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Advice for getting into vinyl/LP player

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MAJOR METAL, Dec 30, 2017.


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    A number of my friends have been encouraging me to buy a LP player to enjoy some of my favorite records on vinyl. I know a lot of people who really rave at the sonic superiority of vinyl to MP3.

    Any advice you can offer on buying a LP player, or if you don't even think it's worth it, would be appreciated.

    First question, are the LP players with built in speakers any good? Are separate speakers necessary for quality sound?
  2. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I would avoid record players with built-in speakers. If you want to be able to appreciate the difference in sound quality between records and mp3s then you need to at least have some decent speakers. As for people raving about the superiority of the sound of vinyl vs the sound of mp3s, you can bet that the majority of them are just saying what they are "supposed" to say, and that they can't actually perceive a difference. It's considered hip to be into vinyl right now. In the '80s it was hip to be into CDs and "full-range" sound. In the end, the medium doesn't matter all that much if you aren't playing your music through a decent sound system.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    What's your max budget?

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    $200.00 USD.
  5. Deltatim


    Nov 5, 2016
    Stockton, CA
    That should get you a decent turntable. Just make sure it has a good cartridge and needle. Dittos on the speakers. If you have a quality stereo system, it "should" have a phono input. Many later models don't. I am a bit prejudiced as my "other" hobby is restoring vintage stereo equipment. An example is haveing a nice 1975 Sansui
    system, with superb speakers, hooked up with tt, cd, r-r, 8trk, cassette. I have Fleetwood Mac Rumours on origional vinyl, 8trk, r-r, and remastered cd. Side by side, vinyl wins. That is listening with Vintage ears. A lot depends on the studio mixing.
    cdef likes this.
  6. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    I agree on the turntables with built-in speakers, they blow. I'm a long time lover off all things Hi-Fi but I can also be practical and aware that my tastes and budget are not normal. Against my better judgement I just bought my 13 year old daughter a Crosley record player with built in speakers and it is absolutely horrible sounding. She loves it and that's all that matters. Its speakers sound as small as they are and the pitch on the turntable is not good. I would encourage you to read the reviews on Amazon, they seem to be dead nuts on.

    I think to give yourself a fair chance at enjoying truly analog audio you must have at least a small decent sounding stereo and a separate turntable. I know you can get a decent Audio-Technica starter turnable for $120 on up. As far as the stereo goes you can probably piece one together by shopping around. There are lots of good old receivers or integrated amps floating around out there which can be had pretty cheap. They are not modern but they will sound a lot better than the Crosley style "record players" which seem to be all the rage right now. I would start by looking in your parents and grandparents garage :).

    I love the analog backlash that's happening right now but these all-in-one turntables are not the way to go. PM me if you have any questions. Looks like Deltatim may be a good a good resource as well.
  7. OldDog52

    OldDog52 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    If your goal is high-quality analog audio, stay away from turntables that use USB or Bluetooth. You want a good old fashioned analog phono output, connected to a decent receiver or amp that has a phono input. You can probably pick up a good receiver or amp at Goodwill for like $20. All you need is 2 clean audio channels. You don’t need a complicated home theater system.

    If you can’t afford good speakers (or if it’s a space limitation thing), get some decent headphones. On the ear or around the ear cans, not ear buds.

    Vinyl can sound incredibly good on pretty basic audio gear.

    Turntables - Under $300
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    you're kidding of course!? :roflmao:

    low bitrate MP3's are for poop, but an LP over a wav file of the same track? i don't think so. not gonna' happen.

    good luck on your 'retro' quest! :thumbsup:

    edit: all this is IMO.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  9. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    First off, avoid turntables with internal speakers like Crosley et. al. They are cheap and cheerful, but sound terrible, and will also wear down your records over time, making them sound even worse. There are a couple of ways to go for the budding vinyl enthusiast:

    1. Turntable and active speakers
    This is the simplest and often cheapest set-up. Active speakers contain an amplifier, so you won’t need to buy a separate amp. Choose a turntable or speakers that has an onboard phono stage, and you’re all set. Audio-Technica, Pro-ject, Rega and U-Turn make good entry-level turntables.

