One of the most rewarding things about writing blogs is chatting with people with the same interest as you. You get to learn more about your hobby and acquire information from others. When I started collecting records I had no idea where to find more records, parts for my turntable or even where to find a new stylus. I soon started looking on websites like eBay, and Amazon. Even back when I started collecting, these websites were just starting to showcase small amounts of sellers.
As the years passed more sellers started to emerge and record shows started popping up and now almost every weekend in some place there is a record show. Dealers will travel from far and wide to sell records and the hunt is on for new and old records. I have noticed though that every time I go to a record store it seems like the younger generation is out numbering the old collector.
Facebook has provided a new way to market used and old records. All over the world Facebook groups are being created specifically about records. Some for sale or trade, some will try their hand at bidding on records, and others will just post new findings. I truly believe if used in the right way social media can be instrumental in the new resurgent of vinyl records.
Over the past year I have chatted with fellow collectors that were willing to teach me how to set up my sound system properly, what turntables to buy and ones to stay away from, among lots of other information. Those that like to showcase records that they find give you the opportunity to discover something that you may have never seen before. Over the past two years I have bought from people that just started selling just out of sheer passion for the hobby and this seems to be the case with a lot of sellers. I too tried my hand at selling; I use to look for bulk loads of records for sale and buy them as I would pick out what I wanted and either try to sell or trade the rest to my local record store so I could get more that I wanted.
At one point I was posting ads on kijiji and had people showing up at my house but that just started a different issue since it drove my wife crazy! 😂
Most sellers have the same thing in common and that’s collecting them so that brings me to a fellow collector that I met online when I was looking for a reliable seller that could sell me a new stylus.
Anthony or better known by his Facebook name Disko Stew started selling records about two years ago when he was gifted a few bins full from a family member to try and sell. He wrote “my commission was that I got to keep records and a turntable”.
“From there the addiction took over! I started buying up people's collections in large quantities, keeping a select few, and selling the remainder for more money in order to feed my habit."
This is the case for a lot of collectors I have found over the past two years. Especially with the sudden rise in prices of new vinyl records. More and more collectors are starting to find it hard to justify paying $30-45 for a new record however if they can offset the price some with trading or selling items that they don’t want, this can help with acquiring that higher priced record.
I meet Anthony when I noticed he posted some old stock stylus that he came across and was trying to selling. At the time I had a Shure MKIII that I loved and needed a new stylus. I really didn’t know which one to buy and I tried in the past to look for one on eBay like most people would look to for the first time. My choices were limited to buying something really expensive domestically or waiting for some aftermarket stylus from China that would take well over 45 days for me to get. I messaged Anthony and within four days I had my new stylus in the mailbox at ½ the price that others were asking.
Since that day I have been buying all my stylus needs from Anthony. That’s the great thing about finding a reliable seller in the record business; Buyers will continue to return to buy more when they need something and it’s always smart to keep a good relation with your favorite sellers because it’s so hard to find good deals that you really like.
If I were to give one advice to buyers and sellers alike, it would be to always stay on good terms with each other. In my location of the world, collectors and dealers all know each other for the most part and most communicate through social media regularly.
Anthony now has expanded his selling experience and states; “I stumbled upon a large lot of "New Old Stock" styluses, and after selling those for some time I decided to up my game and also sell brand new styluses and vinyl accessories.
It has now become a hobby-business of mine and I now stock a variety of vintage styluses as well as Tonar and Nagaoka branded styli and accessories.”
This is great news because that tells me that Anthony is going to be around for some time to come and when I need something I know who to contact. There are a lot of great sellers on the market but they can be hard to find. Not everyone advertises or has a storefront so it's great when you find a quality seller.
The best part of collecting is finding what you want and knowing who to get them from. I always share my contacts so others are not left spending hours on eBay.
This is my contacts website for those that maybe interested.
My wife’s headlights on her car went foggy and needed to be cleaned. So I bought a headlight restoration system. I had some left over and contemplated if it would work for a turntable cover. It turned out to work really great. The key to the whole process is taking your time and sanding in order.
This is a photo of the cover before sanding.
The process can get really messy. It is best to do everything in a bathtub.
The brand that you use does not matter. I have used different kinds. Usually I pickup what ever is on sale.
When sanding you must make sure you are wet sanding.
After sanding you want to dry the cover off and make sure it has a haze and no signs of scuffs or scratches. If you see some start over.
Now polish with the included compound.
Do not use water when polishing.
This cover took twenty minutes.
This blog will answer the question, “Do different weighted records actually sound better and can you notice the difference between the weights?”
I was asked this question by readers and I really wanted to know this answer myself but with limited knowledge on the subject, I reached out to several pressing companies for the answer.
Is this a myth or is there merit to the claim?
