All sorts returning to the turntable
Time to get out those old LPs
Back to the future . . . the increasing choice of music lovers to return to the arguably unrivalled pleasure of vinyl, has bought the humble turntable, the record player, back into the spotlight.
A turntable, basic or otherwise, is an obvious requirement for the born again audio purist, the 60s and 70s music collector or ‘‘casual’’ listener simply wanting to hear music which can often unavailable in any other format.
The burgeoning, even gung ho, vinyl trade (second-hand and new) is across all demographics.
‘‘All ages are buying vinyl. Older people as you might expect but younger listeners too, teenagers are seeking out all the right stuff for their own collection, with a big chunk of the sounds paralleling that of their parents . . . from the 60s and on,’’ Steve Cochrane from Upper Hutt’s The Revolution shop says.
So if you want to get with vinyl’s increasing trend, what’s the deal . . . what’s the cost?
Anyone with a pile of old LPs tucked away (perhaps only kept for their original packaging) can be back into vinyl quickly and at a reasonable cost, Hal Cederholm from Maidstone Hi Fi says.
‘‘We access, service and sell second-hand turntables and people can be up and running for as little as $150.’’
The pathway to vinyl’s warmer, tactile world is made super-easy if your existing
All ages are buying vinyl. Older people as you might expect but
younger listeners too.
— Steve Cochrane
music amplifier has phono connections.
Most of any reasonable age will but in the last 10 years or so the rise of the home entertainment system means phono connection largely disappeared, left to the audiophile market, Mr Cederholm says.
This can be sorted by buying a phono preamp (preferably mains powered) but hey, you might want your turntable, amp and speakers set up separate anyway . . . away from the all-ages lounge, in that ‘‘other room’’ with the lava lamp, the incense, the Jimi Hendrix poster and those Roger Dean gatefold LPs.
The first and best rule about buying a turntable is to not over-complicate things . . . test the waters modestly and see where your second-coming, your personal ‘‘backto-the-black’’ leanings take you.
Help, information, and unwavering opinion are there on the online world, of course, with forums hosting fired-up threads discussing things to the smallest detail.
‘‘A lot of it does not matter,’’ best.turntables.com succinctly warns.
‘‘Unless you have spent years buying and repairing turntables, and have owned many, you will not care about the smaller details. Whether or not the finer points make a noticeable difference at all is is also up for debate.’’
Mr Cederholm agrees. ‘‘ Anyone hauling out a long ignored turntable will need it serviced. If it’s a belt drive its odds on belt will have kinked around the pulley.
‘‘The good news is belts and a comprehensive range of styluses are available.’’
An ‘‘average’’ stylus, for old and new turntables alike, will cost from $25 and bring more than 800 hours’ listening, Mr Cederholm says.
Turntable buyers will have some choices to make, with opting either for direct drive or belt drive probably the main decision.
Direct drive (a motor underneath the platter) means you can start and stop the platter easily and place the stylus in the position wanted. The disadvantage is they are are lighter and can bring vibration issues. Belt drives, more common in the second-hand realm, minimise added noise and require the listener to place the needle on a moving platter – surely a bonus if we are going down memory lane.
‘‘High end direct drive turntables . . . turn out as the best for convenience and sound quality combined,’’ best. turntables. com says.
Tone arms (the movable arm supporting the pick up) bring a choice too. It’s accepted fully automatic arms, with start-stop control, should be avoided (too many moving parts involved).
Auto-returns bridge the jump to fully manual and probably win the convenience over quality argument while purists will go fully manual – and love it.
Platter weight can be a factor. The best are heavy. If buying second-hand the platter should be able to spin freely.
‘‘It is one of the two things that really must work. The other is that the tonearm should also freely move,’’ best. turntables.com says.
In the end (or the beginning) you should look at buying second-hand but go for manual over automatic.
Really, the best turntables are whatever sounds and looks good to you.
Turntable man: Hal Cederholm offers a sound solution for the turntable curious.