Turntable and Record Player advice

My wife mentioned she wanted a turntable for Christmas. However, a bit more inquiry determined that she doesn’t want a turntable for our media rooms stereo, but rather something she can use to play records in her new home office.

Now, never mind that a mini-stereo or record player isn’t going to provide better audio than CDs. She just thinks it would be cool and nostalgic, and some artists she likes are releasing on vinyl.

So I’m thinking of making two purchases here:

  1. A small stereo or record player with turntable for her office.
  2. A nicer turntable for our mid-range stereo in our media room. (But not one of these $2,000 jobs – our stereo’s not THAT good, a $500 Onkyo receiver. :) USB would be nice so I can rip the records before they inevitably scratch or pop…

Anyone purchased anything along these lines recently?

If you can swing it, the Pro-Ject debut III may be your best bet for “damn good for the money” They make a standard one which goes for about $350 and the USB version is $479.

I am currently using a sub-$100 Sony USB turntable and desperately want to jump up to a Pro-Ject within the next year.

Pro-Ject is good! My Music Hall MMF-5 is licensed from Pro-Ject.

I don’t associate USB turntables with quality. If you have a good sound card and your receiver has a phono stage, I would connect the receiver’s line out (i.e., its tape out or minidisc out or whatever it’s labeled) directly to the sound card. That’s what I do, and I rip vinyl very often with great results.

Oh, software removal of clicks and crackle has taken a giant leap forward with a program called ClickRepair. 21-day free trial when I downloaded it a few months back.

So anyway, that belongs with your main stereo. Your wife’s office turntable is a bit more challenging, because she will need a phono stage somewhere in there. If she wants mainly nostalgia, you guys might look at Crosley products, which are made to look like old 1940s/50s equipment. I think TEAC makes one like that, though, and since TEAC is a real electronics company I would probably gamble on that over Crosley.

Even modern non-USB turntables will frequently have pre-amps built in so all you need is line level inputs.

If I ever win the lottery, I’m getting a McIntosh:

Until then, I have a Rega:

Sounds very good, looks nice…only $350-400. I bought it cuz Stereophile highly recommended it and I’ve been extremely pleased with it.

The Pro-ject’s are nice, if I didn’t have the Rega I’d probably get one. Please god, don’t waste your money on a USB deck. I’ve yet to hear a good one.

I’d like to point out that when I rip vinyl (limited edition of 30 and no mp3s? jerk punk bands!) even though I have a USB turntable, i just use my line in on my sound card. So I own a USB turntable and don’t use the USB portion of it.

I really don’t understand people purchasing vinyl. Boggles my mind.

At this point it’s purely a fashion statement.

That’s mostly how I see it too.

The only exceptions would be people who already have old albums (seriously these people should transfer them to digital copies!) and music that is only released on vinyl, which from what little I’ve heard is actually happening again. This also boggles my mind.

It’s not quite as simple as that. There’s plenty of bands that had shitty CD releases that were mastered way better on vinyl - a quick spin of any SST Husker Du album will easily convince you of that.

Plus, I’m not entirely sure that the incredible portability of today’s music is a net positive. God knows I love my iPod Touch, but I used to have a much different relationship with music than I do now. As a teen, I would pore over record covers and lyric sheets, and devote my whole attention to a record. For any number of reasons, I don’t do that now - if I’m alone in my apartment, I’m playing a game or watching a movie. Music has become something that I listen to at work as background, or in transit on the bus. I’m not convinced that’s better.

Also making a comeback is cassette tapes.

Some bands have been releasing videos on VHS.

Someone put out a wax cylinder recording to go with some HP Lovecraft thing as well.

I buy vinyl because I like punk (and other “underground”) music. Punk music is routinely only released on vinyl. If I have a choice between vinyl or CD, I’ll usually choose vinyl.

As a teen, I would pore over record covers and lyric sheets, and devote my whole attention to a record.

Same. I think it makes me appreciate music less tragically. It becomes wallpaper rather than something really engaging. Music has to be phenomenal to break through that routine and make me want to dig it out of the compartmentalized shell to examine it more fully. In one way it’s kind of sad, but in another way I get to listen to a hell of a lot more music now than I did as a teenager.

I think that’s more a question of changing tastes, time and getting older. Not a function of the format of the music.

These are all idiotic choices by the bands. I can see doing some of these in addition to CD or digital releases but to only release on vinyl is just artificially limiting your market.

If I have a choice between vinyl or CD, I’ll usually choose vinyl.

Why, you like being a hipster?

Personal preference.

It is probably a hold over when I was an EDM DJ and 99% of my music purchases were on vinyl so I could spin music at parties / raves / etc. I started to incorporate more and more non"dance" music into my sets but due to the limitations of many club set ups, I had to hunt them down on vinyl (this was before the explosion of Ableton Live and CDJs). So probably habit.

A lot of a musical purchase is more than just the rational “I like X Music, I want X Music in X Format.” For me, it’s trying to capture in some physical tangential way how music makes me feel in my brain. I get more of a connection, a physical connection, through vinyl than I do through CDs or MP3s.

just artificially limiting your market.

This usually comes as a shock to people, but there are some bands and musicians who don’t care about markets and just want to make and play music doing so out of a love of music and a drive to be creative.

Then why spend money pressing vinyl? They can release online for a fraction of the cost, pressing CDs is also a hell of a lot cheaper than vinyl, why even bother releasing anything at all?

I can understand wanting to be creative, I can understanding wanting to share your creative works. I can’t understand choosing to severely limit who can consume your creative works if your choose to share it. These are people attempting to be elitists.

Well, some of it is that I don’t have the endless amount of free time I had as a teenager, sure. But vinyl forces you to be in one location to listen to it - you can’t play your records in the car, or on the bus. You have to be stationary, so it encourages people to pay more attention.

Eric P. underscored the trade-off. As a teenager, I had to be very very careful about my music purchases. I wasn’t made of money, so I had a closer relationship with my vinyl because I listened to them over and over and over. I know every note, every nuance of the first Violent Femmes record, or The Queen Is Dead, or London Calling in a way that I simply do not experience now.

Why release physical books?

Maybe, but vinyl is fun. Sure, you can download your music from Amazon or iTunes or whatever, but some of us would rather have the new Weekend EP look like this:

It’s a hell of a lot more involving than just another sterile transaction with Apple.

First I’m not arguing physical vs digital, I’m arguing against an out dated and difficult to get media and media player. A better comparison would be zip disks or reel tapes vs CD/DVDs.

Additionally, physical books is still the most popular way such content is consumed, it isn’t an outdated format (yet). I’d also argue there are few people who write purely for a creative outlet who then go to lengths to get their book physically published who have the sole intent of sharing their creative work. If all they want to do is share what they’ve created most are likely doing it online in some way.

CDs are an option you know. Again I’m not trying to present a digital vs physical debate, mostly just saying vinyl is outdated and there’s little rational reason to purchasing it.