There is nothing quite like a classic album played back from a good ol’ vinyl record. Aesthetically, they are stunning. Not to mention the fun of playing them. The touch, the feel and the general nostalgia of the vinyl record makes most of its users reminisce of days gone by. However, even though vinyl sales took a hammering as the CD became standard in the early 1990s; the record is coming back...this time it’s with vengeance!
It is quite surprising to learn that the vinyl record is coming back into the mainstream of chosen formats. When ordering an album from an internet supplier there is a choice of three formats: MP3, CD or vinyl. Yes, it’s well and truly back. However, these days it’s a much heavier vinyl material. This is so that quality remains as opposed to being missed out. A thinner record wears faster and is prone to warping a lot faster than a thicker one when stored incorrectly.
So, with vinyl being popular again, how do you get the best sound out of it as possible? It’s sadly not a straight forward process on today’s modern hi-fi equipment. Many hi-fi amplifiers are not designed to take an output from a hi-fi turntable. This is because an audio output signal is very, very low from a turntable, as opposed to a CD player output which is normal and requires no amplification. However, if your amplifier features a phono input it usually means that a turntable can be connected with no problems. However, if there are only auxiliary inputs, an external amplification device for the turntable will be required. We call this external amplifier a phono pre-amplifier. It effectively boosts the turntable’s output to be compatible for the hi-fi amplifier to further amplify for you to hear. This is the basic principal of getting the signal amplified. At Hifi Gear we sell phono pre-amplifiers from £85 and upward. We have a full selection of hi-fi turntables available for sale, with prices starting from £150.
Ideally it is sensible to match the price of the turntable, phono cartridge and stylus and the phono pre-amplifier to each other as close as possible. However, before investing in a pre-amplifier, be sure to see if your existing amplifier has phono inputs, or if your desired turntable features a specially designed phono output EQ stage already. Phono cartridges are available in either moving magnet (MM) form, where they have a 'high' voltage output, or moving coil (MC) form, where the majority of designs are 'low' output, but the re are some high output MC cartridges, that will work very well into a standard MM phono amplifier input.
When the correct phono pre-amp has been found it is then worthwhile upgrading the cartridge of the turntable. This will dramatically improve performance and will help to preserve the record condition in the long-run. Also, with changing the cartridge you can influence the sound produced overall. Warmer, brighter, neutral or mellow sounds can be achieved. This can be a long and winding process, so it’s best to get advice from experienced users and professionals. At Hifi Gear we are always happy to help and to give our advice and recommendations on what we feel may just be of interest to you when upgrading your vinyl set-up. Of course, we can arrange demonstrations too – so please feel free to ask wherever you feel that you need some assistance.
The best bit, as anyone will know, is the turntable itself. In the Hi-Fi world the record has always been a loved article. Yet, manufacturers have continued to provide great turntables, regardless of the record’s sale downturn in previous years. Some are designed for looks alone, some for pure fidelity and others are designed to be great value all-rounders. Luckily, we offer a broad spectrum of the listed above for you to see and hear at Hifi Gear. We offer value in the fantastic Pioneer PL-990, featuring automatic operation; DC controlled motor and included EQ phono stage, all for under £140. For a really great sounding, basic hi-fi turntable which won't break your budget, the Project Genie Mk3 is a superb vinyl spinner for £199. And, at the other end, we offer the stunning Michell Gyrodec that has beautiful clarity and accuracy to its name.
When the correct turntable, pre-amplifier and cartridge & needle have been acquired, it could be worth looking into interconnecting audio cables. New, thick and specifically designed cables will ensure that all audio signals are preserved to the highest of standards as they travel from turntable to amplifier. Van den Hul has their very own unique ranges of interconnects for vinyl applications, including both the VdH Thames and VdH Isis. More price-friendly options are available from high-quality manufacturers like QED or Chord. Again, an influence of overall sound characteristics can be achieved through the correct choice in interconnects.
Now that the ideal equipment combination has been achieved, it’s now time to look after the vinyl records and ensure that they are up to being played upon your equipment. At Hifi Gear we are able to supply equipment and accessories that can clean and preserve your vinyl records for a lifetime of playing enjoyment. Cleaning fluids, anti-static guns and static eliminating sleeves are only a small selection of what we hold in stock for vinyl records. We’re also able to supply brushes, turntable covers (for specified brands) and uprated slip mats too.
For getting that vinyl set-up just right, contact us at Hifi Gear for help and assistance. We are always ready to help with professional, courteous advice.
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