Last Updated
September 22, 2017
Ric's Blog

Nov 12/15 - Vinyl Records, gifts that keep on giving

LPs, Gifts that Keep on Giving…..

With Christmas just around the corner, I’d like to offer some “sound advice”, please excuse the pun !

In previous articles I have mentioned and warned people about sub-standard record players and audio equipment. There’s not a week that goes by without someone having issues with their new record player. These “budget” players may look nice but come with a host of problems that ruin the experience of listening to vinyl records. I can’t mention brand names for fear of a slander lawsuit so I will have to give a broad description of these products and let you read between the lines.

If the player is an “all-in-one” unit with built in amp and speakers, STAY AWAY ! Firstly, it is only common sense that when a speaker is “thumpin with the bass” those vibrations will not be good ones like the Beach Boys sang about ! There’s a good chance (99%) that they will cause the needle to jump out of the groove.

That brings me to the second point. Cheap record players usually have cheap needles. The better the needle, the deeper in the groove it rides. Cheap needles have a larger tip and “ride” in the top of the groove. Any deep bass or vibrations will cause it to skip out. The brand new 180 gram/200 gram vinyl that has been re-mastered has tons of bass so you can just imagine the difficulty the cheap needles have with new vinyl.

The other thing to watch out for is the materials used. If the player is made of mostly plastic, (like toys) then chances ( again 99%) are it will have problems with vinyl playback. A young customer came in this week with his player that he recently purchased. Construction was three quarters plastic and came fitted with a cheap cartridge/needle. Skipping was the issue and after examining it for a couple of seconds, I informed him of the problems. Using a stylus ( needle) weight scale proved useless. It was off the scale ! Normally a proper set up is in the one and a half grams range of stylus force. His was well past 3, more likely in the 5 grams range ! With that much weight on the needle tip you can expect the needle to act more like a chisel shaving off bits of sound !

I have been approached by distributors of these cheap record players, the profit margins are high but I refuse to mislead customers with inferior product. Shame on the stores that do carry these, I guess it’s a good way of telling what the store’s motivations are!

On the vinyl front, it has been reported that record pressing plants are running 24/7 to keep up with demand. Think about it, the record labels are hurting with downloads and streaming becoming the way that casual music fans get their tunes. Vinyl is the only physical format that is in a growth period. This season will see loads of box sets hit the shelves. Bonus features include inserts, out takes, and gimmicks like coloured vinyl to entice record shoppers. Currently we have over 1000 “new” titles in stock, some of the hottest titles are new releases by David Gilmour ( Pink Floyd), Blue Rodeo, Beatles, Rush, Led Zep, Adele and way too many more to mention.  One thing to bear in mind, almost all pressings are limited editions because the record labels don’t know how many to actually produce.

Please support local independent shops where you’ll get great service and advice for all of your holiday needs and above all, please support a local food bank and be charitable this season. Helping the less fortunate is just the right thing to do. Peace to all,

Ric

Jan 29/17 - 25 years of Ric's Recollections

Feb 3/16 - Short holiday break

Jan 3/16 - Toronto top 10 record stores

Apr 10/15 - Record Store Day 2015

Jan 26/15 - New release vinyl and great used record collections.

Dec 15/14 - New and Re-issue vinyl records