For My Fellow Millennials: What You Should Know Before You Start Collecting
Why Just for Millennials?
Collecting records are great, the sound, and having a physical copy of a favorite is an amazing feeling to have. There is however more to it than just buying a record player, and the albums to play on it. There is much more to it that you should be aware of if you decide to start collecting. I am directing this articles to my fellow millennials because well, you aren’t doing your research when it comes to vinyl.
2 in One Players Aren't Worth It
Yes having both speakers and a turn table being in one package sounds great. However most of those players are made of plastic and a stylus without a counter weight (A cylinder at the end of the stylus) will not only damage your records, but if you bump into the record player, it will ‘jump’ and cause damage to your needle. A steel tonearm is more effective sound wise, quality wise, and will save your records and needle. Also, better quality record players have an equalizer option so you can change around sound. Most of the newer players on the market have built in preamps, so all you need is a good set of speakers and you will be good to go.
Just because it is expensive, it doesn't mean it's good
Most think that a just because a record player is $300 dollars it is great, and a $100 record player is worse. Let me tell you, it is not true. My Stanton T. 92 cost $280. While I was narrowing down almost 10 turntables, there were players running for $500 dollars and were worse than the $280 one. You should do a lot of research, consult professionals, make sure the stylus is made of stainless steel, has a counter weight, has at least a 33 and 45 rpm (Revolutions per minute) and sometimes some have 78 rpm (early Jazz records are most notorious). Never buy a record player that has speakers built in, and blue tooth connectivity. Without going into technical detail, the wrong record player will only do damage to your records because of the quality of the tonearm and needle.
You don't need to spend a whole lot of green for cleaning equipment
cleaning fluid to clean any used record before play is needed. However you can make your own cleaning fluid using distilled water and isopropyl alcohol. You should invest in a microfiber brush however, because even the newest albums may have dust and dirt on it that will affect the play. So get a brush just to dust the record before play. Microfiber brush is important to have as well because it doesn’t leave any dust destroying the grooves as you play. A paper towel will leave back dust and destroy the grooves. Long story short, a microfiber brush, and anti static cleaning arm will be your best friend.
Record cleaning DIY
It is addictive
In 2014 I began with two albums Billy Joel The Stranger and Boston’s self-titled. April 2017 marked three years since I began collecting, and my collection is slowly climbing to almost 350. You’ll never get enough of it, and will keep hunting for the next find. Just a friendly tip if you do go beyond 20, if you like older music always buy used. The dollar bin and used section shelfs typically have gold nuggets. I found my first two records in the dollar bin 3 years ago.
It comes with a price tag
I guess this can count as number three. Records can get pretty pricy, but if you want to upgrade on new needles, or stylus, even a new record player and speakers and sound system, it will all add up. So just be aware that with the addiction comes the price tag. You will have to get a slip mat for the record player itself , and may have to have money on the side in case your stylus needs to be changed.Trust me though, when you are able to play your favorite album on the record player 20 or more times with HI-FI (High Fidelity) sound it becomes priceless.
Buy albums you know you will listen to
There is nothing worse than buying a shirt, leaving it in your closet and never wearing it. A record is the same. Why spend money on an album you know you won’t listen to? It will only take up space in your collection, and you will probably forget that you even have that album. So do yourself a favor, if you want to buy an album make sure you will give it a play. If you don’t know the artist, Spotify and YouTube are great places to check out a new artist before you shell out money to bring it home
What you should look for in a record player (and why)
While a record player isn’t a new car or a house, it deserves well thought research. After all, you are about to buy something you will probably use for many years to come. So stay away from Urban Outfitters, Best Buy, Target and other stores that may sell those suitcase looking record players. Open Amazon, or go to a DJ store (They exist). Make sure you know your budget. Like I said earlier, a record player for $700 may be just as good as a $300 one. The first thing you should research is reputable companies that sell audio equipment. Such companies are Stanton, U Turn and Pro Ject. From there make sure that the tone arm (The long arm that has the needle) is made of steel, and has a counterweight. The importance of the counterweight is you can set it to the force at which you want the needle to move along the grooves. Which is why a plastic tonearm is dangerous. Also make sure it is heavy. That way if you bump into it (On a table for example) the needle won’t jump, unlike the suitcase looking ones would, because they are made of plastic. The platter (what the record is laying on), is also important. If it is made of metal there will be less slippage. The last thing you should be aware of is the needle that is being used in case you have to replace it, so you know which one you will have to invest in when the day comes.
Belt Drive versus Direct Drive
Most Crosley’s you see and major retailers are direct drive. Which means that you just press a button, and the platter begins playing on its own. In Belt drive, it is driven by a belt around the platter. Older players have a belt drive, but some newer ones also have it. So just make sure to read up that you are getting a direct drive
Milk crates and other storage
Please don’t leave your records just laying around, you are only destroying them. Keep them in a box, upright, wide enough for there to be enough space to poke your finger in, if you pack them to tight it will only destroy them. Records are relatively fragile, and if you drop a disk, you may cause a scuff or scratch on it. Trust me, I know this from experience. If you have the money and room, a shelf would be a nice investment. I built my own shelf, and use milk crates for extra storage. You can use storage bins, or milk crates from the back of liquor stores, just as long as there is space to fit them in the storage.
As you take the record out of the sleeve, and put it on the record player, brush all off the dust, and put the needle down, enjoy it all. There is no better feeling than having your favorite album play through speakers, as you hold the album in your hands itself.