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.turnta­ 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. turnta­ 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.

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