Thinking of buying a vinyl record player? Read my advantages and disadvantages from first hand experience.
Vinyl records are probably the least practical way of listening to music these days.
There’s a reason why vinyl records got less popular with the advent of portable formats (cassettes, CDs, mp3 etc).
Yet I have no regrets about my recent purchase of my Project Elemental vinyl player. Visit company website and get everything you need to make sure your sound is as best as possible.
Here are five reasons why vinyl records and vinyl players are better than digital music and other formats.
Going to a record store and flicking through the records is one of my favourite things to do in London.
Even if I’m not looking for anything particular, you never know what you might find. And when you do, you feel like doing a mini first pump. Like when I stumbled upon this 7 inch single The Last Thing You Forget by Title Fight.
Beautiful additional furniture
Not all vinyl record players are created equal. Some are just prettier than others. You can get those portable vinyl players which come in a suitcase from Urban Outfitters, but I’ve read they don’t last very long and can even damage your records. Someone from What Hi-Fi said they were gifted a cheap turntable and it ruined Christmas. There’s a reason why they are cheap I guess.
My Project Elemental was only £160. Okay, that’s double the price of some portable vinyl players, but I’ve read it’s the best budget vinyl player around. While it doesn’t have all the frills of the more expensive models, it’s better quality in terms of sound and build. In fact, I love it’s simplicity and minimalism. Even the rather basic drive belt. I chose a fiery red to give it a bit or personality.
Have a favourite album? Love the artwork of a particular album?
Vinyl records are almost three times the size of a CD, they look great displayed in your home. I have one displayed on my desk and my bookshelf.
Also, you can’t have your favourite artist sign your digital file now can you?
The experience and process of playing vinyls
Playing a song digitally is just a click away. Great if you’re time strapped.
But what about those lazy Sundays?
Selecting a vinyl from your collection, taking it out of its cover (carefully), placing it on the player and dropping the needle and waiting for it to find the first note. It’s also fascinating just watching the the vinyl spin around.
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Vinyl records will sometimes come in different styles and colours (they don’t just come in black) and there will be a few varieties pressed – once they’re gone, they’re gone. They also come in limited numbers, sometimes as few as a couple hundred for each colour.
It’s the equivalent of being the only one in the playground with a rare sticker (a shiny) when you did the whole sticker album thing. You have a collectors item.
And if you’re favourite record is sold out, it’s worth checking Discogs. But be prepared to pay a higher price (sometimes it’s worth it for your favourite album like Kississippi’s We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed.
Most vinyl records have a digital download code anyway so you have the best of both worlds!
Your favourite albums in one place
Not sure about you, but I easily forget albums.
Even if I’ve spent a month listening to it non stop, I’ll forget about it after a short break.
My Spotify playlists are a mess so digital music catalogues are worse when it comes to rediscovering great albums.
You’re most likely only going to buy your favourites on vinyl too, so you can keep track of the very best more easily.
-> If my life was a rom-com, this would be the soundtrack playlist
Vinyl records don’t come without their disadvantages however. Here are three disadvantages of vinyl records and vinyl players.
Can’t skip tracks
Okay, you can technically skip tracks. You’ll notice there are darker grooves which signifies the silence between tracks.
But apparently it’s not great for your records to just drop the needle mid groove, no matter how good your eye is, you’ll struggle to drop the needle bang on the silent line).
Vinyl records force you to listen to a record front to back like they were supposed to.
Artists put a lot of thought into the arrangement of tracks. The least you can do is sit there and listen to the songs in order.
There’s no shuffle mode and you can’t make playlists (which I adore) either of course.
New vinyl records can be anywhere between £10-20. I’ve found record shops to be more expensive (around the £15 mark), while online stores like Rakuten and WowHD are £11ish. Those get shipped from America and Canada but typically have the music I like, which can be difficult to find in record stores in the UK. Delivery takes around 10 days.
Vinyl players and their accessories aren’t cheap either. A decent preamp, amp and speakers can easily cost £300+ – then there’s the record player of course. Then parts and maintenance such as the needle have to be replaced in time.
Can’t fall asleep/need to flip
I love falling asleep to music. This can be done with vinyl, provided you sleep during side A. That gives you about five tracks to reach the land of nod.
After that, you’ll need to flip to side B. This can be annoying if you’re lazy like me. You’ve just gotten comfy in your snuggie on the sofa and you need to get up. Sigh. And if you have a manual record player like the Project Elemental opposed to automatic, you’ll have to stop the player manually or it’ll just keep spinning forever.
7 inch singles are the worst, just like sex it’s all over too quickly.
-> Stuck on repeat – new music playlist
Vinyl record problems
Maybe it’s because I’m a huge worrier in general, but there are several things that worry me about vinyl records.
- Touching the vinyl anywhere except the edges. The natural oils from your fingers can wear down the vinyl after time.
- Keeping my record player and vinyls dust free.
- Forgetting to remove vinyls from the record player when I’m finished listening.
- Warping of vinyls/heat of my room during winter/not storing vinyls properly (don’t stack!).
