I bought in to the resurgence of vinyl early. It was probably about 10 or 11 years ago that I was around my Mum and Dad’s house one Saturday afternoon – helping them put some stuff up in to the loft after a Spring clean when I caught site of my parents record collection – boxed up and waiting in line for attic banishment. Of course it made perfect sense – they had not had a turntable for some years but somehow it seemed wrong to be sending off every Beatles album to go and live with the Scalextric in the coldest, dampest room in the house.
Suffice to say the Beatles came home with me that day, as did The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, ELO, Elton John, Dire Straits and Roxy Music to name just a few. It was the soundtrack of a hundred family holidays… All I needed now was something to play them on. Who knew buying a record player was such a minefield!
Thankfully – the increase in popularity of turntables and vinyl in the last two or three years has made it easier (and cheaper) than ever to get started. So if you want to get serious about vinyl – or perhaps you just fancy a trip down memory lane with your parents old record collection, we have an option and budget to suit.
The All In One Player | From £70.00
Loads of these (often retro styled) all in one turntables have hit the market in the last year. With a built in amplifier and speakers this is a great budget friendly way to start your journey into analogue music. You only need to buy the record player and plug it in to get spinning records. Crosley appear to be leading the way in all-in-one units – available from places like Urban Outfitters and Amazon you can pick up a player for well under £100.00
On the downside – the audio quality of a system like this is not going to be as good as some more expensive alternatives – and part of the appeal of vinyl is the deep rich quality of the recordings. It’s a case of you get what you pay for and an all in one solution is always going to have an element of compromise. I suggest you have a look at all the options within your budget and try before you buy.
The Separates System | From £400.00
Here is where things get a little more complicated. If you are starting from scratch you’ll need 4 separate pieces of equipment in order to play a record: A record player (duh!), a stereo amplifier, a set of speakers and a phono stage. A phono what? I hear you say…
A phono stage is a piece of equipment that makes the technology of a record player work with a modern stereo amplifier. Because a record player is just a needle picking up vibrations from a groove it needs some extra amplification before it can be plugged into your stereo. The Phono stage is basically a box that connects the record player to the amplifier and it’s job is to boost the signal and make it strong enough for use with modern stereo equipment. I’ve put together a package consisting of Pro-ject record player, Pro-ject Phone Stage, Denon Stereo Amplifier and Denon Speakers, all sourced on Amazon for a total of £450.00
Buying old equipment might well appeal to you and can be picked up from eBay for fairly keen prices and if you can get hold of an old amplifier it will more than likely have a input ready for record players so no need to buy a phono stage. However, buying old electrical items can be more hassle than it’s worth. Reliability and maintenance costs could prove expensive and I would wholly recommend buying from a reputable shop or dealer… In short, there are bargains to be had through online marketplaces if you know what you are looking for but you could also easily get stung.
- If buying an all-in-one player make sure the description states built in amp and built in speakers… If the speakers aren’t built in then you’ll have to bring your own to the party.
- Before buying a seperates system check your existing stereo system to see if it has any auxiliary inputs. If it does then you might only need to buy a record player and phono stage to be able to play vinyl though your current stereo.
- If you decide to source vintage equipment check to see if you can still buy replacement needles for your record player.
Now you’ve got your system sorted you need to actually play something!
The good news is that more and more music is being released on vinyl. My preferred method is to ‘test out’ new music on Spotify or Soundcloud and when I find something really good, something I want to cherish and play in all it’s analogue glory… That’s when the bank card comes out and one of these three musical emporiums becomes a little bit richer.
A Sound Investment
So then, who has already taken that trip down vinyl memory lane? I would be really interested to hear about your analogue experiences and if anyone has any recommendations then please do share.
I currently have a Pro-ject record player – They make a lot of turntables to suit different budgets from the affordable to the very very very not affordable! I took the plunge and went with a separate amplifier, speakers and phono stage setup… But as I am well into my ‘home cinema’ (geek alert) I had the amplifier and speakers already… I know that Rock My Style’s Charlotte is currently looking at all-in-one systems but is currently yet to make a final decision as to which all-in-one player to go for…
Please do share your own experiences and I would be more than happy to answer any of your questions.