Interview: Music Executive Marshall Blonstein Discusses ‘Rock N’ Rolla’ Portable Record Player, Future of Vinyl
Photo courtesy: W3 Public Relations and used with permission.

With sales of vinyl recordings at a near three decade-high, the timing for portable record players couldn’t be more perfect, and one of the most sought after products is the modernized Rock 'N' Rolla portable turntable. Not only does the unit transport you back in time with its retro appearance, but its high quality, full range speakers, headphone and USB encoding to backup give it modern, 21st century appeal. Other Rock N’ Rolla units feature options like a long-lasting lithium battery and built-in LCD display.

AXS recently spoke to Marshall Blonstein, president of Audio Fidelity/Morada Music about the Rock N’ Rolla, his career as a music executive and the future of vinyl in this new interview.

AXS: Why do you think vinyl is making such a comeback?

Marshall Blonstein: Before CDs came along there hadn’t been a new format for delivering music for thirty years, and people were looking for something different. Thirty years had rolled on and suddenly, this shiny object came along that was hip, cool to hold and had a digital sound. It’s kind of the same thing now. Vinyl has become old and hip. A digital CD has a harsher sound than vinyl, which has a much warmer sound. But the whole resurgence actually came from indie groups who were out on the road trying to sell something different. They’re the ones that made it mainstream and hip again.

AXS: Has the sound and technology of vinyl changed much over the years?

MB: The difference comes in the mastering and the sources. Back then, when an engineer was mastering vinyl, they’d rely mostly on their instincts and ears. Today, people have so much technology at their fingertips but can also go with their ears. They can find the warmth where a piece of equipment can’t.

AXS: Where did the idea for the Rock N’ Rolla originate?

MB: I was having lunch with my friend one day and he told me his daughter was putting out a vinyl record and asked me if I could help. So, we started talking and then he told me about this idea he had for a portable record player that was similar to the ones you used to carry around to parties back in the Fifties. There were a few units already on the market, so we looked at the key elements and improved upon them. The appeal of it was twofold: First, it was for people buying one for their kids to get into vinyl or for college students to go from dorm to dorm, and the other was for guys between the ages of 50-70 who had bought a lot of vinyl back in the day and just couldn’t throw it away. They didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a sound system just to listen to their old vinyl, so the Rock ‘N’ Rolla became an inexpensive way for them to get back to listening to their “old friends” again.

AXS: In addition to the Rock N’ Rolla one of the projects you worked on was Carole King’s hugely successful album, Tapestry. Did you know at the time how special that album would become?

MB: We always thought it was going to be good, but not that good because Carole wasn’t well known at the time except as a writer. I remember Lou Adler [producer] calling me up one day and asking me to come over. When I got there, he said, “Don’t say a word. I just want you to hear something.”  He played me four songs, including “It’s Too Late,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Smackwater Jack.” Along with the music, what really broke that album was when Carole went on tour as the opening act for James Taylor. There’s something magical that happens whenever she sits down at the piano. She still has that today

AXS: What do you think is next for vinyl?

MB: Vinyl is part of the culture again. Young kids are getting into and it’s become hip. I recently went to a party and brought the Rock N’ Rolla and people were going crazy over it. It put a smile on their face. Vinyl will be around for a long time. It’s like rap or metal music. People kept saying it couldn't last and that it's going to die --but it never did.