FOR THE RECORD…
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