Return to Vinyl

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Is the old vinyl coming back? Wit ill be the classic black disc, the microgroove, the long-playing, the LP, that was declared obsolete already in the 80s, the legendary "successor of the CD", the magic object that music industry has not yet found to overcome the long period of decline in the market of music on physical media?
It's unlikely that this will be a mass phenomenon, but vinyl and turntables are back in the shops, and that this is a good way to listen good music, so we thought that it's interesting to dedicate a special section to this coming back.
This page is dedicated to some suggestions on products that can be a starting point (or even an end point) in the analog music world.

 

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The music machines

 

 

Rega P2

From British Rega, a company that has never stopped believing in analog, a classic of simplicity for playing vinyl records: the Planar 2 or P2. Essential realization, but everything that makes a difference in sound is designed and built with the utmost care. Unchanged for decades in the project but continually improved, has always been one of the turntables with the best quality / price ratio. For those wanting a better look Rega offers the disc plate in different colors.
The cost now? More or less as a smartphone or a cheap laptop .
And there is also a model even more essential, the P1, at 25% less.

Read more: www.rega.co.uk

 

 

Pro-Ject Debut

An alternative to the latest Rega P2 by the Austrian manufacturer Pro-Ject, which produces in the Czech Republic. A house that was born a few years ago, when it began to glimpse the resurgence of vinyl. The best ideas are always the winners, and the Debut, entry level within Pro-Ject models range, has a structure very similar to that of the Rega.
It costs, however, a bit less (another 25%) and can be easily equipped with an internal phono preamp, in order to be connected directly to every amplifier or active loudspeaker.

Read more: Pro-Ject website

 

 

The third alternative in the current market among the most popular makes and widely available is represented by Clearaudio, a German company that is specialized in turntables, and currently has the widest range of products, likely. The entry level model is this one, called Emotion, also available in other elegant finishes (including one fully transparent). It costs more than Debut and P2, 3-4 times as least, we are at the level of a giant TV. But the difference in quality is all.

Read more: www.mpielectronic.com

 

 

The best seller of the '60s, an alternative to the Rega Planar, which was much less sold, it was the base model of the German Thorens factory. An excellent machine, made ​​with great precision, and also more complex and complete that the Rega (adopting a floating frame design).
The Thorens company did not handle well the end (provisional) of the LP and the advent of the CD, and the production of TD-165 (and of the similar TD-166) was suspended at the end of the '70s.
But it was so widespread in Europethat it is not hard to find one used, and the reconditioning is always worthwhile. It can also be replaced easily the arm with one of a higher quality.

 

 

At a higher level than the TD-165, but with the same architecture, the TD-125 was the flagship within the Thorens models range (together with the next TD-126, a bit less elegant). It's even more worth. Interestingly, it also included the speed of 78 rpm, and can then be used, changing the cartridge, to read the discs produced before the II World War.
Learn more: Also the Thorens brand is back on the market with a wide range of models, you can visit their 
website.

 

 

Another classic of the 60s and 70s, at that time an alternative to the Thorens high level models, produced by the Scottish company Linn. A company that has never stopped producing and perfecting his workhorse Linn Sondek LP12, making in time one of the most successful music machine to read the LP, one step away from perfection, without resorting to flights of fancy esoteric turntables.
The price, however, has increased over the years, and now to have this classic and elegant object (a definitive turntable, anyway) you have to spend much.
Linn also was able to deal very well the digital transition, becoming one of the most sophisticated and successful producers in the industry, with a very wide range of products.

Read more: www.linn.co.uk

 

 

We talked about esoteric turntable? Here's an example, the latest version of Michell Gyrodec (now Gyro SE), a model that perhaps some will remember (a little different) as the turntable of the future, in the classic Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange.
The plate has weights on the perimeter to increase the inertial moment, the arm's support is separated, as well as that of the engine, the transmission belt is a wire that acts directly on the plate, an architecture that is found now in many hi-end turntables.
The price? More or less as the Linn Sondek LP12.

