Two vintage record players. One modern turntable. Three copies of the same record. And one answer to the question: How do vintage turntables compare to today’s models?
Everybody knows vinyl is white-hot these days. And everyone’s getting in on it. You’ve got 16 year-old kids looking for the next hip thing. You got 70 year-olds looking to recapture the sound of their youth. The question is, what turntable do they buy? The days when you could walk into your local electronics store and choose among 15 or 20 models are gone. It seems like there’s not a whole lot of choices these days except for $100 plastic junk or $1,000+ audiophile turntables. Except for one alternative most people never consider: vintage turntables.
The following article by Ed Kobesky is re-printed by permission of Audio Discourse (with a big thank you to Mr. Dave Clark).
Analog is a smarter bet than ever for audiophiles on a budget. Excellent turntables are available from Pro-Ject and Music Hall for around $300, although that may still represent a big investment for those who want to experiment with analog before making a high-dollar commitment. Another low-cost possibility is to refurbish the classic turntable that is lying dormant in your attic or waiting for you in a neighbor’s yard sale or on eBay. Dust it off and start playing records! Turntables from the 1970s and 80s can equal or exceed the sound quality offered by today’s entry-level models. If properly set up, some may even approach the quality of $1000 CD players!
Alright, before you begin you should know that this is NOT your simple 4 paragraph ‘buyers guide’ so often seen everywhere else. This article contains reams of information and is very, very looong. If you wish, you can simply skip to certain areas but I strongly recommend reading this article in it’s entirety at least once.
So where do you start? Easy. If you are simply starting out in the audio hobby there is a massive market to explore with garage sales, flea markets, swap meets, thrift stores etc. Sometimes simply asking your friends or relatives if there is some stuff in their attic or garage they wouldn’t mind letting go of can yield surprising results! There are no rules at this level about what to buy as long as it works, and there is no smoke coming from it when it is playing, and it should not smell like the bathroom Grandpa just left. If you can buy an entire ‘system’ for around 50 bucks including speakers, welcome to the hobby.