Sasha

Best Turntables under $500

Best Turntables Under $500 in 2021

Looking for a good turntable in 2021 can seem like a daunting task. There are hundreds if not thousands of models available on the market. Thank you vinyl renaissance. So how do you go about picking the best record player for you?

This post covers popular turntable models that cost under $500 USD and are brand new. What if you are completely new to the vinyl hobby and aren’t sure what to look for? Make sure to check out this very detailed beginner’s guide to turntables. It will guide you in the right direction.


Table Of Contents

Making a list of best turntables isn’t an easy task. Some folks are looking for the best looking turntables, other might be looking for a DJ turntable. Some people are really excited about a belt drive turntable while others want a direct drive. How can you possibly put all of these different pieces of equipment in a single list? Here is how I did it.

I spent loads of time analyzing different resources available online. I saved lists of “best turntables under $500” from many reputable websites such as WhatHiFi, TheVinylFactory and many others. Also I’ve studied dozens of threads posted in online communities on Facebook, Reddit and AudioKarma – all about best turntables within this specific budget. With all this information I was able to realize that about 15 of the same turntables were being talked about everywhere.

Based on how often the record player was recommended, I gave it a rating. The higher that rating, the higher the turntable is on the list.

#1. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Evo turntable
  • US Version comes with the more expensive Sumiko Rainier. The rest of the world gets Ortofon’s 2M Red cartridge.
  • The playback speed (33-45-78RPM) is electronically controlled assuring precision and stable speeds.
  • Dampened resonance and much quieter turntable is ensured by a heavy 1.7kg platter made out of steel and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer).
  • Comes in many different colors. Handmade in EU.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is an audiophile turntable at an affordable price. There are so many details that make this piece of equipment special. It start with an 8.6″ one-piece Carbon Fiber tonearm. Pro-Ject claims that their super stiff, but lightweight tonearm delivers an insane sound quality. The turntable comes with height adjustable heavy-duty metal feet to ensure a level positioning on every surface.

You should note that the Debut Carbon EVO does not feature an inbuilt phone preamp. However this should be expected from any audiophile turntable, especially at this cost. Lastly, did you know that the word EVO in the name of this product stands for “evolution?”

The typical price for Debut Carbon is usually around $499 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#2. U-Turn Audio – Orbit Plus

Orbit Plus turntable
  • Ortofon OM5E cartridge with elliptical diamond stylus.
  • Acrylic platter provides improved speed consistency and clearer,Acrylic platter provides improved speed consistency and clearer playback.
  • Precision OA2 gimbal tonearm for accurate tracking and low distortion. Features internal anti-skate and adjustable counterweight.
  • Designed and assembled in Woburn, MA, USA.

Orbit Plus by U-Turn Audio is a minimal and gorgeous turntable. This record player is available 6 different colors so you can really pick one that fits your styling. The external belt drive eliminates motor noise and ensures speed consistency. This model doesn’t come with an inbuilt phono preamp so you need to keep that in mind.

Although U-Turn Audio was only founded in 2012, the company has managed to built quite a reputation in USA and Canada. All of the turntables sold by U-Turn are assembled in USA and most of the parts come from American suppliers.

The price for an Orbit Plus is usually around $290-$310 USD

Check current price on Amazon.


#3. Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB turntable
  • Updated version of the already iconic AT-LP120, featuring a newer and better Direct-drive motor.
  • AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with elliptical stylus.
  • USB output allows you to connect directly to your computer and digitize your vinyl records.
  • Switchable built-in phono preamp.

Audio-Technica is a Japanese company that designs and manufactures professional audio equipment since 1960’s. I own a pair of their headphones (ATH-M50X) and can’t get enough of them. Listening to music while walking around town, using them for DJing or simply relaxing at home and listening to vinyl. However, this post isn’t about headphones.

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB might look familiar to you because it mimics the design of the world’s most famous Technics SL1200 turntable. When Matsushita Electric came out with the SL1200 in the 1970’s, they wanted to sell a high fidelity, reliable turntable. However, that model became very popular in clubs, discos and eventually with DJs. The SL1200 is still the most desirable turntable when it comes to DJing, thanks to its high torque motor,high quality parts and now a long reputation.

AT-LP120X certainly isn’t the SL1200 but it’s a very popular turntable for DJs and people who want a manual, high torque direct drive record player. It costs 4 times less than a new SL1200 (MK7) and it will work just as well for most people. This is one of the turntables that I would personally purchase if I was buying something brand new.

The typical price for AT-LP120XUSB is around $279 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#4. REGA – Planar 1

Rega Planar 1  turntable
  • Hand made RB110 tonearm comes with factory fitted Carbon moving magnet cartridge.
  • Ergonomically positioned on/off switch located on the underside of the plinth which by the way has a brand new matt finish for 2021!
  • Built-in RCA cables but no phono preamp – so you’ll need to get an external one.
  • Manufactured at the Rega facility in Essex, England.

Rega is claiming that the Planar 1 is the most user-friendly turntable the company has ever built. The preset bias force on the brand new RB110 tonearm make the Planar 1 set up a breath. Take the turntable out of the packaging, push the balance weight as far as it will go up the arm, remove the stylus guard and start playing your favorite record. That sounds tempting, doesn’t it?

Planar 1 has been a very popular piece of technology so Rega has been making adjustments, improving this record player while trying to preserve its reputation. Simple styling, super quick setup and audiophile level sound.

The typical price for REGA – Planar 1 is around $475 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#5. Pro-Ject Essential III

Pro-Ject Essential 3 turntable
  • Diamond-cut aluminum drive pulley, a resonance-optimized MDF main platter chassis and the high-precision platter bearing result in a high quality sound.
  • Comes with Ortofon OM10 phono cartridge mounted on a 8,6” aluminium tonearm.
  • Comes with a dust cover, 7″ adapter and a felt mat.
  • Manufactured in EU.

If you looked at the other turntables in this post, Debut Carbon, Planar 1, Orbit Plus – you might have known a trend. Very minimalist looking belt drive turntables seem to be dominating this list. To be honest I get it. Pre-Ject Essential III also looks very simply yet it packs a punch for anyone who values high quality sound.

Although the Debut Carbon EVO is higher on this list of popular turntables under $500, the Essential III doesn’t fall far behind. It’s cheaper, it looks amazing and it sounds great. The included Ortofon om10 is a good cartridge, although cheaper than the 2M Red or the Sumiko Rainier that comes with the Debut Carbon turntable. Just like the Debut Carbon this turntable also doesn’t feature an inbuilt phono preamp and you’ll need to buy that separately.

The typical price for Pro-Ject Essential III is around $399 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#6. Music Hall MMF-2.3

Music Hall MMF 2.3 turntable
  • Comes with the Music Hall Spirit moving-magnet cartridge with replaceable elliptical stylus (built by Audio Technica).
  • 8.6” carbon fiber tonearm with aluminum headshell.
  • Vibration damping adjustable feet.
  • Music Hall claims that their belt drive turntables are manufactured in the Czech Republic, by Pro-Ject Audio.

Music Hall markets the MMF 2.3 as an audiophile turntable at a budget price. This slogan is visible on their Amazon listings their own website and everywhere else. I think that the pricing just under $500 USD does make it quite affordable, in the AUDIOPHILE world that is. When some manufacturers try to sell “high-end” RCA cables at $5,000 a pop, a $500 record player does indeed sound very affordable.

Music Hall promises that they concentrated on the quality of sound and they have achieved it by using high quality components such as bearing, motor, and tonearm. Some users claim that included cartridge is not of very high quality and it should be the first item you upgrade on this turntable.

Detachable RCA cables are included with the Music Hall MMF 2.3 turntable however you’ll need to use an external phone preamp.

