MAX’S MUSIC BOX: If you’re going to play vinyl, a good vintage turntable’s a must

With the advent of digital music, iTunes and the iPhone, it’s hard to believe that analog would ever make a comeback.

While I hardly think we’ll be seeing iPhonograph any time soon, turntables are pretty popular again.

Since 2006 sales of turntables have jumped from 1 million annually to nearly 4 million.

But the comeback of vinyl is for all the wrong reasons.

Most neo-analog enthusiasts these days tout sound quality; the catch is that the turntable won’t actually sound better than an MP3 file on cheap equipment.

Most recently I saw an acquaintance’s Crosley turntable with built-in speakers.

That really isn’t something to brag about.

On that table, not only will the LP sound worse than most digitally compressed music, but the table will ruin the record.

That the entire unit (speakers and all) costs much less than a decent needle should be a sign that Crosley doesn’t scream quality.

And the music won’t just sound sub-par.  It’ll also permanently scar records.

Most budget turntables have needles that press really, really hard in the grooves, which ruins a good LP.

That “pressing strength” or tracking force is significantly lighter on a quality vintage table.

But it’s okay; there are plenty of alternatives to the record-wrecking Crosley.

You can find a vintage Technics or Pioneer turntables on Ebay for around the same price (around $70).

And if you want something new, then actually spend the time to research what you’re buying.

However, new tables will cost you significantly more.

For example, the aesthetically pleasing Pro-Ject Debut III comes in at around $370. It’s a great table.

A slightly cheaper contender is the Denon DP-300f priced at $329. Denon has been making equipment for a while, so it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty good purchase.

But it’s hard to justify the purchase when comparable vintage tables are much cheaper.

I mean, half the fun is searching for the record player itself.

So return that Crosley and get something that sounds decent. Otherwise, stick to your iPhone or you’re just wasting your money.


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