5 Tips for Choosing Your Turntable

Vinyl Continues to Move Music Lovers

You’ve seen them in the bookstore and perused the delicious discs online, but what does it take to bring that coveted 12-inch home for a good listen? Baby audiophiles, those just starting out in the vinyl realm, need only know a few things to get started. Don’t go round and round about which turntable may be best for you. Check out these five tips to achieve a quality audio system.

The Basics

It may still be a niche market, but sales are slick for vinyl records, which are up 32% in 2015, a 28-year high according to Fortune magazine. Here’s some insider info so the salesman won’t think you’re a newb and overcharge you.
A turntable is made of a base (plinth if you want to sound smart); the platter on which the coveted record sits, the tonearm that swings from the base and gently places the needle on the record. The needle is currently called a stylus and it sits in a cartridge. Caring for your needle, and your records, will give you years of enjoyment from your new turntable.

The Cost

You can put down about $100 for a turntable at most big box stores to play any old, or new, record and get a good sound. If you want to impress family and friends, settling on a turntable in the $300 to $500 range can get you a nod of respect from average audiophiles.

Precision is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Many former turntable owners can tell you they fixed a bumpy record with a bit of sticky tape and a perfectly placed penny on the suspending tonearm.

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The Extras

USB or non-USB, that’s up to you. USB is the latest feature to allow you to record that new vinyl sound directly from your favorite record before you’ve worn down the grooves from constant play or scratched it from too many jumps from song to song. This is a life saver for those who buy records to record mixed tapes to give to friends, but it’s not crucial.

The Amps

Once you get your turntable home and plug it in, you may realize that you have nothing to plug it into. Most low-end turntables will need a pre-amp, unless your budget turntable has a built-in pre-amp. Look for phono input on your source selector switch, otherwise pony up some bills for a pre-amp, which can run about $50.

The Care

What have you gotten yourself into? After buying a turntable, and subsequent vinyl collections, you will also need to care for your equipment. Neglected turntables are often victims of latent household dust, as are their waxy companions. Invest in a simple microfiber cloth and sweep it over your records, across the platter and over and under the hood of your treasured new turntable. Never introduce household cleaners or tap water to your fresh music buddy, or you’ll muddle the integrity of its crisp, tech foundation.

To quote Corinne Bailey Rae, the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. Don’t you hesitate. A turntable will amp up your audio enjoyment.

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