An aluminum frame snowshoe will have nylon webbing, or plastic strung between the frame, or in the case of really old ones, possibly animal hide. Composite frames are typically a heavy duty plastic for the entire body, both outer and inner.

Composite frames are bomb-proof. I’ve seen snowshoes such as the MSR Denali survive 10 years in a rental fleet with heavy duty use. The plastic / composite material just lasts forever and doesn’t really have any fault points to compromise integrity. Snowshoes such as the TSL 226 Tour which we sell new at the store are made of a heavy duty plastic that could be dropped off a building, run over by a truck, and would still be good to go!

So what is the negative of a composite snowshoe? Weight, and Sound. Most composite snowshoes weight significantly more than their aluminum frame counterparts. They also make an excellent “crunch, crunch, crunch” sound in the snow, which can be annoying (or for some people, rewarding!). Other than that you can’t go wrong with composite.

Aluminum frames are lighter weight, softer on impact, and generally quieter in the snow. Since the aluminum frame is typically connected to the middle via a heavy duty fabric, or thin plastic, they tend to absorb some shock when you step. This means an aluminum frame will typically be less fatiguing for those snowshoes for long hours.

The negative of Aluminum frames is durability. In cheap aluminum frame snowshoes they will often use a plastic that is very thin in between the aluminum. This material can often get very brittle and will start cracking after to much use. This problem is usually solved by more expensive snowshoes which will typically use a rubberized nylon or other fabric material. This material won’t get brittle and thus lasts longer, though it is more prone to tears if you catch it on a rock or something.

The key point is this: for comfort, buy Aluminum Frame, for durability buy Composite. 

Features

Nowadays when looking at a snowshoes you might notice that NASA had a hand in designing it! At least that may be how it appears. Every company seems to constantly be changing their bindings to be more high tech and fancy, riser bars are on the rise, and the grips/crampon section often looks more terrifying than the blades of a combine. So what features do you need?

A simple, yet easy to use binding. Try a few types to see what is easiest for you to tighten, and loosen. If you are going to be taking your snowshoes off and on, an easy binding is critical. Likewise, if you plan to share your snowshoes with different people who have all sizes of feet, get a binding that is more adjustable and expandable. Again, look at the binding and try to assess critical failure points, some might be very comfortable to put on, but are cheaply made.

Riser bars are a really nice feature if you do a lot of incline climbing. A riser bar is going to be a small bar you lift and click into place behind your back heel. This bar then allows you to climb easier because it keeps your foot more level when climbing, while keeping the snowshoe more angled to the hill. This is typically only found on much more expensive snowshoes. It’s a great feature, but unnecessary if you mostly stay on level groomed trails.

Crampons / metal grabby things / cleats! This is where the magic happens! Sure a snowshoe helps you stay on top of the snow, but so do skis! The difference is that in a well designed snowshoe you can tackle any terrain without sliding! The basic concept here is, more metal = more grip. Also true, more metal = more weight. Try to find a combination of grip and weight that is suitable for you. If you like to go on very uneven terrain, get more grip. If you mountaineer a lot, get more grip. If you tend to go on icy hard packed snow, get more grip. On the flip side, go with less if you are a simple snowshoe hiker and want to save weight.

These are the basics of snowshoes. Hopefully it will help you decide. Also, remember that we sell, and RENT SNOWSHOES.

 

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!