Riding The Musical Surroundings Train
An Analog System That Will Get You There

Francis Vale



It's been almost ten years since we had a turntable in the house. I washed my vinyl collection with a VPI record cleaner, and like a time capsuled 1957 Tulsa-Plymouth Fury, meticulously packed away my extensive record collection. The hope was when the time arrived to resurrect all this locked-away music, that neither water and vinyl-eating microbes, nor a vinyl-terrorist plot would have attacked my record collection. During its round vinyl slumber, much happened.  

Web 1.0 came and its bubble burst, Web 2.0 arrived and Facebook took over our social existence. Apple's iTunes and iPod revolutionized music distribution and playback. CD's, bearing the bright shiny look of an all musically powerful 1984 future, slumped like valueless silverplate, as did their sales. Mp3 compressed bits seized the format high ground, and music became ubiquitous. Meanwhile, audio quality took a major dump and has vainly struggled to get off the splintered music seat.

So here we are in 2008, and like the miraculous appearance of a black man and white woman running for our presidency, a turntable rig has suddenly shown up at our house. Its analog arrival was thanks to Garth Leerer, the President of Musical Surroundings. Among a number of other highly desirable audio gear nuggets, his outfit distributes Clearaudio turntables and Benz Micro phono cartridges.

Garth sent me an audible cornucopia, including a Clearaudio Emotion turntable and Satisfy tonearm ($1400); the implication being that feelings are fulfilled once things start going round and round. Another critical piece was a Benz Micro MC20E2 moving coil cartridge ($199). Everything ultimately flowed into an analog pumping house that consisted of Musical Surroundings' own Nova Phonomena phono stage ($1,000).


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