I know over the years I have gone into record stores and have been told both yes and no. Well, when it comes down to who knows best I figured who better to ask than the people who make the records and who are industry experts?
I was really surprised and thankful for how many people replied with an answer and offered to help me answer this question!
Let’s take a look at some answers from some vinyl pressing plants around the world:
Furnace MFG, President, CEO and founder Eric Astor wrote;
“There is virtually no quality difference between the new “standard” weight vinyl (140-150g) and 180g-200g records. The same cut and plates are used to press both. A heavier pressed record will resist some of the micro movements created by a stylus surfing through the grooves but most people can’t hear the difference if there is one at all.”
Eric went on to add some advice to buyers writing, “Instead, the buyer should pay close attention to whether it was pressed on black or color vinyl with black almost always sounding superior. Unlike CDs, vinyl quality differs from plant to plant. We are proud of making very high quality records and we spend the money required to keep the quality standards high. It costs more to do this but in the end, we only produce what we’d be happy spending our hard earned money on at the local record store.”
Eric states; “It takes a village to produce a great quality record so if any of the following processes are lacking, you can hear it in the playback:
- Lacquer cut / mastering
- Plating / galvanic
- Quality of PVC
- Quality and consistency of the press and the operator running said press
- Physical and audible plant quality control
- Type of sleeve the record goes in (paper sleeves scuff records)
- Quality of turntable and stylus
- Quality of playback gear - receiver, amps, speakers, etc”
Furnace MFG Kelly Sadler Sales wrote, “Mechanically, there are advantages to heavy weight records, in that the additional weight provides a more stable platform for your turntable's stylus and cantilever which provides for better isolation from unwanted vibration. I really don't see much of any difference between 180G and 200G weight records however.”
Hand Drawn Pressing, founder Dustin Blocker wrote;
“The difference between 200/180G vs. standard (typically 120G and up depending on MFG); is going to be in their resistance to warping, not in their audio.” Dustin went on to state; “The master and stamper (which is the audio) is the same regardless of weight. What makes a great sounding record is that stamper.”
Groove House Records, President, CEO and founder Bryan Kelley
Woodland Hills, CA
“Records pressed on 180 or 200 grams don't necessarily sound better. It really depends on the content though. If the content is bass heavy like rap, then a heavier weight record can be helpful. The length of the record also is a factor. Shorter records are best - i.e. a record that is under 18 minutes per side will always provide you with most optimal sound quality. Most of the time, we find that pressing a record on 140 or 150 gram vinyl sounds best. We will often times make a cleaner sounding record by lightening up on the weight. This little trick can take away some of the surface noise and little ticks that are found on most vinyl records.”
24mastering, Founder/owner and mastering/cutting engineer Misjah Van Der Heiden wrote:
Even though 24 Mastering is not a pressing plant, his knowledge is one that goes with this topic. 24 Mastering is a professional mastering and disc cutting facility and wrote;
“If the conditions are the same (same mastering, same pressing plant, same plating, same vinyl used etc) then there is no sonic difference between 180 or heavier pressings.”
Precision Record Pressing, Vice President of Sales Paul Miller stated;
Burlington Ontario, Canada
“It’s true that 180 or 200 gram records do not sound better than standard weight records. The amount of vinyl compound used on press has no relation to the cutting or plating process, which are arguably the most critical factors in determining sound quality.”
Paul didn’t want to give the wrong impression that 180g were no good he also stated; “I would however consider 180 gram vinyl to be a great packaging feature – it’s almost human instinct to hold a heavyweight record in your hand and associate that product with quality. It really “feels like a record”. Since people enjoy it so much, I consider it an appealing frill much like a unique looking record jacket, or a lock groove on the cut.”
Polysom, Consultant João Augusto wrote;
“Probably my message will hurt some people that believe that heavier vinyls have better sound. Technically, this is very far from the truth. The grooves for any weight are the same, so the sound is the same as well. Records with 180 or 200 grams are believed to be better due to its solid appearance, but this does not change the sound."
Canada Boy Vinyl, Chief Operations Officer Dean Reid wrote:
Calgary AB, Canada
“In my personal opinion, there is no difference in sound quality between a standard weight record and heavyweight. One could argue that the thicker record is more durable and less likely to warp, which I believe to be true.”
“At the end of the day, the truth is in the grooves. If a standard weight record is pressed properly it should sound the same as a heavyweight. If each of the records was pressed flat, then they should sound the same.”
“I personally dig heavyweight records as they are nice and chunky and look cool. Do I think they sound better than standard weight? Not at all.”
Vinilificio, Cristian Adamo Founder/owner wrote;
"The weight of the vinyl just influence the stability of the vinyl on the turntable.
The groove deepness is exactly the same between a 140 gr. and 180 gr.
The 180 gr. can avoid the wowing on the long playing vinyl records with long notes as in the classical music or ambient music.
