Well, more like I am about to dip my toe into vinyl. It would be really easy to spend thousands of dollars getting into the medium, and I have no intention of doing that. I am looking at a 80 dollar Audio Technica turntable with built-in pre-amp and a 130 dollar set of JBL Active Bookshelf Speakers.
I have several reasons for wanting to get into vinyl. One, I want to have a beautiful, physical music collection. I have hundreds of digital albums, but very little to "hold on to". Also, I know it can be extremely rewarding to hunt thrift stores, used record stores, and yard sales for vinyl records. Two, I want my music listening to be a ritualistic, dedicated activity. I want to set aside time for just sitting and enjoying my music, instead of it being a secondary activity while I am driving or doing other things. Three, I want to cultivate more appreciation for albums in their totality, instead of individual songs. This is much easier to develop with vinyl records, when it is such a hassle to change tracks. Four, I want music appreciation to become a more active hobby for me. I don't think I will ever be an audiophile, but their is something appealing about all of options involved in customizing your personal turntable.
So, I was hoping to get a little bit of advice from anyone in the community who is in to the medium. Do you find vinyl to be a good medium for the kind of music we love? What has your experience been with collecting vinyl? How is your stereo system set up? How much of a hassle is it to care for and clean vinyl records? Can you recommend any good options for storing a record collection with little space?
Any help on the subject would be very appreciated!
Can't help with any of the more technical aspects but as far as "do i find vinyl a good medium for the music we love" goes i'd say : without doubt , it is by far the best.
I still have a very modest system up in the spare room and i still buy vinyl , it just sounds better , warmer and with more depth. Most new stuff comes out on vinyl nowadays (again !) and there's a world of 2nd hand joys to discover. Recently i got "Lullabies, Legends & Lies" by Bobby Bare and "Lovers" by Mickey Newbury for peanuts. Also , the art work is obviously much better and ............it's just much more fun all round !
Happy hunting !
I have pretty much the same setup that you're looking at (same turntable, different brand but similar speakers), and it's just fine for me. I'm not an audio snob, but you can definitely tell a clear difference with it. I'll upgrade in the future, but the turntable was an upgrade from the Crosley with on-board speakers that I had. It's a good starting point.
To address your questions, vinyl is THE BEST medium for the kind of music we love. With even just a decent set-up, you get more "atmosphere" from vinyl. Hearing the fingers scratch across the strings, the singer taking a breath, things like that. You rarely get that from digital (unless you're into FLAC). When you're actively listening to and appreciating the music, you really notice those things, and it makes the experience more intimate. On top of that, your collection is physical, which means you're the only one that can ruin/lose it. No file corruption/viruses/crashes to deal with.
It's no hassle to care for or clean. Just make sure to store the records upright. You can buy a cleaner and cloth at any record store for less than $10. Also, threaten to chop off the hands of anyone who touches your collection :-)
I have this for storage. It's suits me well. Records in the shelves and my turntable and speakers fit on top. You can fit about 40 records per slot.
One huge aspect of vinyl LPs that I really dig is the album art. In addition to the songs on vinyl, there is the album art to explore and gain a much deeper insight of the artist. I remember Juthro Tull's "Songs From the Wood" album art influenced my expectations of the music before I ever played it. Not only can you find awesome illustrations and photographs but many have detailed anecdotes about the bands creative and recording process, biographical information about the artist or band members, and lots of cool bits of info you just don't see anywhere else. There is just more room to tell a band's story. Don't forget the inside album sleeves, too. There's some very cool album art out there intentionally designed to more deeply engage you with the artist's music. Have fun.
Anyone who knows me probably knows I left the vinyl scene shortly after the debut of the iPod. I can't argue about the warmth and emotional feeling that a physical disc will give you. Of all the formats the industry has put out over and over, it's clearly the best. But for me, I love the portability and option to walk around with a couple thousand albums in my pocket. I like pushing buttons and I like headphones. Now that said, I do have the last 500 or so albums of what once was about a 15,000 LP collection still here in the apartment. I've got a Dual turntable, Shure V-15, JBL speakers and a monster pre-amp/receiver setup. At least once a year I'll fire it up. But today it so happens I stopped at a vinyl store on Bleeker St. and flipped through the stacks. Had a little time to kill. Was surprised at the pricing. It's fun to discover cool stuff but prices range from a few quarters for really scratched up plastic discs to $50 for relatively non-collectable albums. So I guess I'd suggest that you need to be careful about what you buy and from whom, and go with your heart and instincts rather than the Osborn Guide. (Do they still publish that?) To me, the cover art alone is pretty valuable. If you find a well kept scratch free recording, all the better. Have fun. (And I have always preferred crates.)
#1 Ensure you have enough space, it is an addicting hobby!
I have every floor/wall space and closet bottom, under beds and under stairways full of albums and still bringing them home!
I don't think you need to become an audiophile to get the most out of vinyl LPs, but it is worth a few bucks to get a good direct drive turntable with a decent cartridge, and run it through an amp and speakers that will give some range. I have two setups at home, the one in my den with my vinyl is an inexpensive Onkyo stereo with about 40 watts output, and two sets of JBL speakers, with a Yamaha turntable. It may not always be practical, but what I do as often as possible is get a CD and MP3 copy of a lot of the music I have on vinyl, for convenience. I recorded hundreds of vinyl albums to CD a few years ago. I listen to vinyl only a few times a week, usually albums that are old favorites. I recommend to someone new to LPs never storing them in cardboard boxes, on the floor, or where they might get exposed to sunlight. Buy plastic covers. I don't believe in using detergent on the discs, some do, I think it damages the labels and sinks the dust in. Use a blower or brush before and after every time the vinyl comes out of the jacket. Never let anyone borrow it, and treat it like something that might be around for a hundred years.
