Ted used to have vinyl, but he now admits that he rarely listened to the old LPs, EPs, and singles that he used to buy.
“Well, for one thing, they look cool. Nothing ever looked cooler or will ever look cooler than vinyl,” says Ted, adjusting his hands so he can flip the record he’s holding in his hands. “But they sounded like ass compared to CDs. At least they did on my shitty Technics whatever it was. And I definitely never washed my records…”
His voice trails off as he studies his reflection in the absolutely spotless ebony 12-inch disc. Maybe he’s thinking about the first time he heard Back In Black, which he has just removed from its jacket. Or maybe he’s thinking about how he’s starting to look too much like the drummer from the Black Keys. Either way, we have selected our selections for the evening, and it is time to begin.
“Let’s do this, Black Keys drummer,” I say, heading for the listening room.
“I should get different glasses.” Ted says, following me through the soundproof doors.
As we wait for the amps to warm up, we cue up the digital player to the song we want, and prep the same track on the vinyl on the turntable. I’ll admit that I am still somewhat skeptical how something as old as wax could possibly top the sonic technology of digital Super Audio CDs, especially through a pair of speakers as good as any that exist on Earth. If anything, I think, I might not notice that much of a difference, but surely I will like the digital reference better. I mean, maybe we’ve lost our way – the idea of a good mix now caters to your earbuds. But the recordings we’ve picked were mixed to sound good on anything. Talking Heads, old Tom Petty, new Radiohead, AC/DC, Soundgarden, Graceland, Off the Wall, and even the Queens, I mean Kings of Convenience will surely sound a tiny bit better digitally enhanced, right?
It takes two minutes. That’s it. It’s not even close.
“I bet Thom Yorke has never heard his songs sound this good.” Ted might be right. We’re blasting Bodysnatchers at relatively uncomfortable levels. It didn’t sound this good live. Probably not even in the studio. We’ve already stopped bothering to switch back to the CD, or the full res computer player, or whatever else we will no longer be using ever in this room again unless we have to.
We move on to Stop Making Sense.
“Jesus,” yells Ted, now standing. “Close your eyes! It’s unreal!”
“I think it’s actually the realest thing I’ve ever heard,” I say, but I don’t think Ted is paying attention.
It’s not until we get to Back in Black that we mutually realize that we are experiencing The Greatest Listening Session of our lives. It is confirmed not with knowing looks or conversation, but with high fives and smiles rarely found on anyone other than a person who just scored a date with someone they never thought they’d ever be able to even talk to. At some point, Ted begins dancing, despite the fact that no drugs or alcohol are involved.
Afterwards, we have a beer. Our ears have just been taken to the mountaintop. The view is indescribable, so we don’t say much other than simple cuss words and superlatives. If there were girls around, they would be using the word amazing, but in this case, it would finally be appropriate. We sip slowly and ponder our listening futures.
“Well, CDs are kind of fun to throw,” says Ted as he looks at the shelves stocked alphabetically with every CD we’ve ever listened to. “We could have CD fights.”
“Yeah, while we listen to records,” I say.