How to get started with vinyl: finding the right turntable, building your collection, more

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In recent years vinyl has enjoyed an impressive resurgence as it found a home in our mostly digital world. The so-called “vinyl resurgence” started in 2007, slowly seeing sales increase over the next 10-years to levels not seen since the 1980s or earlier. If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to depend on Apple Music with an entire library at your fingertips. But vinyl offers a different experience, as there is just something about placing a record on to a turntable that Apple and Spotify simply can’t match.

Last year I dove into the world of vinyl strictly out of curiosity. In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed building a small collection and learning some of the nuances of this hobby. If you’re at all interested, check out the short guide below to learn how you can construct your own vinyl library from the beginning.

Building a vinyl library |

Before we get too deep into this rabbit hole, the first thing you’re going to want to do is see if your preferred music, genre and artists are available on vinyl. A great place to look is Amazon’s virtual record storefront. Many artists are now available on vinyl, offering both old and newer catalog additions.

When I first started building out a library, I shopped in Amazon’s under $20 section. The reality is, you’re going to pay for your music here versus Apple or Spotify’s flat subscription fee. If you’re not cool with that, this venture may not be for you. Otherwise, the “bargain bin” section of Amazon’s record store is a great place to start along with this best-sellers list.

A few classics to consider:

  • Abbey Road – The Beatles: $20
  • Thriller – Michael Jackson: $19
  • Back to Black – Amy Whinehouse: $15
  • Purple Rain – Prince: $19
  • Greatest Hits – Aretha Franklin: $20

Choosing a turntable |

When starting from scratch, and presumably on a budget, there are primarily two routes to go when purchasing that first turntable. Opting for built-in speakers provides a tidy setup that’s often affordable and doesn’t take up too much room. The downside here is that audio often isn’t high-quality because the physical space is limited for full-size speakers and components.

1byone makes a budget-focused option for under $50. Again, you’re going to be at the bottom from an audio quality perspective here but $50 is one of the lowest prices you’ll find for a new unit. Ratings are overall positive at Amazon. If you like that old school look, this $110 option from Victrola includes Bluetooth functionality for added value.

If you have an extra pair of speakers around, going with the external route is certainly preferred. This $89 fully automatic model from Audio-Technica is certainly a nice value buy. It supports two speeds and has a sleek design along with stellar ratings at Amazon.

Those willing to spend a bit more should reach for this Crosley direct drive model for just under $200. This has been my turntable of choice while on this vinyl journey. It has a nice build, supports two speeds and comes with a gorgeous aluminum platter.

Don’t have a spare set of speakers lying around? Audioengine is my preferred speaker manufacturer, with options available at various price points. At this point in time, I’m rocking the HD6 walnut speakers that I reviewed a few years back.

Wrapping up |

Vinyl is a fun adventure, but certainly not a cheap one. I’ve enjoyed learning about the process and where to find records at a discount. As always, it’s good to see if there is a local record shop in your area. That’s a great way to find used components or vinyl. This nifty website is helpful for finding locally owned shops across the United States.

Are you a part of the vinyl revival? If so, what turntable and components are you using? Let me know in the comments below.

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