Hello, despite making a pact with myself a few months back about posting regularly on here I have fallen short. I get distracted easily, but this time there’s a good reason for that! If you follow me on Instagram you definitely would have seen my non-stop posting all about the charity I’m launching, ‘Vibe Excel’. I’m not going to go on about it for too long because I know that’s not what you clicked on this article for but it aims to inspire and provide the tools needed for the next generation of women in the music industry. This comes after the whole Reading and Leeds tweet situation back in February, I figured that I couldn’t keep complaining about the lack of female representation without actively doing anything about it, otherwise, I’m just another performative activist and that’s not me. Obviously the world and particularly the music industry us turning to shit right now because of Miss Rona (I’ve really picked my timing haven’t I) so understandably I’m not able to launch myself into this as viciously as I would have liked in normal times, however, right now there is a fund-raising page, this money is crucial in allowing me to lay the foundations with things such as creating the website, registering for certain licences I need etc etc. If you have got any pennies to spare please consider donating, if you can’t then a share can be of equal value! https://www.gofundme.com/f/initial-fund-for-vibe-excel-charity?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all
Okay, back to the post! I always get loads of questions about my turntable setup and generally just a lot of DM’s asking for my recommendations. As always, I’m extremely flattered that people think I’m in any way educated enough to advise on what you should be spending your hard-earned money on but I always try my best to answer and I thought, why not write a bit of a post about what I recommend depending on different budgets. Initially, I was going to cover both turntables and speakers in this post but I think I’m going to split it in 2 so keep an eye out for the second half.
I spoke about this on my Instagram story this morning, by the hobby of record collecting can feel rather intimidating when you’re trying to get into it and I hate to bring gender into it, my favourite topic, but there are men of a certain age that do appear to dominate the community and will project loudly and without being asked their very elitist opinions. You know the ones I mean, the ‘Unless you’ve listened to [insert any 70’s obscure band] unreleased B-sides and dropped hundreds on a Beatles first pressing then you’re not a REAL music fan’ type.
Well, fuck those dinosaurs. My collection is a proper mashup of genres, everything from Judas Priest to Taylor Swift. A combo of original pressings, re-presses because you know what, I’m not going to drop a shit tonne of money on an original Black Sabbath pressing when I can get a re-press for 20 quid because I’ve not got an ego to live up to.
Anyway, I digress, my thoughts on the vinyl community is a topic for another day le’s get back onto what we’re here to talk about. Turntables, I would like to share a little disclaimer, this most definitely is not my area of expertise but I’ve done a bit of research which combined with my own experience hopefully might be of use to you!
I’m going to start with ‘All in one turntables which means, as the name would suggest, everything all in one machine. Your turntable, amp and speakers.
SANDSTROM SL-BTTB19 – £44.99
Ooooo, I can feel the blood of collectors everywhere staring to boil but hear me out. Suitcase style turntables are at this point a bit of a meme in the community because they are overwhelming but rightfully known for being a bit shit and if I was writing this post a year ago I would have told you all to stay as far away from these as humanly possible but you know what, I no longer have any issue with these.
This one, the SANDSTROM SL-BTTB19 is £44.99 and whether you like it or not, it does the job in one so you don’t need any knowledge of audio, worrying about amps and external speakers. It also fits everyone’s budget and makes the hobby accessible to anyone who want’s to try it out, which can only be a good thing yeah? I started out with one of these and throughout the years I’ve upgraded when I’ve wanted to and had the money. You could spend hundreds on a setup just to realise that you don’t enjoy the hobby because it’s not for everyone. Imagine you want to start cycling and jump straight in with a thousand-pound bike or you like the idea of making candles, I don’t fucking know, they were the first two hobbies that popped into my head. You wouldn’t, you’d buy an entry-level bike or cheap candle making supplies, I don’t know anything about candles so that was a bit of a shit analogy but you get my point.
If this turntable gets someone into collecting then what’s so bad about it, with the way some people talk about these you’d think you were forcing them to spin their precious overprices first editions on it. All I would say is, maybe don’t play any really special records because these aren’t the most stable and can chew up the grooves but it’s definitely nowhere near as dramatic as people will claim, I have records I played loads on my cheap turntable and they are fine now! Also, another point, if you are looking to get a suitcase-style turntable don’t feel the need to get a Crosley, they are the same quality as these cheap ones but just with their name slapped on them. If you’ve got the budget for a Crosley you may as well invest in some of my next picks instead.
JAM Sound HX-TTP200WDA-GB – £59.99
A slightly more expensive all in one here with the JAM Sound HX-TTP200WDA-GB. Pretty much everything I said above is valid for this except that since the platter is more stable on a sturdier base there is less chance of it fucking up the grooves. While this one has got its own built-speakers it does also have an RCA output you could connect it to external speakers, should you wish to!
