Are you one of those wanting to know how to use vinyl records? Then you’ve landed at just the right place to get a bucket full of answers and handy tips taking you through all the steps. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
Setting up A System
You’re not an audiophile, are you? Have you any friend who continuously tell you to have all the fancy items to listen to vinyl? Well, that’s not true. All you need is a quality turntable with a good reputation. That’ll give you a clean start, and when you developed a sense of sound quality, you can always add specialized cartridge, high performance stereo system or whatever.
Before anything, you need to understand that all turntables are not record players. Technically speaking, record player is a complete system for sound production and turntable is the component of it. Turntable comprises of a platter for spinning record, and a stylus to pick vibrations off the grooves of the vinyl.
You can either connect your turntable with a Bluetooth speaker (not advisable) or you can buy some quality stereo speakers for listen music. Then, you have to consider what kind of set up you have depending upon the turntable model. I’ve broken this part into two categories.
#1. Using Latest Models
If you haven’t any system to play, get a cheap new model from a renowned manufacturer. So, your new setup will have only two components; powered speakers and a cheap turntable.
Powered speakers are different from ordinary speakers because they have built-in amplifiers to save extra cost for external amplifier or receiver. For starters who don’t want to waste time on building/testing a system, powered speakers is a way to go – just plug and play.
The question is “What should you buy?”
While there are some handy suitcase-like record players available on amazon giving you easy music to listen without building a stereo system.
But you have to compromise on the sound quality.
To get the right experience, you can buy a turntable packaged with a pair of speakers, just like this one at around $500.
Or perhaps you can buy both items individually, if you like. Such as this Audio Technica AT-LP60 Belt Driven Turntable at around $160. Connect your turntable with Audioengine A2+ Premium Powered Desktop Speakers, available at around $250.
The point is Turntables with external speakers always produce better sound and they are comparatively easier to maintain both things separately. Plus, you’ll have a luxury to use either things separately for other purposes.
As you’re starting off, you have two options to invest in:
- Direct drive turntable
- Belt-driven turntable
It is recommended that you should buy belt-driven turntable as it offers unbreakable sound with minimal vibration. With direct-drive turntable, the platter needs to be adjusted properly to control the vibration and that may be a little bit tricky at this stage.
#2. Using Old System
It’s also ok if you know what you’re doing – buying from a vintage store and getting these items:
- A turntable in good condition
- A receiver or amplifier
- Pair of speakers
Keep in mind, you’ll need plenty of space full of wires to build a set up. Not to mention that it’ll take ample amount of time on connecting and testing the whole set up again and again. The real problem, or rather secret of success, with vintage items is that if any of them doesn’t work, the whole system won’t. Or if, at any point, one of the components stop operating, the whole setup needs to be re-checked and re-built.
First, you need to synchronize all the components. There’s always a chance that the basic receiver and the record player require an external pre-amp.
You don’t always get lucky. So, this method is recommended only when you have the knowledge of record players, receivers, speakers and turntables. Plus you have a good idea where you can buy these items cheap. Some quick tips:
- Choose items that are lighter in weight, because heavier items always need tweaking before they begin to work
- Choose items that look new
- Check each item thoroughly for flaws
#3. There’s one more option left for you!
If you grew up in the 90’s, you’d easily locate those mega-systems with multiple functions. They have CD changer, AM-FM radio, Tape deck and stereo speakers. Latest models have USB port to play MP3 files. Some systems work manually while others can be operated by remote.
These systems are better when it comes to connecting turntables, because they already have Aux inputs for easy connections. If you have one of those, you only have to buy a turntable (not speakers and receiver) and connect it to your megasystem.
Or you can ask your parents or someone having such a system. Chances are, when you explain what you’re about to do, he’ll hand over a few old vinyl records as well.
Where Can You Get Vinyl Records?
Talking about creating your vinyl collection, there’s no specific way. But here are few tips to do just that without facing too much trouble.
Do not run out and buy tons of records from a theft store. That’s the same thing as you are not allowed to build a setup using old components since you don’t know how to do it. The thing is, the system plays only one record at a time, so, there’s no need to stuff your shelf with unnecessary (or low quality) vinyl albums.
Buying records is just like the way you buy books:
- Take a look at the cover and get impressed
- Touch it and have a feel
- Imagine what you will get inside
That’s where you get attracted to one or two albums, and that will be your best pick. In fact, that’s the only way to build a high quality vinyl collection.
One way to listen to good music and buy a new album is via paycheck.
- You visit the store
- Browse through the aisles
- Pick your favorite album
- Take the album home and listen to it for a while
- Come back after few days for more
Buying records from a nearby store
If you want to buy new vinyl records, be careful with those 180 gram reissues. They’re certainly heavier and more durable, but are those albums really worth spending $40? That’s something only you can decide.
Buying records online
There are plenty of places where you can find latest releases and hard-to-find stuffs, such as “The Vinyl Factory” and “Dicogs”. But you have to be extra careful while buying used vinyl records.
Visit the record shop and browse the crates. Pull out the records from the back. In this way, you’ll get lucky most of the time. Even if you don’t, that will be a loss of just $1. To avoid that loss, look for a label saying, “unplayable due to ….” or anything like that. Even if there’s no such label, don’t hesitate to pull out the disc and inspect it.
Here are few things to consider
- Vinyl records get scratches quite easily. Dirt gets stuck inside the grooves. So, always inspect for big scratches.
- Pay attention to the damages (warped records) while buying old records.
- Size of the disc is very important, because your turntable may have limited options.
Apart from these issues, there’s nothing much to check. You already know that the records are old so you’re prepared to get some “slips and skips” of sound.
Up to this point, you’ve already pretty clear about things to do and to refrain from regarding record players and vinyl albums. This is just a basic and as you move ahead with your hobby, you’ll see how crazy people have been about their love for turntables and records. The sales of vinyl records have been increasing and there are obvious reasons for it.
Although it’s an old thing that gives analog sound which, by no means, is better or worse than digital sound, yet Vinyl gives a lively feeling. But people love vinyl due to obvious reasons, including the following:
- Vinyl is the first hand copy of the original sound stored in the master record. This is a clear advantage over digital format.
- Analog sound is not as perfect as digital sound, which is something close to human ears.
- People love the skipping noise made by the stylus. The pops and crackles made my the turntable makes the sound warm and rich.
- People with good ears like to convert vinyl sound into digital format and find them better than MP3s.
- As the components of sound producing system function independently, you’ll get high-profile sound in result.
- You can actually touch the things where music has been stored, and operate the mechanism responsible for producing sound. It’s entirely a different experience when you slid the record out of its sleeves, place it onto the turntable and put the needle on it. That’s more human than shuffling the playlist and tapping onto your favorite song.
All in all, difference between listening to vinyl record and MP3 players is just like reading vs. studying. It requires attention, and as you attend to the details, it takes you out of this world – for a at least half an hour.