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Purchasing a record player

Discussion in 'Vintage Analog Gear' started by Jeremy Dean, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Hey guys!
    I'm not sure this is the right section to post this question in. If it's not I apologize!
    A few years ago I was at a Salvation Army store and happenned to find a record of an artist that I like who died in a plane accident in the early 80's. All his original stuff was only on cassettes and vinyl I believe. I don't think they started releasing his albums on CD until after he'd passed. Even though I don't have a record player I bought the album and stored it in my closet. This last Saturday I was going through boxes of records at our local opp shop and happenned upon another record by the same guy(plus a few others from artists I'm a little familiar with). So I have a little more reason to buy a record player now than a did a few years back when I only had 2 records. I've been looking around ebay recently. I'm looking for something inexpensive but still decent. I'll only be using the player to listen to the records, I don't think I'll be doing any sampling or anything of that nature. I'm not real knowledgeable about shopping for a record player, but this one looks like a good deal: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Aiwa-Vintag...414445?hash=item25bd85382d:g:BvIAAOSwzhVWtCmL
    What do you think? Worth the money for some casual listening? If I get more interested I may buy a better one later, but I don't need to put a lot of money into it now.
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    One important thing. Having sold loads of systems in the 70s and 80s, this turntable came from what was called at that time a midi system. Aiwa only made a very few stand alone turntables, they were not a separates company. Some of these had a low voltage DC supply and the audio connection on a single ribbon cable, so will not connect to whatever amp you have. Without the rest of the system, they are scrap. A few had mains power connection, and so you can bodge the audio connection with a bit of effort. When CDs took over, many people simply disconnected the turntable and hid it away. You do not want one of these. These things were average quality. Lowish wow and flutter figures but a basic cartridge so not exactly top end, but usable. If the turntable has mains power and audio on the usual phono plugs, then assuming your amp has a phono in for turntables, with the RIAA curve and gain, it will make music.
  3. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Don't buy anything with a plastic tone arm ;)
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  4. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    er, why? Loads of the cheap and medium priced turntables of that era had plastic tone arms. They never caused any real grief in use, and were well matched to the quality of the turntable. The one in that link was probably supplied with the 250-500 pound systems back then, and a separates turntable with the usual higher quality - as in variable weight and drag with metal tone arm cost at least half the entire system. Records back then were never the highest quality part of a hifi system, and while the quality from the top of the range ones could be truly good - a decent cartridge would cost more than a cheap turntable.

    The quality of that ebay unit is 'good enough' for the quality of a typical record found in the attic - play once, record it, never play again. If we are talking about the ;league where metal tone arms make a difference, we've leapt up a number of price bands.
  5. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Its usually a sign of the quality of the turntable...why buy cheap & nasty when you can pick up a good quality used turntable that will last decades if its well looked after.

    I have a Technics turntable from the 80's that Iv'e had since new. These still come up every now and then on sites like Ebay and a good quality turntable that was at one time one of the high-end models can be relatively inexpensive if you keep an eye out for them.

    They are only going to become more expensive in the near future with vinyl becoming more popular again IMO.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  6. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I know what you mean - Technics 1200 series must have been a real shock for Technics when it suddenly took off for DJs, and they hadn;t predicted that - and it's still being made now - pretty amazing really.

    The turntables of that time were never really where the money went, were they!

    Trying to think of the cartridge in the better ones from that era - Shure V15 rings a bell for some reason.
  7. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Absolutely...not only the turntable of choice for DJs' in both the club scene but also radio, and when the hip-hop and rap scene really took off in the early 80s' they became the turntable of choice for the beat mixers and scratchers due to their magnetic direct drive which worked a treat with slip mats. The Tech-12 is the Rolls Royce of turntables IMHO.

    I actually had two of them in the late 80s' just on a deck for DJing working as a party DJ for hire. I remember when everyone started transitioning to CD you could buy them pretty cheap as no-one really wanted them and many got thrown to the scrap heap or sold for a fraction of their cost as demand dropped off.

    Only the audiophiles kept them. Now there is a new generation discovering vinyl and they are coming back in vogue again for the mainstream...where the supply / demand curve dictates a detrimental effect on the hip pocket as the popularity increases. I have noticed a few boutique hi-fi stores popping up in my area, especially around the inner-city suburbs, catering to the latte-sipping, kayle-eating, green-voting, fixie-riding, thrift-shop wearing hipsters who think its now cool to spin vinyl and who have created a market for them again.

    It makes me chuckle to think all those years I never parted ways with my LPs' or turntable even when it seemed unfashionable to the here and now set...and now theres' a whole generation who grew up on CD and Mp3s' who are living some vinyl inspired audio epiphany...:D

    But they are still out there to be found for a good price, if you look hard enough and are patient...but I don't think that will be for much longer if the resurgence in vinyl continues to trend...

