You Got Your First Turntable... Now What?
With a whole new generation falling in love with vinyl, it’s likely that you may have just received your very first turntable. As long-time vinyl lovers and audio experts, we would love to tell you a few things you should know in order to enjoy your new hobby for years to come.
Setting Up Your Turntable
No matter which turntable you have, you always want to make sure that you put it on a solid, level surface. While it might look cool to have your speakers next to the turntable, this is a common beginner's mistake. A completely separate surface is ideal.
All turntable manufacturers provide a manual that should walk you through the basics of setting up your table. Specifically, you will want to carefully follow the instructions for setting up the tracking force and anti-skate. You may be inclined to assume that tracking lighter is better. In fact, the opposite is true. You want the stylus (needle) to stay in the record groove. If it bounces around too much, it can wear out and permanently damage your records. Your cartridge should have a recommended range. Set up the tracking for at the upper end of that range.
Some brands do a better job than others at explaining these steps in a way that is easy to understand. If you don’t like the manual for your turntable, try taking a look at our Turntable Setup Guide.
Building Your Vinyl Record Collection
Let’s get into the reason you wanted a turntable in the first place -- vinyl records! Vinyl has a sound that can be rich, warm, and very appealing. There’s just nothing like it.
With the revival of vinyl in full swing, used record stores seem to be popping back up in every major city. There is nothing more fun than spending a couple of hours browsing through used record bins trying to hunt down that elusive record.
Buying used means that the records are less expensive. If you get tired of one, the store will likely buy it back. You won’t get what you paid for it, but it might be just the gem someone else is looking for. Put it back into the ecosystem, let someone else get some joy from it, and put a little cash back into your vinyl budget.
Once you get serious about collecting, you may want to pick up a copy of the Goldmine Record Price Guide. It’s like a Kelly Blue Book for used records, helping you determine whether the prices you're paying for your records are fair. You can get a copy for under $20 and it will easily pay for itself the first time you find a diamond in the rough. Plus, you will really look like you know what you’re doing as you shuffle through your favorite used bins with a copy under your arm!
Caring for Your Vinyl
The investment in your vinyl collection will quickly surpass the cost of your turntable. If you got one of those plastic, sub $100 all-in-one turntables, we’ve got some bad news for you. Not only will they not sound very good, but they’ll also damage your record collection. Do yourself a favor and send it back. It’s well worth the investment in a nice, entry-level turntable that you will enjoy for years to come.
Vinyl does require some tender loving care to keep your collection in good shape and sounding great, but with the vinyl resurgence going on now, it’s easy to find everything you need to keep your vinyl in pristine condition.
Properly Handle Your Records
Dust and dirt are the enemies of good sounding vinyl. Grease attracts dust and dirt. Try to not touch the vinyl part of your records with your fingertips. It is best to gently slide it out of its sleeve into the palm of your hand and place your fingertips on the inner label.
When you are done playing a record, avoid the temptation to simply place it down on a table or the floor. Do your vinyl a favor, and return it to its protective sleeve.
Storing Your Vinyl
You should always keep your collection in an upright position. Do not store your records flat stacked on top of each other. There are lots of good vinyl storage systems out there to choose from.
Keep Things Clean
There are two things you need to keep clean -- your stylus and your records.
The Last Factory has been around for years and makes some of the best vinyl care products we have seen. Consider investing in their stylus cleaner and some record cleaner. You do not need to use the record cleaner every time you play the same record.
For everyday dust removal, the AudioQuest record brush is one of our favorites. If you want to take it one step further, look into some of the wet cleaning machines on the market. Pro-ject, Okki Nokki, and VPI make some great ones. These can actually take a used record and make it pristine if it's not scratched up.
Enjoy a Lifetime of Great Music!
You will probably find as you have fun with vinyl, it is like food, wine, coffee, biking, photography, etc. Once you start to learn about it, you’ll find improving your turntable will make a pretty big difference in your vinyl experience.
We hope you enjoy your new turntable for many years to come. If you have any other set up questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with us now for immediate assistance here.