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Suggestions for Buying Turntables and Record Players.

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Suggestions for Buying Turntables and Record Players - If you're new to vinyl.
    For the last few months I have been keeping an eye on various listings for turntables/record players. Let me start by saying that I am fully aware it is up to individuals to list whatever price they like on their items and it is equally up to the individual buyer to pay however much for said item.
    Buying any electronics equipment, especially second hand, anyone runs the risk of landing a dud. I have noticed many listings for record players that are of "vintage" and my contention is the exuberant starting bids or asking prices for items that are pushing in some cases 40 years of age. I can understand that nostalgia plays on people when buying such items but what was good 20, 30 or 40 years ago doesn't make it so today.
    And just because of the name, doesn't mean that the company either stands by that product any more, as many companies such as Marantz and Thorens make new turntables to this day. For the same prices that I have seen on listings for old record players, for example, Marantz and some exceeding $300 for something that is 30+ years old - you can buy a new Marantz for the same money. Same goes for Thoren too. You are buying new componentry, new tech, new and better stylus, better tone arms, better platters, motors, plinths and so on.
    I bought a Dual turntable from an Op Shop for $15 and it has served its purpose well. I saw the same model I own listed recently for well over $250USD and that was the starting bid! And there is just no way on Earth that I would even have the gall to sell it for more than I paid for it. (For one Dual aren't that great a brand to begin with - doesn't handle bass too well).
    I have now purchased a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon and for all intent and purposes it is one of the best turntables around for $500; carbon fibre tone arm, high quality stylus, hand made plinth matched with an exceptionally quiet motor. Everything about it has been beautifully designed and created for vinyl lovers. The componentry you are buying was once only available on higher end turntables with large prices.
    My other suggestion is if you are wanting to enjoy vinyl records; avoid the cheap and nasty turntables - the ones that are offering USB connectivity et cetera. Plastic junk and a waste of money. I've done my research for many months and time and again the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon came up as best quality for money.
    The proof is in the pudding too... it sounds amazing. But make sure if you do look at the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon it is the latest model, which in Australia retails for $529 - $599 .. not the previous model which is going for $429 as this model had issues with the power supply for Australian outlets. The new model has an improved motor and proper power supply.
    Don't let nostalgia sway your buying or auctioning. What was once quality and possibly passed through many hands in its lifetime is akin to buying a very old car and you take a gamble that it might run. Buy new, at least you get a warranty and you are getting something newer and better. And to add, older record players may damage your vinyl.
    Some vintage turntables do have a certain quality to their sound, and yes, there are those who collect turntables which is fine. The point I am making is to suggest to people new to vinyl and turntables that because a product says Marantz, Thorens, Technics is no insurance on quality and if they fork out more than enough to warrant purchasing something newer, it is ludicrous and they may end up with a lemon and not get the sound they are wanting to achieve. Especially if they have newer sound systems, which just don't match in sound quality to older players.
    My old Dual turntable still does sound great on some albums (older ones) but with newer vinyl it doesn't pull all the sound, such as bass and it does struggle on high end sounds, at volume - which without hearing other older players, with the exception of friends who have older players - sound quality does not always add up. So if someone forks out a ludicrous amount on something that is 30+ years old they will only end in disappointment. Hence I often troll the charity stores and have picked up about 3-4 players now ranging in price from $10 - $40.
    Even our local rubbish tip has a market place where many things have been rescued and refurbished and a friend of mine who regularly trolls through there has purchased vintage speakers and players that all work fine. However, my Pro-Ject has no qualms on all fronts.
    All it takes is a matter of Googling the various turntables up for auction to see what "experts" or other forums dedicated to turntables has to suggest. For example there is currently a Yamaha turntable pushing $400. Back in its day it was a mediocre turntable but to pay what could potentially go for over $450 at end of auction is ridiculous when you can buy something brand new.
    Older turntables have a plethora of problems if they haven't been looked after, serviced regularly, bearing housing, motor, tone arm, stylus... depending on the quality of the stylus and if you have to replace it, you are looking at anywhere from $40 - $300. Photographs are hard to judge by, and I would suggest to sellers auctioning older turntables... at least dust them off and polish them up "before" you photograph them and then have the nerve to set the starting bid at over $200.
    I guess in some ways I am politely suggesting that some sellers are just cashing in on nostalgia and have been into the silly sauce and being a little too "pricey" for something that is very old and potentially could only last a short time... some of the older players I bought have now given up the ghost and don't work. My suggestion is also more to those who are new to the experience of vinyl and if its perfect sound they are after it is far better to put their money to something new. At least that way they do get a warranty etc.
    I can also suggest looking at finding quality speakers as well, to experience the great sound vinyl has to offer. Older vintage speakers, especially those beyond 20 years of age were designed back in a time when stereo was simply stereo - two channels with everything crammed through both.
    Newer speakers tend to pull more channels even though it's still only stereo. Don't expect 5.1 sound you're not going to get it. But a good, new turntable matched with a quality system you will definitely experience your music for the first time in your life the way it is meant to sound in all its uncompressed glory.
    If someone is a collector of old turntables and has money to burn, then so be it. But when manufacturers like Marantz are still making players then I would aim for something new. I listen to a lot of heavy metal and newer styles of metal are complex in their sounds and I know from experience that the newer stuff doesn't sound so great on an old player and I was disappointed. Plus a lot of the older players selling for ludicrous amounts, such as the Yamaha, they have plastic bodies which does hamper sound quality. Older players maybe have a few things loose inside and playback is going to sound nasty.
There are some players up for auction I would love to buy; but there is no way on earth I am going to pay more than $100 for something that is older than I am.
Avoid: anything with a plastic body and plastic anything, especially the tonearm - look for a player with a solid plinth (the base/body). Solid cast aluminum tonearm or carbon fiber tonearm. Also if you're not planning on being a DJ and wanting to scratch your records don't go for a "direct drive" look for belt drive. Buying an older player the belt may also need replacing too, along with the stylus.
The whole point of design in a quality player is to reduce as much noise as possible that can be picked up through the stylus and that also includes motor noise too. Cheap turntables are going to pick up a lot of noise through the stylus and tonearm and at volume it will sound horrid.
My suggestions for quality and affordability ($400+):
Marantz TT-5005 (fully automatic)
Thorens TD-158 (fully automatic) - On both of these I will also contend that you can tack at least $50+ into the price for the name.
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon (Manual) - save the dollars and don't buy the Pro-Ject Essential. You'll only want to upgrade later on. It does the job and sounds ok on smaller speakers but it blows out on larger speakers and amps.
If you want to buy an older turntable... hit up your local charity stores or a second hand/pawn shop so you can at least physically check them out.
On a final note you will need to plug your older turntable into an amp for it to play. Also an amp needs to have a dedicated "Phono" input. Newer amps don't have Phono so you will be required to buy a Phono Preamp and good ones will set you back $80+. My Pro-Ject preamp set me back $160AUSD.
 
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