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How to Find a Quality Turntable to Play Your Favorite Vinyl Records

How to Find a Quality Turntable to Play Your Favorite Vinyl RecordsSo you’ve decided that vinyl records are for you.

Great, but if you want to have the best listening experience possible, you can’t just buy any old turntable and expect it to deliver quality results. You need to invest in gear that’s going to help maximize the enjoyment of your music (and that goes for preamps and speakers too, not just the turntable). After all, you’re going to pay a lot more for a record than for a digital download.

Here are some tips on how to find a quality turntable to play your vinyl records on.

Look at the Price

Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s good. But if you know what you’re looking for, you’re almost always going to get a better piece of equipment for more money rather than less. Be prepared to spend more if you’re looking to get more enjoyment out of your records.

Here’s a basic breakdown of price range and the quality of turntable you can expect to get:

  • $500 or less: you can get a basic, decent quality turntable for $500 or less. You’ll have the choice between an automatic and manual player, though purists prefer manual. If your speakers do not have a turntable input, you’re going to have to consider alternative solutions, such as a USB turntable, or one with a built-in phono preamp.
  • $500 to $1,000: it’s safe to say you will get a better turntable in the $500 to $1,000 range than you would for less, as they typically have better construction and quality parts.
  • $1,000 or more: the best quality turntables cost $1,000 or more, and offer the best sound quality. Basically, they reduce vibrations to eliminate unwelcome resonance.

Look at the Specs

A record player’s specs don’t necessarily have anything to do with its overall sound quality. But they can still provide a worthwhile reference point for what to look for.

Here are a few items to watch for, and what they mean:

  • Speed variation: for optimal sound, you want your record to turn at a consistent speed. Wow and flutter or speed variation tells you how accurate your record player is. The lower the number, the better the record player. In an ideal world, it would be less than 0.25%.
  • S/N ratio: also known as signal-to-noise ratio, this spec tells you how much background noise you can expect on any given turntable. You would think that the lower the number, the better, but it’s actually the opposite. You want the music to overpower noise. So 65dB or above would be a good number to look for.
  • Playback speeds: this refers to the rotation speed for the record. In most cases, the spec will be 33-1/3 and 45 RPM. But if you’re looking to play 78 RPM records, new turntables typically can’t handle that speed, so you’ll need to look for a different player.

Look at the Reviews

Finally, there are plenty of people out there that have done their homework and have experimented enough to know what’s good and what isn’t. Whether it’s blog posts or reviews on Amazon, you can find plenty of information on what to look for in a turntable.

Throwing a Vinyl Listening Party You Won’t Soon Forget

Throwing a Vinyl Listening Party You Won’t Soon ForgetHave you ever heard of album listening parties? It’s where you gather together with friends to listen to a new music release.

In an increasingly connected world, you don’t hear about these types of parties as much anymore. Anyone can open up their favorite streaming app and start listening to the latest album by their favorite artist without ever leaving the comfort of their own home.

But there is something to be said for the shared experience of listening to an album for the first time with your friends.

And when it comes to listening parties, there is no better medium to use than vinyl. So here are some tips on how to host a vinyl listening party you won’t soon forget.

Decide How It’s Going to Work

Set the ground rules beforehand. For example, if there are a specific number of songs you want to listen to at the party (i.e. side A of the record), decide on the playlist in advance. If no one should talk while listening, let everyone know. If you want it to be the first time everyone in attendance has listened to a particular album then give them a head’s up that they shouldn’t listen to that release until the day of the party.

It’s your party, so you can decide on what you want to do. It might seem anti-party to make rules, but having a basic structure can heighten the listening experience.

Check Your Gear

Is your turntable working? How about your speakers? Is the record ready to go? Nothing will put an end to your party sooner than faulty gear. If you can’t get your setup to work, you could always opt to stream the album instead, but that’s not going to be quite as special.

Invite Your Friends

Choose who you want to invite. Some people will enjoy the music and the experience. Others may not. It’s nice to have a diverse perspective, from music buffs and musicians all the way over to casual fans and hobbyists.

Again, this is your party. You don’t have to invite anyone that you don’t want to. Also see the previous section on “Decide How It’s Going to Work.” If you don’t want people criticizing the music, that’s your choice. Let them know.

Have a Conversation

Is any vinyl listening party complete without a discussion following the listening of the album? Well, that’s for you to decide, but oftentimes this is the best part.

You can analyze the music, the gear that was used, as well as the musicians that contributed, the lyrics, the meaning of the songs, and so on. If you don’t want it to escalate into a heated debate, then decide on what topics to talk about in advance. You might say something like, “let’s talk about the technical aspects of the music as opposed to whether or not you liked it.”

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, a party is all about having fun. So be creative, and come up with some ideas. Incorporate food and drinks, or perhaps some games. You could even discuss trivia connected to the music or the band. Make it fun, and make it participatory.