Making it a great transitional player. It’s 3 speed so perfect for any size record. This issue with these cheaper players that could lead to them damaging your records is the fact the tonearm doesn’t have a counterweight so the tracking force can be very heavy or sometimes too light causing the needle to bounce out of the grooves, subsequently scratching the record and you can’t balance it out dependent on your cartridge without an adjustable counterweight. So that’s what I mean when I say that be a bit cautious when deciding which records to spin on one of these. This turntable doesn’t come with a pre-amp so you would need to buy one separately for pretty cheap, here’s just one I found on amazon for £13 but they can go up to mad prices and if you were using passive speakers you would need an amp but I’ll come onto what that means later. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pre-amplifier-Turntables/
JAM Spun Out HX-TT400-BK- £79.99
Another one from Jam here, I promise I’m not getting paid to write exclusively about them haha. Another step up to their ‘Spun Out HX-TT400-BK’. This one if the first I’m talking about today without speakers, however, do not fret you do not need to go out and buy some confusing speakers and worry about amps because this is Bluetooth so you can connect it wirelessly to any speakers you want and pretty much everyone has got wireless speakers of some sort.
Or if you want you can connect wired speakers and this does come with a built-in pre-amp so it’s simply a case of plugging into active/powered speakers and playing. This also lets you convert your vinyl to mp3 when you plug it into your PC or Mac. Which I’ve never really understood or used but it’s nice to have the option I guess!
AUDIO TECHNICA AT-LP60X – £99.99
Moving up the price range ladder to ones that I can wholeheartedly recommend. When you’re dealing with an iconic brand like Audio Technica you know that you’re getting their signature quality. No corners are cut and your records will be in safe hands. This is a 2-speed turntable with a built-in pre-amp. What steps this one up from the ones I’ve spoken about is its design and overall durability, this one sport an aluminium platter and a really sturdy dust cover which keeps everything dust-free and as it should be! what truly confuses me is that there are tacky really low-quality turntables that cost more than this, as I mentioned I am totally for people buying budget turntables because you know what quality you’re paying for but if you’ve got the budget for something like this then definitely spend it on a quality piece like this that will last you for years and gives you the peace of mind that your records are going to be safe.
You can also get the Bluetooth version of this model for £143 which is a really cool option to have so you can connect it to speakers or headphones. I like this because it gives you a much wider choice of speakers : CLICK HERE
If you what a one-and-done purchase that’s a step up from suitcase-style this is perfect for you. For £139 you get this full set up with the three-speed turntable and Bluetooth speakers so if you don’t fancy listening to vinyl you can connect your phone. I really like the look of this as well, if you’re not looking to learn about how setups work and don’t want the hassle of having to do loads of research then you’re going to love this!
AUDIO TECHNICA AT-LPW30- £219
I’m obsessed with how cute this is, again it’s from Audio Technica, you’re going to notice a theme I reckon. I wanted to include this on, not just because I love how it looks, but because it’s the first with a counterweight which means much more precise tracking so you can get it just reight whatever headshell and cartridge you wish to use! It is £219 so it’s getting towards the pricier side but it has got a Pre-amp.
While admittedly a hobby that involves collecting a shit tone of plastic probably isn’t the more ethical House of Marley is known for creating sustainable products so I had to include this one in here. The eco-friendly Bluetooth turntable features a solid bamboo plinth made from CNC-milled bamboo. A platter made from recycled aluminium and if you’ve ever owned or just seem any Marley products you’ll know that their build quality is extraordinary so don’t think that there are any corners cut. It’s also got a counterweight and a pre-amp so what’s not to love?
AUDIO TECHNICA AT-LP120XUSB – £249
If you follow me on Instagram this may look familiar, this is my turntable I’ve has it for just under 3 years now and I truly don’t see myself moving on from this any time soon. This does way more than the average collector, including myself, needs but it’s nice to have extras isn’t it! It’s three-speed so there’s nothing you can’t play, you can use it for mixing, it’s got a cool little pop-up light, pitch adjuster, counterweight a built-in pre-amp. I feel like the word bulky might have somewhat of a negative connotation but this is a very weighty statement of a turntable that truly is a pleasure to look at and use. A real investment if you’re looking to really get into the hobby. Previous to this I had, much like the one I spoke about earlier, where it came with external speakers and the turntable as a whole set-up package and before that, I had a suitcase-style one so you can probably see that as I’ve progressed through this list the way that you can transition up to what suits you.
The more expensive pick on this list because in my honest opinion the average collector will feel no need to go any more expensive than this. I absolutely love how sleek the design is on this, you don’t need me to tell you that YAMAHA is one of the biggest names in the world of music. It’s a more minimalist design but what makes this stand out against other turntables in its price range is how it’s comparable with the YAMAH MusicCast controller app via WIFI and can be used with Amazon Alexa. This is taking analogue and merging it with very modern technology.
I was going to cover both turntables and speakers in this post but I’ve decided to leave that for another day because it’s a whole different topic and this post is WAY longer than I anticipate it to be when I started writing it 2 hours ago!
So, if you liked this please let me know you got this far by commenting the word ‘Vibey’ on my latest IG pic @Lucy_mccourt_blog let’s start a secret comment club for those of you who can bother to get to the bottom of my posts, especially this one since it was long as fuck.
One more thing, if this post helped you, please consider supporting the blog on KOFI, every penny helps me carry on creating content and is much appreciated: https://ko-fi.com/lucymccourt
See ya next time xxx