Pros: It turns and burns LPs into CDs and then MP3s.
Cons: It costs a lot for the privilege.
I saw the ad for it in a catalogue sent out by a company called firstSTREET: a machine that burns CDs from your old vinyl records. It looked too good to be true.
You see, I came from the 60s--- more-or-less, the days of Buddy Holly, Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Stones, etc., and back then we used these thin, big black disks called PHONOGRAPH RECORDS to get our music. I know most of you reading this think PHONOGRAPH RECORDS are something they find in archeological digs, but we of the Boomer generation still may be hanging onto a few of them and we remember how great some of those old records were, especially the ones the record companies never turned into CDs, and we have longed for a way to get them into the CD format so we could have THAT, and then (easily)convert them, with their digital format, into MP3s and the like for our iPods, etc. Personally, in my own personal Black Hole of Calcutta of a storage place, I have a hundred or so "classic" vinyl albums that you never heard of, and Amazon.com doesn't list as in existence, which I have wanted to turn into CDs for years. This machine from firstSTREET sounded like a plan for that.
Not that I haven't tried it before. I have a bona-fide "Analog Source to CD" burner, and it works pretty well if you hook up a phonograph to it by wires and then you do the burn. You put the LP (Long-Playing Record) onto the turntable and let-'er-rip...er, I mean burn. The problem was that my phonograph (machine) is old and buggy, full of static, you can hear a "hummmmm" because the part that grounds it is somehow messed up, and to top it all off, the needles are hard to acquire. You can also, if you are handy with techy stuff, do it all on your PC with certain software. But I am one of those KISS (not the band, the procedure- Keep It Simple Stupid) people who likes standalone machines to do all the work. You droppa-de-record-inna-de-machina-anda-outa-popsa-de-CD. And I had not known such a machine was in the big-bang-universe until I saw the firstSTREET ad.
It's not cheap. The ad said it was "reduced" from its original $500.00 price down to $400.00. That kind of money can probably buy you a nice basic low-end laptop computer these days. But if I wanted the conversions of those old songs that I used to listen to with Louise and Patsy and Helen when our blood was young and the moon was full and '65 Mustangs were the cars you craved back in the last century, I had to get this standalone unit and see what it would do in the quarter. Or at least with a decent 33 RPM vinyl record.
It turns out that it is a winner. It will play your old records, play your CDs, has a built-in AM/FM radio, but best of all, yes- it will burn Mick Jagger's raspy voice from an old Stones LP straight onto a crisp new blank CD-R disk, and when you hear it, you'd think you were back in the Age of Aquarius once again. Amazing.
Actually, you can burn more than your 33 RPM records, too. It will burn records of all three popular speed formats (78, 45, and 33 RPM) into CDs. It has a 33-track memory. The "box" itself is attractive, a combination of black wood, steel, and silver dials. I was pleased when I discovered it was manufactured by TEAC too, for I have long respected that company. You don't see too many TEAC products around these days, but they used to make some of the best cassette decks around back in the last century. It all comes with a remote too.
Burning an LP into a CD is easy but there is one thing that is a tad tedious. You put the CD in, put on the record, start playing it, and push a couple of buttons and you are recording. The tedious part: you have to mark the "tracks" of each song one-by-one as they play, but this is easy with the remote. One song comes to an end and you click the remote. 16 songs, 16 clicks, but you do have to sit there and babysit the machine; you can't "fire and forget" like you can when burning a CD into a playlist on your computer- we have been spoiled by computers in the 21st Century, don't-cha-know. This babysitting-the-machine-part is not all bad; you get to listen to the old songs once more and that is kind of nice. All the old memories of come flooding back.
Then you finalize it with another button and in a couple of minutes outa-comes your new CD (CD-R or CD-RW).
My only quibble beyond the track-by-track dance is that the remote is a bit limited in its command buttons, for playing the CDs, but not for the recording process, which is where the money is, after all, on this unit.
I'm not sure (a) if any other company makes such a machine, or (b) if this was a product that was so expensive it is no longer in production or not, but if you have the money and the records, it's a great gadget to do something with you may have considered for years. I don't have that many records, but when I'm done I can loan my machine to my friends and they, too, can burn their old Beatle albums into CDs. I know, I know, you can get clear-mastered CDs of the Beatles from Amazon and others these days that sound a lot better than the old LPs anyway. But you don't get to hear all the old pops and skips that are a part of the nostalgia experience that make you relive the golden years. Weird, huh? But real. And you can't burn those old treasure albums that never made it into CD-dom. Anyway, if you want one of these you might want to hurry to get one; you never know. Try www.firststreetonline.com for more information.
The main thing about this big black box is that it does what it says it will do, and it does it well. LP to CD, hassle-free. Gee. Now I can upload them into my iPod and put all my old vinyl on Ebay.
Now, if I could just do something like that with that big old stack of yellow National Geographics in the storage facility. What? You say that they are all now on CD too? Ebay, here I come!