Vinyl records - higher fidelity or just novelties?

Vinyl records have made a remarkable comeback in the past few years.

There is an undeniable ďrightnessĒ and warmth to the sound of a well made and played vinyl record, particularly when compared to compressed digital files (the vast majority of downloaded material) or disc players of limited quality (the majority of CD players in use). I get frequent inquiries regarding both new turntables and the repair and alignment of older equipment. There are some great new products available which bring high fidelity replay of LPís well within reach of most people. Alternatively, there are good older turntables out there which are well worth a tune up, and which are capable decent sound with low record wear. So, basically, this is good news - affordable new and used equipment, lots of inexpensive used LPís and many new LPís, of both classic and new music.

But there is another side to this story. Vinyl LPís are inherently different from the digital media which dominate the market (CDís and downloads) in that they are delicate by nature. They are subject to wear when played improperly and need precision in the playback equipment to deliver the sound quality of which they are capable. Iíve dealt with a surprising number of people who have purchased or are considering new very low cost turntables of low quality, or have come across a poor quality used turntable. These are best avoided. They will not sound good (in some cases they wonít even reliably play through a complete record side), and they will excessively wear the LP as it is played. Even a single play using this type of machine can damage an LP. Given the irreplaceable nature of older, out of print LPís and the cost of new vinyl, it makes no sense to use these turntables - it would be far better to download the music. These machines are essentially novelty devices - aimed at the current trendiness of LPís, but bringing no sound advantage to the consumer.

In short, LPís can provide great sound. If you have a decent turntable which hasnít been adjusted for some time, have it evaluated by an experienced person. If necessary, invest in a new phono cartridge, and have a correct alignment done. If you donít have an adequate turntable, donít be tempted to play your LPís on a machine which will damage them - consider a new turntable from a specialty manufacturer such as Pro-Ject or Rega. Verify that your system is equipped with a phono input - if not, there are very good outboard units available at reasonable prices.

Finally, pick up a good record brush and stylus cleaner. Now youíre set to enjoy good analog sound!

Send me your comments and thoughts, I'm always curious to hear from other enthusiasts.
Email info@paulfreckeraudio.com

+ Vinyl records - higher fidelity or just novelties?
+ The price is right
+ Foresight and flexibility

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