- Oct 25, 2017
Above is the Music Room at Potato Head
Your Turntable and You:
Phono Pre-Amp: A Phono Pre-Amp converts what the turntable produces (Phono) into a Line Level signal, some turntables will have these pre-installed, some won't. If you go down the receiver route, those more often than not (especially older models) will have Phono-In connections for you turntables. You will also need a pair of RCA cables if you plan on hooking this up to your audio system. Anything will do, but in the Equipment section there will be retailers that offer higher end cables. Depending on your feelings on "can cables really affect the signal being passed through it" you may want to look into this further (here's a handy Gizmodo article from 2009 on the matter, inspect further to learn more).
Turntable: So this is what you'll be playing all your records on. Feel free to oooh and ahhh for awhile. There are two types of turntables. Belt Drive and Direct Drive. Belt driven is one that has a separate motor that helps spin the platter with the help of a rubber belt. A direct drive will have a platter that is incorporated into the motor, these turntable are suitable for DJ's while a belt driven is not. Some enthusiasts will argue that the belt driven type produces better audio quality because they produce less vibration and noise, but on the flip side direct drives are sturdier and generally survive lifetime use.
Speakers: You can go one of two ways with speakers. Either Powered Speakers or Passive. With Powered, they of course will be self powered and not reliant on a stereo receiver. A pair of Passive Speakers on the other hand will be reliant on a power source outside of an outlet. It's up to you on how deep you want to go, I find the more affordable units will be a pair of powered speakers as these can be found at more reasonable and cost effective prices while adding a receiver to the mix will just drive the cost up.
This is by no means an end all, be all list for products. I will caution against using anything with Crosley as a brand.
Orbit Basic Turntable
ART Pro Audio DJPRE II Phono Turntable Preamplifier
Audioengine A2+ Black (Pr.) 2-way Powered Speaker System
Pro-Ject - Debut Carbon DC (Piano Black)
Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifier,Black
Klipsch R-15PM Powered Monitor Speaker
MOBILE FIDELITY - UltraDeck Turntable (No Cartridge)
SUMIKO - Blackbird MC Cartridge
McIntosh MA8900 2-Channel Integrated Amplifier
Cherry Rega RX1 Speakers
Calibrating Your Turntable:
Where to buy equipment and vinyl:
Audio Gold in Muswell Hill, London [Vinyl Factory Tour]
Sound Stage Direct
Sounds of the Universe Record Store in Soho, London
Support Your Local Brick and Mortar Record Stores!
Discogs - A reseller site that will drive you insane when you find out how many variants of Dark Side of the Moon exist. Pay attention to grading, there will be more information on grading later in the cleaning section.
Amazon - the thing killing the first option.
After these three it's pretty much a crap-shoot of vinyl retailers. They all have their own packaging practices, quality and quantity. I'm sure we will get into long discussions about who are some of the better ones available on the internet.
This is the improper way to hold an LP. Always hold by the edge and to the center, never the main part of the grooves. With that said, let's talk about...
Your records shouldn't be clicking and popping. That is a characteristic of vinyl, but not its defining quality. You got some dirty records so now it's time to clean them. Here are quite a few options to look into.
There are two ways to go about this. Either using a Mobile Fidelity (MOFI) Record Cleaning Brush or the Hunt: EDA Mark 6 Carbon Fiber Record Brush. You want to put your records on the platter and gently hold above the record, not to put too much pressure against the surface to collect any loose paper, dust and contaminants left on the surface of the record from either the production line or accumulated dust over the decades if its an older record.
My preferred choice in this instance is a MOFI brush purely based on anecdotal evidence, but I've seen more carelessness with a carbon fiber brush than I have with a soft flat brush like the MOFI. They say it won't scratch the disk, but for me I'd rather not take the risk.
