I mentioned earlier that I find people often “buy-in” at the wrong level when starting out with vinyl. My recent move of one of my turntables to my primary headphone rig has provided another example of this.
A friend stopped by right after I’d done that, and had a listen. Loved what he heard. Thought the process of playing, and going back to listening to whole albums (rather than just individual tracks and playlists), was quite therapeutic etc.
So I give him my prior budget phono-stage (Schiit Mani), since I’ve now decided to keep that permanently replaced with the Parks Audio “Puffin”, and we have a good chin-wag about good turntable options to get started. I’m pretty sure he’s going to order a U-Turn orbit, or one of the basic Pro-Ject tables.
Nope … straight to Craig’s List and picks up the cheapest plastic PoS he can find - some nasty “ion” thing with a built-in phono-pre, a USB output, and an unidentifiable cartridge. And then off to some arcane record store to buy some used albums.
I don’t find out about this until I get a call …
“Well, I bought a turntable, and a bunch of records … and it doesn’t sound anything like yours!”
Holy rumble and wow!
The main “bearing” on this thing must have been salvaged off a shagged-out war-era Russian tractor. There’s enough play in the arm bearings that it’s moving around in its mount to a visible degree. Busy/dense passages in the record audibly slow the rotation of the thing. And there’s so much surface noise that its intruding on the loudest passages of music.
Now, I have no idea if this particular table is this bad from the factory (it’s a decidedly super-budget affair, even despite the “high end” claims of its manufacturer). But this particular unit is a cluster.
And even though he’s only $30 in to it, it’s pretty much put him off the format.
Not helped by buying $1 used records (most of the boutique record stores are pretty good about the condition of the records they sell, but almost all have a big selection of $1 or so jobbies - that are either in poor condition or just aren’t hard to come buy). And helped even less by the first “rule” of buying used records being that you shouldn’t do so without some way to clean them (even if it’s just suitable cloths, a brush and spray-on fluid), prior to subjecting your cartridge to them.
Such a pity …