See also the wbsite of J.A. Michell

 

 

This other example is instead really esoteric. Designed and produced by Clearaudio, a German company that specializes in turntables, and that currently has probably the widest range of products in this sector, this is the Master Reference (a name that is a statement of intent). Made with the care and the materials of a component of a spacecraft, is also enriched by a tangential arm (thus without tracking error). And it costs, all complete, as a mid-sized car.

See also: www.clearaudio.de

 

 

But back on earth with another model very concrete, much higher quality of an entry-level priced model, but still reachable. The top models are called the Rega P5, P7 and P9. The P9 coast as a maxi scooter, but the P7, which is still excellent, costs a half and it could be already a final choice.

 

 

And also the P5 of the Rega is an eqtually valid alternative, at a price reduced of another half, and can be subsequently updated to the performance of a P7, upgrading it with the separate power supply.

 

 

Also the Pro-Ject company produces top level turntables, in these models nothing is missing, even an aesthetic reminiscent of many original esoteric products. The model in the picture is the RPM-9, we are at the level of the price of the Rega P5, the opinions about the quality are different (the Rega is a classic and the Pro-Ject is a newcomer), but there is no doubt that both are excellent.

 

 

The top of the range model is the Pro-Ject RPM-10. Different design, equivalent quality, but price reduced in comparison with Rega's top products.

 

 

Also in the range of Clearaudio you can find turntable almost defintive, but with a price still accessible. For example this beautiful model "Ambient".
For the exclusive design and build quality you have to pay 30% more than the Pro-Ject RPM-10.

 

 

And the cartridges? There are dozens, and they are not so effective in pictures. We quote only two. To get an idea. The first is a classic, moving coil, in production for decades, by the Danish company Ortofon, another producer who never gave up and is currently one of the top producers in the world (with models including economic ones) in this sector. The model in the picture is the SPU-85 in its elegant packaging.

Read more: Ortofon website

 

 

The Switzerland company Benz Micro is one of the houses that produce phono cartridges of the highest quality (and cost), as the moving coil model named Glider, in the picture. Someone will notice that the delicate stylus (in which is grafted the diamond for the microgroove's reading) is "naked", ie without protection. According to Benz this choice improves the sound, but for the lucky owners of this exceptional object for listening to music, able to extract all possible information from the vinyl records, is certainly a source of stress.
How carefully the arm and the cartridge should be handled to avoid damages to the delicate cantilever (the arm of the stylus) that could really cost you very much ...

See also: Benz Micro USA

   

Grado Prestige Red

A more feasible and accessible choice, expecially for the beginners, it can be found in the Grado company range. The house founded by the American Professor John Grado, specializes in moving magnet phono cartridges and dynamic headphones. It is always been considered at the top level for the quality / price ratio. Starting from models really cheap arriving at the top models, the available choices are proportionate to the various options that exist between the turntable.
That photo is about a medium model, the Prestige Red.

See also: Grado website

 

 

Lehmann Black Cube

And the phono preamp what aspect has? This example is one of the units considered between the best choices for the quality / price ratio, produced by the German company Lehmann, the classic and popular model Black Cube. That of course is black and as a form, if not cubic, of a simple little box.

See also: Lehmann website

 

 

Audio Research PH7

But if you want, you can have something much more important and more impressive in the field of the phono preamplifiers. For example, this component of the American company Audio Research, one of the first in the world in the field of electronics. This one is the model PH-7, even has a remote control to change the interface parameters with the cortridge, but it costs like a compact car.

See also: Audio Research website

 

 

Questions?

 

Questions about the magical world of vinyl? Write to Music-Graffiti.

 

... and a clarification

 

The images and the texts on this page are not "tips for shopping" or even advertising (we have no contact with the companies mentioned and we do not sell anything) but only "sensations" for those entering the world of analog. They are chosen from the known and respected brands in the industry, without wishing to take anything away to others who, by chance, are not mentioned.

 

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Alberto Truffi - Music-Graffiti / 2013

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