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Getting into vinyl, the record type.

MadpandaMadpanda suburbs west of chicagoRegistered User regular
Since googling getting into vinyl from work seems like a poor judgement choice I figured I would ask here.

When I move to my new apartment I will have a room just for my retro gaming stuff, and I think having a record player in there would be a cool thing since I already plan on having a stereo setup.

A cursory glance at ebay for older Iron Maiden, Yes, Dio etc albums shows some pretty high prices, I imagine shipping is a big part of that. So I'm wondering if finding local places or going to swap meets is actually a viable way to build up a decent collection or if its similar to the retro gaming marker where most people know what stuff is worth and overcharge.

Also as far as stereo setup, I'm not an audiophile by any means, I can tell the difference between a 96kbps mp3 and a 320 and between my old shitty sony headphones and my sennheiser but thats about it. My friend with the crazy tubeamp setup will change settings and talk about stuff and I can't tell the difference. Do I need much to get a record player going on an oldish ~80's receiver?

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    grouch993grouch993 Both a man and a numberRegistered User regular
    Disclaimer: This is probably all outdated and useless by now.

    Decent turntables had a pretty heavy platter with a rubber mat, shock absorbing feet, a light tone arm with adjustable weight and maybe a cartridge for the needle. I vaguely remember a couple different types of cartridges, magnet and coil(?). Linear tracking sounded cool, but wasn't so great if your vinyl wasn't laid in a perfect spiral. Decent cabling also seemed to help, but matching the system is also important. Having the best deck in the world doesn't help when your amplifier is crap.

    I used to work at a radio station back when vinyl and reel to reel were the main formats, CDs were just coming out when I left. We were able to order any album from the record companies for $1 each. They came in sleeves stamped "Promotional Use Only". No clue if that is still an option. If it was, interning at a station would be a good idea. Otherwise, swap meets, talk to relatives and see if they still have some stored away, maybe yard sales. It is probably going to be expensive to get into, since this is going to be a form of antiquing.

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    I've never been to swap meets, but I've picked up a lot of stuff cheap going to half-priced books or other used book stores. For in demand specific stuff and new stuff I go to music stores and usually have to pay retail.

    I have 50 year old monobloc tube amps, an early 70's transistorized stereo receiver, and a cheap POS modern 2 channel transistor amp, and I use the last the most cause of convenience (its small. light, and doesn't have easily breakable shit the kids can get to). That said I enjoy the tubes the most, probably because of the glow and enjoying old tech at work.

    A lot of the whizbangs on a turntable are going to be geared for DJs/spinning, so if you just want to put on some tunes and you're not the type to put up acoustic treatments in your room then some 80's piece is probably fine (IMO 70's or earlier gear tends to be built better, so I'd get that if in working condition). If you buy used you'll want to pick up a new cartridge. $20 at Guitar Center should be fine.

    It really depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. I'd put a lot more money into my gear if I had a dedicated listening room.

    Djeet on
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    nhodnhod Registered User regular
    I find local stores generally have pretty significant markups, particularly if they're in a trendy area. I've had some success at antique malls and the like, but those aren't usually in the greatest condition. Best advice I can give is just keep checking ebay or discogs.com, both of which I have been pretty lucky finding good deals here and there and generally you can get bundled shipping from the suppliers.

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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    I find so many old records at flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales it's not even funny.

    Most are marked between 0.25 and 1.00

    sure the covers are generally scuffed and they aren't even close to mint condition, but the vinyl usually plays well enough that it doesn't matter.

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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    A cursory glance at ebay for older Iron Maiden, Yes, Dio etc albums shows some pretty high prices, I imagine shipping is a big part of that. So I'm wondering if finding local places or going to swap meets is actually a viable way to build up a decent collection or if its similar to the retro gaming marker where most people know what stuff is worth and overcharge.

    Depending on what you're looking for, quite a few records are going to have a high value - mostly because said records were released in limited runs, and you can't just make a million copies of a record like you can with a CD. Your best bet for bargains will probably be at yard sales / garage sales.
    Also as far as stereo setup, I'm not an audiophile by any means, I can tell the difference between a 96kbps mp3 and a 320 and between my old shitty sony headphones and my sennheiser but thats about it. My friend with the crazy tubeamp setup will change settings and talk about stuff and I can't tell the difference. Do I need much to get a record player going on an oldish ~80's receiver?