If you have a precise turntable and music with long notes it could be better to have a 180 gr. vinyl record.... but if you have a music with some rhythmic/beat it's nearly impossible to listen the difference between 140 and 180 gr."
In summary, it is clearly well stated by many pressing companies that the sound is not going to change when it comes to the weight. Regardless of what people may believe I think a heavier record is nice, it feels great in my hands and I feel like I spent my money on a sturdy product. Additionally, in my opinion a heavier weighted record sits better on my platter.
I have had some recent questions about which stylus is best, Spherical or Elliptical, so this blog post will focus on my experiences with both. I will begin with breaking down the differences that I have found between the two options:
This drawing shows you how an elliptical stylus sits in the grooves of your record.
Spherical (or Conical)
This drawing shows you how a Spherical sits in the grooves of your record.
Personally I like the Elliptical stylus because I like the rich sound and I have a turntable that can handle one without causing any damage.
It is not lost on me that my opinions about the two stylus are not exactly in line with others and debated whether sharing the blog was worthwhile. However, after examining the effects both stylus have on records under a microscope I stand by my opinion; a Spherical stylus would sit just as deep as an Elliptical one. Nevertheless, I can’t really be sure so I will say to choose a stylus that fits your use. If you’re a DJ then I would stick with a Spherical and for a casual listener like myself, I would suggest an Elliptical one.
Finally, keep in mind that setting up your turntable properly and not using a worn out stylus is much more important for the life of your records than what type.
As the new generation of record collectors are starting to emerge, it seems storage and displaying your record collection is becoming more and more popular. From dorm rooms to displaying in your own home, records have become something worth showing off and bragging about to your friends.
So, why the sudden interest?!
No one really knows but some will make speculations and to others it just doesn’t seem to matter. Records seem to be here to stay now, for the time being. A quick glance over the internet and it will not take long before you start seeing claims that vinyl record sales have exceeded digital media music.
Every collector has their own way of storage and display preference and reasons.
When records first came on the music scene, milk crates were the storage choice. You will still find them laying around time to time, maybe at thrift stores or at yard sales. I personally don’t like them because to me they just look tacky and not really something that I would want to show off to my friends. Not every milk crate will fit your records either because over time the milk companies changed their style to a smaller size. If you’re into going to record shows you will see them often. Sellers love them because they are sturdy, easy to move around because of the handle holes and are easy for buyers to flip through.
IKEA shelves seem to be the most popular way for people to store their records now days. They seem to have a class to them and look great with your turntable and receiver on top of it. IKEA shelves come in all kinds of sizes. Something tells me that they were never meant to be used for records, however, they are becoming apart of many house furniture setups for displaying record collections.
You can also buy smaller wooden crates at many local record stores, and even hardware stores now. They tend to hold 50-75 records, allowing room to flip through your collection. One thing to watch out for when buying a wooden crate is how it’s made. I wouldn’t ever buy one that is put together with staples, unless you never plan on moving your records. Your records are very heavy and those types of crates tend to break apart under the weight when carrying them. Look for ones that are put together with screws.
Another type of crate you can find at Wal-Mart is plastic bins. They kind of look like a knock off of a milk crate and are sure to measure before buying. A record jacket is typically 12 3/8 X 12 3/8 inches. You want to have more space then your record size so you can flip easily, especially if you plan to use Record Jackets to protect your collection. They come in many different colors. I noticed culpable crates too at another store like mine showing in the below photo. The Price range is usually between $10-15. A lot like the wooden crates I wouldn’t move them around too much. They have plastic hinges. They are known to break under the weight of the records.
Other people like to see their collection more when they flip through. If your handy with wood you could make something like this photo that I made a few years ago. The only problem I found with this kind of display, is it takes up a lot of room and you run out of space for a fast collector.
Now let’s talk about displaying your records. Many people like to display their favorite records and some have really cool jackets. This is one of the many reasons why some collectors buy curtain records. Some people will use small easels; others will use more cost effective methods like using a plate holder. You can find them at most dollar stores.
Now if you wanted to display them on your wall you could use house siding starter strips from a hardware store. I have never tried this method myself but have seen it used in record stores before.
In conclusion, I hope that this blog gives you some better ideas on how to store and display your record collection. Just remember; never store your records on top of each other. The reason not to do this is because it can cause warps and if a record has any dirt on it, it could push the dirt or pebble into the record, which could cause a divot in your vinyl. This is non reversible damage.
So what can you do with your records after they are not playable?
This is the question that I get asked all the time so in this blog I’m going to share some ideas that you could do with them.
A record takes a long time to break down in landfills if you throw them out and I don’t believe you can put them in your recycle yet. Back in the 70’s record pressing companies tried to re-melt them to make new records but the results had mixed reviews.
