A Beginner’s Guide To Vinyl Records

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So, you want to begin the lifelong journey that is record collecting, but where do you start?

  1. Well, before you can play your records, you’ll need something to play them on. Turntables, more commonly referred to as ‘record players’ can be purchased online or in stores at select record shops or electronics stores. However, whatever you do, don’t by any means succumb to the cuteness and practicality of the Crosley cruiser record players. The list of issues with this particular turntable is endless. The speakers are of minimal sound quality, the machine parts are made of cheap, highly breakable plastic, and probably the most sinful crime of them all- there have been reports of vinyl records being completely damaged beyond repair due to the records not being able to lay on a flat surface, which prevents warping. Turntables can range from lower-end models which are cheaper, and higher-end models which can cost thousands of dollars. I purchased my Audio-Technica AT-LP60 from amazon.ca, and it arrived within two weeks, packaging fully intact and it didn’t completely break the bank. This turntable does however, require separate speakers as it doesn’t have the built-in sound ability. A rule of thumb, if it comes with built-in speakers, skip on it, the quality of the music will sound better with external speakers. Doing this also leaves you with the option to play around with different speakers to see which ones work best for you.  If you’re willing to dish out a little extra cash for something more expensive, the u-turn orbit turntable is getting rave reviews from vinyl connoisseurs far and wide.
  2. Now that you’ve picked out your perfect turntable, what’s the deal with vinyl records? First of all, to save you the embarrassment from snobby know-it-all record collectors, the plural of vinyl is just vinyl. Not vinyl(s). How I wish someone had explained that to me. Anyways, there are 2 basic sizes of records. Firstly and arguably the most common mode for pressing records is your standard 12-inch LP, which is played at a speed of 33. This is the way you’ll find most of the albums you love pressed. They can even be colored, etched, picture discs or liquid-filled, the possibilities are simply endless! The next most common size would be 7-inches. These records usually consist of two songs and are commonly pressed as promotional pieces or singles. These records are played at a speed of 45. If there’s one thing you should know before starting your collection, it’s that records aren’t cheap anymore. A standard price for a record nowadays is probably around $25, although special edition pressings and rarities can go for upwards of thousands of dollars. Start out with a few, and before you know it, you’ll be looking for places to store them all!
  3. Speaking of storing your records, you’ll need to keep them in good condition to strengthen the longevity of the music. Never stack your records, this can bend and warp them out of shape, making them unplayable. Store them upright vertically, in a cool, dry place. Too much heat can also mess with the playability of your records. I store mine in a wooden crate I picked up at the craft store for around $12. Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it’s the safety of your records that matter.
  4. Where can I buy vinyl records these days? Vinyl records have spiked in popularity over the past few years making them more accessible. If you don’t already know where your local record store is located, do a quick google search and find out! Small independent record stores are by far the best way to pick up records. Not only are you supporting the little guy, you’ll be welcomed into a place with cool people and music lovers like yourself. Now that’s something you won’t find buying your records online. Buying your records online can be convenient and cost-saving, but it’s a gamble to know what you’re actually going to get. The record could be scratched or warped and who knows what the package went through in the mail. If you do buy online, make sure you’re able to return it for a refund if you do get a damaged record. A cool way to build your collection is also through vinyl subscription services. These are online services that will send you records monthly for a set cost. Some of these services hand-pick records for you that they think you’ll like, such as VNYL, and some subscriptions send out a single featured record of the month, like FeedbandsVinyl Me, Please and vinylmnky.

Welp, those are the basics of record collecting. The more you experience collecting vinyl, the more you’ll learn, and eventually, you’ll become a pro! Starting your record collection will truly become your passion, seemingly overnight and the more you grow, so will your collection! Happy listening!

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