    Erm. Just FYI, even if you're not an audiophile, records have a noticeably different sound (sporadic pops & crackles, and a sort of difficult to describe ambient background noise) from CDs, due to the mechanical / analog nature of the medium. Make sure you listen to some records before you invest a lot of money into a collection; quite a few people don't like the difference in sound.

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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    firstly: good choice

    starting out you won't need to spend much money. thrift stores and cheap dollar crates at record shops will be enough to build a substantial - if not refined - collection. as you invest more, though, you'll start to feel like $5 or $10 isn't too much for a record you really want, and $20 isn't too much for that treasure you need. my top ten lps include some i spent 50 cents on and a couple at $60. they're all as valuable to me; it's the nature of collection that you'll spend wildly different amounts.

    keep your eye out for record stalls at markets and garage sales. mostly just have fun. there's a massive world of music that was pressed to vinyl and is now lying undiscovered by generations. it's immensely satisfying to gear up and go exploring

    edit: as for your receiver, does it have a phono channel? if so just about any turntable will be plug-and-play. i suggest something with a heavy, removable cartridge and an adjustable counterbalance but if you want to start out cheap any piece of plastic junk will play a record

    bsjezz on
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    BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    Nice project you're starting on.

    Here is a good page to get a little more basis information.

    I highly recommend looking for used gear to get started and the same is actually true even if you get bitten by the sound quality bug and wanna go high end. There is lots of good gear out there just collecting dust in attics and garages so when you know a little of what to look for getting started for cheap should be easy. And as for the really high end gear lots of those that spend fortunes on their setup swap gear again and again so there is a good buys to be made.

    Apart from researching on line I think the best move would be to consult someone old enough to have been playing records when there was no CD's - most people over 40 that are a little technical should know enough to get you started.

    One word of warning regarding vinyl. It's a fragile material that wear pretty easily and a worn out stylus or turn table that is set up the wrong way it will cause a lot of extra wear on the records. In other words if you wanna listen to rare/expensive albums make sure your gear is in good condition.

    PS. I suggest avoiding those turntables with build in USB or similar. They may be convenient to hook up to modern gear but sound quality is not what they were made for. Look for 2nd hand gear by Sony/Pioneer/B&O/Thorens/Rega/Phillips/Technics or if you find something unknown either google it or look at how the overall build quality is - if it's flimsy and cheap feeling then it usually is crap.

    BlindZenDriver on
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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    A lot of really great new music also gets released on vinyl, especially dance music and hip-hop.

    If you're already getting a nice stereo setup with an amp and a set of decent speakers, the amp should have a phono in port, or at worst, a 3.5mm microphone in port.

    Turntables range from cheap and yet still pumps out pretty good sound: http://uturnaudio.com/store/orbit-plus-turntable-blue $279
    to mid-range: http://audio-technica.com.au/turntables/at-lp1240-usb/ $800
    to holy fuck that's a lot of money: http://www.lifestylestore.com.au/index.php/tt15s1.html $2700
    to well it's either this, or a classic sportscar: http://onedof.com/ ~$100,000

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    MadpandaMadpanda suburbs west of chicagoRegistered User regular
    I completely forgot halfpricebooks carries vinyl, i'll check them out next time. I know about avoiding the USB turntables and have found a few decent looking 70's-80's units on craigslist. My receiver does have a phono channel, it's an aiwa from the early 80's.

    I'm not clear on belt vs direct drive though, from that crutchfield link it sounds like both improve quality.

    Also a few of the craigslist units had mentioned issues like autoreturn not working. I do basic electronics work, mainly modding old console systems, is repairing old turntables something thats probably within my grasp or should I not even try opening those things up?

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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Most of them are pretty bloody simple. If yo can mod up a SNES, you can rebuild/repair an old turntable.

    Don't fall into the trap of getting sucked into paying more for an old turntable than it is actually worth...

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited August 2013
    Belt or direct, doesn't matter for your usage w/r/to quality. If you were DJing you'd want direct since you're futzing with rotational speed and not having a belt in between makes a difference. Similarly belt drive has an additional part to wear (the belt).

    As for fixing autoreturn, if you have any experience soldering modern electronics it will be a piece of cake. Biggest problem might be locating a wiring diagram for an old piece.

    Djeet on
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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Depending on the quality of the turntable direct drive mechanism (and the sensitivity of the pickup/stylus/tonearm), a cheap and nasty direct drive mechanism can introduce a lot of mechanical noise into your playback.

    The rubber belt drive eliminates that possibility, which is why the vast majority of the hyper-expensive turntables go with a belt drive.

