By Patrick Prince
Simply put, George Merrill, the owner of Gem Dandy Products (www.hifigem.com), is an audiophile’s friend, and he is an even closer friend to vinyl lovers.
Merrill is able to manufacture quality components and supplies because he is also an expert consultant. As the owner of Analog Emporium in Cordova ,TN, you can make an appointment with Merrill to have your audio system suited to your personal needs and budget. Analog Emporium offers state-of-the-art setup and modifications — even repairs.
For Goldmine readers not based in the Cordova, TN area, Merrill’s Gem Dandy mail order phonograph cleaning solution and customized turntables have been the next best thing.
The following is a chat with Merrill about his audiophilic philosophy.
GOLDMINE: Which of your turntables and/or audio systems would you suggest for the beginner, the common user and the audiophile — and why?
GEORGE MERRILL: This depends on the individual. Some people have a few old records and are curious to hear them again. This can be rectified with the purchase of a decent two hundred dollar used turntable with a good cartridge.
If you are a person who believes that collecting and listening to records will be fun and render a rewarding musical experience then a good turntable is the answer. Budgets and knowledge dictate the purchase.
Most beginners start with a turntable in the $300-$500 range. As progression occurs (a wish for more realism from the recorded performance) an entry level audiophile turntable is the answer. The PolyTable SA-250 fills this need to an excellent degree.
For the listener who considers his or her self an audiophile/music lover and would like the best reproduction of image, tonal quality, clarity and pace then a upscale audiophile turntable and cartridge purchase is in the picture. The PolyTable SUPER12 with a quality cartridge is the answer. A paper elaborating on equipment purchase is available on my web site, www.hifigem.com.
GM: You make the statement that other audio products rely more on visual imagery than sonic reality. Can you explain?
MERRILL: Unfortunately, for the buyer, many products are designed for looks — bling — or easy manufacturing. This is understandable with the low price products. But many of the high-end audiophile products cling to this same design principal. “So when the lights dim to listen, the music is also in the dark”.
My product design has always been form follows function. In my 40 years of manufacturing I have always put performance first.
GM: Tell us about your brand of vinyl cleaner (The Hydraulic Cleaning Apparatus), and what makes it stand out from other cleaners?
MERRILL: This product was an invention of necessity. Many years ago cleaning my personal record collection was a problem. I tried the vacuum type cleaners but some would damage the groove lands. The Hydraulic Cleaning Apparatus was the answer to deep cleaning with only liquid touching the LP. The Super Solution loosens the debris and the Jet hose flushes it away. It performs as well as the multi-thousand dollar ultrasonic cleaners.
GM: How often do you advise cleaning a vinyl record?
MERRILL: The regimen: Use of a carbon fiber brush to remove the dust before playing.
Always cleaning the stylus with a tight ping brush before playing.
If you put the record in the sleeve directly after play one cleaning cycle will last at least 20 plays.
GM: In your opinion why is vinyl superior from other formats?
MERRILL: The recording is pure analog. Digital is a representation of the original, the outcome depends on digitizing process.
GM: Your take: is this “vinyl resurgence” for real or a fad?
MERRILL: The future is digital streaming or vinyl. I believe it is here to stay.
GM: What will be on the horizon for Gem Dandy products?
MERRILL: The PolyTable SUPER12 (shown above) is the new product.
Go to www.hifigem.com for further information on Gem Dandy products.