The typical price for Music Hall MMF-2.3 is around $495 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#7. Pioneer PLX-500

Pioneer PLX 500 dj turntable
  • Comes with a silver edition PC-HS01-S headshell (cartridge and stylus included).
  • USB output allows you to combine the turntable with Rekordbox DVS, a compatible DJ mixer and the RB-VS1-K Control Vinyl.
  • Switchable phono preamp is included.
  • Manufactured for in Taiwan.

Pioneer claims that their direct drive PLX-500 is simply a slimmed down version of the bigger and more professional PLX-1000. However we all know that similarly to Audio-Technica’s AT-LP120, the Pioneer’s PLX-500 is heavily inspired by the Technics SL1200.

No matter how you look at it the PLX-500 is a DJ turntable. Many consumers compare this turntable to the aforementioned Audio-Technica. The truth is that both items are very similar and built by the same manufacturer, Hanpin in Taiwan. Some say Pioneer feels just a little more sturdy hence justifying the higher price.

If both turntables were priced the same (often the vase in the second-hand market) I would go with Pioneer. This preference is based simply on my experience with Pioneer DJ gear. I’ve owned CDJ400, 1000MK3 and CDJ900s. DJM400, 800 and 900NXS so I simply trust the brand.

The typical price for the Pioneer PLX-500 is about $349 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#8. Denon DP300F

Denon DP 300 turntable
  • Fully automatic belt drive turntable, perfect for easy operation.
  • Designed with a heavier base construction that helps decrease vibrations, resulting in a clean sound.
  • Builtin switchable phono preamp.
  • Denon’s DSN-85 cartridge and stylus are included.

The biggest complaint that people have with the DP300F is the sound quality. The included DSN-85 cartridge seems to be rather average and cheap. A higher quality cartridge like the Shure M97xE or the Audio Technica AT440MLA are excellent options and will sound better, however this turntable is not made for audiophiles.

Let’s put it this way. If you want a turntable that looks cool, sound okay, is fully automatic and comes with an inbuilt preamp, this could be an option for you. If you mostly care about the sound quality then I’d suggest looking at other turntables on this list.

The typical price for a Denon DP300 is around $329 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#9. Pro-Ject T1

Project T1 turntable
  • CNC-machined plinth of the T1 features no plastic parts.
  • The glass platter is also a heavy, zero-resonance design.
  • Comes with a pre-adjusted Ortofon OM 5E Moving Magnet cartridge on a light aluminum 8.6″ tonearm.
  • Hand-made in Europe, like the other Pro-Ject turnatbles.

The Pro-Ject T1 is somewhat similar to the Essential III although it’s completely different at the same time. It shares some of the internal parts with the Essential (very quite bearing for examples) but the turntable itself looks completely different. This belt drive record player comes with a built-in phono stage and Bluetooth for wireless use.

Lots of folks use Bluetooth speakers and love this feature. However, when I think Bluetooth I think “delay” and “loss in quality”. I would only connect a turntable using wires but that’s a personal preference. The Pro-Ject T1 costs just a little more than the Essential III and just a little less than the Debut Carbon Evo. Which one would you pick if you went with Pro-Ject?

The typical price for the Pro-Ject T1 BT is around $449 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#10. Fluance RT85

Fluance RT 85 turntable
  • Features a heavy acrylic platter damps unwanted vibrations.
  • Comes with the Ortofon – 2M Blue MM Phono Cartridge.
  • DC Motor with Servo Controller Analyzes motor speed 500 times/sec.
  • No built-in phono preamp so you would need to use an external unit.

The Fluance RT-85 positions itself as an all-analog, high-fidelity turntable. To be honest, it’s getting hard to follow everyone’s language and labels these days. Is high-fidelity (Hi-Fi) turntable same as audiophile turntable? Anyway, the RT85 is of very high quality and it produces a warm, analog, clear sound.

The included 2M Blue cartridge would set you back at least $240 USD – that’s half of the cost of this turntable! A good cartridge with a decent stylus is just a part of the game. Fluance RT85 comes with under-mounted 7-point silicone isolation, isolated motor, solid wood plinth and many other details that result in a very high quality of sound at a very reasonable price. Oh, and did I mention the 2M Blue cartridge?

The typical price for the Fluance RT85 High Fidelity Turntable is around $499 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#11. Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP

AT-LP140 Audio-Technica turntable
  • Comes with a DJ-specific AT-XP3 cartridge with a conical stylus tip, attached to the AT-HS6BK headshell.
  • Target light for easier cueing in low light.
  • Manual direct drive turntable without an inbuilt preamp.
  • Manufactured at the Rega facility in Essex, England.

Remember how we talked about the Pioneer PLX-500 and AT-LP120 trying to copy the iconic SL1200? Well, here is another DJ turntable that has a very similar look and feel, the AT-LP140XP. This Audio-Technica turntable is often referred to as the grown-up brother of the the AT-LP120.

The AT-LP140XP is indeed more professional and is marketed as a lifestyle turntable. Unlike the LP120 this model does not have an inbuilt preamp or teh USB feature. The plinth is about 2kg heavier and the motor provides more torque. The record player has more tempo control and allows you to play your records backwards.

Although the included cartridge works great for a heavy bass and DJ application, you might consider upgrading to something like 2M Red or 2M Blue if you want a more redefined sound of your turntable.

The typical price for the Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP is around $499 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#12. U-Turn Audio – Orbit Special

U-Turn Orbit Special turntable
  • Comes with the popular Ortofon 2M Red cartridge.
  • Solid hardwood plinth available in 2 different options (sustainably sourced US flatcut maple or rift walnut).
  • Designed and assembled in Woburn, MA, USA.

Earlier in the post we talked about the very popular U-Turn Orbit Plus that looks very similar to this Orbit Special yet it costs $150 less, what’s up with that?

U-Turn has different versions of its turntables and your choice of options will indicate the final price. For example the Orbit Special comes with an elegant cue-lever. Ortofon 2M Red instead of the OM 5E cartridge. The plinth is made out of solid wood instead of MDF. Are all these options worth the extra money? They are in my opinion but it’s your decision in the end.

The typical price for the U-Turn’s Orbit Special Record Player is around $499 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#13. Fluance RT81

Fluance RT 81 turntable
  • Comes with Audio Technica AT95E Cartridge.
  • Features a a high quality built-in Texas Instruments preamp.
  • Design in Toronto, manufactured in Taiwan.

Of course the RT81 doesn’t look like its bigger sibling RT85 and it doesn’t feature a $240 cartridge but it also costs half the price. The RT81 has become a favorite to many beginners in the hobby who can’t afford a $500 piece of equipment. Or who prefer to spend the extra money on vinyl records.

The Fluance RT81 is a well-buit and good looking turntable. It could definitely benefit from an upgraded cartridge.

The typical price for a Fluance RT81 record player is around $249 USD.

Check current price on Amazon.


#14. Rega RP1

Rega RP1 Discontinued turntable
  • Sets up in less than 30 seconds (according to Rega).
  • Hand assembled RB101 tonearm with a factory fitted Carbon moving magnet cartridge.
  • Manufactured at the Rega facility in Essex, England.

DISCONTINUED in 2021. Please check out newer REGA turntables.

Find similar on Amazon.

There are loads of turntables under $500 on the market and new items will certainly be making their debut in the upcoming years.

Which turntable are you using? Why do you love it/hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Turntables and Vinyl

You’ve decided to get a turntable and some vinyl records in order to enjoy music differently. Congratulations, this is a pretty cool hobby. Warning, this could turn into an expensive rabbit hole. In this post I will cover everything you need to know about purchasing your very first record player setup.

Before we jump into the gear such as turntables, speakers and amps we need to cover a few important topics. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you make the right decision on the proper audio gear setup for you.