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    BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    Madpanda wrote: »
    <SNIP> My receiver does have a phono channel, it's an aiwa from the early 80's.
    That should be fine to get you going.

    Do take a close look of your receiver to see if there is switch for the phono input that says 'MM/MC' or 'HIGH/LOW' or 'Moving magnet/moving coil' - it's possible the switch can be located on the back of the unit. The thing is that most turn table cartridges will be of the MM type but some of the more expensive ones are of the MC type and while unlikely you'll run into the later it could happen and if so you'll need to have your the matching input or get a separate amplifier to put in between(they are often called step-ups).

    Madpanda wrote: »
    I'm not clear on belt vs direct drive though, from that crutchfield link it sounds like both improve quality.
    Both systems can work well. If buying one with a belt drive you may find the belt itself has fallen to pieces since they are usually just rubber bands, but do not let that shy away because there are companies specializing in supplying those. A while back I got a replacement belt for my turn table and that was for a rather rare English made unit (a Pink Triangle) and it did only set me back $30 or so.

    Madpanda wrote: »
    Also a few of the craigslist units had mentioned issues like autoreturn not working. I do basic electronics work, mainly modding old console systems, is repairing old turntables something thats probably within my grasp or should I not even try opening those things up?
    Do not worry about autoreturn. If that is faulty it does not stop the turn table from playing your music it is just a little inconvenient and in a way you could say it is just getting the full vinyl experience - in fact many of the more fancy turn tables does not even have autoreturn.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
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    MadpandaMadpanda suburbs west of chicagoRegistered User regular
    Yea my high limit on a used player is $100. I've seen quite a few under that in my local area (chicago suburbs).

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    amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    Other people here can give better advice regarding the turntables themselves, but I amassed quite a collection from thrift shops and yard sales. The yard sales are grueling because you need to get there at the ass crack of dawn to avoid the record store guys who will buy the lot and then mark it up 500%

    Talk to the people at your local thrift shops/goodwills and ask when they usually get records and stuff like that, or when new stuff arrives. Some might be pretty helpful and give you the info, some might not.

    I've also had pretty good luck at weird kitschy shops that didn't look like they'd even sell records. I found this one place that looked like an occult book store and they had six milk crates full of great stuff.

    Most of my collection came from yard sales/estate sales. I rarely get anything on ebay. Swap meets aren't bad but the records are usually scratched all to hell because they've been passed around a few dozen too many times, although I did score some good foreign prints of some Rolling Stones albums from a mall swap meet once, so your mileage may vary.

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    EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    I had a fair number of records about a decade ago. I sold them all off in 2008/9, and was surprised at how well they maintained their value, so that was nice. If you buy a $60 record on ebay and keep it in good shape, it's likely you can sell it again for the same price down the road (if you must). So, that's nice. I amassed most of my collection, which was about 200 records, by buying new. There's plenty of companies that specialize in vinyl sales, and shipping vinyl is actually cheap since it can go by media mail.

    As for just finding stuff, it depends on how you feel about discovery. If you just want a record, it may be worth buying it instead of digging through terrible crap at GoodWill for hours. On the other hand, if you're digging through crap at GoodWill, you may find something you didn't expect and are willing to try out.

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    November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    If you buy a used turntable, make sure it actually outputs to something your receiver can use and that you can get replacement needles for it.

    I got a really nice B&O turntable for a song back in college, but it has a proprietary connection and the cartridges for it have to be special ordered and cost more than the turntable did.

    If you are interested in new or reprinted vinyl, you can actually get quite a bit from online retailers like Amazon.

    Record shows/conventions are also a good resource.

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    BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    If you buy a used turntable, make sure it actually outputs to something your receiver can use and that you can get replacement needles for it.

    I got a really nice B&O turntable for a song back in college, but it has a proprietary connection and the cartridges for it have to be special ordered and cost more than the turntable did.

    About those B&O turntables they have those special connectors because if one has a whole B&O system one can then control it with a remote so the connection cable also holds those signals. Similar issues can be found with for instance some Aiwa turntables, but adapters can be found or made by doing a bit of soldering.

    Now cartridges is another matter and with B&O there is not really a way round something made especially for those, so it will cost money. However it may be worth it just as buying some good kit in general as the difference in sound quality can be amazing (which of course also requires ones amplifier and speakers are up to the job).

    Used turn tables and hifi in general can be a cheap way to music, but it can certainly also be a, relatively, cheap way to really great sound quality but cartridges does wear out and there is no real way around replacing and good ones cost real money.

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