The Best Reason To Buy A Turntable

By now, most everyone is aware of the resurgence of vinyl as a hifi medium.  More to the point, it's back on a consumer-ready level.  You can pick up new release vinyl in a store just as easily as the CD version in many cases.

Why would you bother?  The clicks, pops, static, fragility and cost of re-purchasing seems hardly worth it.  Heck, you've only just finished digitising your entire record collection and CDs, readying them for the long, cold night of storage boxes in the garage.

There's a pretty good reason to bother - not just being on the fashionable edge or taking part in a trend of counter-culture rejection of digital technology - you get to know what makes something sound really good.  With digital devices, it could be almost anything which is the key to great sound.  The DAC brought back from the future, the CD transport developed by NASA engineers, the amp-on-a-chip's proprietary connection to a seemingly infinite supply of trans-dimensional energy, all are as mysterious as the next.  But with analogue... well...

The first time I played my first turntable back in 2007, I watched the needle drop into the groove and noticed something.  The needle landed and immediately wonked sideways before settling into a straight alignment.  This led to several minutes playing with the anti-skate until I had the stylus drop straight.  The result was a much cleaner sound with a lot more pleasing bass.  Next was a deeper, wet clean of my records.  The sound improved again, with almost no clicks or pops.  Then came the gradual development of a complicated suspension system made with blu-tac and five cent pieces.  Again, the sound improved, to the point where I would have hardly recognised that original turntable had it been playing alongside.

What I had learned was invaluable and is still something I apply to my listening to this day - the little things matter.  Where audiophiles have previously been sidelined as kooks for spending half an hour turning their speakers a few degrees, moving couches and chairs and adding rubber feet to equipment like it was going out of fashion, I suddenly sympathised and understood.

With my turntable, I control the sound to a precise degree.  I know what to do to make it sing. It's a kind of real, natural, living sound a CD player or Foobar 2000 can never duplicate and I wouldn't have it any other way.

22 April, 2014 by Angus Perry
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