Fun with Cayin and VAS

Steve (Sze) Leung, a neighbor of Stereophile’s Wes Phillips and a joy to boot, made my day when he played a 45 rpm audiophile pressing of Elvis’ “Are you Lonesome Tonight.” As the great one began to intone the chapters of this teenage melodrama with tongue-in-cheek sincerity, the sound was so vivid and lifelike that images of the night I tried to ask Ellen Schmidt to go steady flooded through my mind.

Me at 17, picking up the phone: “Mom, I want to ask Ellen Schmidt to go steady. Is it okay if I give her my ring to wear around her neck?”

Mommy dearest: “You are not giving anyone your gold ring with the blue star sapphire and your initials in white gold! And you’re already past your curfew. Tell her no, and come home now!”

Fifty years later, I wish to thank my mother for her intervention. It only took another seven years for me to acknowledge, just a few months after the Stonewall Revolution, that going steady with Ellen Schmidt would never have made this gay boy happy.

But, I digress. [Indeed—Ed.] The sound was fabulous, the music so alive that the memories flowed as though it were yesterday. Of course, the Elvis we heard over my little plastic one-piece 45 player sounded nowhere nearly as great as when played on a VPI Traveler table in silver ($1395) equipped with Grado Gold cartridge ($200) through the Cayin A-SSTP with phono and remote ($1795), Aurum Cantus V3M 2-way loudspeakers ($2995/pair), and Audioquest Meteor speaker cable and interconnects. This was more than a great-sounding little system; it was a virtual time-travel machine. Beam me up, Steve.