So You Want To Get Into Vinyl?
Written By: Jarrett Crepeau
We all have that one friend that is really into collecting and listening to vinyl records. Some are really cool about it, and others are music snobs that insist on only listening to music “the right way.” Something about records has always interested me, and I recently decided to dive into this incredibly expensive hobby after a few weeks of research, and now that I’ve had my setup for about two months I thought I would share what I’ve learned and my experience.
For starters, people often state that vinyl is too expensive, too complicated, and too inconvenient. There is definitely some truth to this, but at the same record sales are booming, at some points over the last few years even outselling the digital market. Purists will also tell you that the sound quality is impeccable, and if you have the right equipment (more on that later) they are absolutely right. It’s an investment, an unforgiving one at that, so I highly recommend taking time and doing research. I started by learning how to actually play records. It's not as simple as getting a turntable, slapping a record in the center, and dragging the stylus onto it. You need a turntable which goes to the preamp, and then through the amp, and then through a set of speakers. I won’t get too wordy with the details, but learning what goes on while a record is spinning is a good place to start.
Next, I turned to Youtube looking for hardware recommendations. The first thing I saw was just about everyone telling me to avoid a Crosley “suitcase” player. Everyone has seen those artsy record players that open up and even come with their own speakers, usually for about a 60-80 dollar price tag. These record players are marketed towards teenagers and parents as a cheap way to get into vinyl, but the reality is that they are cheaply made, sound terrible, and will ultimately destroy your records. It’s not even just the audiophiles with set-ups well over a few thousand dollars telling you these things are absolute crap. Just do yourself a favor and don’t buy these - getting into vinyl may be expensive, but you don’t have to settle for something terrible when a decent set-up like mine is only about 200 dollars.
As for what I ended up purchasing, I went for a nice beginner turntable, the Audio-Technica LP60. Priced around 80-100 dollars, this turntable is highly regarded as the turntable for someone just wanting to start collecting and enjoying records. It can play normal LP’s and 45’s and comes with two speeds and a built-in preamp. Audio-Technica even have a video on their Youtube Channel that can walk you through the set up. For my speakers, I bought a decent pair of Edifier Speakers which were about 80 dollars. They aren’t the best speakers and I probably should have spent more money to get a higher quality pair, but they get the job done. I also ended up purchasing a rather cheap headphone amplifier as the speakers I bought didn't have a line in connection for headphone listening.
All in all, I would say that vinyl certainly isn’t for everyone. It's expensive and requires a certain amount of upkeep that’s unappealing to many. But I would recommend at least listening to a friend’s records browsing a local record store. There is plenty of help online if you ever want to jump in though. The two most helpful resources I used were Jarrett New’s Vinyl Eyezz Youtube channel and the Vinyl subreddit. Vinyl Eyezz is full of videos on how to start your vinyl journey, and the subreddit is a good place to ask real people whatever questions you may have as well as offering guides and helpful links.