Wet Brush and Solution:
A wet brush and solution method involves either a MOFI brush or one similar in design (usually with soft velvet padding on the underside) and a bottle of disk cleaning solution. The RCA RD1006 Discwasher Vinyl Record Cleaning Kit is the classic example of this. Trusted over decades of use. On a clean, dust free surface (a record cleaning pad like this All Media Cleaning Mat from Sleeve City) spray or squirt some cleaning fluid onto the vinyl. Move the fluid through the grooves lightly with the brush making sure everything is covered (but not the center label of course) and leave for a few beats. After that using a microfiber towel dry off the disk, pat dry on the mat to clean excessive liquid off then lift up and spin dry with a fresh towel in your hands (the process involves turning the record like a steering wheel in your hands with it sandwiched in between the towel). Now repeat with a purely distilled water rinse to remove any excess cleaning solution, when that is accomplished, flip to the other side and repeat the process.
I will also recommend you do these in batches and when the records have been cleaned you'll need to let them dry in a dish rack. One that you use exclusively for this purpose. You want them dry as a bone when you place them in brand new anti-static sleeves. moisture trapped in the grooves will lead to molds and fungus growing on the disk and when you spin those records that mold gets trapped on the needle and spreads to other records.
Your first foray into the record cleaning device. It consists of a basin to submerge your records in, two soft cleaning pads for either side of the record, rotors to keep the record moving and also giving you the ability to keep the record submerged, but the center label clear of any liquid. The Spin Clean is probably the best starter cleaning device for anyone above at least two hundred records. It makes the process a whole lot straight forward and less messy. The process involves two cap-fulls of the included cleaning solution and distilled water filling the basin up to the guiding line built into the product. Pop in the two rotors into either the 7", 10" or 12" grooves then place the brushes into the slot. Place your record in and spin manually.
Here is a handy tutorial from the folks at Sleeve City [Youtube]
You will also want a dish rack for this process as well as plenty of microfiber towels (a few are also included in the purchase of the spin clean, but I found those to shed a bit, you definitely don't want your towels shedding into your records).
The Squeaky Clean Mk.III is my current form of cleaning. It's the first step into the world of the RCM (Record Cleaning Machine) and perhaps the most affordable of the bunch. You'll need distilled water, cleaning fluid, condiment squeeze bottles, two separate velvet padded brushes (MOFI brush or otherwise), a 2-3 horsepower shop vac and space to work.
Here's a handy video from the man who prints the parts for the device [Youtube]
I will restate that I do not advise using alcohol in your cleaning solutions. It strips out anything natural in the vinyl (it cleans them too well) and may lead to degradation down the road. My personal feelings on the matter and there are numerous cleaning solutions on the market that don't include anything of the sort, I'll touch on those later.
Here's Michael Fremer explaining Ultrasonic Cleaning and showing off the ClearVinyl RCM
From Vinyl Factory, Words by Tom Fisher
Mint (M) – Absolutely perfect in every way. Never been played and usually sealed.
Near Mint (NM) – The record has been on a shelf between other records. The vinyl looks glossy and clearly has only been played a few times. There are no marks on the vinyl and the whole package is complete.
Excellent (E) – Same but I’d tolerate very light marks where the vinyl has been in and out of the inner sleeve a few times, or tiny signs of use generally.
Very Good Plus (VG+) – A few further faults are acceptable, but nothing that really compromises the record visually or audibly. A little rub, light inaudible marks, a little background crackle.
Very Good (VG) – It’s seen a bit of life, but is still usable. Light pops and clicks, an edge split, light visible scratches. You can still listen to it and enjoy looking at it, but it is visually and audibly USED.
Good (G) – To be honest you’re making trouble for yourself here, as Good means Bad. I’d only be selling something really desirable in this condition, with a bargain price and a full, no holds barred description to match.
Poor (P), Fair (F) Attempting to listen will be a disturbing experience. Expect major noise issues, skipping or repeating. The record itself is cracked, badly warped and has deep scratches. The cover is also approaching death.
Vinyl Me Please!
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Dust & Grooves
Studio Dewee conference room in Belgium
I will be updating this OP fairly often. I just wanted to get a jump on this.
This is my cataloged collection on Discogs
and I regularly post what I'm spinning on my Instagram