Back with another entry in our Record Rooms series, this time zoning in on a very cosy setup indeed from a good friend of the vault, Justin. This sensitive soul has a deep love for music in the gentler side of the spectrum, resonating with us over several exceptional albums over the years. His setup is as choice as his music taste, opting for high quality essential pieces within his means that work well together. Scroll down to find out more about his taste in music and sound quality.
Real pleased to have you on the series Justin! How are you going these days and what's been exciting you musically?
Hey Nick, thank you so much for having me - am very pleased to be here. So I made some changes to my setup two months ago or so, & I’ve been re-listening to all of my records, bit by bit. This has been exciting for me, almost as though I’m getting re-acquainted with old friends. I’m so pleased that I finally got a copy of Keith Jarrett’s the Melody at Night, with You from you folks last weekend - thank you for that!
Keith Jarrett’s the Melody at Night, with You
Take us back to where it began for you. How did you get started on your Hi Fi journey?
My parents have a lot of CDs & one of my distinct early memories was of my dad getting rid of all his cassettes one afternoon (joke’s on him). So growing up, I’ve already been surrounded by liner notes. A few of my pals had records & older turntables during my late adolescence, I got started myself with a Rega P1 & AudioEngine A5s - pretty much the archetypal setup you’d get from places like TurntableLab. But as you’d have heard from my laments over the past two years or so, I haven’t been too pleased with it, so I switched it up a bit during that time.
Rega P1 & AudioEngine A5 - a truly excellent starter pack
Can you tell us a bit about your space? It's such a cosy nook.
Yeah, thank you. I’m a bit of a hoarder (I suppose this a trait that universally plagues our community), hence the wall of postcards, memorabilia, & photos of pals & family. I’m a bum on most mornings & evenings, so I’m always trying to have a comfy space around. Still looking for a comfy chair to complete the entire set - please lmk if you have any recommendations!
How did you arrive at your current setup?
Let’s start with the turntable - it’s an Audio-Technica LP2022. I was rather fortunate to get one of these because of the surplus across Southeast Asia. I know it gets a bit of stick from the larger community for being a gimmick, but I think it’s still a rather splendid machine to be around for now, visually & sonically. I’m still using the stock AT-VM95EBK. I probably won’t be swapping out the entire cart too soon, it’d take the whole afternoon.
Audio Technica LP 2022 with the stock VM95EBK cart
Justin's Audio Technica LP2022 - so sleek!
I am rather pleased with my amp though. It’s a QUAD Vena 2 Play. I like that it has all the features required for both digital & analogue means. It could look better but I think it suits my mini space rather well now.
The QUAD Vena 2 Play
My speakers are a pair of Wharfedale Denton 85s. They do rather well in my room (even though they might be suffocated), but frankly, I just couldn’t afford Harbeth, hahaha.
Wharfedale Denton 85 speakers to fill the nook
How do you organize your records?
I try, but I’m not as good as some folks are at being an archivist. I have one section dedicated to jazz (contemporary, bebop, ECM, Japanese, etc) & another for pop, compilations & vocals. I read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (available in store) earlier this year & the idea of organising one’s records in chronological order of acquisition has been on my mind, but I don’t think my memory’s good enough for it.
Can you tell us a bit about any treasures you've dug out from our shelves?
This is actually one my favourite anecdotes. I only started frequenting the Analog Vault from September 2020, after I got a copy of The Epic by Kamasi Washington. That afternoon though, I saw a copy of Elephant & a Barbar by Ichiro Fujiya & Takeshi Kurihara in the “used Japanese Jazz” shelf. & I was just so into the cover there & then. I asked my pal about it that day but my intrigue wasn’t reciprocated. & this pattern emerged over the next seven months or so, where I’d be in the store with a pal & they would have no interest in it. & every time I went by, it’d just be sitting there, demanding that I pay attention to it. It was only one evening where Leon finally played it for me & I couldn’t believe what it was that I was listening to. I’d love to think that this occurs to every one of us - to have a record waiting for you (& just you). It’s my favourite record & thank you for it.
Honorable mentions: Promises by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - please get it in-store rn!