Collecting Vinyl: Where to Begin?
You’re About To Embark On Your Vinyl-collecting Journey
If you’re just getting started with collecting records, give yourself a pat on the back – you’re about to get started on an incredible journey. Vinyl collecting is one of the best possible hobbies you can pick up – it’s more of a passion than a hobby, really. Filling up shelves with your favorite albums is a journey that never ends – there’s always more records to add to your collection.
Collecting vinyl records means getting organic exposure to new artists, albums, and songs. When you spend time hunting down new music on vinyl, you’ll end up uncovering new favorites to obsess over and can spend time digging further into the discographies of legendary artists. It’s an ideal way to get acquainted with hidden gems, timeless classics, and new releases.
As exciting as it can be getting started collecting records, the beginning can be overwhelming, too. Thankfully, we’re here to give you a hand with beginning your vinyl-collecting journey. This article serves as a quick-read primer for getting started with collecting vinyl records. We’ll cover all the necessary bases – gear you need, perfect starters for your collection, care and maintenance, and more.
Why Collect Vinyl?
Collecting vinyl records is one of the best ways to appreciate and enjoy the albums you love. In addition, the vinyl format also gives you a chance to discover artists and albums that you might otherwise never get the chance to hear. When you listen to albums on vinyl, you get to experience a recording in a way that is personal, tactile, and memorable.
Vinyl listening is also an immersive experience. The feel of the components of your turntable, how the cartridge hits the surface of a record and makes that unmistakable and familiar sound is enough to transport a listener into the world of an album. Getting to handle a physical copy of an album enhances the experience even more.
In addition, your vinyl record collection can become a part of you as it grows. Music can take on deep sentimental significance, and you can quickly find yourself starting to associate specific albums in your collection with meaningful and impactful moments in your life. As the music in your collection starts to mean more to you, your records become a part of your life that you would never want to part with.
However, if you ever come to a point where you are ready to let go of some or all of your records, you can reap even more of the benefits of collecting vinyl. Records can often be resold to other collectors and enthusiasts to make a considerable profit. If you end up in a position where you need to lighten your load or make some extra money, re-selling your records can be a huge help.
Record collecting is also a fantastic way to connect with other fans of your favorite artists. When you have a deep and abiding love for an artist, one of the best ways to build a connection with others who share your love for your favorite musician or band. You can build a lasting relationship with another fan of your favorite music by bonding over the records that you both love.
When audiophiles and diehard record collectors talk about the unparalleled listening experience that you get with vinyl, they’re really on to something. A major perk of listening to vinyl is the exceptional audio quality that you get from a record. Digital audio formats often end up causing a recording to get compressed and lose some of its frequencies. This compression creates a “lossy” sound where some of the highest and low frequencies are inaudible. With vinyl, you won’t have to worry about losing these frequencies and missing key aspects of how a recording was intended to be heard.
What Gear Do You Need For A Starter Setup?
To get started with listening to music on vinyl, you’ll need to assemble your audio setup. A typical vinyl listening setup includes a record player, or turntable, a preamp, and speakers. Some turntables include built-in preamps and speakers, meaning you’ll be able to put a record on and listen to it without hooking up any additional equipment to your turntable. However, turntables with built-in amplification do not have the best reputation among audiophiles and record collectors in general. In most cases, the ideal audio setup includes a high-quality turntable and a set of great speakers.
To get sound from your turntable, you need a source of amplification, known as a preamp. As the cartridge on your turntable reads the grooves on a record, it produces precise vibrations that, when amplified, give you audio playback. But without a preamp, the signal produced by your turntable is too quiet to hear.
Some turntables have built-in preamps, but others do not. If your turntable includes a built-in preamp, all you need to get sound is a set of passive speakers (speakers without preamps). If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, you can use a pair of active speakers – speakers with built-in preamps. Or, you can set up a standalone preamp that will go between your speakers and your turntable.
There are several different ways to configure your record listening setup, and none of them are objectively the “best’ option. There are devoted vinyl collectors who are fans of each of the different speaker and turntable configurations. Overall, the most important factors to consider when getting your first setup are the quality of your turntable and speakers, and where your preamp is.
Starting Your Collection
Once you have your audio setup up and running, you’re ready to pick up your first record. There’s plenty of freedom with this part of the process – all you need to do is find a record that you already love or a new album that catches your eye. You don’t have to stick to any specific genre or carefully curate your collection if you don’t want to – what matters most is that you’re finding albums that you enjoy.
You can always get your collection off to a great start by choosing an album that is critically acclaimed and well-loved by millions of listeners. Vinyl bestsellers like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and other classics come to mind. If you take this route, you’ll have a chance to listen to beloved, timeless albums in the most immersive possible setting.
If you choose to build your collection on a foundation of tried-and-true classics, make sure that you move forward by branching out and exploring other artists and genres that you have not yet heard. You can’t go wrong with the classics, but the vinyl format gives you a unique opportunity to explore more obscure records as well. Record collecting often can send you down a long-running rabbit trail that ends you up with shelves worth of hidden gems and underground favorites.
For decades, DJs and producers have stayed ardently devoted to vinyl, with many curating massive collections of their favorite albums. Some of this long-standing passion can be attributed to the practice of sampling from records to produce beats, a strategy used by DJs and producers since the dawn of hip-hop in the latter half of the 20th century. Beatmakers discovered the beauty of record collecting and sampling early on and have continued to use vinyl as a source of inspiration and exposure to new sounds for years. If you want to take a deep dive into a new genre, vinyl is the way to go – you’ll be following in the footsteps of some of the greatest DJs and producers of all time.
Make A Vinyl Budget
If you plan on getting invested in record collecting, it’s definitely a good move to keep a dedicated monthly vinyl budget. Vinyl collecting can be addictive, with each new record building your desire to hear something new and exciting. To make sure that you can continue adding to your collection as time passes, commit to setting aside some money each month to devote to picking up new albums.
When you dedicate money to getting records each month, you can count on seeing your collection grow without worrying about breaking your bank. Collecting albums can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of your life, and it’s even better when you plan for it.
The beginning of your vinyl-collecting journey is an exciting time. You’re entering a new and exciting world, one that is full of new and unique music to discover and explore. That sense of musical wanderlust won’t fade anytime soon, either. There’s always more incredible music to hear, and the longer you stick with collecting vinyl, the more rewarding it can be.
As your collection grows, you can start to look at your shelves of records and see a visual representation of the music that has shaped you and made you who you are. There’s something truly unique about vinyl that makes it especially personal and powerful in a way that is hard to explain – you just have to experience it for yourself.