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The Ultimate Guide to Getting into Vinyl

Vinyl records are in the midst of a resurgence in recent years. Yet for many people, digital music streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube have commoditized music consumption. The ability to create endless playlists or listen for free has changed how some people perceive music, making it easy to skip from single to single without ever hearing a complete record.

Although streaming services have made music consumption more convenient, a medium like vinyl offers some unique benefits. Fans of vinyl records often prefer them to modern digital formats because of their warm, smooth and silky sound. When putting on a record, you are choosing to listen to music in a fundamentally different way compared to a streaming service. Streamers often skip over multiple songs and jump from playlist to playlist, whereas listeners of vinyl will usually listen to an entire album from front to back. This creates a more intimate, engaging experience and can help you appreciate the artist’s vision for the album as a complete work, not just one or two hit singles.

This article will show you everything you need to set up a home stereo system to listen to vinyl with great sound quality.

Turntables

All turntables must do at least two things well—spin records at a constant rate and smoothly track the record’s groove with a needle (or stylus). A reliable, constant spin rate is important because, without one, the speed and pitch of the music would constantly vary and make for an unenjoyable, confusing listening experience. The record player’s ability to track the vinyl’s groove is important because smooth tracking prevents occasional skips and is less likely to scratch or damage your records in the process.

There are many turntables on the market, from basic all-in-one solutions to premium, high-end record players made with trademarked materials. A good, quality record player with no frills will cost between $200 and $400. As you increase the price, with some models over $800, you’ll find turntables with high-grade materials and more advanced features.

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Here are some features to consider when purchasing a turntable:

Motor type—This describes how the motor is connected to the spinning platter. Look for a turntable with a belt drive instead of a direct drive for the quietest operation possible.

Cartridge—Contains the needle (or stylus). The cartridge included with your new record player is likely going to be of good quality, but you may choose to upgrade it for an even more nuanced sound.

Phono preamp—The signal that a turntable needle produces is very low—too low to produce sound out of bookshelf speakers on its own. For maximum convenience, choose a turntable with a built-in preamp or else you’ll need a receiver or standalone phono preamp.

Tonearm—The tonearm mechanism defines how you physically interact with your turntable.

Preamps

The signal that a turntable needle creates from reading a vinyl record is incredibly detailed, but as mentioned above, it’s also too quiet to be heard through speakers. If your turntable does not have a built-in phono preamp to amplify the signal, you’ll need to connect it to a receiver with a phono input or use a standalone phono preamp. While a built-in phono preamp is convenient and makes using a turntable easier, many audiophiles choose to use a dedicated phono preamp for improved clarity and nuance. Standalone phono preamps can offer additional functionality like A/D (analog to digital) conversion, USB ports and more, but their primary purpose is to amplify a turntable’s audio signal with as much fidelity as possible.

Speakers

Vinyl produces a full range of audio frequencies and not all bookshelf speakers offer the performance necessary to accurately reproduce the nuances of this re-emerging format. Conventional bookshelf speakers can also require additional gear, like a receiver and power amplifier, in order to be used with a turntable. With the S1000DB and S3000Pro bookshelf speakers, Edifier has combined studio-quality sound and the convenience of active speakers to create the ultimate vinyl listening solution.

Edifier S1000DB and S3000Pro bookshelf speakers both offer exceptional sound quality, each with a class-leading frequency response for deep bass and crisp, detailed highs. Since the S1000DB and S3000Pro bookshelf speakers are active speakers (i.e. powered), they require no stereo receiver or speaker amplifier in order to function. If your turntable has a built-in phono preamp, you can simply connect it to one of the aux inputs on the S1000DB or S3000Pro and enjoy your records right away.

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For minimalists who want a completely wire-free audio setup, a Bluetooth turntable combined with the Edifier S3000Pro bookshelf speakers is an ideal choice. The Edifier S3000Pro bookshelf speakers include multiple traditional audio inputs, augmented by Bluetooth audio and wireless left-right speaker connectivity for a clean, pleasing aesthetic and uncompromising sound quality.

Conclusion Every component in your home audio chain will affect your vinyl listening experience—from your turntable’s needle and motor type to the phono preamp and bookshelf speakers you choose. If you’re on a budget, a quality turntable with built-in phono preamp and a set of Edifier S1000DB bookshelf speakers will provide you with a great listening experience full of clarity and depth.

For an even more intimate and immersive music experience at home, consider upgrading to a dedicated phono preamp and the S3000Pro, which will provide extended lows and highs and a luxurious wire-free audio left-right speaker setup. Now that you know what you need to listen to vinyl at home, it’s time to start building your record collection—enjoy!