Table Of Contents


New Gear vs. Old Gear

When I talk about vinyl records and record players, a lot of people give me a rather skeptical look. “What do you mean new records, Sasha?” or “Wait, they still produce turntables?”. The answer to these questions is YES, of course.

Although most people associate records with an old music format from the 80’s (70’s, 60’s…etc) the popularity of this format has been seeing an incredible growth in the past 15 years. While only a few hundred thousand records were sold in the U.S. in 2005, this number was closer to 27.5 Million units in 2020. More and more artists release their music on vinyl. Naturally, more and more companies produce brand spanking new equipment to play these records.

Most people who are purchasing their very first turntable opt for brand new gear, simply because it’s accessible. That being said, there is nothing wrong with using a deck or speakers or amplifier handed down to you by your parents or grand parents. I found some amazing “old” gear for incredibly low prices. You can sometimes snag a record player for $20 at a yard sale or a thrift store to only find out that the same unit goes for $400+ on eBay.

Main issue with purchasing old equipment is that it might be broken and repairs can be very costly, depending on the issue or brand. If you want to purchase a hassle-free turntable set-up then I suggest buying brand new, with warranty. If you want to take your time to learn what to look for then finding vintage gear could be a lot more rewarding. Personally I always oped for the latter.

So here is the first question you need to answer: Do you want new vinyl gear or old/used?

Vinyl Gear Costs

Transrotor Artus FMD
Source: transrotor.de

You can spend a few hundred dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars on your turntable set-up. For example, the Artus FMD turntable pictured above retails for about $150,000. You can find speakers and amplifiers in the same price range if you really want to. I would assume that most people reading this guide want to spend a little less than that.

Most good quality (new) turntables will set you back around $200-$400. If you don’t have powered speakers or some kind of audio set-up, you would need to spend another $100+ on speakers. And if the record player you want to buy doesn’t come with an inbuilt pre-amp, that would cost an extra $50+. More on that later.

So far we’re looking at at least $400 for a decent set-up. You can certainly find an “all-in-one record player” solution for under $100 but I don’t recommend that. I’ll explain why in the Turntable section of this post. These are the prices for brand new gear. As mentioned in the previous section, you can find used/old gear for a lot less money if you’re not in a hurry.

The second question is: How much money are you planning to spend on your audio set-up?

Most Popular New Turntables

  1. Audio-Technica AT-LP60

Audio-Technica’s AT-LP60 turntable is a very appreciated record player among beginners. The quality/price ratio is what makes it a popular choice.

This automatic belt drive turntable comes with an inbuilt phono preamp so you can simply plug it into your powered speakers or sound system. The ATN3600L cartridge comes with a replaceable stylus which is a big step up compared to many sub $100 tables.

At a price range of $120-$150 USD you will get a decent sound quality without braking your bank.

Check current price here.


2. Audio-Technica AT-LP120X

Audio-Technica AT-LP120X is quite a big step-up from the previously mentioned LP60. This record player features a high torque direct drive motor. If you’ve heard of direct drive tables being loud – it won’t be the case with the AT-LP120x, its motor is silent.

This is a fully manual turntable so I won’t suggest falling asleep while it’s spinning.

If this turntable looks familiar to you it’s because it is designed after the world famous Technics SL1200.

The AT-LP120XUSB comes with a switchable phono preamp meaning that you can use an inbuilt preamp and simply plug into a sound system or powered speakers but you can also use your own external preamp if you so desire. You can also plug it into your computer and digitize your vinyl collection, if that’s something you want to do. Installing a proper cartridge and stylus will also allow you to DJ with this turntable.

At about $400 USD it certainly isn’t the cheapest option although 3 times cheaper than the similar looking SL-1200 MK7.

Check current price here.


3. Fluance RT81

Fluance RT81 gained a lot of popularity not only because of its quality but also because of the minimalist design. This belt drive turntable is semi-automatic meaning that the platter will start spinning once the stylus reaches the end of the record. The tonearm however will not lift up and move to its resting position, just something to keep in mind.

Fluance has been building its reputation in the world of high fidelity turntables since 1999.

The Fluance RT81 comes with a familiar Audio Technica AT95E cartridge and an inbuilt preamp.

At around $250 price tag, no wonder so many people decide to go with Fluence.

Check current price here.


4. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO is probably the best audiophile turntable you can get for under $500 USD.

This belt drive turntable is hand crafted in EU and promises a high quality record player that will last for generations. Pro-Ject is all about the quality of the sound, that’s the reason why they’re using a stiff but lightweight carbon tonearm 1.7kg (3.5lbs) platter and electronically controlled playback speeds (33, 45 and 78 RPM).

The US version of Debut Carbon Evo comes with a more expensive Sumiko Rainier cartridge while other countries get the Ortofon 2M Red.

This turntable does not feature a preamp so besides the initial $500USD you’ll also need to find an external phone preamp. The company suggests their own Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box.

Check current price here.

You can also check out our guide to best turntables under $500 in 2021.

The Purpose Of Your Set-up

The Looks

You know that you will be spending money on your turntable set-up and vinyl records. Choosing the perfect audio set-up for you will not only depend on your budget but also on what you want to do with this set up.

A tiny thrift store a few blocks from me had a 40$ suitcase-style record player on display along with some records and a “NOT FOR SALE” sticker. That shop used the record player as part of their decor and obviously didn’t care for the quality of that turntable since it would never be used to play records.

If you’re looking to spice up your decor, you can also find a similar turntable for under $50. However even for that purpose I would recommend finding an old turntable from the 70’s or 80’s. Old gear definitely looks much better than brand new cheap plastic players. At least it looks better to me.

Belt Drive vs. Direct Drive

Turntables fall into 2 categories – Direct Drive or Belt Drive.

A belt drive turntable has a small rubber belt attached to the player’s motor and the platter. This belt might stretch, dry out and fall apart with time. However, replacement belts are cheap and very easy to change. Belt drive turntables, reportedly, produce better sound quality as the elastic belt has the ability to absorb vibrations and shocks caused by the motor and other sources.

Belt driven tables have a less accurate playback speed and longer starting times.

A direct drive turntable has its platter attached directly to the motor. Direct Drive player has a more accurate playback speed than a belt drive. A direct drive turntable often has more torque than a belt drive so it can start up and stop much faster.

Reliability and durability are the main reason why many people opt for a direct drive turntable. If you ever wanted to DJ with turntables – you’ll need to go with direct drive.

At the moment of writing this I own a direct drive turntable as well as a belt drive turntable. I can’t tell you which is better because they play my records beautifully. If I had to purchase a different turntable right now, I wouldn’t waste my time on deciding between a belt drive or a direct drive.

Manual, Automatic or Semi-Automatic

Listening to records is not the same as listening to your favorite Spotify list. When I play records, I call it Active listening. Mixing your playlists takes a lot of effort as typically you will need to change the record after each song. Take the record out of the sleeve. Put in on the turntable. Clean the dust with a brush. Play a song. Put the record back in its sleeve. Take another record and so on. You may listen to the whole album but even then, after 20ish minutes of side A you’ll need to flip that vinyl to hear the side B. Active listening.

Besides simply flipping your vinyl record, different turntables will require a different level of involvement.

An automatic turntable will allow you to simply press the PLAY button and the music is on! The tonearm lifts up automatically while the platter starts turning, moves to the beginning of the first track and slowly goes town. Once the stylus (needle) reaches the last note of the last track, the tone arm lifts up, moves back to its resting place and the platter stops turning.

A manual turntable will get your platter turning if you press on PLAY (or START) but that’s all. No music. In order to hear the music you will need to lift the tonearm and carefully move it to the outer edge of your record. Press play and the platter starts spinning. Then carefully push on the lever which lowers your tonearm and sits the stylus on the spinning record. Once you reach the end of the vinyl record you need to pull that lever to raise the tonearm. Move the arm back to its resting position and press the stop button.

