Vinyl: It looks cool, feels good and sounds great.
"Records have made a comeback"! This statement is something I hear frequently, but at Living Sound record players have never left. Since it's beginning in 1991 Living Sound has strongly supported vinyl replay. If you have an existing record collection in good condition, and/or are buying new albums, then a quality turntable is a worthwhile investment to extract all of the music from the grooves. Vinyl playback is a challenging engineering exercise that has many things working against it. Simple in principle, difficult in execution. It's one of the wonders of music reproduction that it even works at all. The better the turntable, the better the engineering, the better your records will sound and the longer they will last.
With it's warmth and flow, vinyl replay to many is the pinnacle of music reproduction in the home. It has a presence and life-like quality that digital can struggle to convey. A well-recorded well-pressed record on a mid-line turntable can see off many a digital source with ease. On a top-flight turntable, the same pressing can be almost overwhelming in presence, dynamics, tonal balance and sheer realness. It's a great time to be playing and buying records as there's a large range of turntable brands and models to suit all budgets.
Forget the toys sold in the mass market electronic stores. Those turntables will do more harm than good to the precious grooves in your records. Good vinyl replay can only be achieved when certain design, engineering and production protocols are applied. The Debut Carbon by Pro-Ject (above) at $649 or a Rega P1 (Planar One) for $599 is where my turntable selection starts. Both come fitted with a cartridge included in the price, and are easy to set up. These tables are fully manual making all the cost of construction priority going into sound quality, as it should.
Rega's P3 (Planar Three) has a long lineage going back to the late 1970's. A Rega Planar 3 purchased in 1982 was my first proper turntable. The current Planar 3 incarnation is leaps and bounds superior and still a bargain at $1500 or $1750 with a factory fitted Rega Elys 2 cartridge. There are upgrades available via the Rega TTPSU external power supply ($475) and a Rega 'White Belt' for $70. The Rega P2 (Planar Two) at $1100 including Rega's Carbon cartridge, and Pro-Ject's 1-Xpression Carbon at $1199 including an Ortofon 2M cartridge sit just below the Rega P3.
The RP10 is Rega's top model. At $6400 without cartridge it's not cheap, but there's a saving for those who want the best. The option of getting it factory fitted with Rega's Apheta moving coil cartridge for $8,150, brings a saving of $250 on the cart as they're 2K on their own. If vinyl is your main playback source and you're passionate about the sound your records are capable of, then this deck, or the P8 (Planar Eight) below it at $3600 (or $5100 with Apheta cartridge factory fitted) will deliver the sonic goods in spades.
A turntable is a wonderful source component to complement an existing digital based system, or as more and more listeners are doing; using vinyl as their primary music source. Like any source component, the better the quality of the turntable the better the amp and speakers will sound. The source always determines the ultimate resolution of your system. Good quality record players last for many years, so it's worth investing in the best you can afford so you can enjoy the long-term dividends of your records sounding their best.
Accessories to enhance the vinyl listening experience.
Rega fono mini a2d
The Rega Fono Mini A2D is a high quality phono pre-amplifier for use with any moving magnet cartridge. The addition of a USB interface allows you to easily transfer vinyl to your PC or Mac. I recorded over one hundred of my own records using one of these and it worked perfectly. The Fono Mini A2D is designed to amplify the signal from a moving magnet cartridge to a suitable level for all line level inputs of an audio amplifier. The Fono Mini A2D has an extruded aluminium case and very user-friendly front and back panels. It's a steal for the price of $225.00.
pro-ject brush it
The nature of vinyl records makes them collect dust which over time will build up on your stylus and start distorting the sound. This anti-static carbon-fibre brush reduces static charges and removes fine dust particles from the grooves. Place the record on the turntable and while it's spinning (and before you lower the tonearm onto the record), hold the brush so the bristles make good contact, then slowly move the brush to the outside of the record. Flick the dust off the brush ready for next time. Personally I think these are a must have item. Only $35.
nitty gritty model 1.0
Nitty Gritty has been making quality record cleaners for the serious vinyl user for 30 years. The Model 1.0 pictured above is their entry level unit. At $1699 it's not cheap (unless compared to their top model at over 3.5k), but if you buy a lot of vinyl and/or purchase second hand records, then a machine like this makes a proper job of cleaning those grooves. There's options with the cleaning fluids too, the Pure2 1 litre at $89, 2 litre's for $149, or the PureEnzyme+ at $139 for 1 litre or $199 for 2 litres.
Cartridges, styli, phono stages, record sleeves, record clamps and more...
If you have an existing stylus that needs replacing then there's a very good chance I can get you a replacement. They generally cost around $55. There's a range of cartridges from Rega, Sumiko, Dynavector, Ortofon, Lyra & Goldring I can get too. Whether it's an entry level cartridge or a top-of-the-range model these brands should have something that suits. Outboard phono stages from Rega, Naim, Cambridge and Pro-Ject cover the entry-level through to the high-end. There are many products available to complement or improve vinyl replay that Living Sound has access to, so contact me with any enquiries.