The Art of vinyl at home: PTP Audio Solid9 and Solidsteel WS-5: Introductions
Music and especially listening to music at home can become a rich and engaging social and cultural diet for all the family. We all have started our musical journeys from different points but we all arrive at the same destination, in our personal space we chose to live. Be it an apartment or house.
My influence was an music-loving father who purchased a HiFi over a car in the late 70s. We listened to a diverse collection of music from classical to jazz and trips to the county records library would fill in the gaps and I could choose anything that took my fancy and would tape it onto to compact cassette. He would take the bus to work a couple more years and the Renault 4 brochure was shelved. I remember his justification being that he simply loved music.
Back at home after a few upgrades, the centre piece of the house, the iconic Linn LP12 Sondik set up with vintage British valve amps ( Leak Stereo 20) and Quad 57s would replay the recordings in such a vivid form; music at home transformed into a shared passion and journey. From Bach to Pink Floyd, music became experiences. All your friends would then listen to the tapes and all your emotions and identity connected to this wonderful music.
Eventually, I adopted the Garrard turntable and Armstrong amplifier with an 80s Pioneer tape deck. This was my rites of passage to audio and the start of collecting music.
The educational influence of the high-quality audio system at home cannot be understated. Music was a way of life as the sound quality was done right. More than that, the primary importance of music was ingrained in your soul.
The connection to music made alive by the enormous sound quality of analogue done right. The Linn Sondek LP12 was not only a transcription turntable in the high-fidelity sense but created a consciousness of sounds and how we can live with music if we care in the set up of audio at home.
The same parallel can be drawn with analogue film photography and the art of the print. Go to a fine art gallery and see black and white prints not just pixels on your smartphone; there is a world that exists outside the ecosystem of a smartphone.
Vinyl is a quaint if not antiquated medium. The idea of replicating sound and music with a small diamond on acetate to be amplified into sound waves in a room a science fiction from the 19th century.
As we currently live, in the age of information; culture is now dominated by digital distribution. The artist and the individual have become lost by the analogue relationships. Without the sound quality a lot of the emotional richness is lost with digital compression.
Today, 21 years after the introduction of the Apple iPod and now phased out, the imperfect medium of vinyl lives on. Indeed even without new pressings there is a world of music out there with second-hand vinyl. How we turn this into the warm humanistic sound quality that audiophiles crave?
All vinyl is a narrative. A story of music and a journey of how we listen to it and our lives connected to it. Especially the album covers are part of the love of music and our connected memory of consciousness to the music. Check out our last article on an exhibition of photography at the, Photographers’ Gallery (TPG) London, For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover.
What it can become if we invest in the audio and not just the music? The PTP Audio Solid9 and the Solidsteel WS-5 wall shelf combined are an example of economic investment for a lifetime of pleasure.
We find that even humble analogue has a starting point. Interviewing the SF Audio Society, the director made the point that even a used turntable set-up right playing vinyl from a thrift shop can cost a few dollars but sound so good today.
Vinyl has a magic that transcends technology. Even childhood memories of 45s on a record players has been the starting point to may musicians and artists.
Highly-acclaimed Jazz saxophonist, Toni Kofi, set a new path in his youth in Nottingham, to become a Jazz musician inspired by his mum’s record, collection. It was not private tuition but leaning to play the music from the “vinyl gold” of music such as Duke Ellington. Also recorded into tape to be with him at all times.
AQ had the pleasure to interview Marco Fullone, Italian DJ and brand ambassador to Solid Steel Italy during the lockdown last year. A time many of us reconnected to music at home, a period when listening to music at home became a little silver lining in a dark cloud. Music become such an important medicine for the soul. Some drank more wine and some played vinyl albums again as time was a commodity we all had. Some did both but that is another story.
The perfect platform: Solidsteel WS-5
Crucial to setting up a turntable at home is proper support, and we will introduce a turntable wall shelf from Solidsteel and the PTP Audio Solid9 turntable, which have their place in this audiophile journey and maybe yours too and match well.
Marco is a good starting point to connect our narratives.
As we interviewed him live via a video stream from his apartment in Rome, he talked about his journey to becoming one of the most respected DJs in Italy with quality music content on his show radio, Radio Monte Carlo nights. He has a huge passion for music and had stars like Greg Porter stream on his show. His knowledge of vinyl was vast and his apartment was adorned by shelves of audiophile pressings. Marcos’s journey also started with a simple portable record player in the 60s and continues today with a passion. He stated his goal to share this passion for vinyl also to younger generations.