- Ripping vinyl covers and protective sleeves (please don’t drop your vinyls into their sleeve as I’ve noticed tears!)
- Stopping the record player and forgetting to lift the needle and it makes that horrible screeching sound like the singers dying (I’ve done this so many times already).
And as for vinyl sounding better than digital? There are millions of arguments for and against out there. But for the average listener like me, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
My record player set up
If you are considering buying a record player, you’ll need preamp to connect your record player to your speakers. I bought the Behringer PP400 preamp which had great reviews on Amazon and it’s pretty cheap too. More than a year and it’s still working, can’t fault it!
And if you need a speaker, I splashed out on the Marshall Kilburn. It looks great, like a mini guitar amp, has Bluetooth functionality and is wireless with great battery life.
What To Consider When Buying A Record Player
A record player, also known as a turntable or phonograph, is an analog audio device that plays vinyl records. It is a great addition to any home entertainment system for music lovers who appreciate the warm sound and vintage feel of vinyl records. If you are considering buying a new record player, there are several factors to consider before making your purchase. In this article, we will discuss some of the key things to consider when buying a new record player.
- Types of record players
There are two main types of record players: manual and automatic. Manual record players require the user to manually place the tonearm and needle onto the record and manually lift it off when the record has finished playing. Automatic record players, on the other hand, use a mechanism to automatically place the needle onto the record and lift it off when the record has finished playing. Manual record players are generally considered to be more precise and produce better sound quality, but they require a bit more skill to operate.
- Drive systems
There are three types of drive systems used in record players: belt drive, direct drive, and idler wheel drive. Belt drive turntables use an elastic belt to connect the motor to the platter. This helps reduce vibrations and noise from the motor, resulting in better sound quality. Direct drive turntables have the motor directly connected to the platter, which provides more torque and faster start-up times. Idler wheel drive turntables use a rubber wheel that connects the motor to the platter. This type of drive system is less common and generally considered to produce lower sound quality.
- Speed and pitch control
Most record players have two speeds: 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM. Some higher-end models also have a 78 RPM speed for older records. Pitch control allows the user to adjust the speed of the record slightly to match the pitch of other music sources. This can be useful for DJing or mixing records.
The tonearm is the part of the record player that holds the cartridge and needle that reads the grooves of the record. It should be well-balanced and have adjustable counterweight and anti-skate controls to ensure the needle tracks the record properly and produces good sound quality. Some record players have a straight tonearm, while others have a curved tonearm. A curved tonearm helps reduce tracking error and produces better sound quality.
The cartridge is the part of the record player that holds the needle or stylus that reads the grooves of the record. There are two main types of cartridges: moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC). MM cartridges are more common and generally less expensive. They produce a warmer, more mellow sound. MC cartridges are more expensive and produce a more detailed, accurate sound. They require a phono preamp with higher gain to operate properly.
- Phono preamp
A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage or phono amplifier, is a device that amplifies the signal from the cartridge and equalizes the frequency response of the record. Some record players have a built-in phono preamp, while others require an external phono preamp. External phono preamps generally produce better sound quality and allow for more flexibility in adjusting the sound.
The platter is the part of the record player that the record sits on. It should be heavy and well-balanced to reduce vibrations and provide a stable platform for the record to play on. Some record players have a platter that is made of acrylic or glass to provide better sound quality.
- Dust cover
A dust cover is a protective cover that goes over the record player to keep dust and debris from getting onto the record and the components of the record
player. Some record players come with a dust cover, while others require a separate purchase. A dust cover can help prolong the life of the record player and keep it looking clean and new.
- Brand reputation and customer reviews
When buying a new record player, it is important to consider the brand reputation and read customer reviews. Look for brands that have a good reputation for producing quality audio equipment and read customer reviews to see what other users have experienced with the specific model you are considering. This can help you make an informed decision and avoid any potential issues.
Record players can range in price from less than $100 to thousands of dollars. It is important to set a budget before you start shopping and stick to it. Keep in mind that a higher price does not always mean better sound quality. There are plenty of quality record players available at a range of price points.
There are several accessories that can enhance the performance and enjoyment of your record player. These include:
- Record cleaning kit: This kit includes a brush and cleaning solution to help keep your records clean and free of dust and debris.
- Record sleeves: These sleeves protect your records from dust, scratches, and other damage.
- Record clamp: A record clamp helps hold the record in place on the platter, reducing vibrations and improving sound quality.
- Headphone amplifier: If you want to listen to your records with headphones, a headphone amplifier can help provide better sound quality and volume.
- Speakers: While some record players have built-in speakers, external speakers can provide better sound quality and a more immersive listening experience.
Buying a new record player can be a fun and exciting experience, but it is important to consider several factors before making your purchase. Consider the type of record player, drive system, speed and pitch control, tonearm, cartridge, phono preamp, platter, dust cover, brand reputation and customer reviews, budget, and accessories when making your decision. By taking the time to research and compare different models, you can find the perfect record player to suit your needs and enjoy the warm, vintage sound of vinyl records for years to come
What are your advantages and disadvantages of buying and using vinyl records and players? Tell me in the comments section below.