In this scenario you need to make sure you lift the stylus off the record and not allow it to jump around needlessly, which may cause damage.

A semi-automatic turntable is usually some kind of hybrid between the manual and automatic. Often it would require you to manually place the stylus at the beginning of a listening session but it would automatically bring the tonearm back at the end of the record.

The main advantage of the automatic turntable is that it basically does the work for you and all you need to do is press a single button.

If you’re new to turntables and go with the manual option you might miss the edge of your record and drop the cart on your record, causing scratches. You may damage your stylus as well if you’re not careful.

Personally I prefer the manual style turntables because I enjoy being involved in active listening. I enjoy lifting the tonearm and being very careful while trying to place the stylus in the groove of the record. I also believe that since there are less mechanisms on my player – there are less chances of something breaking.

Next set of questions: Do you want a record play just for the decor or do you want a good quality unit to play music? Do you want a belt drive or direct drive? Do you want an automatic or manual turntable?

Turntable Audio Setup

Let’s say at this point you’ve decided that you want to spend no more than $350 on your turntable. You want a brand new unit, you want your turntable to be manual and direct drive. Great, this narrows down your choice.

At this point we need to talk about other components of your audio setup.

Phono Preamp for Turntables

The stylus on your turntable produces the audio signal, referred to as PHONO signal. This signal is rather weak and too low for the speakers. In order to correct this you need to you a preamp. A preamp, also called a phono preamp, phono stage and RIAA stage converts the phono signal into a Line Level signal. That’s the kind of signal your speakers need.

The good news is that many new turntables come with an inbuilt preamp. This information will usually be advertised on the packaging and/or listing of the record player that you’re purchasing.

If your turntable doesn’t have an inbuilt preamp – you can purchase one for $50-$100, or more, depending on the quality.

Most of the vintage stereo receivers/amplifiers also have an inbuilt amp for your turntable. The easiest way to find out if your receiver has it, look at the back panel. If there are RCA connections labeled PHONO – then you’ve got a preamp.

Phono Inputs on a receiver/amplifier
Phono input on an old receiver

Most DJ mixers also have the phono preamp and you can see the RCA inputs for them.

Phono inputs on Pioneer DJM900 NXS Mixer
Phono input on my Pioneer DJM900 mixer

To summarize, if your turntable has an inbuilt preamp or if you are using a DJ Mixer or an old receiver with PHONO inputs – you do not need to purchase a separate preamp. If your turntable doesn’t have an inbuilt preamp and you aren’t using an amplifier or a mixer that has PHONO inputs then you will need to purchase a preamp.

Why do some turntables come with inbuilt preamps and others don’t? The main reasons are cost and versatility. Adding a preamp into a turntable increases the price of the unit and some manufacturers prefer to not spend that money. Those manufacturers who decide to include a preamp go for a cheaper option meaning that the user gets an okay preamp but not necessarily a high quality part.

Many hi-fi enthusiasts prefer to use an external preamp because there is an incredible amount of options. Most hi-fi audio manufacturers will not include a preamp for that specific reason, knowing that their target audience will end up purchasing a completely different external preamp anyway. That being said, most new turntables that do come with an inbuilt preamp usually have a switch allowing you to disable the internal preamp in order to use an external unit.

Speakers for Turntables

Speakers are an essential part of your audio setup. If you’ve spent a decent amount of money on your turntable there is no reason to cheap out on the speakers. You might have the world’s best record player but if your speakers are horrible, your sound will be horrible.

If you are plugging your turntable into an existing sound system or a DJ mixer – I would assume you already have speakers. If not then you’ll probably have to purchase a set.

Picking the right speakers for you is another potential rabbit hole and deserve its own post on the blog. However there are basic guidelines and product suggestions that you can follow. I am a big fan of using passive floor standing speakers and a vintage receiver when it comes to vinyl. However I usually recommend a completely different setup to those who are just starting with vinyl.

Powered speakers seem to be the most popular choice in our time and age. Most powered speakers for home sound great, don’t take up much space and are quite affordable.

Popular Speakers For Turntables

  1. Edifier R1280DB

Edifier R1280DB became the go-to speakers for beginner turntable enthusiasts because of their low price and decent quality.

Side panel control lets you adjust the EQs, Bluetooth capability is great for connecting your phone and the remote control is definitely a plus. If you’re on a budget or if you aren’t yet ready to invest a lot of money into your new vinyl hobby, these bookshelf speakers are a great choice.

3,000 reviews on Amazon alone speak for the popularity of these speakers. The cost is usually under $130 USD. You can the same model but without the BT connectivity for around $100.

Check for current price here.


2. Edifier R2000DB

The R2000DB by Edifier are another great set of speakers for your turntable and for your home in general.

They are a little bigger and quite a bit more powerful than the R1280’s. Of course they come at a higher price tag at about $250 USD.

Check current price here.


3. Audioengine HD3

HD3’s by Audioengine are small but very capable powered speakers. They’ll work with pretty much anything, your turntable, computer, phone and everything in between.

The price tag is around $350 USD at the moment of writing this.

Check current price here.


4. Klipsch R-51PM

These R51-PM powered speakers are made by Klipsch, should I say any more? This company has been making speakers since 1940’s, they definitely know what they’re doing.

The R51-PM sound great. Although a little bigger than other speakers mentioned in this post, they are still bookshelf size and won’t take up much room in your house. The typical price is usually under $450 USD.

Check current price here.


Vinyl Gear Recap

Throughout this turntable setup guide I’ve asked you several questions. Knowing the answers to these questions will certainly help you pick an audio setup that’s right for your budget, your ears and your heart. Let’s run trough them again.

Do you want new vinyl gear or old/used?

Buying new is a lot easier than buying old. You get a warranty and you can order your gear online with just a few clicks of a button. Buying vintage or used gear could be more rewarding but there is always o chance of getting burned. Driving through yard sales and browsing through thrift shops could net you with a very cheap set up. However you can also end up buying broken gear that would cost too much to repair. I’m always on the hunt for vintage and used gear, as you probably figured out if you watched my $50 turntable setup video.

How much money are you planning to spend on your audio set-up?

Let’s be honest, good quality audio equipment is not cheap. Vinyl records aren’t cheap. This isn’t a cheap hobby and you need to be ready for it. Setting a budget for your vinyl setup will help you not to splurge and more importantly it will help you narrow down your choices. One of the main reasons I started in this hobby with used gear is simply because I couldn’t justify spending a thousand dollars on audio gear without knowing if I would actually enjoy it. There is always a possibility of upgrading later on.

What will you do with your turntable setup?

If you want a turntable for the “cool” factor then you could on with whatever looks best in your opinion. If you want to DJ with your turntable you’ll need to make sure you’re to go with Direct Drive models (and don’t forget you will need to purchase 2 decks). Are you an an audiophile? Then you’ll need to really look into belt driven units as they are generally quieter. Maybe you want to expose your kids to an ancient music format – in that case I would recommend purchasing a cheap unit so you wouldn’t feel bad when they break it.

Which parts of the turntable setup do you already own?

If you already have a DJ mixer or a stereo receiver with PHONO inputs then you don’t need to worry about a turntable having (or not having) an internal preamp. If you do not own any of that then you’ll have to make sure to go for a record player with an inbuilt preamp or budget for buying an external preamp. Now if you’re starting completely from scratch and decide to go with a turntable that features an internal preamp – you still need to budget for a decent set of powered speakers. It’s important to note that passive (not powered) speakers will require a separate amplifier, this is why I recommend going with powered speakers.

What NOT To Buy

When it comes to turntables, I highly recommend staying away from “all-in-one” and “suitcase” style turntables. The ones you find at Walmart for $49, there is a reason they only cost $49. These turntables are made of very cheap materials. They do not keep constant speeds, they do not produce good sound and they will most likely damage your records since they are very unbalanced.

