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Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Letters -

Re­fer­ring to “Getting Started in Vinyl”

(June), I started read­ing ex­pect­ing a good cov­er­age of ev­ery­thing to do with vinyl, but was a bit dis­ap­pointed.

I grew up with vinyl start­ing in the late ’60s by lis­ten­ing to my mom’s clas­si­cal mu­sic, then pop mu­sic like the Beach Boys, the Mon­kees, the Bea­tles. In the ’70s, in my teens, I moved to rock from the likes of Deep Pur­ple, Led Zep­pelin, Jethro Tull and many more. I was an avid col­lec­tor and still have about a hun­dred LP records in good to ex­cel­lent con­di­tion.

The rea­son they are in such good con­di­tion is for a num­ber of rea­sons, which were not cov­ered in your ar­ti­cle: u Han­dle your records only on the edges to pre­vent your fin­ger­prints from getting on the sur­face where, over time, the oil left by the fin­ger­prints at­tracts dirt, which even­tu­ally causes de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. u Don’t store the record ly­ing flat. They should be stored up­right with the vinyl in its own plastic sleeve. In­cor­rect stor­age can lead to warp­ing. And no, it is NOT cool to leave the record on the turntable for days, where it could be pick­ing up dirt or be prone to heat and warp­ing! u En­sure that the records are kept away from heat. u Clean records with only a lint-free cloth or a vel­vet pad in a cir­cu­lar direction fol­low­ing the grooves gen­tly. I have a spe­cial clean­ing arm with a vel­vet pad and horse­hair brush, which cleans the record as it’s play­ing. u Don’t play your pre­cious records on a cheap turntable with­out a de­cent sty­lus us­ing the cor­rect set­tings.

I am glad to see vinyl mak­ing a come­back and I am amazed that the same LPS (same sleeve, art­work and ev­ery­thing), which I paid R10 for in the late ’70s are now sell­ing for anything from R350 to R500, or more!

In my youth I was able to some­times buy im­ported LPS as op­posed to the lo­cal press­ings and, although they were pricier, the qual­ity of the vinyl and sound was bet­ter. I used to haunt a record shop in Port El­iz­a­beth, just off main street, called Michael’s Record Bar. It spe­cialised in ev­ery­thing from clas­si­cal to rock, blues, lo­cal and pop.

I have an ex­cel­lent Yamaha belt-driven turntable and was able, about 10 years ago, to buy the cor­rect drive belt from an on­line com­pany in Australia at a very rea­son­able price. The cartridge is an Au­dio-tech­nica mov­ing coil with a hy­per-el­lip­ti­cal sty­lus. There was a lot of dis­cus­sion in the ’70s and ’80s about which was a bet­ter tech­nol­ogy for a sty­lus: mov­ing coil vs mov­ing mag­net (of which Shure was a lead­ing brand). The ba­sis of the ar­gu­ment was that mov­ing coil was bet­ter be­cause there was less in­er­tia to be over­come due to the can­tilever arm be­ing lighter be­cause the mag­nets weren’t on it, only coils. (This de­bate could lead you to a full-on ar­ti­cle about the tech be­hind vinyl!)

Yes, op­ti­mis­ing your turntable could in­volve some work: l Set­ting the cor­rect weight on the arm for your sty­lus. l En­sur­ing the cartridge is mounted cor­rectly in the arm. l Check your stro­bo­scope on the plat­ter to make sure the speed is ex­act. l Make sure the anti-skat­ing mech­a­nism is ad­justed cor­rectly. l Clean your sty­lus reg­u­larly to op­ti­mise sound qual­ity.

Vinyl was more than just putting on an LP and walk­ing away; it was a type of culture. In my teenage years and twen­ties, my friends and I used to visit each other and in­vari­ably one of us had a new record to share and we would sit down to­gether, some­times with girl­friends (and maybe some beer and wine!) and ac­tively lis­ten to the mu­sic. I think there was a far greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of mu­sic in those days be­cause it was not as per­va­sive as it is nowa­days.

Go vinyl! JOHNDAVID MET­CALF PENFORD

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