Audiophiles and the audiophile hobby hate change. They hate anything new. When we have smaller, more powerful, energy efficient class-D amps, 70-something Baby Boomer audiophiles are obsessed with tube amps.
When your Amazon Prime or Verizon account delivers you “free” (it isn’t really free but you sure as hell aren’t canceling your Amazon Prime or Verizon cellphone plan) access to Compact Disc (or higher) quality versions of nearly every recording ever made in the history of the world, audiophile are laser-focused on audiophile turntables.
So What’s Wrong With Audiophile Vinyl and Turntables Today?
- The format is 100 years old.
- The most dynamic range that you can get from the best turntable is about 64 dB. A Compact Disc can easily double that with higher resolution digital audio formats being able to do even higher performance – almost exactly like the master tape – be it analog or digital.
- The physical groove in a record makes sound by dropping a stylus into said groove. That needle actually vibrates and causes second degree harmonic distortion. Why in the world would somebody spent $10,000 on a preamp or $20,000 on an audiophile power amp that has, in effect, close to zero distortion to then put a highly distorted format into it via its analog inputs? It is like fueling your 2003 Ferrari Enzo with 50 octane gas. It makes no sense.
- A good audiophile setup costs between $500 and $1,500 and won’t stay in place for long.
- Audiophile cartridges wear out.
- Audiophile stylus can be “re-tipped” but that is a tricky and time consuming process done only by experts.
- Most audiophile grade stereo preamps don’t have enough gain to play the low-level signal that comes out of a turntable thus they need an external phono preamp (and cables) which adds more complexity and cost to a modern audiophile system.
- The process of making a vinyl LP is about the opposite of anything that younger people would consider “green”. The format is petroleum based and making an LP “off-gasses” vapors that cause cancer.
- While vinyl sales are up (from close to zero) and Compact Disc sales are down (because why do you need them with today’s digital streaming), the cost of audiophile vinyl can be many times more than the same recording on CD. That is because there isn’t enough pressing plants to make enough volume of high quality records in the United States.
- A vinyl record will sound its best on its first play and go down from there. A digital recording will sound the same every time it is played forever.
How Do I Save Money on Audiophile Grade Vinyl?
- Buy vinyl used at record stores, yard sales, online and at audiophile shows.
- Clean old vinyl. There are a whole bunch of products and systems that can clean old vinyl and it does make a difference. Some use sonic waves. Other use cleaning solutions and dryer machines. Some use a fine brush. Dirty vinyl is worse.
- Look for sales. Amazon offer sales. Record Store Day is a good day to shop for vinyl.
- Buy a cheaper turntable. It is OK to have fun with vinyl but do you need a $4,000 turntable to be happy with a flawed-to-the-core audiophile format? Likely not. Save some dough on your next turntable.
Audiophile traditionalist will want to put a hit out on me but these are the facts and they don’t want to hear a thing about facts when it comes to their beloved hobby.