As co-director of the group with over nine thousand members, Van Parijs is a well-known name in the world. The online club brings together Flemish enthusiasts of older material, under a set of strict rules. “Otherwise things can quickly get out of control, as is the case in other Facebook groups,” says Van Parijs. With “VAV” you can only sell at a fixed price, no bidding is allowed. Anyone who posts a post-2000s device to the group will have their contribution immediately deleted. Van Parijs sits behind the computer every day.
Sixteen meters of registration lockers
But his real passion is the 16,000 recordings in his listening room and his entire collection of Linko recordings. “When we drew the plans for our new house, I had one big wish,” says the man from Javier in East Flanders. “I wanted to have my own listening room next to the living room, and that’s what we got.”
Ivan has built sixteen meters of record cabinets around a bar unit with seating – during our conversation there will be coffee and soon Deauville on the table. “Every Sunday morning, I leave as early as possible to visit flea markets and record fairs everywhere in Flanders,” he says. “I allocate about 500 euros a month for this.”
Van Parijs searches for 1,200 titles on his wishlist on Discogs. “There are only ten in my sales department. Selling records is not my thing,” he joked. Going home meant: cleaning out the existing records, putting them in plastic wrap and taking an inventory of everything.
And then the listening ritual can begin, on a fully automatic Pioneer PL-430X from the late 1970s or on one of Lenco’s or Thorenssen’s. “The Pioneer has the great advantage that the arm automatically returns to the starting position when recording is finished,” says Ivan. “This means the needle wears out less quickly, which is important because I have to replace it every year.”
Made for disco
But Ivan’s heart lies mainly with Lenko. This Swiss brand introduced its first tape recorder in 1959, the L70. The device immediately gained popularity among DJs due to its great stability. The L70 uses idler wheel technology. The disc on which the record lies is not driven by a belt, but by a wheel that rotates toward the bottom of the disc.
In 1967, Lenco improved its design with the launch of the L75. It had a metal idler wheel instead of a plastic one, providing quieter operation, and a more advanced lever, which still fits many cartridges today. Both models were so stable due to their technology and weight that they could easily handle the shaking bass in the discos of the time.
“Lencos are very easy to make on your own,” says Ivan. “You can remove the motor with a few screws. Once that’s done, you can re-lubricate the axle. The rubber V-blocks, which provide damping for the arm, should always be replaced. Turns out, that rubber doesn’t stand the test of time.”
Evan has just sold dozens of Lencos. They were found at flea markets and, after some care, were sold again for prices between 75 and 300 euros. He kept the best specimens for himself. In addition to the L70 and L75, there were also the L75S – which introduced an S-shaped lever on the well-known design – and the L78. The devices are displayed on record cabinets, each labeled with specifications and year.
Ortophon or Goldring
Instrument cartridges from the 1960s and 1970s often needed to be replaced, and Swiss record players have a good reputation for the selection of their sets. Ivan usually chooses Ortofon 2M Blue. An item that costs around 200 euros with a good price quality ratio. “But I change it sometimes when the needle wears out,” he says. “I’m also currently experimenting with the Goldring E3 and E2 and with the Audio Technica VM95-SP.”
When it comes to speakers and amplifiers, Ivan is less picky. Pioneer and Lenco’s can be easily combined with other vintage materials. “But a good tip: always listen to the device you want to buy in the room you want to put it in,” he says. “This really makes a big difference. I regularly bring equipment back from fairs and markets. “What is good stays and the rest disappears after a few weeks.”
Currently playing with a set of B&W DM560s, powered by 2 x 45 watts of Marantz PM6002. Ivan records Irish Coffee, the debut album by Belgian rock band Irish Coffee. The LP is one of the masterpieces from his collection, and the first pressing costs up to €2,500. The music sounds warm and powerful, especially in the high and mid ranges. The B&Ws lack some power in the low notes. The Marantz provides sufficient dynamics and a clear gap between the quiet passages and the explosions of frontman William Suffreau.
Upgrade to Garrard
To play 78 rpm recordings, Ivan relies on a Garrard 4HF, a beautiful device of typical 1950s design. The 4HF was launched at the time as a stylish and affordable alternative to the audiophile 301. The wooden base of Ivan’s version didn’t stand the test of time and didn’t provide the best sound, so he had his son work as a carpenter. Strong base in plywood. This still needs to be polished and then Garrard will get contemporary RCA connectors.
Meanwhile, Evan plays his 78-rpm collection with a Dual 300 Dualophon Campio, an early 1960s record player with a mono tube amplifier and a speaker in the lid. Evan dresses up as Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti and we enjoy his charming little voice. “The arm is the weak point of the Dualophone,” says Ivan. “It gives the needle plenty of room to move in the groove.”
The Dual has an innovative system that allows you to lower two needles from the headstock, one for 78 RPM recordings and one for other speeds.
Even though it’s portable, the Dualophone stays in the listening room. On holiday abroad, the former gendarme prefers a Philips 133, a red plastic mono-actuator from 1975 that can handle 33, 45 and 78 rpm. “There’s nothing more annoying than buying a record and not being able to listen to it right away,” he says. “It’s certainly nothing special in terms of quality, but it has charm.”
We take the time to listen to a few additional recordings of vintage players and compare them to the contemporary system that Ivan built in the living room. There are 6 PerspeX SB installed there, which is one of the better Pro-Ject models. The record player is amplified via a Marantz PM8005, connected to Audio Physic’s top speakers, the Classic 30’s.
We listen to “Live in Los Angeles” by Leonard Cohen and “Mångata” by If Anything Happens to the Cat, the post-rock band of Ivan’s son. The Pro-Ject is unbeatable in its detailed reproduction, but it sounds great and clinical compared to the old players. The warm sound of older hi-fi certainly matches Cohen’s timbre better, but it also gives the contemporary post-rock sound an extra sparkle.
At the end of the visit, Ivan brought a Fisher Price “Music Box” record player, still in its original packaging. “Bought at a flea market for my one-and-a-half-year-old,” he winks. “You can’t start early enough.”
Written by Kevin Waters.
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