Simply put, if you’re paying $30 for a new vinyl record why risk ruining it with a low quality turntable? At the very least you should be aiming for the AT-LP60 I mentioned earlier.

If you’re on a very tight budget then I highly recommend hunting for used vintage gear that might cost under $100 but will sound as good as $400+ new gear.

Turntable Accessories

I know that you’re very excited about finally getting to spin some records on your brand new turntable. However there are a few important accessories that you should consider in order to fully enjoy the experience. Yes, more money to spend. Remember I told you this hobby could turn into a money pit? In this section I’ll cover the accessories that you actually need if you want your gear and your records to live a long and happy live.

Vinyl Record Brush

carbon fiber brush on a record

A vinyl brush is a very cheap accessory but it is an absolute must. Vinyl records are dirty, often even if they are brand new. I received brand new releases that had not only dust but also tiny pieces of Styrofoam on them. How did the Styrofoam get inside of a sealed album will remain a mystery to me but it happens.

Dust and other dirt causes pops and crackles during playback. More importantly these contaminants will eventually destroy your stylus and you’ll need to purchase a new one much sooner than you should. You must always clean off your records before “dropping the needle”. It only takes a few seconds.

Remember that a brush is only used to remove dust and other light contaminants, Do not use a brush to wipe of finder prints liquids and other ingrained contaminants. There is a detailed post (and a video) explaining how to properly use a carbon fiber brush on your vinyl records. Such brushes usually cost under $20.

Stylus Scale

Stylus force scale

Most high quality turntables shouldn’t be used out of the box. Before playing records you will need to balance the tonearm, set stylus tracking force and adjust anti-skating. I know this sounds daunting but it’s not as complicated as it sounds. This step-by-step turntable set-up guide will get you going in no time. If you’ve purchased a brand new unit it would also comes with instruction for the set-up.

A stylus tracking force scale can be used to verify if the stylus tracking pressure has been accurately set. This will assure the functioning of your stylus, proper sound and longevity of your precious records. A digital scale like this usually costs under $20.

Stylus Needle Cleaner

Cleaning your records with a brush before each play is important. However, it is impossible to keep your stylus completely free of dust, lint and dirt. With time it will get dirty and the sound quality will go down. You can try cleaning your needle with a small soft brush. This is a risky process and you can end up damaging your stylus so you have to be extremely careful. Another way of maintaining a stylus is using a special stylus needle cleaning gel. The original stylus cleaner is rather pricey but has rave review. There are now cheaper versions of this product but it seems like some of them leave a tiny bit of gel on the stylus which can’t be good.

I’d highly recommend going with a trusted product such as ONZOW Zero Dust.

Closing your turntable lid and putting the protective sleeve on the styles when not in use will also help keep the dust away from your turntable and your cart. If you have a lid – use it.

Furniture

Kallax from Ikea

Before setting up your vinyl gear you need to decide on where it will be sitting. Your turntable needs to be on a level, sturdy surface. I am not going to turn this post into a furniture review but this is an important accessory to your setup so I had to mention it. Yes, I do drool over Instagram posts of beautiful mid-century-modern turntable tables and vinyl record storage units. Unfortunately I haven’t found a perfect piece for my home. I am using the most popular piece of furniture for my vinyl set-up, Kallax from Ikea. The 4 cube unit is in my living room and an 8 cube unit is in my basement.

These units are popular in the vinyl community because they are cheap and they accommodate the records. You get lots of vinyl storage as well as a flat and sturdy surface for your audio gear. If you can’t find a perfect piece of furniture, this could be your temporary (or permanent) solution.

Vinyl Records

Once you’re all set with your turntables, amps and speakers you’ll start spending even more money on actual vinyl records. By the way, the plural of Vinyl is VINYL. Try to call them vinyls on Reddit, Facebook or Instagram and the community will eat you alive. Personally I don’t care what you call them but you’ve been warned.

10 years ago most of the records were obtained through a few remaining record shops, eBay, yard sales and a few dedicated websites. Today you can find vinyl virtually anywhere from Amazon to Walmart to Wallgreens and everywhere in between. With the “vinyl renaissance” came higher prices. Most new records will set you back $20-$30 a piece. Used records can cost from $0 to thousands of dollars, depending on rarity, condition, demand and the greed of the seller.

That being said, you must take good care of your records if you want them to live a long life. Unlike digital music, records have a limited number of playbacks. They can also get water damage, heat damage, they can break, crack and get dirty.

Turntable Setup Conclusion

As I mentioned at the very beginning of this article, the passion for vinyl and turntables is not the cheapest one. If you aren’t sure about it or if you’re on a budget, I would recommend a simple and inexpensive setup.

Grab an AT-LP60 turntable and Edifier R128 speakers. For about $200 USD you get a brand new decent setup, with warranty. No need for external amplifier, phono preamps or anything else. This way you get to spend your money on records.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, go for an AT-LP120X and Edifier R2000DB. For about $650 USD you’re getting a lot of sound, quality and possibilities. You can upgrade your cartridge and stylus. Also you can switch off the internal preamp and add an external one if you desire. You can enjoy your records as an audiophile or you can try yourself at scratching and DJing eventually. Although that would require a second turntable and a mixer. If I was to buy a brand new setup – it would be this one.


Resources:

Klipsch Audio

Audio-Technica

Pink Floyd Pulse Vinyl Box Set 2018

Pink Floyd’s 1995 album Pulse vinyl reissue

I can’t even begin to tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this. Probably you’ve been in the same boat.

One of Pink Floyd’s best LIVE album, Pulse, officially released in 1995 has been a holy grail vinyl for many vinyl collectors and Pink Floyd fans. The 1995 vinyl release has been going up in prices for many years. At the moment of writing this cheapest listing on Discogs is over $300 for a very questionable condition box set and goes up to almost $2,000 USD:

However, the band just announced that this album will be reissued on vinyl on May 18 for the first time since its initial release in 1995. Pink Floyd’s Facebook page states:

…it has long been unavailable, and (like the original cassette) includes One Of These Days, which wasn’t included on the CD version. This re-release of ‘PULSE’ arrives on 18th May 2018, on heavyweight 180-gram vinyl. The 4LP set includes four different inner sleeves, each inside individual outer sleeves, plus a 52-page hardback photo book, all encased in a thick card slipcase. This 2018 release was remastered from the original tapes by James Guthrie, Joel Plante and Bernie Grundman.

 

This deluxe box set can now be pre-ordered for about $100 USD:

 

Pre-order on Amazon US

Pre-ordrer on Amazon Canada

Pre-order on Amazon UK

Pre-order on Amazon.de

 

 

Pink Floyd Pulse Vinyl Box Set 2018

 

Here is the full track-list for Pink Floyd’s Pulse 2018 reissue:

Side A (LP1)

  • Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5, 7)
  • Astronomy Domine
  • What Do You Want From Me

Side B (LP1)

  • Learning To Fly
  • Keep Talking
  • Coming Back To Life

Side C   (LP2)

  • Hey You
  • A Great Day For Freedom
  • Sorrow

Side D (LP2)

  • High Hopes
  • Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two)
  • One of These Days

Side E (LP3)

The Dark Side Of The Moon                                            

  • Speak To Me
  • Breathe (In The Air)
  • On The Run
  • Time

Side F (LP3)

  • The Great Gig In The Sky
  • Money

Side G (LP4)

  • Us And Them
  • Any Colour You Like
  • Brain Damage
  • Eclipse

Side H (LP4)

Encores

  • Wish You Were Here
  • Comfortably Numb
  • Run Like Hell

 

Please note that some of the links on this website are affiliate link. This means that at no extra cost to you we will receive a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links on this site.

