How to Take Part in the Vinyl Revival

February 28, 2018

In an entirely digital world where streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify and Soundcloud allow you to have music in the palm of your hand, the desire for tangible music has surprisingly increased.

Hearing the smooth, melodic sound of a scratching record creates a satisfying feeling that people of all generations can appreciate. So how can you take part in the vinyl revival? Here is a guide to help you begin your journey into the world of  what some consider to be true quality music.

First and foremost, you will need to set a budget. Depending on the brand and quality you are looking for, prices for the entire set-up (turntable, speakers, stereo, receiver) could range into the hundreds or even thousands. There is a cheaper option made by Crosley that will cost around $80, though the quality may be lacking. Remember, you get what you pay for. It is important to consider that even though the turntable is the main component, you will likely need speakers and a receiver as well. For a dependable set-up, around $400 is a decent starting point.

Next, make sure you have space for your set-up. Between speakers, a stereo and a turntable, you will need adequate space. Ensure that the turntable is placed on a sturdy surface where movements, vibrations and interferences will not hinder the sound quality.

Once you have completed these two tasks, you are ready to shop for a turntable. First, you will need to determine what kind of system you prefer. Most turntables require an amplifier, speakers and a receiver, while there are some all-in-one systems that you simply plug in and go. Keep in mind that all-in-one systems will likely sacrifice the sound quality. But if you are beginning in this hobby or plan to upgrade in the future, this is a solid option.

Now, you will decide whether or not to buy second-hand. Sites like Craigslist and eBay offer an abundance of listings for older turntables, but it is difficult to know exactly what you will get by merely glancing at pictures. So don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you do not have experience regarding turntables, you should buy new and in-store. Crutchfield and Best Buy are locations that offer a wide variety of options.

Next, take a look at the features before you purchase a turntable. Most recent models will include a USB port, headphone jack or even Bluetooth connectivity. These options allow you to get even more out of the turntable. If you want a simple model without all the bells and whistles, you can easily find those too. After considering all of the options, you will choose a turntable.

Finally, you will need speakers and a receiver to complete your set-up. Polk and Bose are popular brands that can be found in stores like Crutchfield and Best Buy. Bookshelf speakers are typically the best option due to their compact size.

Once you have purchased each of the necessary components, it’s time to set it up. This is a relatively simple process, but there are manuals and video tutorials online if you need additional help.
Now you will need to buy a few albums. You have two options when it comes to vinyl: either a 7-inch record, also called a single, that plays at 45 RPM, or a 12-inch record (or EP) that plays at 33 RPM. Both speeds are supported by every turntable.

Most towns have their own vinyl shops, Charlottesville included. Melody Supreme Vinyl Records is a local favorite that can be found near Urban Outfitters, which has its own selection of records, on the Downtown Mall. This intimate store has both old and new vinyl and cassette tapes. A turntable with headphones sits against the wall for customer use, so you can sample albums before you purchase them.

Sidetracks Music, located on Second Street SE, specializes in new and used vinyl LPs. If you can’t find what you are looking for in a store, most records can be found online at Amazon.

Although vinyl is fragile and you may be concerned about scratching, fear not, Amazon adequately packages all vinyl – making for a stress-free buying experience. All of these options offer a wide variety of music sure to sound immaculate on your new turntable.

It is no secret that the vinyl revival is an expensive hobby, so it’s vital to take proper care of your records to ensure their longevity. Albums should be stored in a cool, dry place, and you should never keep your turntable by a window where the sun could warp your records. They should be stacked vertically, either in a crate or on a shelf, because if records are stacked one on top of the other you run the risk of warping the sound. Also, you should invest in a vinyl cleaning kit that will include a brush, soft towel and cleaning solution. Properly cleaning your albums is the key to maintaining the rich, smooth sound that makes vinyl so popular.

Today is the perfect time to invest in the hobby of collecting vinyl. Records are the only music format likely to give you a return on investment due to the fact that they hold their value well. Most newly-released albums are provided on vinyl and classics can be found at dirt-cheap prices. Purchasing records will give you an undeniable warm, fuzzy feeling that everyone should have the chance to savor.

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About the Contributor
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Abigail Searcy, FCHS Journalist

Abigail is a fourth-year Journalism student, previous Fluco Beat Editor and a member of both the BETA club and FCA. She has played volleyball at FCHS for...

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