Thinking about getting into turntables and records?

Pro-Ject 1Xpression Turntable

Pro-Ject 1Xpression Turntable

To truly get what you want from the vinyl experience, there are a few things that are helpful to know about turntables, records, and cartridges/styluses. This article is the first of a series and is a general overview. Each topic touched upon will be covered in greater detail in future specific articles.

There are some obvious similarities between records and digital music and their players. There are also some very important differences that are useful to understand.

Similarities: A record is a storage medium that encodes the information of recorded sound in grooves on a vinyl disk. It’s similar to digital files in that the information is encoded and needs a translation device to be interpreted. Looked at from the same perspective, a turntable and the cartridge/stylus assembly that attach to it are translation devices, and in that way, they are similar to digital playback devices.

Differences: If you drop a digital player and it isn’t broken, the music will keep playing. Not recommended, but also not interruptive of the listening experience, other than any sounds from the impact. With a turntable, dropping it would absolutely stop playback and might also completely destroy the device and the record on it. The tone-arm assembly is especially delicate and needs to be handled with a gentle touch. The record itself can be easily damaged through mishandling. Even touching a record face directly, regardless of clean or dirty hands can cause issues, while you could use a CD as a coaster (also not recommended) and still get it to play.

Important things

Records: Records come in different speeds and different sizes. Mostly 33 1/3rpm and 45rpm, but there are also 78rpm records, mostly pressed from the early 1900’s up to the late 1950’s. At one time, the size of a record was a generally accurate clue to its speed, but this is no longer true. There are 12″ 45rpm and 7″ 33 1/3rpm records. Handle records carefully, and if not using gloves, at least be certain not to touch the face of the record (where the grooves are) in any way. Always put records away in their protective sleeve and cover after removing them from the turntable. Keep clean of dust and use a proper cleaning brush to remove any hairs or dust before playing.  You need a simple carbon fibre brush and perhaps some record cleaning fluid and velvet type pad. If and when you wash them (an infrequent task) use use distilled water and record cleaning solution to clean records, as the minerals in tap water are a problem for disks.

Turntables: It’s important to set the turntable up on a solid, stable, level surface that is not subject to lots of vibration. If you have friends who remember the pogo, or are inspired to do it from watching vintage music videos, please ask them to do it well away from the turntable. Possibly in a different room.

Ideally, have the turntable professionally installed. Since Liptons provides delivery as well as setup, this is easily done. It’s a 15 minute process for most consumer models, but the higher end turntables can take an hour or so to properly calibrate and tweak all of the settings.

Turntables generate a phono signal that needs to be converted to a line level signal in order to be sent through an amplifier. If your amp doesn’t have a “phono” input, you will need either a turntable with a built-in preamp, or a separate phono preamp.

Ortofon 2M Cartidges

Cartridge/Stylus: Clean carefully, only when necessary, with a brush that is designed for this purpose. Needles and the cartridge are attached to each other through a delicate cantilever which allows the needle to move gracefully through the grooves. Both the needle itself and the attached cantilever need to be treated carefully. Records may be cleaned or at least dusted off (also gently)  whenever played.

Costs: While not everyone can own a $10,000 turntable, or spend $900 on a carefully sourced, cleaned and restored early pressing of a rock classic, even an extra $100 can make a huge difference on an entry level turntable. Buy a turntable from a reputable dealer who specializes in AV equipment, have it set up properly, and maintain it carefully. Don’t get it from a trendy clothing store.

Drop by Liptons to see, hear, and feel the tactile pleasures of vinyl and turntables. We’re here to help you find the turntable and cartridge combination that fits your needs.  We are located at 130 Davis Drive, Newmarket, ON.

McIntosh Mt2 Turntable

McIntosh Mt2 Turntable

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