    Not if those inner-city hipsters have their way anyway. ;)
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    If this is your first foray into turntable-land, it's going to be important you pay attention to the last little bit of Paul's first post.

    You didn't mention what you'd be connecting it to, but without the proper phono inputs on your receiver, it won't sound good at all. Some current A/V receivers have probably eliminated the phono inputs. If you don't have phono inputs specifically designed for a turntable, then you'll need to buy a separate phono preamp.

    An older turntable with a ceramic cartridge will usually have sufficient level plugged into non-phono inputs, but the tone won't be very good (lacking the RIAA curve Paul mentioned). If it's got a magnetic cartridge, it's almost impossible to get a usable signal out of it connected to non-phono inputs. It will have a separate ground wire that will need to be connected to the receiver's chassis or it will hum, the output level will be dramatically lower, AND the tone won't be right.

    Have you considered a USB turntable, that will let you digitize those LPs and be done with it, and still play them through your stereo / home-theater system? (best of both worlds) If so, I'd stick to companies that would have been making decent stereo turntable equipment since before vinyl went the way of the dodo. Sony, Audio-Technica , and Stanton would be examples and a reasonable place to start. I would think there are a lot of used USB turntables for sale, from people who bought one to digitize their LP collection and then have no need for it when they're done.

    If you shop for a used USB turntable, I'd check to see if it requires software, and if that software will work for you.
    If you buy a 'vintage' turntable that is belt-driven, be prepared to go shopping again for a new belt.
    If the belt is not too far gone, there are rubber reconditioning chemicals that can rejuvenate the rubber and give it some grip. (works for rubber tape player pinch-rollers too)
    Make sure the cartridge is complete, if it's missing the stylus you may never find a compatible stylus unless it was a very popular model.
    If for some reason you lose your mind, and buy a vintage record changer, rather than a single turntable, be prepared to disassemble it and clean out all the gunk in the gears and linkage that USED TO BE a lubricant - but now is more like a paste. It will need relubed with a light turntable grease and possibly oiled.
    The same is true of a single play turntable's tonearm return mechanism, but to a much lesser extent.

    All of these things used to be readily available from a number of suppliers. Hundreds of cartridges, Thousands of stylus, Replacement headshells, Every size belt under the sun, Turntable grease….

    I think I only have one vendor left who still carries a few of those things anymore, and that would be MCM out of Ohio.

    On a bright note, in searching through the eBay links, it's nice to see that the old Thorens turntable and Supex Super cartridge I have here sitting under ⅛" of dust have retained some value. Comparing a Shure phono cartridge to a Supex is very similar in my opinion to comparing an SM57 to a Royer ribbon mic. The Shure is very good, but the Supex opens up a whole new level of depth and detail in a very warm sounding way.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  9. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    Yup -- A lot of today's receivers have eliminated phono stages --- so you either need a receiver/amp with an integrated phono stage or you need a phono pre-amp that you can connect to your existing receiver (if it doesn't have phono). Here's my system with my original 70's era Sansui receiver with integrated phono. You should have a local used Hifi store that will have what you need in your city. Otherwise forget craigslist unless you know what you want and go to garage sales looking for gear -- practically being given away in some places.

  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    For music made in the 80's, I just want to point out that the rights still applies. If you make a copy for yourself, that's fine but before selling any, try to reach the promoter, the family or the agent... ;)
  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    That's very true, and definitely a point worth mentioning Marco.

    If you keep the original LP, (US) copyright law allows you make a single copy for your own day to day use, and retain the LP as an "archival copy". As soon as you start selling anything that doesn't contain your own musical creations, you're definitely infringing on someone else's copyrights.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  12. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Ditto on the amp with a dedicated phono selector with the RIAA curve, as Paul had touched on it I didn't really expand on it but I'm glad you did Dave...its an important point that is often overlooked when people are setting up a turntable and often leads to the thoughts of "no wonder vinyl was superceded by CD" or "this sounds like crap" when using an amp without a dedicated phono channel with the RIAA curve.

    You also make a good point regarding a USB turntable as an option as these take that factor out of play...my only advice is don't skimp out and buy a super cheap one.

    Sounds like you have been up to your elbows in old pastey lubricant more than once Dave...;)
    - like any mechanical device a good turntable needs a good service every now and then, just like your car if you service them when needed, it should give you many years of trouble free service.

