Interview with PABLO BALIBREA ALBALADEJO, Record Collectore from Murcia, Spain

Pablo Balibrea Albaladejo aka ravenflow is a record collector from Murcia in Spain, who has been surrounded with music all his life, but he hasn’t been a vinyl collector for very long. He was inspired to start a vinyl collection by his, now, two and a half years old daughter Adriana. About this and more, you can read in the interview below.

Pablo has an Instagram profile where he shares photos of his record collection.

How did you go about starting your vinyl collection, and how long has it been since you are a record collector?

It hasn’t been that long, to be honest.

I have always been a huge music collector. However, we never had a turntable at home, so I had tons of cassettes and cd’s. When MP3 and Internet downloads started, MP3 killed my purchase habit and helped me to invest my money in videogames, movies and to make my first travels.

Of course, I never stopped enjoying music and I also started going to concerts and festivals.

Last year, with my daughter Adriana being one year old by the time I decided I wanted to expose her to music and wanted to take it seriously so I said: Let’s redeem myself for all these pirate years and let’s educate this beauty the way my parents did by making a nice music collection.

I decided to focus on vinyl because it felt more special for this purpose. The CD format did not felt something I could commit to at this point of my life and regarding the fact I wanted to go physical no matter what, no other format showcased better the art, the presentation and the visual aesthetic of music than vinyl.

Now Adriana is two years and a half and she combines all the unavoidable child tunes and nursery rhymes on YouTube with the music of Queen, Birdy, First Aid Kit or Guns N’ Roses on vinyl format.

What was the first vinyl you bought or received?

By the time The Killers released Day and Age I bought a house.

I got a copy of the record only to decorate the space and that record had been sealed around the house since then.

A few years back, I moved elsewhere because I had just met the woman that is now my wife: Noemí. We decided to live together and this record came with me along with my computer, my consoles and my turtle Carolina.

This record was also a decorative element at my new home but it always felt as a reminder of a possibility that was around all those years: “Should I get a turntable one of these days and get into this?”.

October 8th last year, one day after my birthday, this record stopped being a sealed picture and became the first record my turntable played.

Photo: @ravenflow

How large is your vinyl collection? 

I don’t count my records but my guess would be… more than one thousand.

I have been extremely lucky getting so many records on that short time but this happened because I grabbed crazy bargains: A classical music collection of a hundred records for 35 euros, 80 vinyl records that the daughter of a man that was already gone sold me for 14 euros and a monster haul of 600 records from one collector for 200 euros.

You can do the math anyhow… I have also invested a little bit myself on other records.

How do you go about choosing which record will have a place in your collection? Do you usually check new albums online, or do you grab a record just “out of the blue,” or it’s a mixed bag of these two?

It is definitely a mixed bag.

If you are music lover you know which artists you like and you always have a list of records you would like to get eventually. In that case, I tend to wait for a nice sale or discount without a hurry.

There are exceptions sometimes, if I want to grab a limited color vinyl or a signed copy of a recent release. When I love a particular artist like The Killers I don’t need to listen to the album… I just want it.

However, sometimes you come across some monster discount records of Basia Bulat or Eddie Cochran to name two very different artists I am not a big connoisseur of and tend to check a couple songs on Spotify or YouTube before buying anything.

Where from do you get your records usually?

Sadly, the only regular record shop in my hometown overprices everything and that is something I am not willing to support. To name an example, The Cure Greatest Hits Picture vinyl that were released last RSD were sold everywhere at 30 euros and these guys sold them for 50 without any kind of remorse.

I usually get most of my stuff online. We tend to be very patient and conservative with new releases but we are extremely aggressive with massive sales and discounts on sources such as Fnac and Amazon.

We also get second hand stuff, checking shops and flea markets. In this area, the most effective thing for me has been an app named Wallapop where you can check stuff people near your neighbourhood sell online. In this case, if you are patient and check your area frequently you can get massive hauls really cheap.

What is the most valuable record in your collection? And do you have sort of a wishlist with records that you want to get one day? 

To be honest, I don’t know…. And I don’t really care much.

We managed to get a massive haul from one collector last June for 200 euros. It had nearly 600 records, being all of them first pressings from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s with gems such are Green Day’s Dookie with the Ernie back cover which they had to change because of a Sesame Street lawsuit. My guess is that some of those records have to be expensive.

But, as I said, money isn’t everything: My most valuable records are the ones that my loved ones gave me as a present at one point, the ones they bought thinking: Pablo is going to love this. My all time favourite would be a birthday presents of my wife: A gorgeous Original Soundtrack of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Pablo shares some “Love” with his wife Noemí (Photo: @ravenflow)

Tell me about your turntable setup (turntable, preamp, speakers,…).

My initial set was a very loveable Phillips Micro Sound System that played nearly everything and offered a nice quality for what it was: An entry point for the hobby.

A few months later we decided to invest on a higher quality setup but avoiding huge complications, so we got an effective Audio Technica AT-LP120-USBHC connected to a Marshall Stanmore Speaker that work really well together and also give a nice aesthetic vibe to our living room. We also have the ATH-MSR7 headphones, which are amazing for solo listening sessions.

Pablo’s turntable of choice: Audio Technica’s LP120-USB (Photo: @ravenflow)

Do you have any advices for people that are about to start or just started collecting vinyls?

Find and try all the possible turntables you can and find a setup that fits your necessities and your budget. Vinyl offers an amazing sound but the are many low budget turntables that don’t reach any reasonable standards; there are also many cheap turntables that provide good quality, so try as many as you can and find the one that is made for you.

Prepare a list the records you want and never buy at recommended price. Be patient and don’t overpay for anything if you want a large collection.

Find the record shops and that offer the best offers and keep supporting those shops. With this I mean also online shops, of course.

Check flea markets, online second hand websites covering areas near you and similar. Don’t be afraid to haggle and fight for the best deals. Pay special attention to hauls of boxes of quick sellers that are not looking to speculate with their records.

Create an Instagram and share the records you buy. There is a large and beautiful Instagram community around vinyl records that will help you with any doubt or questions you have. If you enjoy this social part of vinyl collection, be original and creative with your posts and don’t be afraid to show yourself.

You are going to get in a crazy world, so find a partner in crime. Mine is my wife Noemí, that is well invested into the hobby too but also gives me second views about everything and brings some sense when I become crazy with sales or when I get lazy about getting a good deal. A partner in crime will also remind you the most important thing of all: Listen to your music and share those moments with a nice glass of wine. Buying, getting good prices, nice deals, hauls, posting on Instagram are great metahobbies… but don’t forget to enjoy music and share your passion with your loved ones.

Follow Pablo on Instagram.

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