Vinyl Resurgence 2 Higher end turntables and looking after your vinyl.
Many of our readers will know much of this but we hope you still find it interesting.
There are many types of turntable designs but the most obvious differences are the way in which they are driven or turned. For a DJ the most important ingredient is a quick stop/start and so most turntables that derive from the DJ market tend to be direct drive. This means the motor drives the main platter by a series of cogs or gears. This is a proven and reliable method of doing the job but is not the best suited toward the domestic listener.
Belt drive turntables appear simple but their simplicity is a good thing. When the motor starts to wear and in a direct-drive turntable would transmit vibrations into the platter; a belt will filter those away and keep the platter vibration free. Belts might wear but they are cheap and easy to replace. That’s why almost all of the turntables on the market use drive belts. Simple is usually best.
Another difference is the nature of the turntables approach to vibration. The Sondek above uses a three point floating suspension. This means that the platter and tone-arm are de-coupled from the plinth and motor assembly and are in fact only connected by the belt. This sub-chassis based design is favoured by LINN, Thorens, Project, Girodek and many others both current and from the past.
Turntables light the Rega range are more rigid and use compliant feet or other methods of decoupling to prevent vibration from getting into the playback system. Sometimes (particularly in rooms with wooden floors) a turntable wall-shelf is the very best solution.
Most turntables we sell come as packages; fitted with a tone-arm and a choice of cartridges to suit the turntable and offer a solution that will product good results. More high end turntables however come in a wide range of costs and performance options and it can be hard to choose which combination to select.
In our experience the turntable (motor unit – the bit that rotates) is the most important ingredient in the mix. We have found that a really good motor unit with a simple but inexpensive arm will usually outperform a basic deck with a massively expensive arm and cartridge. Since turntables last years and years with very little maintenance, investing in a good motor unit will give you great sound and provide a basis on which you can upgrade.
The upgrade will usually be a better tone-arm. Once this has been achieved then a better cartridge will complete the package. Following this order will almost always provide the greatest return on investment.
Vinyl and taking care of it
New vinyl is expensive so purchasing used vinyl can be a great way to expand your collection and quest new musical horizons. Vinyl is a lot tougher and more hard wearing than people think. A good tip is to look at the vinyl itself; if it shines then there is a pretty good chance it will be in good condition. If it is dull don’t write it off but look elsewhere if it is likely to be easily found again. If it is covered in scratches and gouges then forget about it unless it is dirt cheap.
You can always use a cleaning machine to make sure the vinyl is restored to the best condition. Record cleaning machines are about if you search. Good record shops tend to have them. Rare and Racey in Sheffield have a record cleaning machine and charge a pound a record. Well worth it too.
If your vinyl is mostly clean we’d suggest a carbon fibre brush to keep dust and static off your records. Nothing else is required except a stylus cleaner.
“But is it worth it with the state of my records?”
This is a question we get asked often and the answer is mostly yes; emphatically if you’ve been reasonably careful with your records. The reason for this is signal to noise ratio; which isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Put simply a better turntable has a better signal to noise ratio and this means you get more music AND often less noise. That isn’t to say you’ll never hear any surface noise BUT a better turntable will deal with it far better; just in the same way a car with a better suspension can cope with a bumpy road.
In the last ten years massive improvements have been made in record player technology, even before the vinyl resurgence got started. Even leading experts and engineers maintain that we are still not getting all the information from the groove and that makes the future of vinyl exciting.
We will gladly talk you through the best way of getting more from your vinyl (or any other aspect of getting better sound at home) either in person, on the phone or by email. We are also happy to consider trading-in your existing equipment. We will value it and then offer you that amount against the equipment of your choice. We rarely refuse any item we have sold in our 35 year history unless it has been damaged or cared for badly. We will of course consider equipment not purchased from us as well and we always try to be fair on price. Contact us to get a valuation on anything you might be considering improving.
Independent record shops are fantastic places to find vinyl. They’re small business who care about their customers and look after them. Those that don’t usually disappear up their own tailpipes.
Here are a few in South Yorkshire
Please let us know about any more you can recommend wherever you are located so we can share.