"The MorningShow with Angelo"

Angelo's "Vinyl Music Power Show"

Monday, April 14, 2014

VINYL MUSIC SECRETS - HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT TURNTABLE FOR YOU

This article is about vinyl music and accessories.

Just think..

- Are you in to vinyl music?

- Are you really willing to sacrifice technology's ends for been faithful to your music format?

 - Do you really love your vinyl collection?

- Are you a typical good listener or a high-end maniac?

Well if you answered to at least two questions from above you definitely are a vinyl lover!

The reason I'm willing to share this info with you is because I hate to see people get "mugged" from the "specialists" of sound (as they call themselves), from one hand and of course the others who use "garbage" equipment for their listening pleasure and finally ruin their favorite vinyl collection, to the other.

What do I mean with all these?

Well I seen both sides and no side of the above is good.

When you're in to vinyl music and records you want at first to enjoy good music because vinyl recording is definitely  better than any other type of recording format such as cassette, mp3, cd, cd-end (super-audio cd).

 First of all you have to know the ugly truth which is that a vinyl record's life depends (among others) on how often you play it.

Of course nothing lives for ever as you can understand, as with all things in life.

Which means that  any time the needle runs through your vinyl record  it actually melts the grooves. Don't get scary on me now at least not at this point.

The thing you have to do to maximize your vinyl record's life is to handle it (in all ways) with care.

Now, how can you do that?

Before I answer that question, you have to know some things that people get confused with.

No high-end equipment will maximize your record's life if you don't handle your records with care.

From the other hand, cheap equipment may damage your records in many ways.

So the first thing you have to do is to get a good record player (turntable) for your listening pleasure  and of course for protecting your record's life. There are many turntables and types in the market so you have to choose what turntable is right for you.





Choosing the right turntable.

First of all never depend on those turntables that "bring back the 60s, 70s" home cheep jukebox types created around 2005-2010, which also offer radio, usb input etc. They 're definitely the worse choice ever! The reason is because they use the lowest type of material such as plastic platters, bad weighted tone-arms and of course cheep cartridges and needles. These turntables can ruined your record collection very easily! Same as the old square 90's hi-fi familiar brand types that are mounted on the rest of the compact stereo systems and they're thousands of them.

Second of all you don't have to go all the way to other side which is the "high-end" market and get the most expensive turntable!

The to protect your vinyl collection regarding a turntable is the good weighted tone arm and a good needle.

So what is the right choice?

Well you can choose a turntable which first of all could be a belt drive or a direct drive.

The difference between those two is that the belt-drive uses a belt to connect the table motor & the platter. The direct drive uses a table motor that moves the platter. (no belts)

If you ask me I would definitely prefer a direct drive. Why? Because choosing a direct drive turntable you don't have to worry in the future if your belt will wear off from use and affect the right speeds (33,45). With a direct drive turntable, you won't have this issue.

Direct-drive turntables have been created from the 70's all the way to today. The 70s-90s direct drive ones were created for home & professional use. (From companies such as Panasonic/Technics, Sony, Pioneer, Hitachi etc.) They were part of a stereo system but they were separated. All the above have adjustable weight and good tone-arms with removable head-shells at the end. If you have a turntable like those and works good, just replace the head and needle (they should be old by now) and you're good to go. Nothing else to worry about. Now the professional one that lasted through time ('73 to today) is the Technics SL-1200 is also a very good choice (for me it's the best choice) even for a listener. Many vinyl collectors have dependent on a turntable like that because it was excellent made with high quality torg tone-arm and very powerful motor. Almost every professional company tried to copy the design of this particular model. Of course now that the company has stopped manufacturing it (for her own reasons) there are good companies that continue this legacy of that model. Google it to find the right one. (Among the good and professional models are Audio Technica AT-LP-USB, AT-LP1240-USB, Stanton T.92USB-B, ST.150 & Pioneer is creating a very good model (but is not out on the market yet..)

Of course if you are a macho type and you like minimalistic but expressive equipment you can buy a high-end one.

Expensive high-end turntables use belts but those belts are high quality thick ones that will last a long time compering them to the cheaper ones which are very thin belts and wear out easily. The reason high-end turntables use belts is because the platters they have are very heavy (metal or glass) and very thick (starting from an inch & 1/2 up to two or three inches height) and a direct drive motor (which has to fit inside the turntable chassy) won't be able to control them. (Just think of using a motor twice the size of a turntable wouldn't be affordable to move or use around the house). But there are mid-prized hi-end solutions in this category as well.

 So it's up to you to decide what type and style you want.

Now that we covered the turntable issue, next comes the very important issue of the right head and needle to use.

There are many cartridges in the market to choose from. All you have to do is read the technical specs so you can see the difference between them. For example you wanna have (no#1) an excellent channel separation which means that when the cartridge and needle passes and "reads" the groove of a vinyl record you want to hear all the sounds recorded to left and right channel, or else a good stereo sound (as they say) it's like you as were there during the recording. And the other important thing when choosing a cartridge is the frequency response, which is to listen to all frequencies possible as recorded, when playing that record. Very familiar models are Audio Technica AT95E (Dual Magnet Cartridge), CN5625AL, Stanton 500V.3, 680HP, Ortofon Omega Ω, OM PRO S, Shure M97XE, M44-7 and many, many more...

Now after choosing the right cartridge you must know another very important thing concerning the long or not life of your record collection. It's about the needle (stylus).

There are two types of needles. The conical and the elliptical ones.

The conical needles they have rounded (diamond) tip which means that when passing through the groove of a record they don't completely fill in the groove. That has a positive and a negative affect on the record. The negative is that the needle touches only the sides of the groove and not the bottom. This affects the frequencies you listen cause by not filling in the groove you loose some frequencies on the bottom. The positive though is that a rounded tip won't harm your record while passing through the groove, it will only widen* it a little bit, which also means that your records will last a hole more longer. Used usually by audiophiles that want their vinyl collection to last a lifetime. The conical ones may skip easier a groove than the elliptical ones.

And of course there are the elliptical needles which have a pointed (diamond) tip which means that when passing through the groove of a record they fill in the groove completely.  The positive affect here is that you can hear all the frequencies recorded on the groove which is perfect. The negative is that the needle by filling in all the groove it melts easier the hole  groove and your record's life is getting smaller.  Used by high-end maniacs and professional DJs. The elliptical ones won't skip a groove easy. That's is why the DJs use them for scratching effects during their play.

* Now about the weight of the tone-arm. The adjustable weight was put on the tonearm to equalize the weight between the tone-arm and the different types of headshell, cartridges and needles, that is been putting on the record while playing. The weight also affects the life of the vinyl record because an over-weighted tone-arm will easily wear of your vinyl record while playing (crossing the grooves).  You need to adjust the weight correctly so you won't have this problem.  

Good luck choosing the right turntable for your needs and remember always to clean your records with an antistatic carbon brush and never forget that that vinyl music is totally worth the trouble..

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