    There is some good advice here @Jeremy Dean...playing vinyl doesn't have to be an expensive or complicated experience to be enjoyed, but there are some basics and if you get them right you will be well on the way.
  13. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    That's where reel to reel comes in --- my grandfather used to cue up his albums on the reel to reel then play that.... I didn't inherit the reel to reel / just got the receiver and a Sanyo cassette deck. Wish I had gotten the reel to reel ---

    I used to use my cassette decks and a stereo vcr as my home recording studio, taping over the recording head to allow me to multitrack then bouncing them to the other deck and doing it again (so I had 4 tracks sync'd to then master to the VCR with an additional live track for s total of 5).

    Good times.
  14. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    All my first band recordings were on a National 1/4 inch 2 track reel to reel built in the 60s'...bounced down from an old Yamaha 8 track mixer from the 70s'
  15. Jeremy Dean

    Jeremy Dean Active Member

    Yep, been doing some reading. My Dad also had a very nice stereo system when he was my age and knows a fair amount about this kind of stuff. My preamp has phono inputs on the back. Thanks for mentioning it!
    I miay at some point convert all my records to digital, but I'm not really seeking out the kind of player. It's main purpose will be to see if this is a hobby I'll enjoy and like enough to continue collecting records and somewhere down the road get a better turntable. Also, I've read in a few places, and correct me if I'm wrong, that newer record players have a "clean" sound to them and the vintage ones have a "warm" sound to them. I'm more interested in the warmth of the original vinyl-listening experience. I want to hear what my Dad did when he brought his music home in the 70's on LP's. I'm more interested in vintage gear itself than trying to modernize it. The latest gear definitely has it's place in efficiency, but I enjoy old gear.
    I found a Vintage Technics DC Servo SL-BD27 Turntable With Matsushita EPC-P153 Cartridge while digging through ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Tec...806efe0&pid=100005&rk=2&rkt=6&sd=262491769890
    How about this one folks??? ^^^^
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

  17. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I agree with pcrecord. If I remember correctly, there is very little audio circuitry, if any, in most turntables.

    Short of tearing mine apart to look at it, I don't remember there being much in the way of electronics between the 4 light gauge wires running up the tonearm and connecting to the RCA outputs. I also think the warmth has more to do with the cartridge and the phono inputs (with the RIAA curve), the receiver, and the speakers.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  18. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

    Everything mechanical and electrical contributes to the "sound" coming off a turntable ("TT"). By mechanical, I mean extraneous "rumble" of the TT platter itself, integrity of the bearings, or even floor vibration.

    The electrical performance starts with the cartridge (you get what you pay for), the L/C characteristics of the L/R twisted pairs in the tone arm, the capacitance of the shielded cable from the TT to the preamp input, and the effective loading of the composite circuit by the preamp itself. (Some high end TT preamps have EQ adjustments to allow the preamp to be calibrated to a test record.) Consider the characteristics of the cartridge, the twisted pair tone arm wiring, the shielded cable to the preamp, and the input of the preamp itself to be lumped reactive circuits in series.

    Moving coil cartridge loading is completely different from most cartridges (like the Stanton 500AL) which load into 47 k and a specified capacitance. Moving coil cartridges also require a step up transformer, and more gain out of the preamp due to the low output impedance and voltage.
    dvdhawk and Brien Holcombe like this.
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I recently bought an Audio Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive DJ Turntable
    (both analog and USB interfacing. I love it!
    It also has a speed control on it so I can JAM! (practice) without having to tune my guitar every song. :whistle: Not all albums are tuned to A 440. In fact, most recording on vinyl are all over the map from start to finish. It was the days when people just recorded what they were doing and it stayed that way. Or... the record company decided to change the speeds. (no digital editing or pitch correction back then).

    Nothing more fun than sitting in your studio, plugging a guitar in and jamming to vinyl. That's how I learned to play.

    Being able to tune records to my guitar is very important for musicians. Granted, my turntable wasn't cheap but if you can find a used turntable with speed control, I don't care what brand it is, invest in one that has a speed control. You will not regret. :D
  20. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    The biggest joy for me with getting back to vinyl was the idea of listening to sides - a focused and intentional act that essentially carved out 20 minutes or so of time just for listening. That alone - that experience of dedicated listening as an act helped me reconnect to the experience of listening to music I had as a kid.

    Bonus was pulling out my original vinyls from when I was a kid and handing them to my wife and watching her peruse the liner notes and lyric sheets like I used to do... I got this time warp flash back/flash forward thing to seeing this beautiful woman holding the same records I help as a 12 year old ---that was pretty amazing--- but the best was as we were spinning Rush's "Moving Pictures", she looked up from her reading of the dark album sleeve and said "Hey -- these lyrics are really really good". The 13 year old boy in me just about died. A top ten moment for sure. Validation!!!!!!
    dvdhawk and Kurt Foster like this.

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