The Analogue Front End

The analogue front end for my main passion and part of my business interests – music – is a Nottingham Analogue Hyperdeck turntable with an Origin Live arm and a Transfiguration Spirit MkIII cartridge, feeding the six-valved Viva LF1 (with integral ‘Fono’ stage) ¬†and thence to ATC SCM50 active speakers.

The analogue front end for my freelance editing and writing activities is an A3 sketchpad, one of the larger plain buff-coloured Moleskine cahiers, and either a brass bullet Fisher Space Pen or a revolving choice from my slightly silly (but still growing) collection of nearly-perfect pencils: Palomino Blackwing, Mitsu-Bishi 9800, Tombow Mono 100, Kimberly 525, and Mirado Black Warrior.

I also have a Digital front end for my music – either a Lector CDP7 MkIII or a Mark Levinson No.37 transport feeding a dCS 974 DAC – and something like a Digital front end for my writing – nVAlt, Scrivener, Tinderbox 6, and Ulysses 3. With both the music and the writing, the origin in the analogue is always a pleasure, and the return to it after a necessary digital detour is sometimes something of a relief.

There is no “analogue vs digital” competition here though: both are necessary parts of their wholes. My music business uses analogue components in the production process, but the final output, even for albums to be cut to vinyl, has to be digital (and delivered via an Internet channel), and most of the more intensive processes of audio production – the fine editing, the sonic repair and restoration, the mastering – have no viable analogous analogue counterparts. The editing and copywriting of course has to be delivered digitally too, and some of the more specialised processes of its production¬† – the reference database, the searchable repository of notes and other prose parts, sometimes the planning, often the editing, and always the mark-up and writing the final draft – are made much more easily, or even only made at all possible with the digital tools.