After months, or maybe even years, of careful consideration, you have finally decided to buy a record player. Congratulations! You are one step closer to becoming a hipster, which is a-OK by me. If hipsterdom were measured in merit badges, then “owning a record player” would be one, alongside “mustache grooming,” “fixed gear bike,” and “general insufferability.”
Now that you’ve decided to make this purchase, you probably have a few questions and concerns. But never fear! As the resident Wheelhouse Review scholar on hipsterology, and a frequent owner of record players myself, I’m here to help. So join me as we journey into the world of record owning and playing.
The first thing to know is that you are not alone in buying vinyl. While an older medium for music, it is experiencing a renaissance. Records have seen a 745% increase in sales since 2008. 745%! In an industry that is dying a horribly slow and painful death, that is ridiculous, and cannot be ignored.
Retailers are getting in on the action. Amazon offers “Autorip” that allows you to have free downloads of the songs that are featured on the records you purchase. Target and Whole Foods are both introducing vinyl sections in their stores. And this doesn’t include the fact you can buy them used in nearly every thrift store in the country. Heck, I was walking down the street this weekend, came upon a vinyl sale, and walked away with five new records.
Because there is a market for it, not to mention the sentimentality and nostalgia associated with records, current artists are releasing their latest work on vinyl. You can be the proud owner of the latest albums on vinyl by Phoenix, Arcade Fire, or Andrew Bird. Record Store Day helps you and other vinyl lovers stocked and interested in promoting and buying new records. I think it’s fairly obvious that you will be well-stocked with all the music you could ever want when you go vinyl.
But we’ve jumped ahead. You first need to acquire a record player. You have so many choices! I would first recommend you go to your parents. They most likely have an old record player from their youth that works just fine. They just didn’t know records were in again. Steal if from them before they realize this and keep it for themselves.
If they don’t have one, it’s time to take to the internet. You can always try craigslist, though (as with all things craigslist) be wary. You are just as likely to find a great player as you are to find one that doesn’t really work and is just trash someone is trying to pass off as your new treasure (I’ve had both experiences). If you’re not sure what you need, and don’t want to deal with headaches that come with searching for someone who sells record needles, you may just want to buy a new one. Google sells a bunch, as does Amazon. Even kitchy and cute clothing stores like Modcloth are getting in on the game. Or ask me, and I’ll put you in touch with Mike, my record player guy (yeah, I have a record player guy). Record players aren’t super expensive, and they last a while, so if you’ve come this far, you should go for quality.
So, you have the record player. You have the records. It’s now time to listen! There’s an art in listening to a record, a more interactive component than streaming digital music, or even CDs and tapes. Each record has two sides that require you to turn it over. There’s a needle and arm that you have to place just right to hit a song. Skipping and repeats are a downside, but can and do happen. But it is a great experience, I promise! The sound is incredible, and let’s be honest, a record player just screams class and sophistication.
And with that, you’re now the proud owner of a record player. Use it wisely. I suggest you pop on a classical record (I typically prefer Haydns string orchestra movements), pour a glass of wine, sit on an overstuffed chair by the fire with a hard cover book, and enjoy.