Do not tape a stack of pennies to the arm holding the needle. while it will work for a while, it will give new meaning to groove.
There are a lot of considerations in starting a vinyl collection:
1. New vs. Old: are you willing to purchase old vinyl with everyone's mistakes? How did the previous owner treat the LP?
Are there scratches? Are there finger prints?
2. Audio Quality: Vinyl LPs offer a warm quality in sound, but there is a "hiss" in the background. CD's offered a "clean"
sound, but lacked the "warmth" offered in vinyl. Today we have mp3 available but the sound quality available in both
vinyl and CD is missing.
3. Protective jackets: There are clear jacket covers available to place the LP jacket in that will protect the "artwork" of
the LP. They vary in quality and price. Consult with your local record store personnel.
4. Touch: In CDs and other digital sources the musical information is "read" by a light or sensor, whereas with vinyl
the musical information is retrieved by a needle, or stylus, and is related to the sound source (speakers) by a cartridge
containing a small microphone. These, too, vary in quality and price.
It's a lot to consider when entering into the vinyl media. But if you are a true music lover it's worth all the fuss.
After a little more research I have decided on this set up:
Admittedly, a very budget set up. Like I said though, dipping my toe first and then maybe a couple of years down the line I can do some upgrading.
I never quit collecting vinyl. I'm 27 years old so I came into the world at a time when cassettes were picking up steam. I had my own record player and a stack of records that I often played. I graduated onto cassettes and taping radio, etc, etc. Still I never got rid of my records or my old record player. I continued to buy records that appealed to me throughout the years. Thanks to a cassette player in my first car I went from CDs/mp3s/etc back to cassettes. Learned to deal with them again and learnt all the frusturation in trying to find specific songs. Bought a CD player/mp3 hookup for that car and never looked back.
I'd say it had to have been around 2009 or so that I actually started listening to my vinyl again. I went out not long after and upgraded my still working Fisherprice record player (played real records of course not play ones - played 45s and standard 12" ones) for a beauty for a little over $200 at Walmart. Has the record player, CD player, radio, and cassette player along with the ability to record any of the other formats to another format.
My collection promptly exploded. I went through and purged anything not in good condition. I came up with a prime rule. I will not buy a record unless I like at least 85% or more of the tracks on it. I also decided to stay away from 45s as they take up room, etc. My 45s collection is now going strong. (I blame Ryan Adams). Another rule I try to adhere to is to specialize in certain artists. I've spent a small fortune on Ryan Adams records including "Live After Deaf" which I was fortunate enough to buy direct from Ryan rather than from the inflated sellers on Ebay. Need "Rock N Roll" and "Love is Hell" to complete my 12" record collection of his. Still a lot of 45s to go. Getting off track here... I collect U2, Springsteen, Roger Miller, Jason Isbell, etc though none of my other collections are as near to being complete as my Ryan Adams one.
I don't tend to worry about cleaning my vinyl simply because I am so extremely careful of it. I try to buy new whenever possible. If I'm aiming to get first copies or just want a used copy cause I don't care either way, I only get records that are scratch free. I've had so many debates with people who say I'm too picky but... Oh well.
I use milk crates. I have one that's slotted especially for holding records. I also have a locked case I bought that holds my 45s fairly well. I don't play 45s as a rule cause I don't have the patience. If I buy something sealed (say at Record Store Day), I either buy two so I can listen to one once or I don't open the only copy I buy. Knowing how high in value some 45s can go - I sometimes get greedy and buy multiple copies. Not for resale. Just to own. I'm a nerd. For example - I got lucky on tumblr recently when I was bored and scanning Ryan Adams related posts. Came across a link to Ryan's store where they had some extra copies of a rare 45 he was selling on (I believe it was only the UK - could be wrong) tour. Bought three of them. I figure also that with some items being so rare it's best to have extras of what you can get in case an opportunity to trade comes up.
Wait until your first record show. I missed last year's (of our local one) because I mixed the dates up. This might have been a good thing because I spent around $200 at the last one I attended. Mainly in Bob Dylan items (not vinyl as I haven't been lucky enough to pick any up) though I did score a couple of Ryan Adams singles and a Traveling Wilburys double album that I had been looking for. Might have been some Gram Parsons too - can't remember.
Record Store Day is even worse (more glorious) for me. I easily spend in the range of $100 - $175 or so. That doesn't include the records I have to hunt down on Ebay. Just realizing how much I spent this year. Oh. It had to have been just shy of $300. I'm worse than I thought! Especially since that doesn't include the many Ryan Adams records (really filled out my 45s this year) or Roger Miller records I bought. (sigh)
Take that as a warning. I usually only ever try to pay $5 or less for vinyl (usually less than a $1 even - got a Springsteen live collection in pristine condition for $1 this year at a yard sale) but once you get into specialized collections or the temptation of Record Shows or Record Store Day... It can be an expensive hobby.
You're right though. It's too easy to reduce music to something that is listened to while doing something else. Despite my rabid purchasing this year, I haven't listened to much vinyl myself this year. From being sick to being extremely busy with other things, I just haven't made the time. I still have a stack of Roger Millers, a couple of Beatles records, an Emmylou Harris, the Springsteen Live collection, a Gram Parsons 45, and various others waiting for me. Had planned to spend time listening this long Thanksgiving weekend despite my ear infection. Definitely plan to hold myself to it.
The first listen I had of the Jason Isbell album was on vinyl, actually. I prefer this method for hearing music for the first time. Absolute silence. Lyrics. Record player. Undivided attention.
Welcome to the vinyl collecting ranks!
I love you.