I had similar memories in the 60s with a record player and the sounds of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. I later pulled those records out and played them on the Linn. Then again in the 90s on my Voyd Turntable. Each time the same feelings but with more realism.
After a gap of twenty years, time and coincidence collided. It was lockdown, articles to research but most importantly fall in love with music again. You never fall out of love with music and especially the music ingrained in your soul. However digital replay has not filled the space at home with lush sounds and soulful stirrings that vinyl has the capacity to do.
The wall shelf and turntable are truly solid
At AQ we have in our hands a very special turntable. The modern and artisan crafted PTP Audio Solid9, a restoration and re-engineered Lenco. The turntable will be covered in-depth at a later date. This beautiful Swiss original turntable, embodies old and new technology and is a homage to the idler drive which has many musical qualities. It is exceptional at communicating the sheer energy of music.
At this point every turntable has to be placed in the correct environment. The main drawback with vinyl is that record players are a “live” analogue generator of sound. The importance of proper isolation from vibrations and disturbances is the key to getting the best from your records. Forget all the interior designers recommendations.
Here you must turn to proper a audiophile support / furniture makers. Or all your ideas of sound quality are wasted.
We have turned to Solidsteel to supply the one and only wall shelf they manufacture. it also has a minimalist, sculptural form. It is the perfect aesthetic design and acoustic partner for the PTP Audio Solid9.
This is a ‘proper platform’ for any good quality turntable. Crafted from solid steel, the shelf fabricated with MDF and aluminium feet adjustable support feet for the sub frame, at 16 kilos it is a massive statement of design and product manufacturing philosophy.
This is the one and only wall shelf in the Solidsteel range. The late founder, Moreno Conti wanted to create the best possible design for high end turntables in 2011. We researched for the best partner for the PTP Audio Solid9.
This massive shelf design can support up to 60 kilos. The high mass is very efficient at damping vibrations. Given the sensitivity for any turntable to external vibrations and the negative effects of feedback, the WS-5 is a proper technical solution to an age old problem of where to place a turntable in a listening room. The wall shelf or platform is an important consideration and a very cost-effective one.
The limitation of the wall of the shelf is that is composed of three parts and the maximum width of a turntable is determined by the top plate, which is MDF based and sits on four aluminium cones. These are height adjustable and they sit on the massive welded steel frame cross bars. The shelf is hand welded of three parts. The wall bracket, the frame and the cross bars.
For those considering turntables with 12-inch tonearms, the dimensions of the top plate could be limited to smaller arms. We choose the PTP Audio Solid9 as the design is more compact for smaller listening environments. The advantages of a wall shelf are also practical for example keeping the turntable away from children and pets. Especially with the high value of cartridges.
The wall shelf is beautifully crafted and finished. The quality of Italian artisan skill is evident. The finish is an exquisite dark black matt. Solidsteel maintains a premium position as audiophile / furniture maker throughout its product range.
The PTP Audio Solid9, with one arm board is a domestic friendly design. You can choose between 9 inch and 10 inch arms. At 20 kilos total weight, the incorporated Solid Corian plinth is heavy. The Swiss Lenco original platter, a Polished 4kg die cast aluminium affair, also adding to the weight.
The wall shelf and turntable are truly solid.
At 400x500x50mm, the solid Corian plinth fits perfectly on the top WS-5 top plate. The turntable was supplied with three height adjustable SSC Germany feet.
Set up of the wall shelf and PTP Audio Solid 9 was straitforward.
We ensured a professional installation of the shelf to a solid wall. With an iPhone Spirit level app, the top late was levelled perfectly and also the PTP Audio Solid9 plinth on top of the SCC feet.
Game on, as with any turntable isolation, proper placement in a listening room is paramount, and we wanted to give the vintage idler drive motor the best platform to perform.
At home, we experience the wonderful PTP Audio Solid9 on a proper platform. Suffice to say the Solidsteel wall shelf is throughly recommend and is the ultimate solid and proper platform for a conventional sized turntable wall mounted. We especially appreciate the ease of set up.
The Solidsteel WS-5 retails at £500 in the UK. Highly recommended.