The D-Side is an opinion column which allows the writers and fans of Modern Vinyl to give their thoughts on various vinyl-related events. If you have a passionate opinion that you’d like to share with others, either leave it in the comments or send us what you’d like to write about, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s article was submitted by Devin Passariello, drummer for the band This Condition
I would hardly consider myself a vinyl connoisseur. If you’re looking for advice from one, then you might as well stop reading this right now. But I do feel qualified enough to hand out some friendly advice. So if you’re interested in some, then keep reading.
On an almost daily basis, mostly on tumblr, I see people asking for help in choosing a turntable. Whether they were given a record, found one, or went out and bought one; they now have this record with no means to play it. What inspired this post however, are the people who respond and tell them to pick up a Crosley turntable. Especially those who make it a point to mention “how awesome they sound.” Everything about their advice is misleading, and essentially false. Hopefully I can shed some light on the dilemma and point people in the right direction of getting the most out of the records they’re dropping precious dollars on.
Albums will always sound better pressed on vinyl. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a matter of fact. There is a warmth and quality that you can only experience through the vinyl format. It cannot be captured on a CD, or a digital download. So if you’re going to invest in something like a Crosley turntable, then you might as well not invest at all. There are multiple reasons. Here are a few:
1) It is IMPOSSIBLE for your albums to sound good being played through a turntable’s built-in speakers. Again, this is fact, not opinion. The speakers are incredibly small and low powered. Why would you spend money on something that will essentially just ruin the quality of the experience you hope to have?
2) Even if you connect these types of turntables to a sound system, they still sound terrible. Not bad; terrible. The reason is because these Crosley turntables use ceramic cartridges (the mechanism that converts the vibrations of the needle sliding across the grooves of the record into sound), which weigh way more than your average magnetic cartridge. Because of this, the turntable doesn’t need a preamp. The preamp is what amplifies the sound of your turntable going into your sound system. With a good turntable, a preamp is needed because the weight of the cartridge is less, meaning the sound it’s converting will be at a lower volume. The more the cartridge weighs, the louder the sound it produces will be. However, it still won’t sound nearly as good as a turntable that needs a preamp will. Also, the weight of the cartridge leads to the next reason to not buy a Crosley…
3) IT WILL DESTROY YOUR RECORDS! A heavier cartridge means more weight is pressing down on the needle dragging across your record. You’re spending money on a piece of equipment that will destroy something else you spent money on. Seems pretty ridiculous to me that somebody would do such a thing.
There are two types of people who own Crosley turntables: those who wanted a great experience but didn’t know any better, and those who want to sound cool by saying they listen to vinyl. It’s very evident that the Crosley company is cashing in on the idea that vinyl is cool; giving their turntables a “vintage” look, with analog knobs and “wood” finishes. And yes, I quoted wood because it’s not actually a wood finish. It’s a wood finish decal placed on a turntable made out of plastic. A good rule of thumb would be that if you can hold a turntable with one hand, it’s a piece of junk. They should be heavy, and certainly not made out of plastic.
Now, I’m not here to pass judgement. If you built up a collection because of how you think it will make you look, or because you want to say you own a bunch of vinyl and feel more superior than the average music listener, then that’s your prerogative and it has no affect on me. However, if you are one of those people, please do not give advice to somebody who is trying to really appreciate the quality of the record they just bought. The vinyl experience is exactly that: an experience. And the only thing a Crosley turntable will do is completely destroy that experience.
A common problem most people who just started getting into vinyl have is that they don’t realize how expensive of a hobby it is. They also don’t know what it takes to actually listen to your records. Your listening station setup should look like this:
turntable—->preamp—->amplifier—->speakers (or headphones if you don’t have speakers yet)
Turntables, sound systems, even the records themselves, are not cheap. But if you really want to enjoy your album collection, you’re going to need to spend some dollars. However, there are companies that offer quality turntables for not much more than the cost of a Crosley. Audio Technica, Numark, and Pioneer all offer great turntables for less than $220. For those who have a bunch of money to spend, Technics offers really fantastic products. Just prepare to shell out some major bucks.
Hopefully you took something from what I’ve just written. All I wanted to do was give those who may have had some questions a few answers. But if there’s one thing I hope you can take away from this, it’s to never, ever, give any of your money to the Crosley company.
You can check out Devin’s Tumbler, here.