    2. Turntable, amp and passive speakers
    Instead of active speakers, you could go for standard passive speakers, in which case you will need a separate amplifier, preferably one with a phono input. If your amp doesn’t have a phono input, you will also need a separate phono stage to boost the signal from the turntable to line level. This is a more expensive option, but you have a wider choice of components, and you can upgrade the components individually over time, thus ending up with a better sounding system.

    3. Vintage gear
    This can often be dirt cheap, but you need to know what you’re doing. Vintage gear can sound awesome, but can be difficult to repair if anything goes wrong. Still, if you get it right, you will have a great system, for not much money.
    Stumbo likes this.
  10. tzohn


    Apr 26, 2015
    Separate speakers and stereo amplifier are necessary for quality sound. Vinyls cannot make a bad recording sound any better, so its not the media, its the audio engineer...
  11. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    I've found that few things are as divisive as the vinyl vs. CD vs. MP3 debate. I read a fascinating article awhile back where the writer interviewed several legendary producers and mixing engineers, and most of them thought that CD was the clear winner. Based on the science alone, their support of the CD was quite compelling.

    To the OP: how often do you listen to music? Where do you usually listen? I never listen to music at home (only in my car, unless I'm learning for a gig), so my home stereo setup with my record player almost never gets used.
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    My 1981 Dual turntable is stashed away safely in my attic. The concept of accurate audio reproduction via two surfaces rubbing / scratching against each other should be too.

    Edit: Woo-hoo!! Just found my DiscWasher and the Visine-sized bottle of over-priced solution!

  13. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway

    I have known some records to sound considerably better than their CD counterparts, and vice versa. There is an enormous number of variables which determine the final sound quality, including the recording, mastering, and your own setup. I think that in terms of sound reproduction alone, CD’s are better than records. That said, with a good system, some records seem to have a liveliness in the sound that CD’s can’t quite match.

    There’s also the tactility of the records themselves. I quite enjoy playing records, more so than CD’s or digital sound files. In the end, though, I use them all - but in different connections and for different purposes. I think the lesson is just to choose whatever recording medium we prefer - for whatever reason - and not to worry too much about the concerns of audiophiles. After all, a music lover is someone who uses his system to listen to music, an audiophile is someone who uses music to listen to his system. :D

    My advice to the OP, if he really wants to get into vinyl, is to at least spend enough to get a decent entry-level system. Without one, it’s likely to be a somewhat disappointing exercise.
    Deltatim and cdef like this.
  14. Single Coil

    Single Coil Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2006
    I listen to vinyl regularly. I have about 300 records and listen to them on an Audio-Technica AP-LP-120 USB:

    AT-LP120-USB Direct-drive Professional Turntable (USB & Analog) with AT95E Cartridge || Audio-Technica US

    This is a decent turntable, especially if you're just starting out.

    Regarding the LP vs digital debate, I did a lot of reading on this, but ultimately it wasn't about the science. I found an article in which the author stated, "You should listen to vinyl if you enjoy it more." That ended the debate for me. I knew I preferred listening to vinyl over other formats, so that's what I do now.

    I like the fact that vinyl demands my attention. I can't take it with me wherever I go, so I listen more purposefully.

    I also enjoy the permanent nature of vinyl. I still have, and listen to regularly, my copy of "Seconds Out" by Genesis that I bought when I was in high school. I have many other original releases (Floyd, Beatles, Zeppelin, Eno, R.E.M., etc.) that have been in the collection for 35 years. They still sound great.

    I also enjoy knowing I actually own a copy of the music, rather than having a license to listen to it from Apple or whoever.
    JakobT and cdef like this.

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