featured pros and cons of record players

The upsides of record players are:

  1. High-fidelity audio
  2. Great for collectors
  3. Potentially profitable

The downsides of record players are:

  1. It can become expensive
  2. Takes up a lot of space
  3. Inevitable degradation
  4. Immobility
  5. Delicacy is necessary to prevent damage

Introduction – Record Player Pros And Cons

I was wondering, we’re all very excited about vinyl. But what are considered the downsides of a record player and a vinyl collection? Personally I don’t like that I can’t take it with me on the train. Secondly it pains me to know that every time I play a record, it will degrade ever so slightly, but maybe that just makes me appreciate it more.

I asked around on some Facebook vinyl collection groups to find out what people generally consider the upsides and downsides of owning vinyl and record players. This article goes into what we came up with.

First I’ll discuss the upsides and then I’ll get into the downsides. At the end, in the conclusion, I’ve really just given my opinion of the balance between vinyl/ record player pros and cons. You can of course make up your own mind on that.


The Pros

It Can Be Cheap

I’m fully convinced that vinyl collecting and striving for high audio quality with your audio setup does not have to be expensive. There are many affordable options for record players. Some are good, some are worse. Many people dislike the cheap turntables that Crosley offers for example. But Audio Technica has some options that have an amazing quality while maintaining affordability.

That’s the record player part of things. The second part will be buying actual records. This doesn’t have to be expensive at all. Vinyl sells at a wide range of prices. From $2 for an older used record to more than $10,000 for limited edition album releases. If you go to any record store you’ll be able to get enough music for a year with just a hundred bucks.

The third and final part will be your audio setup. So your stereo amplifier, speakers, preamplifier, etcetera. There are many record players that have some decent built-in speaker, so you aren’t required to spend the extra fortune on your audio setup. But this doesn’t always leave you with the high-fidelity audio you seek, which is a big uspide of music on vinyl.

High-Fidelity Audio

Vinyl offers the potential for high-quality audio. This is because the audio data is literally pressed into the vinyl. This is one of the best ways to come closest to what the artist intended. This is awesome if you compare it to the lossy compression of for example MP3 audio where a large part of the musical quality is lost.

This lost musical quality often contains the intricacies and subtle frequencies that hold the important emotional intent of the artist. But I’m noticing I’m getting too sentimental, so maybe it’s time to quickly move to the next upside.

Before we do though I do want to mention that there are better audio compression technologies available, but sadly most digital music services like Spotify will not use this. I’ve come to the conclusion this is mainly due to a bigger return on investment for them and most people prioritize convenience over quality. If you’re interested in a more detailed elaboration on this check out this article I wrote that compares vinyl audio with Spotify audio.

Great For Collectors

Vinyl has been around for quite some time now. For almost a century actually. During these years there’ve been many limited edition and discontinued productions. Next to that, music hold a special place in the hearts of many people. These two combined make vinyl the perfect thing to collect.

Who’s your favorite artist? Have they ever released an album on vinyl? If they have and you’re a vinyl collector then you’ve probably already bought it. You must understand how happy I was to find people selling the Limited Edition 180 Gram Chris Cornell LP for about $40.

That actually leads me to the next pro: the potential profitability of record collecting, which has actually sparked some heated debate among artists and vinyl collectors.

Potentially Profitable

Not everyone is happy with this, especially artists, but if you can get a good deal on a record can flip it for profit and a lot of people are doing this. It’s not as easy as it sounds, since you do need a good eye for vinyl value and a lot of storage. But I think it’s nice to know that if I buy a limited edtion record now its value might increase over time, whether or not I plan on ever selling them. Let’s get into the record player and vinyl cons now.


The Cons

It Can Be Expensive

I said that a record player and a vinyl collection don’t have to become something expensive, but it really can be as well. There will always be an upgrade you can do or a new special record you can buy.

There are some expensive record players out there, but in many cases I wouldn’t consider them overpriced. Especially since it’s a one-time payment. Therefore I’d say that the price of the record player is not what makes this potentially expensive.

The real costs come with:
– An unendingly growing record collection.
– Never-ending upgrades to the audio setup.

No matter what you buy, there will be something better out there. There’s always that extra speaker for perfect trebble that you can get. Or that rare album you didn’t know you wanted that just got posted on Discogs. If you’re not careful you’ll spend too much and forget to enjoy the music you’re trying to achieve purity for.

Takes Up A Lot Of Space

Next to your record player requiring a nice table or cabinet to stand on. You’ll maybe need to find space for the speakers. You’ll also need room to properly manage your cables. But the big one is your vinyl storage.

If you’re a serious vinyl collector you run the risk of record collection bloating. Eventually they won’t fit in the cabinet anymore, so you’ll have to move them to the attic or basement. You’re lucky if your basement wasn’t occupied already. You should also be aware of the extra dangers for storage that are present in your attic and basement. Like dampness, mold and vermin.

Inevitable Degradation

One thing I find depressing is the inevitable degradation of vinyl everytime I play them. On the other side it does make me appreciate every second of playtime. Your stylus will inherently slowly wear down your record. This degradation can happen faster by many things like a worn stylus. If you’re interested in the sympomts of a worn stylus then check out this article I’ve written about it.

It should be added that if you take have proper equipment and take care of your records and equipment that you’r vinyl will probably outlive you.

Immobility

Record players come with immobility. There are some suitcase models that are made with mobility in mind, but those are still impractical for listening to music in the train. You’d need a mobile power source and if your record player doesn’t have built in speakers then you’d have to bring mobile speakers too. It’s just not made for this.

I see my two record players as the perfect music players when I’m at home and have set some proper time apart for a music listening session.

Necessary Delicacy

Vinyl records are generally pretty sturdy, but the grooves require delicacy. You’re really not supposed to touch the grooves at all, only the sides and the label. Otherwise you’ll clog your grooves with grease, which will make the inevitable dust to be that much harder to clean off.

Next to that you’ll want to keep your records out of the sun, since that will quickly change their shape. This causes warping and groove distortion.

The turntable mechanism, stylus, cartidge, cantilever, tonearm, etcetera are all components that require delicacy as well. Dropping your record player on the ground will undoubtedly do damage that will require repair. If your record player is bumped sternly while the stylus is on the record then there will likely be significant damage done to the grooves or stylus.


Conclusion – Record Player Pros And Cons

Now, since I write this blog you could’ve already come to the conclusion that for me the pros outweigh the cons. But I can understand why some people haven’t bothered with record players and vinyl. However, I do think that most of these people would appreciate vinyl more after they’ve actually held a record in their hands, placed it on a proper turntable, and listened to the audio quality. To me this process is very satisfying, which is one of the big reasons I love vinyl.

I hope this was interesting to you. If you like it I’d love it if you checked out my other educational articles. And if you’re interested in purchasing a good and affordable record player, as I discussed in this article, you can check out my reviews & top lists.


Sources

  1. ChrisCornellVEVO, from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf0pcytyiYVYy3UOs52nsQg
  2. Vinyl collectors’ opinions, from https://facebook.com & https://discogs.com

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