 

How excited are you about this? Will you be getting the box set? Let us know in the comments below!

Digging for Vinyl Records in Havana, Cuba

Sometimes we go to extreme lengths when it comes to finding vinyl records. Whenever I end up in a new city or a new country I always try to find some records. Unfortunately I can’t always buy them but I try.

 

 

In March of 2017 I went to Cuba for 7 days. Before leaving I tried to do research on record stores in Cuba and was always led to one single place, Seriosha’s Record Shop.

 

Havana’s Only Record Shop

“Tienda Seriosha” is on Neptuno No. 408, between San Nicolas and Manrique in Centro Havana. It’s one of the oldest record stores in Havana and probably the only one.

I was very happy to find the shop but I wasn’t as excited when I saw the records. They have been obviously neglected and are simply stacked up all over the place. Most come with sleeves although they’re still dirty inside and out. Many of these records are badly scratched and some of them are broken in pieces. Don’t freak out when you spot cockroaches running over the crates and records but do make sure there aren’t any inside the sleeves when you leave the shop, you don’t want to bring those back home (or even to your hotel).

You will mostly find Cuban records which is really awesome. There is a lot of latin, African and jazz records. You will also come across quite a few Soviet pressings of western artists such as Abba, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and many others. Don’t be surprised if the covers don’t look “official”. Most of these LPs were pressed on Melodiya label in USSR and are unofficial releases although legit.

The price of these records is quite high in my opinion. The owner of the shop told me each record is 5 CUC (about $5 USD) regardless of the condition. Don’t forget that you will not find a single record in near mint condition. The price is obviously made for tourists as most Cuban earn about 20 CUCs per month.

Since they weren’t open to negotiating the price I decided to only purchase 4 or 5 records instead of the initial 20.

Here is what I got at Seriosha’s:

More info on discogs

More info on discogs

More info on discogs

Lazaro Ros & Olorun – cannot find it on discogs so I will be adding it there.

Songs and poems of Chilean revolutionaries, also not on discogs (yet).

 

Records on the 26th street, Havana

We had a friend in Havana who mentioned that he saw a guy selling used records in his backyard. This intrigued me and I certainly had to check it out. The seller is located on the 26th Street between Calle 19 and Calle 21. You’ll see the book and records in his yard from the street. Basically you can simply walk in and ask him for the records.

That man brought out a few piles of records and I started looking through them. Mostly Cuban and Americans LPs there. Once I selected a few the man announced the price of 5 CUCs per record. I took one and was about to leave. At this moment he announced that he had more records in the back that he sells for 1 CUC but they’re “not as good”. Once he brought them out I realized they were in the same condition as his “expensive” pile. Some of the same records were in both piles and oddly enough the cheaper copies were in better shape than the expensive ones. To be honest I think he always sold them for 1 CUC a piece but as he noticed the demand growing he raised his prices. Only when you end up not buying anything he offers you the 1 CUC records.

I bought 2 records from him after all.

 

 

More Vinyl Records in Cuba

As I was walking through the city I came across a few used book shops. They also had a few dozens records but these folks were asking for 10 CUCs per record. The condition of these LPs was also pretty horrible. Once again, no one was willing to haggle, apparently that’s not a big thing in Cuba.

I also came across records in various street markets. The sellers asked 10 CUCs for albums that have been left out to bake in the sun for years. They don’t seem to realize that ripped covers, deep scratches, exposure to sun and water, mold and lots of dirt all lower the value of these records. Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything at those markets. If you are curious to see them (since you are on a vacation and have loads of free time) check out Plaza de Armas on Saturday. There is a used book sale and many sellers have records. Who knows, you might get lucky and find something in decent shape! (but I doubt it…)

Another great way to find records in Cuba is by simply asking the people around you. You’ll certainly come across someone who knows someone who has some old records. Turntables are pretty much non-existent in Cuba at this point and people can’t afford new ones. Cubans don’t want to throw the records in the garbage and are willing to let them go. Friends brought me some records from Cuba and they found them by asking around.

Last but not least, there is Revolico.com. It’s Cuba’s Craigslist and although there aren’t many ads, you mind be able to find vinyl records from time to time. Search for “vinylo”, “discos” or “discos viejos” and you might find something.

 

Final Thoughts

You can certainly find old vinyl records in Cuba. However most records will be dirty, scratched up and severely damaged, especially at the markets. Your best bet is asking around, this way you’ll have a chance of finding records in good condition for a 1 CUC or even less.

 

vinyl record storage

How To Store Your Vinyl Records

Whenever someone gets into listening to music on vinyl they might simply have a few records laying around. However as the collection grows, we realize we need to store them somewhere. There are bad and good ways of storing your music and this is the subject of today’s post.

How To Store Your Vinyl Records Properly

Check out this video with all the details and examples:

New to vinyl? Check out our Beginner’s guide to turntables.

1. Keep you records away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

The heat will warp your records and they will become unplayable with time. Make sure to keep your vinyl records away from heaters and other sources of heat. For example my receiver runs pretty hot and the ventilation openings are on the top cover. So I need to make sure to never put an LP on top of the receiver.

Direct sunlight is also a heat source. Additionally, bright sunlight damages the paint on cars over time. Just imagine what it will do to your records! If you value the covers of your records that usually come with amazing artwork then make sure to keep them away from the sun.

2. Storing Your Records.

If you have just a few records you might get away with a box or even a milk crate. Just make sure that the records fit freely into the box without you having to force them in. You don’t want to apply any unnecessary pressure on your LPs.

vinyl record storage

For a bigger collection you’ll need to find a better solution. Ikea’s Kallax (affiliate), formerly known as Expedit shelving units have become a very common record storing solution. They are inexpensive, sturdy, good looking and of perfect size for your records. You can buy them on Amazon, directly at Ikea or even through Craigslist and Kijiji. They come in 1X4, 2×2, 2×4, 4×4 cubes and a few other variations.

If you’re thinking of another vinyl storage solution you’ll need to pay attention to the size. It must be about 12″ deep (30.5cm) and at least 13″ (33cm) tall. It’s also preferable to have a divider every 10″-13″ (25-33cm). The dividers act as supports for your records and help you distribute the weight in a much better way. You don’t want 100 LPs leaning to one side.

It is very important to store your records vertically. Never pile them up on top of each other. Stacking them up will result too much weight on the records at the bottom.

Do not put too many records between the dividers. If you have too many records stacked into a box or a shelf, you will create ring-wear on your covers (that big visible ring in the shape of a record). It’s also annoying when you’re trying to pull out a single record and 3 of them come out.

vinyl records ringwear
Visible ring wear

When you don’t have enough records in your case, they will fall on the side and lean on that last record. Once again, too much weight being applied on a record will damage it.

3. Inner and Outer Sleeves

Outer sleeves are the transparent sleeves that protect your cover. These sleeves are great for protecting your records from dust as well as protecting your covers from dirt and physical damage. When using an outer sleeve, make sure to have the opening facing upward or downwards. If your outer sleeve opening is in the same direction as your cover opening, the dust will get in there. Also every time you’ll be putting your record back on the shelf, there is a chance that the outer sleeve will slip off.

Inner sleeves are usually the paper sleeves that protect your record. These sleeves go inside your cover. Just like with outer sleeves, make sure your inner sleeve opening is facing upwards. The first reason being that when the inner sleeve is facing up it’s actually protecting your record from dust. Also, if your inner sleeve opening is facing in the same direction as your cover opening, there is a chance your records will simply slip out and fall. This has happened to me more than once, before I learned I was storing my records wrong.

Putting your outer and inner sleeves in the same direction as your cover opening is certainly more convenient however it isn’t the proper way to handle your records. If your main objective is convenience then you should probably listen to music on your computer. Vinyl is not a convenient format and if you enjoy and value your records then you must take care of them.

