Thinking of buying a vinyl record player? Read my advantages and disadvantages from first hand experience.
Vinyl records are probably the least practical way of listening to music these days.
There’s a reason why vinyl records got less popular with the advent of portable formats (cassettes, CDs, mp3 etc).
Yet I have no regrets about my recent purchase of my Project Elemental vinyl player. Here are five reasons why vinyl records and vinyl players are better than digital music and other formats.
Going to a record store and flicking through the records is one of my favourite things to do in London.
Even if I’m not looking for anything particular, you never know what you might find. And when you do, you feel like doing a mini first pump. Like when I stumbled upon this 7 inch single The Last Thing You Forget by Title Fight.
Beautiful additional furniture
Not all vinyl record players are created equal. Some are just prettier than others. You can get those portable vinyl players which come in a suitcase from Urban Outfitters, but I’ve read they don’t last very long and can even damage your records. There’s a reason why they are cheap I guess.
My Project Elemental was only £160. Okay, that’s double the price of some portable vinyl players, but I’ve read it’s the best budget vinyl player around. While it doesn’t have all the frills of the more expensive models, it’s better quality in terms of sound and build. In fact, I love it’s simplicity and minimalism. Even the rather basic drive belt. I chose a fiery red to give it a bit or personality.
Have a favourite album? Love the artwork of a particular album?
Vinyl records are almost three times the size of a CD, they look great displayed in your home. I have one displayed on my desk and my bookshelf.
Also, you can’t have your favourite artist sign your digital file now can you?
The experience and process of playing vinyls
Playing a song digitally is just a click away. Great if you’re time strapped.
But what about those lazy Sundays?
Selecting a vinyl from your collection, taking it out of its cover (carefully), placing it on the player and dropping the needle and waiting for it to find the first note. It’s also fascinating just watching the the vinyl spin around.
Vinyl records will sometimes come in different styles and colours (they don’t just come in black) and there will be a few varieties pressed – once they’re gone, they’re gone. They also come in limited numbers, sometimes as few as a couple hundred for each colour.
It’s the equivalent of being the only one in the playground with a rare sticker (a shiny) when you did the whole sticker album thing. You have a collectors item.
And if you’re favourite record is sold out, it’s worth checking Discogs. But be prepared to pay a higher price (sometimes it’s worth it for your favourite album like Kississippi’s We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed.
Most vinyl records have a digital download code anyway so you have the best of both worlds!
Your favourite albums in one place
Not sure about you, but I easily forget albums.
Even if I’ve spent a month listening to it non stop, I’ll forget about it after a short break.
My Spotify playlists are a mess so digital music catalogues are worse when it comes to rediscovering great albums.
You’re most likely only going to buy your favourites on vinyl too, so you can keep track of the very best more easily.
Vinyl records don’t come without their disadvantages however. Here are three disadvantages of vinyl records and vinyl players.
Can’t skip tracks
Okay, you can technically skip tracks. You’ll notice there are darker grooves which signifies the silence between tracks.
But apparently it’s not great for your records to just drop the needle mid groove, no matter how good your eye is, you’ll struggle to drop the needle bang on the silent line).
Vinyl records force you to listen to a record front to back like they were supposed to.
Artists put a lot of thought into the arrangement of tracks. The least you can do is sit there and listen to the songs in order.
There’s no shuffle mode and you can’t make playlists (which I adore) either of course.
New vinyl records can be anywhere between £10-20. I’ve found record shops to be more expensive (around the £15 mark), while online stores like Rakuten and WowHD are £11ish. Those get shipped from America and Canada but typically have the music I like, which can be difficult to find in record stores in the UK. Delivery takes around 10 days.
Vinyl players and their accessories aren’t cheap either. A decent preamp, amp and speakers can easily cost £300+ – then there’s the record player of course. Then parts and maintenance such as the needle have to be replaced in time.
Can’t fall asleep/need to flip
I love falling asleep to music. This can be done with vinyl, provided you sleep during side A. That gives you about five tracks to reach the land of nod.
After that, you’ll need to flip to side B. This can be annoying if you’re lazy like me. You’ve just gotten comfy in your snuggie on the sofa and you need to get up. Sigh. And if you have a manual record player like the Project Elemental opposed to automatic, you’ll have to stop the player manually or it’ll just keep spinning forever.
7 inch singles are the worst, just like sex it’s all over too quickly.
Vinyl record problems
Maybe it’s because I’m a huge worrier in general, but there are several things that worry me about vinyl records.
- Touching the vinyl anywhere except the edges. The natural oils from your fingers can wear down the vinyl after time.
- Keeping my record player and vinyls dust free.
- Forgetting to remove vinyls from the record player when I’m finished listening.
- Warping of vinyls/heat of my room during winter/not storing vinyls properly (don’t stack!).
- Ripping vinyl covers and protective sleeves (please don’t drop your vinyls into their sleeve as I’ve noticed tears!)
- Stopping the record player and forgetting to lift the needle and it makes that horrible screeching sound like the singers dying (I’ve done this so many times already).
And as for vinyl sounding better than digital? There are millions of arguments for and against out there. But for the average listener like me, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
If you are considering buying a record player, you’ll need preamp to connect your record player to your speakers. I bought the Behringer PP400 preamp which had great reviews on Amazon and it’s pretty cheap too. More than a year and it’s still working, can’t fault it!
And if you need a speaker, I splashed out on the Marshall Kilburn. It looks great, like a mini guitar amp, has Bluetooth functionality and is wireless with great battery life.
What are your advantages and disadvantages of buying and using vinyl records and players? Tell me in the comments section below.