A Beginner's Guide to Modern Day Vinyl Collection

How to properly jump into the world of records - and no you can't scratch them like DJs

Josh and his record equipment.
Josh and his record equipment.
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Vinyl records are having a moment right now. A long, nostalgia-induced, hipster-fuelled moment. The formerly cast aside vinyl record has become a staple in dorm rooms and Urban Outfitters alike. However, though Pinterest boards and Amazon prices may make it seem easy, owning a serious modern-day vinyl collection is no easy task. Luckily, you're in the hands of a long-time vinyl fan who asked for a record player for his 12th birthday — yes, my parents were slightly concerned. 

1. Make sure you really really want to embark on this vinyl journey.

I have been fixated with record players since the first time I saw one at around eight years old. While I could understand (somewhat) how to play music on a computer, the notion of playing it on a strange hunk of vinyl fascinated me.

However, one of the main things that stopped me from seriously pursuing a record player was the fact that I could play any song in the world for a fraction of the price and with about 0.0005% of the effort on my computer or phone. If you are on the fence about diving into the world of vinyl, chances are you are better off without it.

2. Do your research.

I cannot stress how important it is to look into record players and speakers before buying them. There are countless articles online that go in-depth about the best products to buy for every budget. Choose products that best fit what you want in a record player and in sound quality. 

3. Buy a record player!

This is where the process can get really fun or really messy – online shopping. Record players can be very deceivingly advertised and confusing to new buyers. Before buying my first record player, I did months of online preparation and chose what I thought was the perfect record player for me. Then I went on Amazon, found one that looked really cool, had a built-in speaker, five star reviews, and cost $50. I promptly threw all my research in the trash.

The record player ended up causing most of my records to skip, and the sound quality sounded like a jacked up iPhone 3G. I have since learned that — though there are definitely good record players for cheap — the ones that claim to "do it all" typically can't do much. Try to avoid them and buy a nice record player with AUX-compatible speakers to match.

4. Buy records!

This process is mostly fun. Seeing a record show up on my doorstep — shout out to Amazon Student 2-day shipping — is one of the best feelings ever. The only possible issue is that with so much of modern music being released on vinyl today, impulse purchases of records you will soon not like are more probable than possible. While the Great Gatsby soundtrack was definitely my jam for a solid week in grade eight, I can honestly say I have not picked it up since. Try to make sure you buy records with music that you'll love listening to even a few years down the road.

5. Invest now, save later.

While some seemingly more trivial products may seem unnecessary now, buying some vinyl add-ons sooner rather than later will help you save in the long run. You'll thank yourself for purchasing some record cleaners and record player needles now instead of having to replace all your records later. 

Money saving tip: Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers work great as needle cleaners.

6. BONUS TIP: Consult your local old person.

Old people are treasure troves for fun vinyl memorabilia. My first record was a Stevie Wonder greatest hits collection that my grandmother took out from the library in July 1986. It is now one of my most prized possessions and I seriously hope no library workers are reading this — if they are, I'm totally kidding about all of this. Ask older generations if they have any vinyl records, equipment or tips and you'll be the envy of every 70's-reminiscent hipster on the block.

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