Whether your grandfather make you the owner of his record collection or the love for vinyl struck you accidently, you need to understand the difference between the New and Old while shopping for the turntable for the first time. Turntable has a long history, so it is quite difficult to determine by the look of the model whether it’s worth spending or it will cause you 33HPM (headaches per minute). But every trick has a solution, so this one’s also has a way out, if you follow the rules mentioned in this post.
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Rule #1: You’re Not Going to get it for Free
Thinking to stop by at a garage sales or a theft store and get lucky? Well the prices displayed by used record shops and theft stores are certainly worth paying a visit. Keeping in mind: what appears to be ready for the taking may not necessarily be ready for the playing. When you buy used record players, don’t just fall for the looks, identify what’s under the hood.
Most of the vintage turntables displayed at this places are probably 20 years old, or perhaps more than that. An they’re not going to get any younger. Typically, these record players have one or all of the following issues:
- Worn stylus
- Problem with the motor
- Speed issues
- Problem with the weight
- Problem with alignment
- Stretched or worn out belts
- Failing (or failed) mechanics
- And other wears and tears described by their previous owners.
So, the point is, you have to think about the quality and condition of the turntable while purchasing it. If you do take interest in any of the oldies, think about the work and expenses it will require to get back to its shape (well not entirely). High-performance vintage turntables are like gold in the sand. Most of the time they end up giving you headaches rather than pleasurable music. Why is it so?
Turntable mechanism has some delicate points that are meant to be in direct contact with the records. Then there are other components that affect the sound quality quite easily. As the record spins on the platter (the first component) the stylus (second component) runs over it. These are in direct contact with the record, and if they’re not in proper shape, there’s no need for anything to damage your favorite album.
A platter with alignment and spinning issues and a worn out stylus can make scratches, even cracks in your record. The spinning motor may have vibration issues that causes inappropriate pressure. As a result, not only the sound quality will be affected, but there’s a high chance of damages.
So, if you seem interested in vintage model, make sure you get the needle serviced or replaced by a professional before using the turntable. You also need to search the right person to fix the model; otherwise you’ll be wasting your money.
After all the expenses and replacements, what seemed like a good purchase at $50, will turn out to be a $200 machine, and you can always get a new one within this price range. The point is, for a good listening experience, you need to spend a little more than your budget as one-time investment.
Rule #2: All Turntables Are Not Equal
It is a reality that some vintage turntables do sound better than some modern-day models. Such as a small TLC has far better sound than a $150 turntable of the present. But that doesn’t mean you should buy a turntable where you often buy jeans from.
The Cheap Models
Some modern day turntables (the cheap ones) have all-plastic design and the parts are glued. That means:
- If you want to replace the cartridge or find someone to service these turntables, you may not succeed.
- You’d have already comprised over sound quality, given that the cheap-built cannot support high precision sound.
- Most of them have shorter tonearms and the anti-skate is absent as well, more than enough to damage your records.
So, keep away from those retro aesthetic turntables that will make you disappointed.
Should You Go For the High-Profile Ones Then?
Okay, so you have a large budget and you’re after those priced commodities, like Linn LP-12 or Thorens TD-124 and many others. They have no such performance issues, but you’ll find them less than your expectations given that you’ve paid so much for them. These items are normally overpriced because:
- Most of the audiophiles are after them
- There are some overwhelmingly positive online reviews about them, all to make leave you in a fix after you’ve bought and played them, and experienced the sound by yourself.
In the past few years, there has been a lot of advancements and improvements in turntables with sound quality being subjective. The labor cost isn’t as high as it used to be 20 years ago. Add computerized engineering into it and you get a fairly priced turntable that offers a really good value for money.
So, you can get your hands on entry-level turntables, such as Pro-Ject, at $300. It produces natural and crystal clear sound that you cannot listen with older turntables.
Rule #3: What’s Important for You as a Starter?
For Vintage Models
There are some people who like to dig deep and spend on a used model, just to make it their own. But this doesn’t happen instantly, as they keep on searching for better components to extract the best sound out of their records. They learn with time and patience, and that’s what you can do too. There are some good models out there that have good sound quality. All they need is time and money to refurbish them.
For New Models
Modern-day record players are far more convenient and reliable. They also have a good life expectancy – 30 years life span, which is quite long. Then, at your local record shop, you have an option to try a few yourself before purchasing the right mechanism. So, as long as you’re willing to make a long term investment, the new turntable models are ideal for you.