Fab.com is an e-commerce company devoted to all kinds of design-related items, from visual art to furniture to clothing. The company specializes in flash sales on trending themes, keeping its eager followers coming back daily. Ms. Little lets us know that Fab.com is now selling LPs and turntablesfurther evidence, as if we needed it, that vinyl’s increasing popularity has hit the mainstream.
Interestingly, the available LP titles (Prince’s Purple Rain, Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Beach House’s Bloom, and others) are the same as those sold by Urban Outfitters. I guess there’s some sort of distribution deal or something.
Unfortunately, the only record players currently offered by Fab.com are those good-looking, but not-so-good-sounding Crosleys. I understand the allure: With cool looks and a built-in speaker, the Crosley is the ultimate in fashion and user-friendliness. Just set it atop your coffee table or nightstand, plug it in, and play. I’m afraid, however, that people who expect LPs to provide a higher-quality listening experience will be disappointed by what the Crosley offers and will therefore turn away from vinyl altogether.
If you’re spending $20 or so per record, it would make sense to invest in a reliable, high-quality record playerone that will sound great and won’t harm your valuable LPs. The simplest and most affordable example that I know of is Music Hall’s USB-1. Although it doesn’t include speakers, it does have a USB output for converting vinyl to WAV or MP3 files on your Mac or PC; and, because it has a built-in phono preamp, there’s really no need for additional amplificationjust connect it to a pair of powered loudspeakers, and you’re good to go.
Curiously, Urban Outfitters does sell the USB-1, but for $50 more ($300) than you’d find at trustworthy hi-fi dealers, such as Music Direct or Audio Advisor. The problem with selling an item like the USB-1 at Urban Outfitters is that the typical customer won’t know how to use it. (I've witnessed people shopping for turntables at Urban Outfitters. They're intrigued by the Music Hall USB-1, but intimidated. When they see the Crosley, with its built-in speaker, they're relieved.) If the people at Urban Outfitters simply created a display showing the USB-1 connected to a pair of powered loudspeakers (they also carry Audioengine A2s), the system would sell like crazy, I guarantee.
Of course, Music Hall also distributes the AktiMate line of powered loudspeakers. I've got the new AktiMate Micro ($499/pair) on deck for coverage in "The Entry Level," and I plan to bring the pair with me to Ms. Little's apartment, Natalie and Nicole's apartment, Kristen's apartment, and the shop. I'm sure the girls will love the AktiMate's sound and looks. And I wouldn't be surprised if Music Hall began bundling the USB-1 with the AktiMates.
But you, dear readers, already know all of this. So: Tell your friends and spread the joy. They want to know.