Here are some outer sleeves I like – I always go for the 4mm thick ones for better quality and durability (affiliate)

4. Storing 7″ Vinyl Records

Just like your 12″ LPs, the 7″ records also need to be taken care of. Personally I’d suggest finding a covered box just like the one I show in the video. Most of the 7″ vinyl records will have very cheap and thin paper covers which will rip, bend and wear out. Having a closed box helps you protect them. It will also help you keep your covers looking great since they won’t get faded by the constant exposure to the sun light.

Flipping through your 7″ records is also a lot easier in a good box. I also store my CDs in the same box for convenience.

storing 7" records

I might have missed some details in this post so make sure to watch the video.

If you have any feedback, suggestions or comments, please do submit them in the comment box below. If you want to share your own vinyl records storage solution, tag us on Instagram @longplayvinyl

Sasha

Hear Records Singapore

Interview with Nick Tan, owner of Hear Records Vinyl Shop in Singapore

About a year ago my girlfriend and I embarked on a 4 months trip across South East Asia. When we got to Singapore I quickly figured out there were several record stores there and I just had to visit a few of them.

The general feeling I got about records in that country: overpriced. One of the shops was selling re-issues of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” for $100+… However I also got a chance to visit Hear Records. The people seemed friendly, the prices were very fair and the selection was interesting and pretty decent. I was very curious about the whole vinyl scene in Asia. I knew I had to interview the owner.

 

Singapore Vinyl Shop

Since it was my very first interview the sound turned out pretty horrible. There was a loud AC unit running in the background but I didn’t pay attention to it. The good thing is, you can use the closed-captions.

 

Interview with Nick Tan

The vinyl revival in Asia is smaller than the one in the US. Shipping is expensive. Records are more rare. If you look at countries like Cambodia where millions of records were destroyed in the 1970’s you start getting a better picture. However, all across Asia you can find old record shops that have been there for 50+ years. You can also find new shops popping up all over the place.

In this video Nick shares the story of Hear Records, his own vinyl records store. He discusses the reasons why the shop opened. Nick talks about how he decided which records he should be selling. He talks about the future of vinyl in Asia and the world. We talk about a lot of different interesting things.

 

Hear Records – official website

Hear Records on Facebook

p.s. It took me almost a year to finally release this video. I just noticed that within this year Hear Music has managed to open up a second location in Singapore’s Chinatown! Here is the Facebook Page for that location.

#01-39 Burlington Square 175 Bencoolen Street
Singapore 189651
+65 9646 0648

 

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you want to get our newest content simply like our Facebook Page and subscribe on Youtube.

Sasha

 

buying records in bulk

Huge Vinyl Haul (1,000 Records) – What To Avoid

This past summer I made my very first bulk vinyl haul. This was a big deal for me and I think it is important to share this experience with you.
If you aren’t into reading, simply check out this video:

 

Finding Used Records

It all began when I stumbled upon an ad online where someone was advertising 1,000 vinyl records for $250CAD. That’s about $190 USD for my American readers. There were only a few pictures in the ad but I was able to spot some Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin records which intrigued me. A “good condition” of “The Wall” often goes for $15-$25 in Montreal. It’s not uncommon to find people asking $50 for it (although I am not sure if they ever end up selling it).

I call the guy up, he says he doesn’t have a list of the whole collection. However the pictures in the ad give me a good idea. He was located about 30 minutes away from me so I decided to go and check it all out.

When I got to his garage the seller mentions that he has an appointment and needs to leave in 15 minutes. He also made it clear that he wants to sell the whole lot and wasn’t going to sell the records individually. I explained that I understand but I still need at least those 15 minutes to look through his boxes. I wasn’t going to make a blind purchase. Unfortunately I didn’t spot any Pink Floyd or other records that were pictured in his ad so I asked him about it. He replied that someone passed by and picked some records. He thought it was a waste of his time so now he wants to sell the whole lot.

 

Making An Offer

His answer upset me and I told him that he should have mentioned it when I called. I thought to myself: “there goes my vinyl haul”. I figured that “someone” picked the most known stuff and I was left with the rest. However, I did spot at least a dozen records that I actually wanted: Kraftwerk, Queen, Van Morrison, Kiss, Bob Dylan, The Who, Tomita, quite a bit of disco and so on. I’ve decided that I’ll bite, however I offered $100 ($75 USD). The guy made a face like he wasn’t happy with my offer but he agreed. So I started loading the records in my car.

 

Bying records in bulk
Station wagons are natural vinyl haulers 😉

 

I got all the records in the car (of course the guy said to leave him his boxes) and drove home. When i started unloading the records I realized I had a problem – where the heck will I store them? In the end they went on the floor against the wall.

used vinyl records haul

Sorting Through The Records

In the image above you see a part of that collection. I started looking through each record and picking the obvious ones to me. I did this several times and ended up with an interesting pile of “keepers”. The next step was checking each record through Discogs which took a while. However I am happy I did it because I managed to find a few gems. Here are a few examples:

Richard Cocciante ‎– Atlanti – 1973 Psychadelic Rock from France

La Banda Del Paraíso ‎– La Banda Del Paraíso – 1973 Hard Rock from Argentina

Dashiell Hedayat ‎– Obsolete – 1971 Psychedelic Rock from France (I love this discovery!)

The Grass Roots – Where Were You When I Needed You – 1966 American Folk Rock (Canadian pressing)

There were some valuable records however most of them aren’t worth more than $10.

All in all there were about 800 vinyl records, most in great condition. I ended up keeping 100-120 records. I will probably sell some of them eventually. Pookie came by and picked some records that he wanted to keep. Free of charge of course. I listed the leftovers on Kijiji for $120 and sold the whole thing. Besides adding 100+ records to my collection I also ended up making a $20 profit 😉

 

Lessons Learned

Always take your time when buying records in bulk. It’s great to end up with an awesome vinyl haul but you have to know what you’re buying. Look through the artists. Take out the records and check out their condition. If possible take a look on Discogs/Ebay if you are clueless about a specific record.
Try to bargain if you think the value is unfair. I could have tried to sell the remaining 600-650 records for $1 each. However I decided to sell them for $120 because it was just easier.

Have you ever bought records in bulk? Please share your story in the comments.

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you want to get our newest content simply like our Facebook Page and subscribe on Youtube.

 

Sasha

 

Mag Lev turntable

The First Levitating Turntable Raises $300,000

MAG-LEV Audio is the world’s first levitating turntable.

first levitating turntable
This project was launched on Kickstarter on October 12th 2016. Although the first day was quite slow for the campaign, Mashable, DJ Mag, The Verge, Vinyl Factory and many others publications picked up the news. The next day this campaign became viral.

 

Levitating Turntable funding

Within just one week MAG-LEV Audio reached its funding goal of $300,000. Over 400 backers pledged $780 or more in order to see this project come to life. At the moment of writing this almost $350k have been given to this project. I guess people really want to own this turn table.

Mag Lev Turtnable

 

“Bringing the feeling of zero gravity into your living room.”

The main concern potential backers have is the stability of the platter. Since the platter floats in mid-air, how can we be sure that there is no vertical movement that would definitely ruin the sound quality? How can we be sure that the platter will spin at the very accurate speed? The folks from Mag-Lev assure us there is nothing to worry about:

“By using our innovative and patented technology, we were able to achieve not only magnetic levitation, but we’ve also been able to maintain the incredibly precise turning of the platter with sensor regulating software. Air is the smoothest medium with least amount of friction, which further elevates this project into a truly unique listening experience.”