After a few searches on Google for craft ideas I have come up with a few. Some I have tried, and some that I wish to try in the future.
I have also come across a really cool home based business called “Ever-Fixed Mark Laser Engraving”. They are based out of Alberta, Canada. The business is run by a husband and wife team, Don and Karmin Golding. They created a business out of repurposing old vinyl records. They call their products Vinyl Record Art; Displaying them as clocks, framed or unframed. You can check their work out on Facebook:
People all over the world have been doing this for years. When I was in Ukraine I picked up this one showing what the old city used to look like:
Here is one that I have tried to do in the past:
There are different methods of making them. You can use a hot knife like I tried to, however, it does takes a long time. One other method is to use a hand- held Dremel tool to cut. The big issue with using a Dremel tool is making the mistake of cutting too much. Ever-fixed Mark Laser Engraving uses state of the art lasers and there products turn out amazing. Here is a photo of a record that they made for me of my logo.
Another product that you can make with your records are cool looking bowls. Imagine using a multi colour record! That would make for one amazing bowl. Lots of people have been doing these for years. Not many people like doing them anymore because of the possible harmful fumes that the process of making them can do to your health. What you do is put the record in your oven at approximate 150 Fahrenheit depending on your oven type. Place a bowl that can be used in an oven under the record. Once the record starts to droop, take the record out and carefully form the record to the shape that you want around the bowl.
In my case I used a bread pan:
Another thing that I have noticed that people are making is coasters. They are simple to make, just use a hot knife and cut around the record label. I actually have seen them sold at a box store the other day.
Another use for old records is as dividers with your record collection. Many record stories were doing this cost efficient method for years to save money. An A to Z divider set can cost as much as $40.
The uses of records are endless!
From making guitar picks, mail letter holders, scrapbook covers to earrings. With a quick browse through the internet, it will not take long to find ideas of what people have come up with.
Ideas are endless with a little imagination.
Let’s just start by saying there are only really three types of turntables.
The three types are:
• Direct drive
• Belt drive
• Idler drive
Each one of them has pros and cons and I can personally offer an honest option on each of them because I have owned each type over the years. My very first turntable was a Duel 1229 duel Idler Drive. It was one of the greatest turntables I ever owned but it also had its share of issues.
The funny thing about owning many turntables over the years is it seems that your favorite is always your current. My current turntable is now a belt driven one. So what one is better than the other one, you may ask? That really comes down to what you really want from your turntable and what you’re looking for. There are so many other things that affect the sound that you hear from your records, more then just your turntable. Your equipment plays a huge factor but that will be covered in another blog.
Let’s compare each type of turntable:
Direct Drive Turntable:
A Direct Drive Turntable platter is connected directly to the motor.
• The motor offers more precise speed accuracy and a faster start up.
• DJ’s like direct drive turntables because they are not affected by using your hands and most can be played backwards.
• Since the platter is connected directly to the motor, there is always a chance that the sound can be affected by vibrations transferred from the motor to the tonearm.
If you know anything about mechanics the Idler Drive is a lot like a snow blower setup. They both use a friction wheel. While on a turntable, when engaged the little rubber wheel pushes up against a motor shaft that pushes the wheel against the inside of the platter.
• They have just as much torque as a direct drive turntable
• A lot of moving parts go into making one work. I took my Duel 1229 to a very reliable company to have it serviced and they quoted me that there was no guarantee on their service for an idler.
• Parts can be very hard to find to replace
• The idler wheel can ether dry out if not used over time or become slippery over time and not grip the inside of the platter.
• They can pick up a lot of motor noise
A belt driven turntable is one that has a motor that is separated from the platter. The belt goes around the motor and platter. With some turntables, the belt is on the outside of the platter while others others can have it on the inside.
• The motor is isolated from the platter. Isolating the motor from the platter is believed to have fewer results in transmitting noise to the tonearm. This is the main positive of a belt driven turntable.
• The belt can start to stretch over time and need to be replaced, leading to less accurate playback speeds. It’s best to always have one on hand as a spare.
• There is lower torque
• Can not be used as a DJ turntable and played backwards
If you’re like me, I use an anti-static brush to clean my records using the turntable with the platter spinning. Over time, on a belt driven this could wear down the belt faster because it causes the belt to slip.
In conclusion, each turntable type has lots of cons. However, it depends on what equipment you plan on using with your turntable and how frequent you will use one. If I was just getting into collecting and not worried about my equipment and was on a small budget I would look for a fully automatic vintage direct drive; They are also believed to be built stronger.
Every person hears their music and sound differently so if your setup sounds good to you, it doesn’t matter what others think. Notably, not many people own Idler Drives anymore and as a result are becoming harder to find. More expensive models of turntables seem to be Belt Driven nowadays while Audiophiles believe they are the best because they isolate the motor from the platter; I believe in this theory as well.