 

MAG-LEV Official Promo Video

 

Levitating Record Player Features

Let’s admit it, the Mag-LEV looks awesome. The floating platters looks very futuristic and unreal, the whole machine looks very clean and sophisticated. However it isn’t just about the looks. The Mag-Lev is semi-automatic meaning the tonearm lifts automatically when the record is done playing (I kind of wish my SL1200 did that). The table comes with a cueing mechanism so you don’t have to “drop the needle” like you would with a cheap Crosley player. Of course you got your 33/45rmp switch as well. The base comes with little supports that hold the platter in the “off” position.

For a full description, features and benefits check out their Kickstarter page.

Mag Lev Turntable

Mag Lev Record Player

 

MAG-LEV Levitating Turntable Availability

Although this new futuristic product managed to create a lot of buzz over the week, it’s still just a project. Assuming that everything goes well they will make the final prototype in December of this year. The pre-production run will start in March of 2017 and the final product will start shipping out to backers in August of 2017.

The designers of MAG-LEV have worked on another successful Kickstarter project called Goat Story Goat Mug. It was successfully funded and created.

 

What do you think of this project? Let us know in the comments below!
– Sasha

 

Vinylize.it – What Exactly Is It And How It Works?

You’ve probably heard of Vinylize.it by now and you’re probably asking yourself many questions. In this post I will be attempting to address all of your concerns and I will try to explain this new “vinyl records on demand” service.

What is Vinylize.it?

what is vinylize it

Vinalyze.it is a new startup by QRATES which allows music fans to create real vinyl records from their favorite SoundCloud tracks. The ideas is rather simple (yet genius). This startup bypasses the label and lets you, the fan. choose what really goes on that wax. You login to Vinalyze.it using your SoundCloud account. You go through your favorite tracks from your favorite artists and you add those tracks to your vinyl project. The service then presses the vinyl for you. However, this explanation over simplifies the process just a little.

 

How Does Vinylize it Work?

Although it sounds like you simply select a few tracks and get a vinyl record shipped to you, this isn’t exactly right. First of all, when you create the vinyl you want – you can’t order it. You start by creating a campaign for the vinyl and then you have to tell other people about it. Other fans must click the “Want” button and once the number of fans reaches 20 people, Vinylize It will try to reach out to the artist (or the artists) that you selected for that project and they will try to explain what’s going on.

In my opinion this is where the start-up hits their first roadblock – they’ll need to persuade the artists that they need it. They will also have to work out some kind of a royalties deal that the artist would agree to. If the artist agrees to go ahead with it, your project now needs to reach 100* pre-orders. As far as I understand this platform is similar to Kickstarter (and many other crowd funding projects). If the project doesn’t reach its minimum threshold of 100 pre-orders the money will be refunded to you. However if the campaign is successful, the record will be pressed and shipped out!

qrates example

*I’ve seen some projects set at 100 minimum, others at 200 and others at 500. To my understand the higher number of pressings means cheaper pricing, however don’t quote me on that.

 

What About The Quality?

Many vinyl collectors are very doubtful about the quality of these records since SoundCloud compresses all tracks to MP3-128kbps format. Obviously that wouldn’t be too great of a quality, would it? Surprisingly several online tech magazines also supported this concern without doing any research.

Vinyalize.it explains that they will only press high quality files on vinyl This means that once the artists approves of having their tracked pressed they will have to provide a high quality recording to QRATES. I can’t speculate on what kind of format they are asking for but I’m sure it wouldn’t be 128kbps.

 

Vinalyze.it Interface Issues

In order to understand the platform better I’ve set up my very first vinyl campaign. You can find it here. The very first issue that comes to mind is sharing this very campaign. It can only be shared on Facebook and Twitter. Why doesn’t Vinylize.it provide a simple link?

Second issue. If you click on that campaign link, you will realize that you see how many tracks are there but you do not actually see which tracks they are. This only on Firefox, the feature works well on Chrome. That’s probably a bug and hopefully will be fixed soon.

vinylize it example

Third issue. While creating the project Vinylize.it gives you 3 options: search for tracks, add from “LIKED” or add from Playlist. Although I had all the wanted tracks as “liked” on SoundCloud, they wouldn’t show on the Vinylize.it page. I think this is caused by a slow updating API because at the moment of writing this I can finally see my liked tracks.

 

Let’s Vinylize It!

The idea of this service seems great. I would certainly love to get some of my favorite tracks pressed on vinyl however this certainly isn’t easy. If you want your product to succeed you’d have to find 19 other people who want to see exactly the same project come to life. At that point you’d have to pray that the artists agrees to it and agrees to promote the project (in order to get 100-200-500 pre-orders). Let’s see how it goes.

P.S. The project I created in in support of one of my favorite Canadian bands. Their unique blend of balkan/gypsy/punk is full of energy and drive and I’d love to have their music on a vinyl record. Please do feel free to “WANT” my project, let’s make it happen 😉

lemon bucket orkestra record

Sasha

Pricing Error That Resulted in Amazing Record Deals

Yesterday I published a post called “Incredible Amazon Vinyl Haul” where I showed you 15 records I got from Amazon for a ridiculously low price.

In this post I will explain what exactly happened and how I got such amazing vinyl deal.

 

The Amazon Super Sale

On August 11th I was chatting with Pooks about The Beatles in Mono box set. I kept saying that the cost of box set is hovering between $300 and $400 (Canadian $) while Pooks was sure it was at $400 or more. He sent me the link to the Amazon listing and I couldn’t believe my eyes, $92 CAD!!! So naturally I placed an order.

While I’m ordering the Beatles Pooks sends me links to a few other records which were being sold at a huge discount. So I start placing more and more orders, ending up with 30 ordered items for less than $300! Many of these were “limited edition” box sets of some sort (Queen, Flying Lotus, Led Zeppelin, etc). Some of these items are in stock, others aren’t but I still order. Hey, who doesn’t want Tom Waits’ Alice LP for $5?

vinyl sale on amazon
Example of prices paid for some of these items.

Amazing record deals indeed.

Since I do not have a Prime account I go for the “free shipping” which should take from 4 to 8 days. Of course Amazon estimates 8.

 

Wait, where are my orders?

Several days later I log into my Amazon account to see the status of my orders and I am noticing something abnormal. Several items aren’t showing within my orders. Some orders are completely cancelled (that includes the main the Beatles in Mono). I start freaking out a little, telling myself it’s just a glitch. As time passes, the records aren’t showing…

The next logical step is getting in touch with Amazon’s customer support: “Hello, where are my amazing record deals?”. It takes quite a while for the support rep to figure out what’s up and she says she never saw anything like it. It turns out there was no sale at all. Amazon did not offer any amazing deals on vinyl records. The price I ordered the LPs for was an “error”. This means that Amazon reserves all rights to NOT honor the order. This is why they cancelled my items. They caught the error early enough.

 

Amazing Vinyl Deals

Fifteen (15) of the 30 items I ordered weren’t going to be shipped out to me. If Amazon realized the “pricing error” sooner, they would have cancelled everything. However because it took them a little while, 15 items were already on their way to me through Canada Post, Purolator and UPS.

More details in this video:

 

I could have gotten The Beatles as well.

When I saw these amazing deals I had to jump to a few Facebook groups and to Reddit as well in order to share the joy with others. Some folks ordered the box set and a few other records and some of them actually received The Beatles in Mono for about $75USD! How did that happen?

People who decided to not wait 4-8 days and paid for the fastest shipping got lucky and received the box set in 2 days. I imagine Amazon fulfills the order to the addresses closest to their warehouse. Of course paid shipping also gets a priority. By the time they got to my order they already figured out the issue and cancelled the order.

Lesson learned, Sasha. Don’t be cheap and pay for the fastest shipping in a situation like this one. Amazon will write this error off as “business loss” while making lots of vinyl collectors incredibly happy with their score.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you want us to notify you in case there is an incredible deal like this, simply like our Facebook Page and follow us on Instagram, that’s where we will share the news.

 

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